I love this time of year not just because it is the month I was born, the month my husband was born and the month we were married but I love the month, the season, the light, the colours, they just suit me. Is it my freckles and what was strawberry blonde hair? (my husband won’t have it I was a ‘ginger’ as a child, but more about inclusivity later in this piece). I live in one of the most tree dense cities in England, yes, Milton Keynes isn’t just known for its concrete cows but line upon line of beautiful trees and in October they are a sight to behold.
Photograph courtesy of @parkstheparkstrust and @destinationmk
October is also a month full of awareness days, weeks and months. This is why it has taken until the last day to pull together some commentary and information in way of a reflection on the past weeks. The following are just a few:
- Breast Cancer Awarenes Month
- Black History Month
- HEART Cholesterol Awareness Week
- ADHD Awareness Month
- Pituitary Awareness Month
- National Work Life Balance Week
- Public Health Workforce Week
- National Adoption Week
- Menopause Awareness Day
To (talk) Boobies or Not to (talk) Boobies
That is the question. Do you like a my T-Shirt? Should I wear this as I open the door to Trick or Treaters tonight?
Raising awareness this month of Breast Cancer turns our conversations to the female mammary gland. A subject of humour for some, of child nutrition for others, of sexuality for some or for sometimes, a subject of trauma or loss for others, or a symbol of womanhood.
For me they have been pretty much all of the above for me. They developed early, I was wolf whistled as a girl, yes the 70’s were an awful time, they attracted the opposite sex, they fed my four child children, they were the reason I became a midwife specialising in infant feeding, the reason I got cancer, the reason I lost a part of my body and gained a new and improved version with a tummy tuck, boob reconstruction and boob reduction (on the good side) and the reason behind my health profession as an IBCLC and my business MumPod Company Limited.
So should we normalise Boobs? Is it ok that I wear this T-Shirt with humour in mind, with raising awareness in mind, with starting conversations in mind?
Black History Month
Well Milton Keynes you have done yourself proud and celebrated some amazing black women, many of whom I am proud to call my friends with The Black Female Pioneers of Milton Keynes 2023 . My husband and I were invited to an awesome evening celebrating Black History Month by our “new” friends Sabrina and Damian Shadie at NatWest with the Diverse Business Network listening to the moving talk from Lisa Lovell on Resilience and Enterprise and tasting amazing food from the African Vegan Jaw Asimiah and loved his interactive talk.
And now the rest…
I am the master of finding something to talk about on pretty much any subject and linking most of it back to me, breastfeeding, equality, health and closing the gender pay gap. So her goes.
Cholesterol Awareness Month
Did you know that breastfeeding exclusively in the first 3 months can lower your levels of ‘bad cholesterol” but the levels of “good” cholesterol remain the same.
I found out in October that I my cholesterol levels are very good when I have my “ladies of a certain age” healthcheck.
National Work Life Balance Week
This is an interesting one because this can be so hard to achieve and can we really have it all. I would argue that that it is isn’t about having it all its about being able to make choices and not being penalised. I shared an interesting Linked In post from Elliot Rae about the top 50 Companies offering Equal Parental Leave https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7122314656446062593
To enable mums to return to work earlier and truly share the parenting roles supporting them to continue to breastfeed, if this is their choice, is hugely important.
Choosing to breastfeed is a “parenting” choice, it’s a health choice for both breastfeeding the parent and the breastfeeding infant. So I challenge those organisations on this impressive list to check your maternity policies, check the facilities you offer breastfeeding parents and check your line managers level of understanding of why breastfeeding is important to their staff and the business.
Public Health Workforce Week
Well who knew there was such an awareness day. Perhaps if we focused more on those working in the health service we wouldn’t have such a crisis on our hands. Did you catch my interview on Channel 4 this month about why I left my role in the public sector? https://www.channel4.com/news/maternity-services-crisis-poll-shows-midwives-leaving-nhs-due-to-stress-and-burnout
National Adoption Week
I am adopted and I was born in October as was my birth mother. I feel great privilege that my birth mother chose my parents and I have had the best life.
Menopause Awareness Day
Great to see this is a topic of conversation and awareness is being highlighted, with nitiatives and coaching programmes widely available. Not just for those experiencing the symptoms of but for their line managers and colleagues. I was having a chat with a corporate equality, diversity and inclusion lead about why this is gaining so much focus, whereas the needs of the pregnant and breastfeeding employee are less prevalent. I often will refer to “pregnancy and breastfeeding” as the Cinderalla of the staff wellbeing arena.
ADHD Awareness Month
I have noticed how prevalent conversations around ADHD are and I have one of my 4 children diagnosed and the rest of the family are pretty sure we are all somewhere on the spectrum. Which leads me to my usual view on life we are all individuals and our difference defines our uniqueness.
Pituitary Awareness Month
The pituitary gland it vital in the release of the hormones, prolactin and oxytocin. One of the most common pituitry related conditions is hyperprolactinoma . One of the symptoms is over stimulation of breastmilk. Interestingly though on the charities website there is little information or support for breastfeeding parents.