Breastfeeding in the UK
I have been debating for a long time whether to put my views out there on this but have been worried of the backlash it might cause...
Ok so lets get one thing straight; I am not a crusader for or against, and I do not dispute that breast is best and the natural order of things, HOWEVER, something that gets my goat follow:
I did not breast feed. And it made me feel awful. All the posters in the maternity ward told me I was harming my child, I would not have a bond wiht her like all the other mums had and I was definately, defiantely a selfish, uncaring, vain mother. Apparently.
The choice to not breastfeed was personal just as the choice to breastfeed is, but it was not a decision I took lightly. When my little girl was a few hours old she had low blood sugar and the midwives took her away to try to increase it. I was told to get some rest. Obviously I did not rest! They had just taken away the one person I was meant to look after forever and she was only 3 hours old! I was a mess! They eventually bought her back to me on the basis that I would only rest if they did. The next day was spent breastfeeding, every 10-15 minutes, with help form my midwive and partner but she was still low on sugar despite me having eating an enourmous amount of food and fruit to boost ny sugars. Yet again the midwives suggested I top her up with a ready made bottle they had. This pattern continued for a few days. One night on the ward I was feeding every few minutes when I started to fall asleep. I was petrified. the last thing I wanted was to fall asleep with her on me but everytime I put her down she cried and the woman in the next bed kept complaining about her! I had not slept for over 36 hours so called on the midwives who assured me I was doing the right thing asking for help even though I felt like a failure. I was sent home the following day after being discharged as fine but the following day resulted in me passing out from a severe infection that no one had spotted at the hospital or on a home visit. I was out of it for a few hours and had to leave my daughter with my partner whilst my father ran me to the emergency doctors.
As it turned out we decided to bottle feed in the end. Which I would sometimes do hunched over crying with the fear of being a bad mum. One GP asked me if bottle fed or breastfed and when I revealed my answer he looked me up and down and muttered "of course". I presume he meant this due to my age and place in soicety and nothing more. It was a feeling and attitude that was prevelant everywhere I went.
The reality was that I had a lovely bond with my daughter, and still do. We would always feed in the quiet, Always, and I would chat away or sing to her right up to 6 months and continued to do so once she was on solids! My partner was just the same and says he is so grateful for the bond he shares with her which stemmed from being able to feed her equally, every day, and being actively involved in the 'hard bit'. When individuals tell me I have 'missed out' out on that bond I want to scream. I know many mothers who breastfeed their children whilst they chat over their heads (which are sometimes entirely covered in a shawl so there is defiantely no eye contact going on there!) to friends over lunch or coffee. Of course I'm not talking about the one off occassion, I'm talking about the serial offender! Naturally there are many mothers who bottlefeed and do exactly the same, or even let the baby do it themsleves. I am not naive enough to not understand how that does not form a bond but I find it extremely offensive and a little ignorant of society to tarr everybody with the same brush.
My daughter has had two ear infections in 2 years and 2 months, she is happy, cuddly, polite (always saying please and thank you which makes me giggle so much because she is so little and it is so lovely!) playful and I believe, that with the exception of us telling her she can not play in the sand pit because it's raining, she loves us.
I am a very sensitive person and I'm also quite the try hard always wanting to please those in charge whether it be teachers, employers or midwives! So not being the best at breastfeeding AND feeling like a failure led to a huge amount of worry and upset for me. Unecessarily as it turned out.
Each mother is different and each decision we make is based on a plethora of individual circumstances. What gives us the right to act superior to other mothers?! Surely people are not naive enough to believe that the bond you have with your child is only formed if you breastfeed or equally that if you bottle feed you are harming your child? I reiterate that Breast is Best, the figures based on world numbers show it, but why can we not leave each other to our own decisions without they judgement and generalisations. Perhaps we should spend more time supporting good mothers, no matter what their decision.
I'll await the backlash shall I?...