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.
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?