5 things that the Australian Breastfeeding Association do really well.

1. Provide accurate, up-to-date and thoughtful information about breastfeeding, bottle-feeding and parenting on their website: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au

2. Base their entire organisation on the principle of mother-to-mother support for breastfeeding mothers and families. Peer support rocks.

3. Run a national breastfeeding helpline that is operational 24 hours a day (please, just urgent business overnight), seven days a week, that is staffed by trained, VOLUNTEER breastfeeding counsellors, all of whom have breastfed themselves (and might be breastfeeding when you ring … that’s street cred).

4. There are 230 local ABA groups chugging away all over Australia. Their group leaders plan meetings and walks in the park and provide a local contact for breastfeeding help and support. They’re a bit like a low-stress mothers group, and sometimes they even talk about breastfeeding.

5. Local and regional groups all over Australia run Breastfeeding Education Classes for pregnant women and their partners (women who have difficulty in the past with breastfeeding also come). The classes cover the usual information and give participants a realistic idea of what life might be like breastfeeding a new baby. The jewel in this crown is that most classes will have real-life mamas breastfeeding their real-life babies (for demonstration purposes) as a part of the class. Now that’s a very useful version of “here’s one we prepared earlier”.

What’s so good about the ABA?

Before you ask, no, I’m not on their payroll.  They don’t pay anyone. Really.

And before you ask, no, I’m not talking about the American Bow Hunters Association. Although I do wonder of course, how their breastfeeding rates are travelling…

Formerly known as the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia. People loved that name. They still do. It lacks… the word “breast”.

Say it loud I reckon. Even if it makes people squirm. Especially if it makes people squirm …what’s that game people play? Saying “breast’ in public as loudly as they dare…oh no that’s vagina.

The name change came at the turn of this century. Apparently they would have liked something similar back in 1964 when they started, except it was considered legally “obscene” to put the word “breast” in the phone book back then. [breast!] Well, it took 40 years, but we nailed that at least.

My sister-in-law joined me up when I was pregnant with number 1 baby. I was going to join anyway, right, but thanks Sue.

My membership got me a social circle in country South Australia, where I knew No One, and I had a three month old baby (what were we thinking?).

The second meeting I attended (the first was a 60 km drive) the discussion topic was postnatal depression. The woman hosting the meeting had been diagnosed  with PND after her second baby. She talked openly about her struggles. I felt honoured to be part of a group where people could share this stuff and not feel judged, but supported.

Later on, back in the big smoke, I discovered more about the joys of ABA involvement … meeting locals, training to be a counsellor, participating in breastfeeding education classes, learning a lot more about women’s experiences of breastfeeding and transitioning to motherhood, being a phone counsellor on helpline…and taking my kids along to everything if I wanted to.

Thing is, when I joined ABA I was VERY enthusiastic about breastfeeding: why would you do anything but breastfeed? Maybe women weren’t trying hard enough when they “couldn’t” do it… a breastfeeding nazi, some would say.

Despite what you might think, ABA actually moderated my attitude.

During counsellor training the phrase mentioned frequently was: “breast-feeding is for the baby, the baby is not for breastfeeding”.  We don’t have a baby just so that we can breastfeed. Being a mother is not JUST about breastfeeding.  And when breast-feeding gets in between the relationship of a mother and her baby, it’s not healthy for either of them.

So please don’t blame the ABA for breastfeeding crazies like me. They tried to moderate me, and in some ways that worked.

They’re just trying to help more women breastfeed, for longer, one (or two) babies at a time.