Breast is best?

I don't care what it is - put something in!

Well – lots of clucking and furore over a new report published today about breast-feeding – this isn’t the report but an article in the Guardian today which I thought was pretty concise.

Right old can of worms. I’d like to point out that even though this is a review of quite a lot of research and is itself unbiased, statistically it is not a compellingly huge amount and we are not privy to the funding of all the research being examined. (see the unicef response for more on this…)

I’m not sure why such a wholesome subject as breastfeeding often seems to get a bit thorny – it’s all back to my swings and roundabouts rant. To me it seems perfectly obvious that breastfeeding is the best idea – it’s what they’re designed for after all, it’s free and convenient, and has innumerable points of advantage for your baby. I have some lovely friends who are powerful and compelling advocates of breastfeeding and indeed – one who is a trained professional in the art. (actually she’s just posted this pretty interesting response from unicef.)

but I do have some issues. With a few nipple nazi’s who choose to judge other mothers (sisterhood ladies, sisterhood) without any understanding of some of the more complex issues some women have to deal with.

I managed to breastfeed for a while with both my lovely babies. Zeph managed about five months before I had to admit I needed stronger anti depressants than I could take and safely breastfeed and I also needed to return to some stronger medication I had taken pre pregnancy. Mid a pretty hefty and debilitating, though anticipated, bout of post natal depression I struggled with this decision. Convinced finally that my son would probably prefer a saner happier mother who could leave the house, and indeed was still alive, I purchased formula. Which he thrived on.The production of this bottle at baby groups and amongst people I had considered friends resulted in a level of heckle I was unprepared for. Most of these people were unfamiliar with my intimate personal details and history but I found myself more and more enraged at the need to defend my decisions or indeed explain them. Just as I never felt the need to justify myself to the ignorant who were offended by my public breastfeeding I didn’t see why I needed to defend my bottle to well-meaning but essentially ignorant hippy yummy mummies, smug in their well insulated bubbles.

Ida managed a much longer run, I had dealt with a lot of earlier issues and managed my post natal depression on the lower dosage of medication. I eventually had to wean her at about 10 months as I had to begin cancer treatment. Luckily I’d done baby led weaning and she was eating really well as she refused every combination of formula and drinking container you can imagine and after some fantastic help from a Macmillan nurse – NOT my health visitor who was of very little help and indeed deeply alarmed by the baby led weaning – I decided to just let her drink water and continue eating her varied and nutrient rich diet.

I was a lot more secure and confident with Ida, I think most people are with their second,plus I had learnt to avoid toxic groups. We weren’t so clued up with Z. In my optimistic excitement I paid for a NCT course, hoping to make lots of supportive friends and get some helpful information. I was pretty anxious about being a parent for lots of complex reasons. One of which is a history of quite intense abuse in my childhood. One of the multifold effects of this personal history was a huge pile of anxiety about breastfeeding and how I’d feel about it. I was intensely worried about how I’d feel about it, the complicated sexual feelings I was afraid of, the common fears many abused women share relating to their complicated chemical sexual responses hardwired from their abuse. That  somehow I would damage my perfect innocent child, eroding normal boundaries and somehow tainting him from the start.

I was hoping the evening session on breast-feeding would inform me and without over sharing and freaking these “nice” people out I would be reassured that nurturing and mothering was not purely bound up in my ability to input milk from my mammary gland. Oh how very wrong I was reader – how wrong!

Now I don’t blame the NCT although I have since avoided them like the plague. Hopefully (surely, surely?) that wasn’t representative of the whole but, dear lord, I blame that smug narrow-minded woman. Luckily my determination to at least try, some great support from my CPN team and Steve I did manage to breastfeed but if I had failed would this really have been the end of the bloody world? No of course it wouldn’t have.

Is there a point to this rant…hmmm, I’m not sure. I’m surprised at how cross I still am. I feel like maybe I should have been more open with those Mums and shocked them into silence instead of trying to fend off their intrusive and un sisterly probing whilst trying to spare their feelings. I’m also sad to recognise that was partly because I still felt ashamed of my past and maybe that’s why I feel so enraged right  now.

I suppose it’s because it’s such an emotive subject people are so vehement but in conclusion I think I’d like to say… It’s best but not the be all and end all – and hurrah for sisters and boo to sitting in judgement.

 The end. Sorry about that folks :)  It’s Idas party tomorrow so will have good pics of chocolate owl cake, much cheerier!

One response to “Breast is best?

  1. Karen Woodworth

    I AGREE with YOU!!! I had a son later in life, after I’d already had 2 older boys almost ready to leave at 17-16 yrs old. When I had my youngest child, I was made to feel that all that I done for my older 2 boys was WRONG!!! I breastfeed both older boys, however that was NOT good enough for the “Boob NAZI” that was also my nurse. They even tracked me down to my home after we left the hospital!!!! Just to make sure that I was still breast feeding. I believe that there is so much HYPE out there that as parents we are doubting what our insticts are telling us. My youngest son is now 10yrs old, and my oldest son is going to be a proud father of a son of his own. The best words of advice that I can give him is follow your instict’s, and when all else fails call MOM!!!

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