When did feeding your baby become so political?
One of the first questions you get asked when you have a new baby is
“How are you feeding him?”
I am breast feeding my son exclusively is the answer and the response is generally…
“Breast is best, well done”
But what if I said I was bottle feeding him???
Would that same person frown upon me and tell me what a bad mother I was???
Despite the above comment breast feeding is not commonly perused past 6 weeks.
This is a great shame as it has so many positive impacts to mother and baby.
I wonder is it really just a personal choice to bottle feed?
There are a few points surrounding this topic which make me very curious……
Media, public opinion and education
Do they have more of an influence then at first glance.
I started my investigation looking at a few Mother and Baby forum sites.
Without naming names they were pretty harsh on bottle feeding Mum’s.
If I were a bottle Mum I would have found it very unwelcoming it be confronted with
so many comments from fellow Mothers pretty much slating formula and the parents that
They kind of make you feel like you don’t care about the welfare of your baby.
An image comes to mind of a bad mother with a ciggerette in one hand, beer in the other while towing a baby sucking on a bottle.
There are plenty of practical reasons why a Mum needs to use formula, if they need to return to work or the baby is premature or sick.
What I don’t accept as an excuse is lack of milk supply!!!! This is what I mean about education being a problem, because if you have been shown how to breast feed correctly and taught the mechanics then you will have an endless supply of milk.
I am so lucky that the area I live in has a good team of support for breast feeding mothers and that they actively promote breast feeding in a positive way.
I am sure I would have given up if it wasn’t for their help so I can understand why some reach for the bottle -before you start thinking I am as bad as the forum sites!!
But considering how modern society is fighting obesity I wonder how much effect bottle v’s breast has on later life and should the government be doing more to help mothers breast feed?
Christmas time has come and gone and this post is still not up!!!!
I have one hell of an excuse which has given me further insight into the wonders of breast feeding…………
I was sick! And I don’t just mean a little bit sick.
My temperature reached 39 degrees while I couldn’t keep anything down and was in the most amount of pain all over my body.
And the insight came from where????
I couldn’t eat for nearly 3 days, not a single thing and anyone who knows anything about breast feeding knows that you have to eat well to maintain milk supplies.
This may seem strange but I could actually feel that the milk was drying up. Gone was the ‘let down’ reflex (a tingling sensation as the breast fills with milk)
I felt awful as I tried to feed Snoop. He was sucking for what seemed like hours to drain every last bit of milk out that he could. I had to get better and start eating.
For me this lasted 5 days. 3 days of no food and 2 days building up little meals till finally I felt the ‘let down’ again.
But could you imagine if you were in one of the staving countries in Africa, trying to feed your baby.
This is where formula becomes a life saver, and is where it spends most of its marketing budget.
Although I have used the caption life saver it has a double edge as for with formula feeding you also need to have sterile bottles to feed with. Think about water quality in Africa where sterilizing kits are not affordable!
I could continue with the morality of formula in third world countries, it gets me so cross but until food and water supplies improve it is one big cycle.
So anyhow as I got over my sickness Christmas was well in swing and with a house full of Aunties and cousins I decided to find out what their experiences were like with feeding.
I wasn’t surprised to find out that I was the only one who was still breast feeding.
The story was either they found it too hard and gave up quickly, or only breast fed for a few weeks before moving on to formula.
We all decided unanimously that there was not enough support out there and what help there was, was very confusing.
It seems that even the world of bottle feeding is confusing Mothers.
Although my cousins and Aunties had their reasons for choosing to bottle feed they all felt they were looked down on by other Mums and felt an enormous amount of guilt.
Honestly though if the baby is fed and happy does it really matter??? Guilt is the last thing a new Mother needs to worry about.
Finally a discussion I heard on The Wright Stuff during my pregnancy.
Would breast feeding stop being taboo if little girls weren’t brought up to breast feed their dolls.
This was an interesting discussion and I am not sure a breast fed dolly would work maybe I just think that way because I am too use to the bottle fed dollies?
But the point is that if breast feeding was more common place in public spaces and positively promoted with education would more women take it up and continue with it?
Feeding is a mine field. Women need support and education. It needs to be clear and guilt free.
Probably Mothers should take some of the blame as I know I have sat and wondered Why? When I see someone bottle feeding and I hope that Mother hasn’t seen me watching and felt guilt from my doing. That is a step I will amend and try to not judge as there are many reasons why a mother would choose to bottle feed.