STAR TWO...it’s all about you! The brand-new part of your Star which I launched with a challenge to my reporting team: get out into the heart of South Yorkshire’s communities; meet real people, and bring me the real issues that are affecting our readers.
Breastfeeding: the showpiece feature in today’s Star Two section – is that a real issue affecting real people?
Up until about a year ago I would have had absolutely no idea. Of course I knew anecdotally that some women found it difficult and others a breeze. And if you read new-mum Nik Brear’s piece on page 16 today, you’ll get a very authentic account of why cracked nipples, bad latch, posture and flow should not be taboo amongst any of us.
But what you won’t get from the piece is an idea of what it’s like to be a new dad, and one which is trying to support a new mum that’s struggling to breastfeed.
Do support groups even exist for men like me? Men with absolutely no idea what they’re in for, as mum cries into her shaking palms, slowly convincing herself that she’s useless?
I cannot be the only bloke that was not prepared for the onslaught of emotion that comes day after day, night after night as a voracious newborn quite literally sucks the life out of someone you love, cherish and want to protect.
I vividly recall the first few days we got our son home, and my wife’s breast milk hadn’t ‘let down’ properly.
The statistics in today’s feature suggest health experts want mums to breastfeed for a whole year - we hadn’t gone a whole week when my wife threw a boxful of formula at me and pleaded with me to take the distraught and no doubt starving hungry baby to feed him.
I didn’t: I nursed him to sleep, allowed my wife to sleep and recover a little before the next feed and sure enough her milk came through and she breast fed Harry for over six months.
I assure you that in those moments I’ve never felt more isolated, upset and bereft of confidence about what I should have done.
In the family unit, breastfeeding affects everyone in the house, and I only wish more support and advice had been made available to me as I entered the unknown.
So if you know of a service or support group for breastfeeding dads - let me know so I can give other unsuspecting blokes the heads-up. And believe me, it’s a very real issue!