First rule of this blog post is no nastiness. No finger pointing. No fighting among each other. I'm about to discuss breastfeeding. I know I can see you reeling. I can hear you screaming: "step away from the computer!".
You see breastfeeding can be a minefield. I breastfed all of my three children until they were about 7mo old. They also had formula bottles out of a mixture of both necessity and convenience. Breastfeeding was the hardest part of having babies. Not only the actual act of breastfeeding, but the societal expectations surrounding it. I have never felt so much guilt about something - and I breastfed. I have many close friends who struggled, or were physically unable, to breastfeed. And before you get on your high horse - one of those friends was a midwife and desperately wanted to breastfeed but couldn't. She pumped. And like the others, who either pumped or could not pump, when they fed a bottle to their babies in public they could feel the judgement piercing them. I am a firm believer that while breast milk is best for newborns, those babies fed formula are also getting the nourishment they need. I am also a firm believer that a Mum's sanity is best for babies. If breastfeeding is causing anxiety or anguish, then bottle feed. A happier Mum, makes for a happier baby. Bottle or boob, both make for a healthy baby. I am a believer that you should not judge anyone who is doing their best. Doing what gets them through the day. Being a Mum is hard work. We need to support, not stab each other.
So, with that in mind, I think social media, like Facebook and Twitter, can be a tricky place to source information as there is a lot of judgement out there. A lot of people quick to push their agenda. For an exhausted, scared and worried mum, it can be a dangerous place. It can also be an amazing source of information and support. You just need thick skin. Unfortunately, for many women up with a screaming newborn with attachment issues, your skin is anything but thick. Getting helpful information quick can be hard.
Now I've got that out of the way, let me explain what this is about. In a few days, I will be giving the closing address at the 2nd annual Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand conference. Yep, that's right. I will be speaking at a conference in front of, I don't how many, midwives and other health professionals - all who are experts in the field of breastfeeding. How did this come about you may be thinking? Well, earlier this year I was interviewed in The Advertiser's (Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph equivalent) Weekend Magazine about how Mums are increasingly turning to the internet and social media for parenting information. An organiser of the conference saw the article and contacted me. She thought the topic would be of interest to attendees and asked if I would be interested in speaking. Sure, I replied. Then I got swept up in life and promptly forgot about it until last week. Now, to put it bluntly, I am shitting myself.
I am expected to stand in front of people for 45 minutes and talk about blogging, Twitter, Facebook and of course, my own experiences breastfeeding and how I sourced my information. I am so nervous I will mumble, get flustered, forget what I am saying mid-sentence, ramble on, tell jokes that aren't funny and bore people.
So, I decided I'd ask friends on Facebook, Twitter and my super-cool blog readers what you think I should say? How do you get most of your parenting information? How do your friends get their information? Do you think it's changed over the years? Do you think there are mixed messages regarding breastfeeding? What are the dangers of asking for help in the arena of social media? What are the benefits?