Breastfeeding – The Message will Never Change

It’s National Breastfeeding Week and I thought I would re-vamp an old post I wrote a while ago on breastfeeding and how the message will never change.

 When I posted this back in 2015 a study had been published to show if you had been breastfed you may have an IQ 7 points higher on average, due to an activated gene.
Another study to of course back breastfeeding but at the same time make those who don’t feel a little uncomfortable.

I am still breastfeeding my second and did my first for around 10 months. The first 2 weeks for my first were horrible. I have never felt such pain when the milk came in. I look back at pictures of my boobs; they looked like 2 melons stuck to my chest. I had a cracked nipple. One boob grew bigger than the other giving me a lasting memento of the experience (a massive purple stretchmark) and my gremlin never really got into a proper routine, ie, she demand fed the whole time. Usually every 90-120 minutes but luckily not too much at night.  Despite that it was worth it and was the right thing for us both. I’ve done it again with my second.

However, it isn’t for everyone. My Mum didn’t breastfeed me. She felt awful at the time and I think it does still bother her, the lack of support at the time. I wouldn’t latch on. I was screaming, she was crying. She was given a bottle and the rest is history. Still if the subject is brought up, she is very defensive. And why not? It was HER decision and right for her and me. I have friends who didn’t. They medically couldn’t; the decision taken out of their hands. Or the misery they felt was just too much. A hungry baby and a completely exhausted parent is not good and therefore switching over worked for them. Fair does. Happy Mummy does usually equal happy baby.

Some of blog posts I do read are quite angry about how they felt pressured to breastfeed by medical and health professionals and wanted to put a health professionals prospective on this. I work as a dietitian and under our registration guidelines we have to practice using evidence based guidance. So what the big studies (that are half decent and reliable) say we go from. If we didn’t we could be struck off.  Basically we have to recommend what the evidence tells us.

Bottom line breast is best.

It is the gold standard.

Formula nowadays is amazing but will never do the same thing breast milk does. It’s just how it is. Therefore a health professional would not be doing their job if they did not try and push it at first. They have to do it and in no way should the Government also be encouraging anything else. I read somewhere that Boots won’t give Points for baby formula under Government guidance which I have to say I agree with and would even if I bottle fed. It would be like the Government slacking on the 5 A Day message because people don’t like fruit.

BUT, BUT BUT (before I get lynched for saying the above) the way this is gone about and a decision not to breastfeed, does need to be handled better. For example, in my job if an obese person came to me and admitted eating far too much chocolate I wouldn’t belittle and make them feel guilty. I would try and problem solve and ultimately respect the adult decision they had made. Chocolate may not be the best thing for them but my job is to support, not judge.

A decision not to breastfeed needs to be handled in exactly the same way. Health-professionals need to troubleshoot, guide and support women and ultimately if the decision is to stop or not even start breastfeeding, not judge. We are looking at adult women, not children(!), who have the right to make the best decision for them and their babies. A women should be able to make the decision and it sit well with them, not feel a barrage of guilt and misery and certainly not like they have failed. No-one ever has the right to make someone feel like that, especially in a caring profession.

Ultimately health professionals have to do their job and they do have to push that breast is best. This message is unlikely to ever change. I have to to do this with any pregnant ladies I look after but if the decision for them is bottle is best, who am I to judge?

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44 Comments

  1. April 6, 2015 / 6:42 am

    Really interesting post hon and could to read it from a healthcare perspective. You're totally right that breast is best when it is possible but I definitely agree that there needs to be less judgement when it is not possible as we all want what is best for out babies, and as with your mum, feel guilty enough on our own. Difficult to find the balance though I guess I feel there needs to be more honesty about the fact it isn't easy for everyone in the hope it would stop new mums feeling like they are somehow at fault when it is not going well. Fab post thanks for sharing with #MaternityMondays xx

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 8:08 am

      Thanks Caroline. I had read so many posts which inspired me to write this one. We have to push it but there needs to be a lot more work done on supporting ladies that don't choose to breastfeed x

  2. April 6, 2015 / 7:28 am

    I can totally see where the breast is best message is going, of course it's always going to be the best – that's what it's designed for! However I definitely think there needs to be less pressure on those who decide against it xx

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 8:08 am

      Definitely Emily. I have spoken to some people who felt awful and it shouldn't be like that at all xx

  3. April 6, 2015 / 8:46 am

    I understand why professionals must educate & advise new mums I just don't agree with the 'pushing' towards breastfeeding even if it's not what is best for the parents. Women shouldn't be made to feel 'forced' into doing it or shamed for not doing it. It's good to see a professional that understands that breast isn't always best #MaternityMondays

    Gym Bunny Mummy | Bloglovin’ | Facebook

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      Completely agree and thanks for the comment. No one should ever feel ashamed as it's so personal and it is so hard!! x

  4. April 6, 2015 / 9:03 am

    Great post, I think you are totally right, less judgement. We should be given support and advice and encouragement, not pressured into something and made to feel guilty.
    I am still breastfeeding Boo at 15 months, but I like you nearly didn't those early days were awful, but with support from my husband we managed to get through it. I think people need to be made aware of how difficult those early days can be so that they know that they aren't doing anything wrong and that it does get better. Honesty about how breastfeeding really is as well as support is what's needed in my opinion.

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 2:29 pm

      I'm glad you managed. I was the same, without hubby would have quit. He just got up in the night too and did everything else. Honesty is definitely needed as it is so not all lovely and rosey!! x

  5. April 6, 2015 / 10:27 am

    Lovely post, I think you're right that breast is best ultimately and that's what healthcare advisers should say BUT end of the day it is about freedom of choice, we don't live in a dictatorship so shouldn't dictate. And there are times when obviously it isn't best because of the mothers well being.

    I agree with odd socks I had no idea how hard the first week would be, I was sat at home crying as he wouldn't latch on and rocking in the chair, the support number given to me was no good. I got it in the end but there definitely needs to be a good support system in place. I am hoping second time round is easier!! #maternitymondays

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 2:31 pm

      Thanks Laura. I think healthcare professionals do need to be less pushy and more supportive of a final decision. It is just so hard in those first few weeks xx

  6. April 6, 2015 / 10:32 am

    I think you are absolutely right, that support and (gentle encouragement) and is key here. I had a very old fashioned midwife who made feel like a complete and utter selfish cow for switching to bottle-feeding. She didn't take my feelings into a count at all and was only concerned with how my baby was being fed. I think sometimes the healthcare professionals forget they are meant to be looking after the well-being of two people, not just one.

    #mummymonday

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 2:32 pm

      That's just horrible really and so not what you need at first when everything is so new and scary. That's a good point – the mums are sometimes forgotten. Not just all about the baby xx

  7. April 6, 2015 / 10:59 am

    I agree that breast is best – for those who can manage it. I think that's the message I would like to see more. I breastfed all of my children, and it was hard, and it hurt. Well done to ALL mummies bringing up their babies in the way that's right for them 🙂

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 2:33 pm

      A good message you are right! Thanks for the comment x

  8. April 6, 2015 / 11:40 am

    What a really balanced post. Mums have enough guilt anyway and while breast is best, all mums do a great job feeding their child whatever way is best for them. #MaternityMondays

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 2:33 pm

      Thanks Emma and will be popping over to you soon to have a read. It's a hard job with all the feeds regardless. xx

  9. April 6, 2015 / 12:11 pm

    Great post!! Really well balanced. We can't deny that breast is best, it is. I tried so hard to breast feed but Mini M was tongue tied and despite both of us trying and trying it didn't happen. I was devastated and beat myself up about it but the woman I had been seeing from the breastfeeding support group was really supportive and told me I had to do what was best for me and my baby, that made me feel a little less like a failure. It's important for mums to know that you have to do what is best for you, yes there are guidelines but that's what they are, guidelines xx

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 2:34 pm

      Thank you! That's the thing sometimes it just can't work and there should be no guilt for that. Glad you had some good support in the end though xx

  10. April 6, 2015 / 2:59 pm

    My wife breastfeeds and loves it and I love that she loves it BUT I fully agree with all women doing what suits them and theirs and there being no judgement. Well done to all the mums whether they breastfeed or not 🙂

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 3:05 pm

      I remember it being lovely, especially when my little one fell asleep and her little puckered mouth! Glad your wife has had a good experience too! xx

  11. April 6, 2015 / 6:30 pm

    Brilliant post Saz. As you know I struggled and managed 8 weeks, put myself under tremendous pressure and felt like a failure. Determined to give it another shot this time round but won't put myself under the pressure this time. You speak alot of sense in this post 🙂 Mwah X

  12. mm April 6, 2015 / 7:02 pm

    Thanks hun! Yes I remember! You still did a good job for 8 weeks though xxx

  13. April 6, 2015 / 8:03 pm

    Great post. It's funny because I actually felt the pressure to NOT breastfeed. I found that I had to really push for it. Found it very difficult at start, and now 10 months on it's the best thing I ever did 🙂

    • mm April 6, 2015 / 8:24 pm

      Really? That's really strange to hear. Maybe different areas? So glad you did an enjoying it! Thanks for the comment xx

  14. April 6, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    Everyone's different, I breastfed my second very successful,y, still hell on earth for first few weeks! My first baby was s bit of a breastfeeding fail (in my eyes). I felt pressure from everywhere, my hubby was the only true support. Some people just don't want to breastfeed, it's just not something they want to do x

    • mm April 7, 2015 / 6:12 pm

      It's such hard work isn't it? Hubbys are lifesavers! I know what you mean. For some it isn't even an option x

  15. April 6, 2015 / 10:59 pm

    I breastfed five kids. After my 1st child it just came naturally but oh lord I can understand why people don't want to do it. I felt like I was in constant feed mode; it was exhausting and expressing milk was a pain. I don't judge anyone for wanting to bottle feed but I stuck with it although I'm glad I don't have to go through it all again.

    • mm April 7, 2015 / 6:12 pm

      Wow good on you! You do feel like a human cow at the time don't you? Hard work and especially with other little ones I can imagine! xx

  16. April 7, 2015 / 7:38 am

    I breastfed my first until over 2 and second is still breastfed at 15 months. I had always chosen to bf, but when I didn't get much sleep with my first the HV kept trying to convince me to bottle feed! In this area they need to support bf mums a bit more in my opinion. If a woman chooses to bottle feed by their own decision that's fine, but a woman who is struggling to bf should be supported more to help her with her decision. I know several friends who could have bf longer if their babies tongue tie had been spotted earlier for example.

    • mm April 7, 2015 / 6:15 pm

      You have done well then. Can't believe you were told to bottle feed. It is so strange the different things and advice. You are right more support is needed and it need to be the same in all areas xx

  17. April 7, 2015 / 10:48 am

    Fabulous post Sarah and a very balanced perspective from a healthcare professional. There is a fine line between ensuring someone is well-informed about their choices and pushing them towards a particular choice and it is hard to tread that line sometimes. I do feel sometimes though that there isn't enough support to help women who are struggling with breastfeeding and again there needs to be that balance between supporting and respecting choices when stopping breastfeeding feels like the right thing to do. #twinklytuesday

    • mm April 7, 2015 / 6:15 pm

      Thanks Louise that is great to here. I agree with everything you have said x

  18. April 7, 2015 / 6:11 pm

    Great post, I breastfed my daughter for 11 and a half months and it did come naturally to me (apart from the cluster feeding at night for the first few weeks!) but I understand it's not easy or even possible for some women to do it. #twinklytuesday

    Carolyn
    http://stylishmemories.com

    • mm April 7, 2015 / 6:16 pm

      The cluster feeding was a nightmare! I remember being chained to the sofa for ages!! Thanks for the comment and well done for going so long! xx

  19. April 8, 2015 / 4:17 pm

    Such a great post — I totally agree. I was desperate to feed my boys and managed it too. Not for long — I tandem fed for 3 months — but it was long enough for me.

    That said, to be made to feel inadequate because you don't/won't/can't breastfeed is intolerable. Some people are so judgemental aren't they? Each to their own at the end of the day. Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday x

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

    • mm April 8, 2015 / 6:56 pm

      Thanks Caro. 3 months is pretty darn good though! It's definitely a personal choice and people shouldn't be so judgemental. Thanks for hosting!! x

  20. April 8, 2015 / 7:53 pm

    Great post, it echoes a lot of what I think about breastfeeding! I EBF for 6 weeks before combination feeding, and then weaned at 4 months. Yes 4 months, don't shoot me people, it was right for my son. And that's the thing isn't it? It's about what's right for you and your baby, without feeling like you're going to get judged for it. So sad that people feel they have to have an opinion on other peoples choices! It really is each to their own and people forget it's not their business to stick their ore in! #maternitymondays xx

    • mm April 11, 2015 / 1:53 pm

      haha we gave some food at 4.5 months. I was going mad with the frequent feeds. No judgement at all! You are so right people need to mind their own x

  21. April 8, 2015 / 9:48 pm

    Yes breast is medically best, but there's more than 'medical' in considering what's best for a women and her child. It was definitely best in every way for my Precious Sparkle and I, though i had to fight tooth and nail to make it really happen for us in a way that I was contented.

    Thanks for giving some insights into the health professional's view.

    As for the guilt issue, I wonder if we put some of it on ourselves as women. We do what's best for our families and our situation and despite what people say, it's helpful to find our peace with our decisions.

    Anwyays, there's enough room for all of us, breast … bottle … breastmillk …formula. I refused the breast and I turned out alright. #MaternityMondays

    • mm April 11, 2015 / 1:54 pm

      It's a hard struggle isn't it? No worries thanks for reading. I think we need to step back and stop feeling so guilty. I'm the same as you no breast. x

  22. April 9, 2015 / 7:30 am

    An interesting read, I didn't breast feed because my son was premature and we were both poorly etc etc. I had decided I wanted to express for first couple of weeks as I personally don't like the whole boob feeding thing for me but got best of both expressing. I would try do that second time round if I ever have another. But my son was bottle fed in the end. One day though the neonatal nurse came in to Corey's room whilst I was with my mum sitting at his bed side, closed to curtains, showed me an electric pump and started undressing me. I was so shocked, that I didn't know what to do. I agree that health professionals need a better way to handle it. Most in my local hospital explain but if baby doesn't latch or it isn't mother's choice, then they just let the mum get on with it. Like you say happy mum is happy baby 🙂 That is most important.

    thank you for linking up to #mummymonday – Love Gemma – host xo
    http://www.sunshineonacloudyday.co.uk

    • mm April 11, 2015 / 1:55 pm

      Thanks Gemma. That's terrible that you were just undressed without any real choice or proper explanation! Sorry to hear you were both so poorly but it sounds like all worked out in the end with bottle feeding! Happy all around x

  23. April 9, 2015 / 9:50 pm

    Great post! I did breastfeed both my children but had trouble withmy second as he had a tongue tie. It was discovered late so much supply hadn't been established how it should have and I was in so much pain. But I was made to feel a failure by some healthcare professionals. I so wanted to carry on as it was what I wanted to do but unfortunetly I had to give up and it broke my heart. I totally agree they need to change how they deal with mothers as we are human, have feelings and after having a baby our hormones are raging xx #twinklytuesdays

    • mm April 11, 2015 / 1:56 pm

      Thanks very much 🙂 You shouldn't have been made to feel like a failure as really it was out of your hands. And the hormones…phew nightmare! Really don't need upset on top of that xxx