World Breastfeeding Week was celebrated at the start of this month, and to honour the occasion Feto Maternatal Clinic in Doha hosted an event for expectant and new mums. I went along to see what it was all about.
Everyone always says ‘breast is best’ and I’m really praying that I’m fortunate enough to breastfeed Baby Girl. I understand that for some mums it just isn’t their preference and for others no matter how hard they try it just doesn’t happen. For the mamas out there who do make it work I totally salute you! As an FTM you hear all the horror stories ‘my nipples bled and bled’ or ‘they were cracked and sore and I cried every night for two weeks’. It makes you think ‘Shit. Is this my reward for birthing my baby- swollen, bleeding boobs?’ Well I hope not. Despite all this, I would definitely consider myself to be someone who is pro natural for all things baby. I’m even planning to have a natural hypnobirth, God willing. But of course like any mum I’m only going to make informed choices and that was my motivation for attending the event- to hear from the experts why it’s a good choice, the benefits and how to overcome the hurdles.
The seminar was led by Dr Naseem Rashid (my OBGYN) and supported by Dr Ghada Nasrat, Patience Adekanye and reps were present from Medela and Sebamed. A range of topics were covered including how breastfeeding fits in with the Sustainable Development Goals, the benefits of breastfeeding and general tips and advice on achieving the correct latch and guidelines for breastfeeding.
Dr Naseem led the presentation by explaining how breastfeeding is an integral part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. I was surprised because I’ve discussed and taught a few of the SDGs at work with my students but not in so much depth and had never really considered how breastfeeding might be part of them. Dr Naseem’s points highlighted the importance and significance of breastfeeding to help tackle important global issues such a hunger, health, education and sustainable consumption. If you would like to read in more detail about how breastfeeding forms part of the SDGs click here.
Dr Ghada gave a short presentation on the benefits of breastfeeding, some I was aware of and others not so much. The main point that I was not aware of is how much it supports babies’ immune systems. I had no idea that apparently babies who are breast fed are less likely to get sick because antibodies in the mother’s milk gives them a stronger immune system. For me this alone is a great motivator to want to at least try to breastfeed.
Patience, who is the clinic’s Lactation Consultant and the lady who delivers my antenatal classes, gave a great talk addressing a few myths about breastfeeding (including whether or not it should hurt), best positions to hold the baby, current WHO guidelines on breastfeeding and tips for breast milk storage. This was probably the most useful part of the seminar for me. If I do breastfeed, then when I return to work I will need to express my milk and this is something I am dreading. Not just because of the horror stories or because of how painful it is, but because I guess it means less bonding time for me and baby girl. I nearly cried when Patience said that it’s recommended to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, meaning no bottles whatsoever (I go back to work after 2 months). However she showed me a great product from Medela called the ‘Soft Cup’ that you can use to drip feed the baby and therefore avoiding nipple confusion in the early months.
Overall I’d say the event was informative and on the rare occasion these things do pop up in Doha I would definitely suggest you try to attend. It can be daunting living abroad especially as a first time mum with your nearest and dearest miles away from you it can feel like you have no one to ask for help. Events like these give you the opportunity to get great advice and information that you might perhaps usually seek from family and friends.
One thing that stuck in my mind from the event was that breastfeeding won’t come easy. You really must persevere. This is also the advice given to me from the few mums I know who have breastfed. If you are planning to breastfeed I would definitely recommend seeing a lactation consultant. Many of the hospitals in Doha both private and public don’t have them so you will need to find one privately. The Nurturing Moments Doha Facebook page has a list of consultants and doulas you can contact. La Leche League is a not for profit profit organisation who can also give lots of tips and advice for breastfeeding mums. There is also a Facebook group for the Doha chapter of the organisation and this has been highly recommended to me by several mums out here in Doha. For those of you elsewhere in the world you can check to see if they have a group local to you. I would also highly recommend Patience at Feto Maternal Centre. She has been great so far and answered my many many questions on all things pregnancy and breastfeeding.