Breastfeeding – Love, loathe, couldn’t or angry? Who are you?
I am always fascinated by the emotional responses that often are raised whenever a blog about breastfeeding is released (hence why I have always avoided it to date!).
Just like when discussing pain relief and caesarean sections (I will save those for a later blog) – you usually find that comments come under 4 categories:
Or just plain angry.
And it has always been the angry ones that I feel so much empathy toward – because I have been that woman myself.
- Love it women are passionate and determined. Women that found feeding easy – or terribly hard but “somehow” managed to make it through and breastfeed and are able to go on and enjoy the experience with their baby.
- Loathe it women are passionate and determined. Women that just knew they didn’t want to feed and were resolved enough to stick to their choices. – but women who may sadly have had to endure “judgements” from others (perceived or real).
Now interestingly both Love or Loathe women don’t usually have any judgement on other women’s decision – they are just pleased that their feeding choice works out for them, and recognize that being a new mum is SO hard in SO many ways for all of us.
- Couldn’t feed – women that couldn’t feed for a physical or emotional reason and have to work through their disappointment and accept that a baby has to be fed somehow, even if it isn’t in the manner they may have chosen.
These women don’t usually have any judgement on other women’s decisions either – they are just trying to deal with a decision that has been forced upon them and they understand that being a new mum is SO hard in So many ways for all of us. (yes I did mean to repeat that!)
- Angry. This is the woman who makes comments about other women’s choices, views and experiences – you know who she is – you have seen her comments all over facebook. This woman may feel the need to justify her choice “well, I was told that I didn’t have enough milk / my baby was starving / I hate breastfeeding Nazis / why do women have to whop their boobs out everywhere? / breastfeeding is forced down our throats all the time” etc etc. If she wasn’t angry mum then she would just be love or loathe – the difference is her need to be heard.
I was that angry mum. I wish I hadn’t been – but I was. I was hurting inside and unable to explore or express that adequately. I struggled to feed my daughter and stopped having been told that I couldn’t produce enough milk (I now recognize this to be a lie – it was much easier and achievable for the health care professional to tell me to top up after every meal – rather than come to my home and support me through a feed”. I left the clinic feeling heartbroken – I knew I wanted to feed, and now needed to go home and tell my slightly patronizing sister in law (who had chosen not to breastfeed) that she was right, I should feed the baby formula. I truly felt let down, hurt and disillusioned (why hadn’t anyone told me how hard it would be?) and I spent the next 5 years justifying my choice, to myself and anyone who would listen.
But for the first year I fed my daughter formula and watched her gain weight and grow into a happy and healthy child – and despite my confusion, I was grateful that my daughter had been “saved” from my poor efforts.
Only three children later (all breastfed) – have I the confidence to say “yes, of course I could breastfeed” – but ONLY with the appropriate support – which had been sadly lacking in my particular case. I should have been angry with the system – not the other mums around me. I should have been supported through trying – right up until the point that I recognized the need to feed formula or when I chose that as the right path for my family.
Did you know that 90% of mothers stopping breastfeeding don’t want to!??
That is a tragic figure.
Common probems are cracked nipples and problems getting a baby to latch properly (often symptoms of undiagnosed tongue tie), and commonly leading to baby weight loss – infections, and most commonly – lack of belief in their own ability.
ALL of these problems can be worked through with the correct support, which is available from Childrens centres, Midwives, health visitors, helplines and breastfeeding counsellors.
At Birthability we believe that first and foremost – mothers have the absolute right to decide however they wish to feed their baby. This is just one of millions of decisions they will make on behalf of their child. But for those that wish to breastfeed, strong preparation in pregnancy can increase a mums chance of success. In our classes we offer realistic preparation and useful literature to take home that the mum can look back on in her own time.
If mums find breastfeeding challenging in the early days we can provide 1-2-1 support in the home post-natally if they would prefer a personalized service in their own environment – a service which has helped many of our mums continue to feed their baby for as long as they wanted.
If feeding matters to you then invest your time now by
Speaking to your midwife and asking her what support is available in the early days
Visit your local children’s centre and introduce yourself to the team
Come along to our Pregnancy and Baby fair to talk to postnatal doulas and Breastfeeding counselors about the support you can access across the region – our strength is in signposting you to the best help you can get locally to you.
Don’t let breastfeeding be an “unknown” challenge – Don’t go into those early days unprepared
Don’t get angry – get educated.