Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Breastfeeding - Vive le Différence!
Ah, the eternal touchy subject for mothers, mothers to be, healthcare professionals, people who have absolutely no bearing or interest in breastfeeding and so on.
I'm not sure why it's such a touchy one. Surely, each to their own, live and let live, vive le différence etc etc.
I have a number of reasons for being on the, "who gives a shit" side of the fence.
First, the argument that it creates obese kids later in life. Right, let me stop you right there. Yes, I am obese, morbidly so as they like to point out at the GPs. Yes, I was exclusively bottlefed. My husband? Oh yes, my husband is also morbidly obese. He was exclusively breastfed. Therefore, shove this argument up your bum because clearly, it has no basis.... Okay, so we're just two people and I'm sure they've done further research than just studying the outcome of two individual upbringings, but I kinda believe that it was actually as a result of depression, low family income, living on benefits for a time, cheap, processed foods and comfort eating that my husband and I are in the state we are. Coupled with naff all self control and will power (yeah, I'm going to start wheeling out the excuses for being fat!) it's a shit outcome.
Add to this, the fact that I was only able to breastfeed my daughter for 7 weeks before going absolutely, murderously, dangerously psychotic that I switched to formula, at which point, she thrived, I became happier, I think we probably bonded more and I enjoyed leaving the house with her and I got my independence back, both with her and without her (sod off, we all need that time off, and let's not forget that until 4 months previously I had 100% freedom to do whatever the heck I wanted!). Is my daughter obese? Far from it. She's always been long and thin! She's incredibly active and eats a balanced diet (it's just that my husband and I are secret, sedentary eaters that we're in the mess we're in).
My second reason, the bonding thing. I am not, for one minute, going to doubt that it must create a very strong bond between a mother and their newborn. However, I also believe and have experienced, that same closeness from bottle feeding, maybe not AS close, but still a strong bond. I don't need to have my breast in their mouth to feel that love and surge and bond.
My third and final reason is to challenge the fact that it isn't good for the baby (although to be fair, I haven't really thought about this to such an extent that I had a defined list of reasons!). If it wasn't good, they wouldn't continue to sell formula. As a friend of mine has just pointed out, we're not mainlining crack to our kids for heaven's sake. She has also experienced how her child has thrived since the switch to formula.
Just because someone has taken the decision to bottle feed doesn't make them a bad person! We are all just trying to do what is right for our babies and for ourselves. For me, the decision to stop was something I struggled with for a while, I had pressure from my husband and pressure from health visitors, but once I made the decision to switch, it was like a 10 ton weight had lifted from my shoulders and for the first time in 6 weeks I began to enjoy my daughter, and not dread her next cries.
In the current climate, it is increasingly hard for a mother (and father) to decide to bottle feed without an onslaught of dirty looks, harsh words and lack of support. I know it's the government recommendation, but come on, midwives and health visitors are humans and 8 out of 10 are also mothers themselves - would a little bit of human compassion, understanding and support hurt?
If someone wants to bottle feed, why, HOW, can the healthcare professionals they rely on for advice and support just turn their backs? Isn't that more dangerous?! Especially with first time mothers, it's bloody bewildering and hard as it is without tuts and dirty looks from health visitors and midwives who just continue to man handle your breasts into your child's tiny mouth?! (Genuinely, this all happened to me; I had a midwife on more than one occasion take my boob out and shove it into my daughter's mouth and I had such dirty looks, raised eyebrows and basically was told to piss off by a health visitor when I eventually said, "I cannot do this to myself and my daughter any more, I am switching to formula.")
Now, I'm sure this post will earn me some flak (from all 0 of my readers) from the 'Breastapo'. But what I really want to say, is PLEASE ladies, stop being so horrid to each other! It isn't empowering. It isn't smart or helpful. It's HURTFUL! On both sides, and I'm probably just as guilty. As I said at the start, each to their own, live and let live, vive le différence! I just find it so heartbreaking that other mothers can all be so mean to each other over what is a very, deeply, personal choice.
As for my next foray into child rearing? I am going to give it another go and be better prepared this time, but, if it doesn't work out and my child isn't thriving and it's ultimately causing more harm than good, I am going to have no qualms about cracking out the Aptamil!