Breastfeeding my baby

Breastfeeding is tough, in fact it is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

It’s beautiful and I’ve loved feeding my babies myself, but the early days are physically and mentally exhausting and strong support is essential.

There’s a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed in the UK now, but is there enough real support and education?

Not yet.I breastfed my first born son for over two years, and after some early struggles I grew to love it.

I somehow got through the demands he had for milk every 30 minutes for 12 weeks, the bleeding nipples and stomach cramps and it became like a second nature.

I just assumed that because it had been such a success, that when his baby brother came along it would be a breeze.

But it wasn’t easy at all.

River was born with Down syndrome, and although he wasn’t diagnosed for 6 months it made establishing breastfeeding extremely hard.

The muscles in his mouth were so weak that he couldn’t latch on, and he pretty much slept all of the time.

I just couldn’t keep him awake long enough to get enough milk into him.

It was such a stressful time and I was devastated that it wasn’t as easy as I’d imagined.

It’s actually one of the reasons why I’m thankful that he wasn’t diagnosed until later, because I’ve heard from many mums since then that the support for breast-feeding babies with Down syndrome isn’t great.

Many health professionals are of the the belief that it’s just too difficult, and that the best thing for both mother and baby is to use other methods of feeding.

And yes it is hard and in many cases not achievable, but not all.

Because I didn’t know that my son was disabled and because I had some breastfeeding experience, we managed to push through it and achieve an exclusively breastfed relationship.

I always wonder what would have happened if I’d known he had Down syndrome and people had told me that it just was not possible to feed him.

Would I have been so determined?

Because it was possible, and 3 years on River is still breastfeeding.

The benefits have been extraordinary for him, to the point where I am even frightened to stop.

For a start, his immune system is so strong that I’ve never had to take him to a doctors once and he’s only ever had a handful of colds.

His mouth muscles have become really strong so his speech is developing well, along with his ability to eat all real foods and textures.

There is no denying that breastfeeding has been wonderful for him.

Not every women is going to be able to breastfeed her child with Down syndrome.

There are many obstacles and its really important to be prepared for the fact that it might not happen.

However, its also really important that medical professionals are adequately trained in breastfeeding babies with Down syndrome and that families are given the support they desperately need and deserve.

GoTo Shop – Good News!

We at Firefly, along with our amazing community, have been hard at work behind the GoTo Shop Campaign – and we have some fantastic updates we want to share with you.

For anyone not familiar with the GoTo Shop Campaign – let us catch you up!

The Firefly GoTo Shop Cart which has transformed shopping trips for special needs families in over 3,500 UK stores, is now available for distribution in the US, Europe, Australia and Canada.

As you will be well aware, we have a strong community at Firefly and parents are continuously sharing the challenges they face with everyday tasks, like grocery shopping.

The GoTo Shop has been designed to make shopping trips easier for parents and carers of young children with disabilities.

The shopping cart seat includes a secure and adjustable 5-point harness, adjustable head and lateral support, a soft padded seat and an open front for easy transfer.

Parents who have used the cart in the UK have commented on the social benefits of the face-to-face interaction they get with their child – and the smiles on the faces of the kids we get photos of never fail to brighten our day – it makes us realise how badly the GoTo Shop is needed!

Over the past few months we’ve also been working with two leading retailers in the USA and a one in Australia, trying to get the GoTo Shop into their stores. We’ve found that retailers are now asking for social proof.

This is why we need you to keep sharing and tagging your local stores on our Facebook page!

In recent weeks we have had some pretty exciting news for the campaign.

The GoTo Shop has made its way to Greece, France and Germany – which is pretty awesome right?

Not only that but our Firefly Friends in the UK can now request the GoTo Shop in another major retailer.

ALDI are now behind the GoTo Shop Campaign! Just go and ask for one at your local store.

There is still so much potential for this campaign, so we are calling on you our wonderful community to keep up the hard work with your campaigning.

If your local store doesn’t have a GoTo Shop download our leaflet here and bring it to your local store manager. Together we can make a difference!

Want to get involved in the campaign? Head here to find everything you will need.

Let us know your progress – we’re asking for your help, so you can bet we’ll be there to help you with your efforts!

If you require more information, assistance or if you want to let us know your progress feel free to contact Mark at [email protected]