The first week in August is World Breastfeeding Week. This international advocacy event is designed to raise awareness about breastfeeding, and this year’s theme is “Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps! The Baby Friendly Way.” This year’s theme commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration, which affirmed the global importance of breastfeeding. The “Ten Steps” refer to the steps hospitals need to take to achieve “Baby-Friendly” status – things like educating all staff on the importance of breastfeeding, helping mothers initiate breastfeeding soon after delivery, feeding babies nothing but breastmilk unless medically necessary, encouraging feeding on demand, and so on. Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of early support in helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals.
I was fortunate to have delivered my twins at one of only 94 Baby-Friendly hospitals in the United States. Even then, by virtue of a somewhat traumatic c-section recovery (for me, not the babes) and a brief stint in the NICU for one of my twins, I had to advocate for myself and for my breastfeeding goals. I can’t imagine what sort of start we would have had in a LESS supportive hospital.
Breastfeeding twins (or more) requires even more early support. Moms need support as they master the “basic” breastfeeding techniques in duplicate. If nursing is a dance – one where the partners have to learn one another’s cues so they can move together – nursing multiples can feel like a mosh pit both literally (safely navigating 6 elbows!) and emotionally (feeling tossed from side to side). But figuring out the patterns and developing a routine? Exhilarating!