First of all can I just say this will NOT be a preachy “you should be breastfeeding” post. I believe every mother and every child is different. We do our best and that’s what is important.
This post is simply my opinion and why I feel strongly about it. And it follows on from me (stupidly) reading an article in the Daily Fail which I feel didn’t represent all women and instead, as per usual, pitted us against one another.
I chose to breastfeed. I felt strongly about it. It was my choice and I felt like it was the best start I could give Josh in life. I also won’t lie; it was fucking hard work. Oh my God the pain in those early days; sometimes I wondered what I was doing! I remember my own Mother saying to me “just give him a bottle” (something which really agitated me). But I’d made a conscious choice to breastfeed and I was determined to get through the pain barrier and make it happen. And I did. I’m so proud that I managed it; it is incredible when you think about how breastfeeding works. Your body naturally produces something specifically designed for your baby to nourish this little life you’ve brought into the world. And for that I am proud of myself and the fact I stuck it out and got through those first early weeks.
And more importantly I won’t apologise for feeling proud of myself or speaking about being pro-breastfeeding.
Ironically breastfeeding, something that is positive, natural, and if you are able to do it, beautiful, seems to stir up a lot of negative emotions; judgement, fear of being a failure, embarrassment. Breastfeeding is NOT always easy. There are things thrown in to the mix to add to the challenge (because carrying a human for 9 months in the midst of daily vomiting and feeling like a whale, only to then have to endure hours of pain and feeling like you’re going to explode whilst you get said tiny human out of your body one way or another, simply isn’t enough). Tongue Tie, milk supply issues, sleep deprivation, a lack of support on how the bloody hell to get started; it simply isn’t always easy.
And sadly this results in some Mums feeling like failures. They aren’t! Every Mums journey (sorry, I know people hate that word) is different. Every Mother makes decisions and choices for her family that are right for her; there is nothing quite like Mothers instinct. I support my fellow Mamas and their choices.
However, I do feel sometimes that choices such as mine, those of us who happen to feel passionate about breastfeeding, aren’t quite as supported. I feel like we’re instinctively labelled, negatively, as the “breastfeeding brigade” and seen as someone who will verbally butcher other Mums who choose not to breastfeed. For me this is simply not the case and it irritates me that I almost feel I have to keep quiet about my thoughts on breastfeeding for fear of offending those that bottle-feed. And that isn’t right; just as it isn’t right to shame those who bottle feed. Doing one over the other doesn’t make you a better mother than someone else. It creates this unsupportive circle, where women and mothers should be there for each other.
Personally I believe these stigmas, combined with the fact that we’re incredibly still stuck in a place where people judge those who feed in public, do impact on the reason why the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Only 1% of women in the UK exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of the babies life. It makes me want to do something to help other women, fellow Mamas. It’s a sad truth that sometimes Mum’s don’t always get as much support in hospital after birth to get the hang of breastfeeding. After a horrendous labour, resulting in an emergency C Section I was sent home after two days with a box of painkillers and a baby; madness when you look at it like that. I still hadn’t quite grasped feeding and as I’ve said, it really fucking hurt. I was beyond lucky that in the area where I live there was a dedicated breastfeeding team who came out on numerous occasions to help me find positions to feed in and encourage me. I honestly don’t know how I’d have coped without them. So you can imagine my devastation when I found out that the team no longer exists due to NHS funding issues. It infuriated me to be honest; from what you see in the media, they are really trying to encourage normalising breastfeeding, but not offering the support some Mums desperately need.
There isn’t much I can do other than speak positively about it and hopefully encourage just one person. It makes the difference. I don’t want to be silenced; I don’t want to feel like if I dare say I am pro breastfeeding I’ll be labelled as a milk tyrant telling other women what to do! That isn’t who I am. But I do want to encourage other Mums; I want them to be able to breastfeed in Costa without fear of being judged by someone side-eyeing you from the next table. How can you judge a Mum for giving her baby what he or she needs. I want every Mother to receive support and realise that breastfeeding can be incredible.
It shouldn’t be a label; it doesn’t make me any more special than my bottle feeding friends. But it is special to me and I am determined to breastfeed the new baby for as long as I can. I had an amazing 14 month journey with Josh and nursing and I hold it dearly in my heart. It is a part of me as a Mother and something I feel proud of. And will continue to feel proud of. But it doesn’t make me better than anyone else.
It’s not always an easy thing to do, and there are so many Mums out there who have determinedly tried, Mums who didn’t get the chance to try, and Mums that made their personal choice not to breastfeed. Whatever your situation is, us Mums are all legends. I will always support my fellow Mamas and their choices. And in return, I pray you’ll support mine and my personal views on breastfeeding and why it’s so important to me.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week. Let’s all support each other rather than tearing each other down. We’re all doing our best.
PS. I won’t read that crap rag anymore it just infuriates me. It does create some good blog post material though 😉