I have written before about my own breastfeeding journey with my three children and I don’t intend to repeat it here but I do want to reflect on the importance of breastfeeding as well as the alternatives.
This photo was taken when Zach was 2 weeks old. He looks happy and content. Blissfully asleep.
I was in agony. I had mastitis 🙁 I was in tears at every feed and was also using a breast pump every few hours.
Breastfeeding is hard.
Just because it is natural does not make it easy.
Giving birth is hard and sometimes we need a little help. Ask anyone with constipation if pooing is easy! Think about walking when you have intense back or leg pain, again not easy. Try telling an insomniac to just go to sleep.
I felt like a traitor ‘giving’ in and feeding my children formula. But I’m not. I am a mum doing her best like so many other mums all around the world.
Breastfeeding is an incredibly important opportunity to bond with your child, as well as give them the nutrients and immunity they need. But that doesn’t make you a bad mum if it is hard, if you need a little help, if you seek alternatives.
My dad was born premature back in the 1950s and wouldn’t be alive if formula hadn’t been available. If I had not met the most wonderful A&E nurse when Matthew vomited blood then I would have listened to the midwife and ignored doctor advice with potentially damaging effects to me and my son which could have ruined future breastfeeding for Anya and Zach.
Dads this is about you too! You can feed your baby with expressed milk or just be there for mum while she breastfeeds. For me is was wonderful having someone there to help out with the other children, for example when we were on holiday last year and I had to sit down for half an hour in a museum and Chris took the kids off so they didn’t get grumpy.
My heart aches that my breastfeeding days are behind me, mastitis and all! I will never judge a mum for breastfeeding or not, make assumptions about her choices or give unreasonable advice. I feel honoured and blessed that I was able all three children for over a year each until they were ready to stop all by themselves, I am also proud that I made an informed choice to supplement with formula milk due to my allergy dietary restrictions.
This week for World Breastfeeding Week let’s be honest and acknowledge breast isn’t best if it has implications for maternal mental and physical health which will in turn led to problems for baby. Let’s be open about the challenges that breastfeeding mums face, from disapproving glances in public to pressure and unreasonable expectations in private.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week to babies, mums and dads everywhere!