|Image from Shutterstock - Young Nursing Mother|
I realise it is World Breastfeeding Week right now but what I am wondering is do we really need a world breastfeeding week promoted here in the UK? It was only six weeks ago that we had National Breastfeeding week and surely there is enough pressure on women to breastfeed in the UK already?
It is of course a different story in the developing world and breastfeeding is often the best option for nourishing a baby as there isn't access to sanitary water to be able to prepare formula milk. Although, as I saw in Ethiopia, even this isn't as cut and dried as it might seem as so many of the mums are so undernourished themselves that after having a baby their body can struggle to produce milk and certainly to produce milk that is of a good enough quality to adequately nourish the child. So of course the fight still needs to continue to ensure that all people in our world are able to be fed and nourished well.
But don't get me wrong, I am not at all anti-breastfeeding. I successfully breastfed two of my babes and really tried with the other but it wasn't to be so we moved to bottle feeding and it was the best thing for us as she finally started to put on weight instead of losing it and and heart-ripping label 'failure to flourish' was removed from over her head.
And I think that is my point here. All we want as responsible and loving parents is for our child to be well fed. To me it doesn't matter if it is from the breast or a bottle as here in the UK we are lucky enough to have clean water and high quality milk power available to us.
Yes, I agree let's promote breastfeeding as the best first option for a child. It is what God intended after all; the milk is perfect for our babe, contains all the antibodies they need and is super clever morphing itself to what the child needs depending on factors like the weather and their age. But let's also realise that a mothers sanity and well-being is really important in this too. Telling a new Mum to put her babe first and to persevere through the pain as they will be depriving their babe otherwise is just not helpful.
As a new mum you're already feeling a million emotions that you had no idea existed as hormones surge your body and the last thing you need is to feel you are failing your baby by not producing the milk they need, or being in constant pain or them not being able to latch on.
I remember being about six months in to feeding JJ and it was mixed feeding by then but I had stopped enjoying breastfeeding him as the constant biting hurt. One teary night I said to my husband 'do you mind if I stop breastfeeding him?' and it had taken me age to feel confident to say this as it was such an emotive issue for me with the press and friends telling me it was best. My husband looked at me like I was nuts and said 'of course not, as long as he is fed that is all that matters'. He took the emotion out of the situation and the next day I weaned JJ and it really suited us.
And that is how it should be for everyone. Doing what suits them. In the same way that baby-led weaning is right for some and pureeing is right for others, breast to bottle should be viewed in the same light. If the woman is going to be desperately unhappy breastfeeding and it adversely effects her mental health then surely we can all agree that isn't the best thing for babe as we all know our babies tap into our state of mind.
So I urge you friends, please lets be kind to each other however we feed or fed our babies. Fed is most definitely best at the end of the day! In the UK it doesn't matter if it is bottle or breast.
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