(Image from Dr Seuss's The Cat in the Hat)
It’s been a while since our last post. We have mini’s becoming small people. Whilst juggling life, we are bound to drop a few balls, I feel like The Cat in the Hat:
“I can hold up the cup and the milk and the cake!
I can hold up these books and the fish on a rake!
I can hold the toy ship and a little toy man!
Look, with my tail, I can hold a red fan!
I can fan with the fan as I hop on the ball!
But that is not all. Oh, no, that is not all...
That is what the cat said...Then he fell on his head!”
Since we asked you your views via our survey, we have been working on getting your voice heard, (whilst a few things come clattering down). It turns out that infant feeding is as much of a political hot potato as Trump talking guns, as Teresa talking Brexit. So like the political satires of Dr Seuss, Frank is taking up arms in the form of the pen, and going to try and speak politics (of sorts).
No wonder women don’t feel listened to, even when we speak, it can fall on deaf ears. Selective hearing isn’t just a specialty of a three year old, but an art form practiced by many a politician.
We developed your data for a conference and submitted an abstract to the MaMa 2018 conference. Having Initially been invited to give a presentation on our findings, we were excited to provide them our title, 'Frank About Feeding' and some background information. Unfortunately due to a change in timings, we were no longer invited to present. Still keen for the mama voice to be heard, we offered to put together a handout for the professionals attending on that day... we are still waiting for a reply on that one.
Undeterred by one hand tied behind our back, our other hand was still in play and we had another trick up our sleeve. We contacted Alison Thewliss, (MP), not only a fellow Glasgow gal but also the chair of the Infant Feeding and Inequalities Committee. Win Win! Listening to the mama voice will be crucial in developing new ways of helping increase breastfeeding rates in the UK whilst maintaining positive mama mental health. So we have dropped her a line and we are looking forward to hearing from her.
But we didn't stop there, on further digging we haven struck gold. Another local gem; a research group based at Stirling University who's ears are fined tuned to the maternal voice. Their research has gained international recognition in the field of maternal and child health, and of interest to us... breastfeeding. They have looked into improving breastfeeding rates via a variety of methods, but refreshingly, taking into account what women are telling them. Their sound research is providing a strong foundation for evidenced based practice and highlights issues that anecdotally we already know. Things like; early days support tailored to individual needs. They are also looking at maternal well-being and the role it plays in the perinatal period.
It is through understanding a problem, by listening to those who are speaking out, that we are best placed to find answers. Tackling breastfeeding rates involves not making presumptions about the barriers that mamas are facing, but discovering them through sound research and finding novel and innovative ways of approaching these stumbling blocks.
Sounds perfect right? But funding into these areas is tight. Despite the vast amount of research proposed in this field, only small numbers of projects are funded. It’s a political game, and one which the mamas don't seem to be winning. So what can we do?
At Frank, whilst juggling and bouncing on a ball, we are trying to get the mama voice heard. A collective voice can be powerful and we are calling for funding of more research into infant feeding. Research that comes from a variety of sources, with differnt backgrounds, asking the right questions and listening to the answers.
There are a few projects we would like to bring to your attention like the FEST project or the ABA project. And we are asking those who can make a difference by funding such projects to at least listen. #hearmyvoice #supportmychoice and fund UK based infant feeding research.
And so, we leave with the words of Dr Suess in The Lorax:
"UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.