Thursday 24 October 2019

Breastfeeding speech for Sue

Today I was very pleased to help Sue Cox launch her new book, "Breastfeeding and Parenting: Your Baby Will Teach You How".

She was a great help to my family after my son was born, so it really was the least I could do.

Here's what I had to say.


Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Lovely to see you here, for the launch of Sue’s book.

To me, breastfeeding is like alchemy, turning lead into gold.

You eat whatever food that life offers - Mars bars and cheesy dips and hot chips - and your body distills it into this perfect elixir.

Exactly what the baby needs. Antibodies, calcium, protein, fat, vitamins.

It even tastes great, as every dad who’s ever warmed up a bottle of expressed milk will tell you.

And think of how it’s delivered. This is my body, I give it to you, so you can live.

Jesus, on his last night, said something very similar to his disciples… but remember, Mary said it to him first.

Breastfeeding is love, pure and simple. It’s a wonderful thing.

Until the moment it goes wrong.

And like all love turned sour, it becomes its own little corner of hell.

You’ve got the sore nipples, the aching breasts, the baby that won’t stop crying, sleep deprivation (which is a torture all by itself), and the terrible sense of all-pervading guilt.

Am I a good enough mother? Why can’t I do this simple thing that every other mammal can manage? There are mice living in our walls that do this better than me!

And if it keeps going wrong, you end up with that terrible stamp in your baby’s log-book - "failure to thrive."

Hands up anyone who finds that familiar.

My wife and son went through this, as I watched on helplessly. You can do a lot, as a new dad, but you can't do the breastfeeding. And your uninformed opinions about it are best kept firmly to yourself.

My son is now a ten year old soccer champ and Pokemon fanatic. I look at him and sometimes I think to myself, thank God for Sue Cox. (Or perhaps I should thank Mary for Sue Cox.)

Sue’s advice was gentle and practical and effective. Her techniques worked and they built up my wife's confidence at the same time, which is so important.

A lot of her advice is the sort of thing that the local grannies used to tell the new mums. But we kinda broke that chain a couple of generations ago.

In the 1970s, 80% of babies were off the breast and onto a bottle by 3 months. Lots of modern grannies have never breast-fed a baby, so how can they teach a daughter or niece what to do? And many young adults move far away from their parents, so there’s no trustworthy older woman around who might pass on her wisdom.

What we have instead is "Breastfeeding and Parenting: Your Baby Will Teach You How".

Even in the title you can see Sue building mum’s confidence - "your baby will teach you how". Because this book isn't a list of techniques, it's about strengthening your bond, so looking after your baby becomes perfectly intuitive.

The book is like all of Sue’s advice - gentle, practical, effective, and delivered with a great deal of love.

I am very proud to launch this book. May it be in the gift bundle for every new mum in Tasmania.

Thank you.

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