CORNER BROOK — Because she was never breastfed, Melanie Brown had reservations about breastfeeding her own child Emily.
Holding her 10-month-old girl in her arms Monday, surrounded by other mothers at a breastfeeding awareness event at Colemans at the Gardens, Brown said when she was young many mothers fed their babies formula as recommended by health professionals of the day.
At the time, she said the benefits of breast milk weren’t as widely promoted as they are now, and as a result it was only when she made the decision to eat healthier during her pregnancy that breastfeeding became the most logical option for her.
“It’s something that kind of led into my own healthy approach to raising a child inside me,” Brown said. “It’s a normal way of feeding children and it shouldn’t be something that’s hidden away.”
Brown said an important part of the message was to show the community there’s nothing to be ashamed or intimidated by when it comes to breastfeeding.
She pointed to studies which have shown both the long- and short-term benefits of breastfeeding, and said events such as World Breastfeeding Week, which this gathering was part of, are a chance to meet with other mothers and share stories about their experiences as breastfeeding mothers in a welcoming, yet public forum.
“There are issues that arise, so coming to a forum like this, you can learn about the hard experiences other mothers had,” she said.
“These events help mothers and fathers learn everything about it.”
Angel McCarthy, another mother who attended the session, echoed Brown’s opinion of the healthy benefits of breastfeeding, particularly in stimulating growth and brain development in the first five years of a baby’s life.
She said both sides of her four-month-old Zoe’s family are open and comfortable with breastfeeding, so much so that it was always the option she preferred. However, she has noticed the times when people may quietly leave a room if Zoe is feeding, but nothing which has deterred her.
She too enjoys the chance to see other newborns and infants at community-sponsored information sessions and said the information gained about breastfeeding from peers is invaluable.
As for breastfeeding itself, she said she’s never regretted the decision.
“It’s extremely convenient. you can feed your baby anywhere and you don’t have to worry about doing up a bottle,” McCarthy said.
“The only drawback is you have to be there all the time, but I think that’s just a nice perk.”