Right, let’s start this blog post off by discussing how I am completely impartial on the topic of formula vs breast milk. I chose to formula feed Rory from day 1 because the idea of breastfeeding used to give me the heebie-jeebies, I then regretted it so I wanted to try breastfeeding Elin and luckily, we both took to it well.
On the subject of feeding babies. I am neutral. I’m Switzerland.
I understand that for mums that couldn’t meet their breastfeeding goals, National Breastfeeding Week could be extremely painful.
I could see why you would want to shut down from it or rebel against it.
I’m not here to minimize that.
Not only are your feelings valid, they are incredibly important.
Your feelings of loss, pain and grief are one of the key parts of World Breastfeeding Week.
Since Elin was born I have always been shocked by the lack of breastfeeding support.
Elin was born and after being stitched and having stuffed a few Haribo into my mouth I did what I knew was best. To feed her as soon as possible. It was a clumsy affair and although she latched, she wasn’t really that interested and to be honest I had retained zero of the information that had been given to me because you know, just pushed a watermelon out of my foof and my mind was kind of still reeling from that.
For the next few hours I just kept popping her on in a format that looked kind of alright and luckily for me, Elin knew exactly what to do so we were okay.
I asked a few people “does this look right, am I doing this okay?”.
It was just assumed that we were fine.
I put this down to the fact that everyone knew I was a second-time mum so therefore it was assumed I knew what was going on with breastfeeding and as I was fortunate enough to be successfully breastfeeding I left it there.
I left the hospital with no information about when to swap sides, using lanolin, different positions etc. Had I not done my own research I wouldn’t have a clue.
As a second time mum, I had a network of mum friends to ask questions whenever I didn’t know something breastfeeding related so was incredibly fortunate but had this been my journey with Rory, that wouldn’t have been the case.
Had I been a first time breastfeeding mum, this would be how my circle of friends looked: one couldn’t breastfeed and two were still pregnant. I wouldn’t have had the experienced friends that I made as my baby grew because they didn’t exist in those early days.
I’ve always been shocked that “breast is best” is plugged into us for our whole pregnancy but then when sh*t actually hits the fan, there is such little support.
80% of new mothers that stop breastfeeding in the early days would have liked to of continued and felt they would have been able to with adequate support. That is a shocking statistic.
Lets strip out the lack of support from a practical breastfeeding standpoint. The lack of breastfeeding support from an emotional standpoint is the reason my hackles are up and I want to fight for better.
Not that same, but having experienced a traumatic birth and a cesarian section, my mind over matter went off kilt. I couldn’t look at that situation with logic, just emotion. I couldn’t say “well at least my baby is born and we are all safe” because all I could concentrate on was the fact that I felt incredibly inadequate and let down that my body couldn’t serve its purpose at that time.
Thats how I imagine women that couldn’t breastfeed feel when they are told “at least there is formula” or “fed is best” etc. If you truly had your heart set on breastfeeding, I could imagine your mind over matter takes over.
There are so many reasons that breastfeeding requires better support from the get go, but this is the one that matters to me most.
Stripping out the argument of whether breastmilk is better than formula for our babies (because as far as I’m aware that’s quite subjective?) The reason I feel that breastfeeding needs better support is because breastfeeding f*cks with our heads. Us mums, we hold onto it tight and when it doesn’t go to plan, we are incredibly hard on ourselves.
For some, breastfeeding didn’t work out and they make that switch to formula and happy with their decision. Fantastic.
For others, they switch off their notifications about anything #breastfeeding related as they can’t bear to think about it and that is not an acceptable way to leave someone. The system has failed them and continues to do so with a lack of support. No support with practical breastfeeding and no support with the emotions connected afterwards.
This is why those women, and their grief, are key cogs in why National Breastfeeding Week is so so so so so so so important!
If someone had a bad first-time experience due to a lack of support and then decides, quite rightly, to protect themselves from trauma and formula feeds any further babies because they don’t want to re-pick a wound that just healed. We are then in a situation where breastfeeding numbers are lower, so therefore support and funding will be cut, and the vicious circle continues.
Every mother who ever wanted to breastfeed her baby deserves adequate help and support to meet that goal and the mothers who, for whatever reason, didn’t meet their goal, have the right to adequate emotional support to heal from that.
I know this week hurts. I know you were cheated because you didn’t get the support you deserved, but the aim of this week, the reason we shout loud/bang the drum/stand on our soapboxes is so that EVERY mother gets the physical and emotional support she deserves so that no other mother has to go through this pain.