by Manpreet Pinder, Mum of one, journalist and host of The Next Feed.
I remember the exact moment first thought about starting a breastfeeding podcast. It was 11 o’clock at night and my baby was just 8 days old. I was trying to stay alert in my sleep deprived state, and found myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone, staring at the little screen in front of me. What if, I thought, there was something I could listen to instead, which wasn’t a million miles away from what my life was like right now? Rather than escapism, I wanted to feel like other people understood what I was going through. Perhaps a podcast about breastfeeding to keep us parents company during those long night feeds? Not just a ‘how to breastfeed’ but a series of conversations that spoke to all aspects of providing breast milk to a baby. A show which spoke about expressing milk (whether through choice or necessity); nursing a an incredibly wriggly baby in public for the first few times (it really does take some getting used to doesn’t it!); navigating a return to work; even approaching the day when you feed your baby breastmilk for the last time.
Before maternity leave I had spent 13 years working in radio so my huge love of audio was already there, but what I didn’t quite have was the time I needed to start such a project. So the idea remained just that – an idea.
Roll on 2.5 years (and lots of brainstorming during late night feeds with my baby) and I finally felt I could manage a few evenings here and there to start creating the podcast. I called it The Next Feed, mainly because I felt like that’s all I ever thought about for the first few months of my baby’s life – “is it already time for the next feed?”
I had a list long list of potential guests I wanted to talk to about their breastfeeding experiences, but what I needed to make sure I included were the organisations and individuals who help mothers and parents. The breastfeeding counsellors, the peer supporters, the IBCLCs, and the charities.
During my own challenging time breastfeeding I had really struggled to access the support I needed. Breastfeeding drop-ins and cafes weren’t running due to Covid-19 restrictions and most of the medical professionals I encountered didn’t know much about lactation. In fact many of them even recommended I make a switch to formula for an easier life. One night, after desperately searching online for help, I thankfully found The Breastfeeding Network. I ended up messaging my local branch on Facebook and received a surprisingly quick response. I was told that a video call could be arranged for the next morning if I wanted it…well you can guess what I said. I can’t put into words how much the support from a trained volunteer meant to me. It won’t surprise you to know that I put the charity straight on my list of ‘potential podcast guests’.
After a little research I discovered that there was a fairly new CEO at The Breastfeeding Network, Catherine Hine. I reached out to her and we met over video call for an initial chat about what the podcast would be about. This isn’t unusual in podcasting, or even in some parts of radio production, but what is unusual is how long we spent in that meeting. We spoke in depth about the importance of breastfeeding and chest feeding support. As soon as we had that meeting I knew Catherine would be a brilliant guest for the show.
When you listen to Catherine speak about infant feeding it’s clear she hugely values breastfeeding, not only as a choice that every mother should have, but also for the way it impacts the rest of society too. She does this without shying away from the political, clearly making the case that the responsibility for protecting breastfeeding falls to the government. It should be taken as seriously as regulating the formula milk industry. Her own experiences of giving birth both in Belgium and the UK add power to her words – she saw a much better system for supporting breastfeeding during the Belgium hospital stay. We did of course also have plenty of time to talk about the work BfN is doing – if you get a chance to listen to Episode 3 of The Next Feed you will hear her championing every single one of the 600 volunteers who empower mothers and others to provide their babies and children with breastmilk.
You can listen to the interview on any podcast player, or click here: