Fiona Tarantino-Poliri, Lenzie

SEVEN years ago, I was at a family wedding and saw a distant relative, a cousin I didn’t really know too well, breastfeeding her three-year-old.

I remember thinking at the time it was a little weird. I saw her again just recently, and told her – if I could go back in time to that day, I’d come over and give you a high five.

I’m breastfeeding my daughter Meena, who is now two and a half, and I get that people don’t understand that. I really do. We don’t live in a breastfeeding-friendly society – we don’t really live in a child-friendly society – and if you don’t see something happening around you all the time, you just don’t understand it.

There is a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed and very little support for them when it doesn’t happen for them right away. I really struggled when Meena was born – a complicated labour, a forceps delivery and a big blood loss took its toll on us both. She was sleepy and finding it hard to latch on, and there was a delay in my milk production. I used donor milk – from a local mum, a friend I trusted – and that made all the difference.

Often, it is not the case that women cannot breastfeed, just that the support is not there when it is hard at first, and then they give up. But little steps do help. Understanding the difference donated milk made to me made me want to give something back, so I started to donate my milk to the Glasgow Milk Bank.

I organised Scotland’s first breastfeeding festival recently, and I was really proud to make it happen. Boobstock – the name is a play on Waynestock in the film Wayne’s World, of which I’m a huge fan – was a fun and informative day celebrating the wonders of human milk and supporting parents and wee people.

The milk bank, which provides screened, pasteurised human milk to babies who have no or limited access to their mother’s milk, is a fantastic resource. It is operated by One Milk Bank Scotland. You are given a medical and a blood test, they send you bottles and instructions and volunteers come back to pick up the milk. It is super-easy, and you know you are supporting another mum who is struggling.

There is a misconception it’s just for premature babies, which is not the case, or that bottle milk is just as good. The truth is that formula milk cannot be compared to human milk, which is a living, constantly changing substance. People need to know the facts so they can make an informed decision. There is a lot of bad advice given to new mums, albeit from well-intentioned people. It makes me angry.

I didn’t want Boobstock to be preachy or boring, I wanted to make sure we could have a bit of fun too. There were some really inspiring stories from other mums and great guest speakers. It was a lot of work pulling it all together, especially with a toddler and a new baby on the way (I am three months pregnant with our second child). But I feel very strongly about doing this. Crusade is perhaps too strong a word, but I’m certainly out to spread the word that breastfeeding is possible, it is great, it is necessary.

Ann Fotheringham