The Pressure of Breastfeeding

There is a pressure among mums to breastfeed. I have yet to encounter a mums group that doesn’t support it vehemently. I have seen many times when a mother who has chosen to stop has been made to feel guilty, has been insulted or has been made to feel as if she is somehow neglecting her child.

I am going to outline the disadvantages I personally found. And yes I am fully aware that this opinion is probably going to be very unpopular.

Before I begin I am in no way ‘anti’ breastfeeding. I exclusively breast fed my daughter until she was six weeks and mix fed her until she was 16 weeks. However for me, there were a number of problems I found with it.

Since introducing formula Amelia’s weight gain has improved. Yes, she was gaining weight but as she was very ill and lost a lot of weight in her first two weeks of life what little weight she was gaining wasn’t as much as I would have liked. Now she is formula fed her weight gain is more notable and on her curve in her red book she is just above the bottom line, where previously she was below it.

Her relationship with her daddy has improved. Instead of relying on my breasts for comfort she is now happy to be consoled by her dads cuddles too.

She sleeps for longer as formula keeps them full for longer and she doesn’t need to feed as often to maintain my milk supply.

If we get stuck in traffic and there’s another person in the car they can sit in the back and give her a bottle. For obvious reasons breast feeding would never have worked here. You may think this isn’t a problem. Within a couple of minutes of real crying Amelia goes bright red and starts being sick. Having her upset because we had to wait to get home to breast feed did neither of us any favours.

Another advantage is less clean up. Amelia’s reflux means there’s always a lot of sick after a feed. With breastfeeding she would easily cover both of us and necessitate a change of clothes for me and her. Not exactly ideal when you’ve gone shopping or for a meal.

Breastfeeding in public made me extremely anxious. Finding somewhere to sit and feed her was never easy and then there was the vommitting to consider. My nerves over taking her out have greatly reduced now that I know I have a bottle I can give her immediately, regardless of whether we are on a bus, in a car or in the queue waiting to pay for shopping.

The more the pro breastfeeding the adviser was the more of the following advice I seemed to receive:
Don’t give a dummy it will cause nipple confusions – she had one from the beginning and it didn’t and it’s also known to reduce SIDS risk
Don’t express it will cause nipple confusion – when she was hospitalised the doctors told me to so that we could measure exactly how much of her milk she was drinking. Again it did not cause nipple confusion
Don’t use nipples shields it will cause confusion – again this did not happen. In fact had I not used them I would have stopped breast feeding very early due to pain

Yes all research tells us that breast milk is best nutritionally. But just as much research tells us that mothers well being is more detrimental to the baby than feeding method. Unhappy mum means unhappy baby, regardless of the physical benefits of breastfeeding.

Whether or not to breast feed is a very personal choice. The only person that can make the decision is the mum. Do what works best for you. If you can be happy breast feeding that’s wonderful. If you can only be happy formula feeding then that’s wonderful too. If you are happiest mix feeding/ combination feeding then do so.  Fed is best. Happy mum is best.

Things No one Mentions About Having a Baby

1) Breast feeding shrinks your boobs – everyone is quick to tell you how much they balloon when your milk comes in but no one mentions that once you stop feeding they get a lot smaller. Since stopping breast feeding I am 2 cup sizes smaller than I was before pregnancy
2) Anti d injections aren’t foolproof – I had extra anti d injections for various reasons while I was pregnant and Amelia still contracted enough of my antibodies that she was very poorly
3) Nipple piercings – you think they’ve healed over? Wait until your milk starts leaking out of the holes you thought had closed up.
4) Discharged from hospital means no more injections – not entirely true. After my csection I had to inject every day for ten days to prevent blood clots. My poor mum did them for me and my legs were so bruised by the end of it.
5) The midwife can visit you at home – not many people realise that after the birth midwife visits can be at the doctors surgery but if you’re too uncomfortable to get there they will happily come to you instead.
6) Buy saline nasal drops – Amelia had such a blocked nose to start with that she wouldn’t feed. These were life savers and my midwife recommended them as you can’t cause any damage like you can if you push a nasal aspirator too far in.
7) Birth control – despite making a baby being the last thing on your mind with an hours old newborn in your arms health care professionals will keep mentioning it. I was having my tummy stitched up when the surgeon asked me what birth control I was planning to use! I had a huge hole in my tummy and she asked me about birth control.