When I first told my best friend of my pregnancy news, to say she was overjoyed is a bit of an understatement. About 12 months previously, when I went to meet her baby girl and said I had news for her, I massively disappointed her with the news my sister was expecting! Not that she wasn’t delighted for my sister, but really was waiting for me!
The conversation immediately jumped to breast feeding. How fabulous it is, how easy to not have to wash bottles, think ahead and plan and prepare, just, in her words, “whip out the ‘auld boob!”. And this was from a girl, lady, woman, who had experienced much difficulty in getting started, weeks of tormenting fact. It she persevered through it as she believed in her heart and should that Breastfeeding is best. And I must say, I have to agree with her.
It is one thing not being able to breastfeed, I have massive sympathy for those women who want to breastfeed but for various reasons cannot. I know a number of these women and the heartache they have experienced is not something I would like to have to do myself. And there are people who choose not to breastfeed. Now I am all for choice, but please make sure you are fully informed of the consequences of your choices first. All the evidence points towards breast being best, if possible, why would it be any different for your baby?
Here in Britain breastfeeding is massively promoted by the NHS (national health service), midwives, the medical profession, the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and probably anyone whom a pregnant lady may come in contact with during her pregnancy. However, the information I was given all closely resembled “breast feeding is easy”, “breast feeding is the easy option”, “breast feeding is convenient”. And I would like to say, 7 1/2 months in, that breast feeding is not an easy option, and it is not easy, it is, however, fabulous, rewarding, special and important.
There are so many factors that really don’t make it the easy choice.
Firstly, if you do an antenatal course with the NCT, you are pretty much bullied into breast feeding. And anyone who has done any training on behavioural psychology knows that telling someone they must, should it have to do something is a sure fire way of persuading them to do the opposite.
Secondly, first time mums are told breastfeeding is the easy option – which it most definitely is not!
Thirdly, the fashion is awful. No one told me that I wouldn’t be able to wear my normal clothes until I stop feeding my baba when I got pregnant – I had hopes and dreams of baby being 3 months old and me back in my feel Gray look great clothes. Now that has happens with my jeans, and only after 6 months, my boobs still don’t fit in those little shirts, and its a pain in the neck to wear anything that doesn’t allow easy access- either to bang or pump!
Fourthly, breast feeding past 6 months is not generally accepted. I’m constantly getting looks from people if I’m out and about feeding that say “isn’t that baby big enough for something else???”
Fifthly, support isn’t there properly from day 1. I had the absolute pleasure of the support if a fabulous lactation consult, and still do if I choose to see her, but I went to see her at 6 weeks not because I thought I needed help, but because I knew I didn’t know everything so thought I would take advantage of the available expert, and thankfully I did! When I spoke to the LC, I started I realize that my baby’s latch wasn’t as good as it should be and in fact, my milk supply wasn’t as established as it coulda have been. If I hadn’t visited when I did, I shudder to think that I may have not been able to feed my daughter even this long without supplementation.
So if you are reading this and breast feeding, wanting to breastfeed, thinking about breastfeeding, then my advice is to do it! It is not easy, there are challenges that will present to you during this time, but ultimately it is incredibly rewarding, fulfilling and the healthiest option for you and your baby if it is possible.