Somewhat inevitable this, I suppose. A post about boobs is surely high upon the checklist of “must writes” for any parenting blog.
Well, here’s mine. I’m not sure if it’s really about boobs at all, but it seemed a shame to miss the opportunity to have that as a title.
What it definitely IS about, is breastfeeding. Even more accurately, it’s about stopping breast feeding, something my son did nearly two weeks ago.
He’s a bottle baby now, and he seems to be loving it.
Tricky topic, breastfeeding, I feel like I probably need to tread carefully (especially as a man…)
I’ll start by saying this: both me and Mrs L considered breastfeeding a Good Thing. We would have loved
Cam to continue exclusively with breast milk for the six months that the government suggests. But it didn’t work out that way.
Right from the start, every feed was a battle. Mrs L had support from midwives in the hospital (more on that further on), support from the midwife at home (who was truly fantastic and a credit to the profession), support from the health visitor, support from relatives, support from other mums, support from people on my Twitter timeline, support from websites, from books, from left, right and centre. None of it made much difference.
Almost every feed I watched was an ordeal. Mrs L trying different positions, different techniques, different pieces of equipment designed to help.
By the time she made the final decision to call time at the milk bar, Mrs L’s nipples were cracked and sore. Two weeks on and they’ve not yet fully recovered. She was tired, she was wracked with guilt at the prospect of turning to the bottle. I shared that guilt, but I’m no fool, I know the majority of the burden was with Mrs L.
Physical aspects aside, I have some thoughts on breastfeeding which may not be all that popular. So, I’ll don my flameproof suit and continue.
We were told throughout the pregnancy that breast is best. I agree with this statement. What I’m not so keen on is the implication that formula is bad. It’s unspoken, but the persistent promotion of breast feeding by NHS staff, though well intentioned, breeds a feeling of inferiority in people who can not breastfeed. I don’t think that’s fair.
If a mum is feeling stressed out, losing confidence in her parenting ability and being caused a lot of physical pain by breastfeeding, she needs to be able to stop it without feeling like a failure. I don’t know how that can be done without weakening the breastfeeding message. Tricky.
But by far my biggest gripe with the whole breastfeeding thing is this: everyone tells you something different.
Mrs L was visited in hospital by at least four different midwives. All were supportive, helpful, friendly. All had COMPLETELY different advice on how to breastfeed.
This, frankly, is fucking stupid.
The advice given needs to be consistent. I appreciate it’s an organic, natural process and that there will be variation in the best approach from person to person. But when a new mum, fresh out of labour, tired and likely a smidge mental with hormones is being given conflicting advice every few hours it doesn’t make her life easy.
I was glad when Mrs L took the decision to drop breastfeeding.
Cam is obviously one of the most important things in my life, but Mrs L is the other one. Watching her wince in pain as he tried to latch on, watching him work himself into a screaming frenzy, was horrible for me as well.
What’s better for all concerned, a breastfed but angry baby with a mum rendered fragile and unwell by the experience, or a bottle fed but happy baby with a mum better able to enjoy him?
Before anyone unleashes a torrent of fury in my direction via the comments box, please note that when breastfeeding works for all parties it is bloody great. I just don’t think it was right for us.
Thanks for reading.