Before I was pregnant with my first, I was ignorant to a lot of things. Breast feeding was one of them. I had the attitude that I was most definitely not going to breastfeed my baby, there was no way I was going to have saggy boobs. (which by the way is pregnancy related) On top of that I was definatley not about to whip it out in public. Can you imagine the looks? Not to mention all the opportunist perverts skulking around. No thank you!
I come from a health care background and was fortunate enough to spend about 4 years working in maternity. Primarily on a post natal ward, where I looked after new mum’s and their babies. I learned a lot about new-born babies which would later help me in some aspects of first time parenting.
I had constant training on Breastfeeding and the new guidelines surrounding the topic, which would equip me to go and offer support to all the new mummies on the ward.
We were taught all the amazing benefits of breast-feeding! I won’t bore you will all of them, but here’s a few;
- Helps with the bonding process between mother and baby
- Can be used to comfort and settle baby
- Helps reduce the risk of obesity in babies
- Helps baby to fight off infections
- Reduces the risk of Breast/Ovarian Cancer
- Reduces the risks off SIDS ( Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
There are many more, but you hear all that and it kind of makes you feel differently. When you get over the whole ’embarrassing’ thing and the ‘vanity’ aspect, to do anything other than breast feed kind of makes you feel guilty.
So there I was sitting in training thinking, Omg I have to breast feed. I felt like this and I wasn’t even pregnant yet!
After training we were expected to go around the wards and offer support. My interpretation of this was to ask Mum what she wanted to do. If she said formula I accepted, and asked if she needed any help with making up a bottle. If she said breast-feeding then I would sit down, and offer her support with attachment and answer any questions she might have.
However this wasn’t good enough. I felt like myself and colleagues were always badgered by senior staff, into almost forcing breast-feeding upon the mother, especially if that had been written in her after care plan.
Well god forbid someone should change their mind. I never listened to them anyway, I was not about to make a new mother feel even worse than she probably already was.
I witnessed this ‘breast bullying culture’ with my own eyes many a time. There is such a thing as ENOUGH. Once you have explained all the benefits of breastfeeding, it is then up to Mum to make an informed decision. But often this was not the case. Mothers would lie in their bed in tears because they just couldn’t get the baby to latch. Meanwhile bubba has been screaming his/her head off for longer than what I would say was acceptable.
This is not good for mother or baby.
One of the most important things that a new-born needs in those first few days of life is a happy mother. If Mum isn’t happy you can rest assure baby isn’t happy either! I had women crying their eyes out to me, claiming that they felt guilty because certain members of staff had made them feel as if they would be less of a mother if they formula fed.
Mothers who not only felt pressure from staff but also from husbands, and other family members. Interfering mother in-laws that knew everything there was to know even though they had theirs 35 years ago!
Sometimes I just wanted to scream! CAN WE ALL JUST LEAVE THIS POOR WOMAN ALONE FOR A SECOND!!!
Many first time mum’s do not have the birth they had hoped for. The relaxing water birth, the candle lit room with their favourite artists playing quietly in the background.
Lets be honest for a lot of us it was more like something out of a horror movie.
Excruciating labour that lasts for hours/days! Limited pain relief. Massive Blood Loss. Stiches. Emergency Cesearian. Forceps delivery. Episiotomy. Dignity out the window. Different people putting their fingers inside you like someone preparing a chicken!Manual Removal of Placenta…gosh the list goes on.
So can we please give it up to the mum’s who made it! Who actually managed to go through some if not all of the above and actually survive! Where’s the respect for that. We should be saluting them after birth not making them feel shit about a choice they made.
My point is this. Babies need feeding. Yes Breast milk has many benefits and is something that needs careful consideration before deciding not too.
However sometimes for whatever reason some Mum’s are just not feeling it, and if that’s the case then we need to respect these decisions and offer support for formula fed babies instead.
There are of course many things you should know about formula feeding, and how to make sure you are storing safely ext; but that’s another story, and there is plenty of information about this on the net. NHS Guidelines, Off to the best start, UNICEF to name a few.
I on the other hand did breast feed, I gave into pressures and guilt. Do I regret it HELL NO. In fact I wish I had have stuck at it a bit longer. I never seemed to have enough…..lets just say he was a porker and he always wanted more. So I gave in at around 10 weeks and began mixed feeding.
But I have to say I really enjoyed it, once I got over the first couple of days of painful nipples and more contractions! ( I know can you believe that s***)! Nobody tells you about that do they!!
After the first few days, I grew to love it. The bond was, and still is tight! The feeling that I was giving my son the best nutrients made by myself especially catered for him(Wow women really are amazing) was powerful and beautiful. Not to mention not having to get up in the night to make a bottle. Nope just whipped it out and off to sleep I went! Bliss!
There are many pros and cons to both and its important that we all make a decision that’s right for us. Babies need to be fed, but as important as feeding is, there are key factors that contribute to your babies wellbeing, and that starts with Mum.
- Mum needs to feel happy and supported so she can then offer support to her offspring.
- Mum needs to feel confident in her decisions so whatever she decides to do, she does it the best way she can.
- Mum needs to create a calm and stable environment for baby to feed so that he/she is taking in enough nutrients to keep her healthy.
Would you feel like eating if your Mum was balling her eyes out in front of you, or Mum and Dad were arguing and shouting at the dinner table? Babies are not any different from us, they just need a little more TLC and a happy Mummy!
So lets all just be a little kinder to new mum’s, a little more understanding and supporting. Honestly if you take this advice, everyone’s a winner.
Below are some useful websites for all you pregnant and new mummies!
Happy reading x