It’s World Breastfeeding Week so naturally social media is full of controversial feeding-related posts around “Breast is best”, “Fed is best” and “Informed is best”. Is a feeding slogan needed? Probably not! Is it helpful? I very much doubt it! Does it raise awareness? Unlikely! Well, unless there women out there who do not know the biological function of boobs. I am currently breastfeeding our latest addition but I’m fully aware that there’s a wide spectrum between breast and bottle.
Let’s take a moment to admire these beautiful breastpads by Bambooty and the look on Baby J’s face. He can see that the feeding gloves are off! I get a similar look when I unclip the feeding bra!
Being informed is one thing but how that plays out in reality is where support is lacking. During our overnight stay after the birth of our first, a family was desperate to try bottle feeding so that they could go home but they wouldn’t be discharged until she breastfed successfully. It was heartbreaking to watch as the husband spent yet another night in “the chair”. I couldn’t help thinking “What if that was me?” Who would walk through the alternatives with me if the midwives are only allowed to discuss breastfeeding? I only came with what seemed like a thousand breastpads and feeding bras so I wasn’t prepared for any possible deviation. Thankfully we were off to a good start!
However, a few weeks in, baby started losing weight (his weight never dipped after birth – such a guzzler!). Everyone was keen for me to persevere but kept troubleshooting in the wrong avenue. The assumption was always that I was the problem – either my feeding method or my milk. I changed my diet, attended numerous breastfeeding sessions and even had several chiropractor appointments. It wasn’t until much later that baby’s tongue-tie was discovered. Once that was sorted, the difference in feeding was amazing! No more dull nipple pain, fussing and just lack of the usual general discomfort. Unfortunately, due to the long period of ineffective feeding, I could only feed from one side, which was a revelation, but my chest did look, er, interesting when engorged!
I’d also naively assumed that baby would decide when to stop breastfeeding. Ideally, soon after getting to grips with solids. Boy, was I wrong! He would have carried on till he was 18. Probably. But the magic had long worn off for me. Night times were the hardest and loneliest periods. Was it normal to feel like this? Was I just being selfish? I couldn’t express for overnight feeds as well as nursery because he fed every 2 hours at night. The professionals aren’t allowed to recommend anything other than breastfeeding so who should I ask? We did eventually come to a mutual agreement after 13 months!
So if I was pushed for a slogan, I would say “Support is best”. Not everyone will and can breastfed so midwives & other professionals should allowed to give comprehensive advice. Less of the virtual pat on the back when you say you’re breastfeeding (though it is hard work). Less of the “you know I can’t talk about bottle feeding but…” to mums who are looking into alternatives. Let’s be more open about feeding. Share our experiences and support each other so we can all get off to a good start in the wonderful challenge that is parenting!