Is breast really best?

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I haven’t written a blog in a while, but I think being a blogger is writing about life’s experiences. A blog comes from something that has happened, to motivate and urge you to write. I have wanted to write about breastfeeding for some time, but moving house, raising a 5 month old (I really must admit she is nearly 6 months), and studying a degree really keeps me busy, I don’t think about updating my blog. When I do think about it, I don’t always have the motivation to write. If I’m not motivated to write, it will be a poor effort, I mean rubbish post. Not saying my posts are good, but I’m happy. Enough of me baffling on, (what I do best), I should really get to the point.

Today, I was in the garden centre, eating breakfast, I know there’s a stigma that this is what people who are retired do, but ever since I was little, I have always loved a garden centre. Sorry off topic again!

So I was eating breakfast, and my little lady wanted a feed, so as I usually do, I fed her from my breast. Even if she isn’t hungry, she does like to have a bit of comfort from me to fall asleep. Some people will argue I shouldn’t do this, but I don’t agree with sleep training. That’s for another blog anyway. My daughter fell asleep, and when it was time to leave, another person was also leaving. My fiancé helped me get my coat back on, while I was cradling my daughter. This person looked at me, smiled, gave me a thumbs up and said good job.

This was one of the first times someone has acknowledged me breastfeeding. It really did make me smile and fill me with joy that someone else in this world was happy that I was breastfeeding. As happy as this made me, it also made me think, we don’t need to live in a society where people are for and people are against breastfeeding as a whole or at least in public.

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I’m not some anti bottle-feeding, breastfeeding crazed mum, and this is why I wanted to write this blog.

So is breastfeeding really best? Well that is my point. Of course breastfeeding is technically best, it is a fact that after all this research, they still can’t replicate a mother’s milk. If you look into breastfeeding, it really is fascinating about what a mother’s body can do. I.e. receptors in your mammary glands identifying when your baby is poorly, so your milk changes to produce more anti bodies, to help fight off illnesses. It is something along those lines anyway; so don’t take what I say as gospel. My blog isn’t about explaining the benefits of breastfeeding, not this one anyway. But if you are a bottle-feeding mother, keep reading, I will get to the point. I’m just too tired to be a grammar queen today and I’m not sticking to a word count.

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Before I got pregnant, I was one of these people, judging bottle-feeding mothers in my head, but everything changes once you become a mum. I have never thought about formula feeding, it has never crossed my mind. I always wanted to breast feed. So coming back to my question, is breastfeeding really best?

Picture this, you have just given birth and your baby has tongue tie, unknown at the time, your baby is struggling to breast feed, your baby is struggling to latch, resulting in an incorrect latch. Your body is sore from either a vaginal birth or a caesarean, now your nipples are sore, bleeding and cracked. Your baby isn’t gaining weight and is really hungry, what do you do? Are you just going to sit and feel your heart break because you can’t feed your baby? Of course not, you turn to formula. How can anyone judge a mother for trying her best and doing what is best for her baby?

How about, a mother who has no intentions of breastfeeding, who already has formula and bottles at the ready? Is she a bad mum, of course not, unless you know their story you can’t judge! I think 9/10 this person isn’t breastfeeding, because she is afraid of what society will think. She may not be confident enough to breast feed in public, she probably doesn’t want to stay at home, for the 3 months, 6 months, 1 year or 2 years she breast feeds for. It is easy to say get over it, just feed in public. But it’s the society we currently live in, stopping her from breastfeeding.

A mother may have some underlying condition that does not allow her to breast feed, and for all we know, her heart could break every time she goes out in public seeing breastfeeding mothers while she has to bottle-feed.

Then there are the mothers who are doing both, who may breast feed from home, and bottle feed in public. So that bottle-feeding mother for all you know can also be breastfeeding.

Back to problems with latching, someone could be doing both because their baby started with the breast but was quickly given formula and they are trying to get their baby back to the breast. (The term meaning a baby who managed to feed from the breast but for some reason has stopped feeding from the breast, only accepting bottles).

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As a breastfeeding mum, bottle-feeding is not the easy way out, it depends on each individual but I have been lucky enough to always find breastfeeding easy. I have not had blocked milk ducts, nor have I had mastitis. I have never suffered with not producing enough milk, and my baby found latching on easy straight away. She made it easy for me. Of course I sometimes get sore nipples, and at night, when my body is tired, it can be hard feeding from the breast, because I find my pain tolerance lower of a night time. However as long as I use nipple balm and compression pads as soon as they get sore, I can nip it in the bud straight away. (By the way breastfeeding is not painful, its only when you have problems or sore nipples.) So for me breastfeeding is easy, I’m a confident person, I can’t say I grew up confident but I’ve worked on my emotional intelligence and I’m proud to say I have zero worries about people judging me breastfeeding in public. I have never even noticed anyone judge me, but I’m in my own little world, my little bubble of being content and in love with my family. I’m relaxed and happy looking at how content my little one is when feeding. Seriously, the thought of having to get up in the night to make a bottle, the thought of sterlising bottles, warming bottles it’s all so time consuming compared to feeding directly from the breast.

Of course breastfeeding is not easy either because of problems such as the ones I have mentioned above. Expressing milk is just in another league of its own, it is not easy, but I don’t need to focus on that in this blog. Who said parenthood was going to be easy anyway?

Then you have people, who choose not to breast feed just because they don’t want to, but then do these people actually exist, or is there an underlying reason, why they don’t breast feed. I don’t know, but I do urge everyone to have a go at breastfeeding if you can, even if it’s just for the first week, so your baby gets that most important colostrum. I can’t see anyone not wanting to give what your body has provided for your baby, unless there is a reason.

I know society still hasn’t normalised breastfeeding, even though it’s nearly 2019! Some people state mothers must cover up to feed, they don’t want to watch a precious baby feeding how nature intended. I for one do not cover up. I have rarely covered up to feed. You judge the situation you are in, you think with common sense. For example, I have sat with people and their children who I don’t know and it’s not for me to expose their children to breastfeeding without knowing the families point of view. I know children are the last to judge but I feel in some situations, I need to show respect, whether that’s respect that I have covered up, or respect that I’m feeding for the world to see.

New mum’s can’t cover up, while they are new to breastfeeding, it is hard at first. I used to have my breast full on out, no matter where I was to ensure I was doing it right. Now I can write a blog while breastfeeding one handed. I can just lift my jumper up and let my baby feed in such a natural way because I’m used to it. I’m nearly 6 months in with no plans to stop. I don’t sterilise, my breast is obviously never sterilised; my daughter lives with 3 dogs. We spend a lot of time on a farm, but that’s my choice, rightly or wrongly. My mum didn’t sterilise and touch wood I have a very strong immune system. But again, this is not to be judged. We will all do what is best for our family.

So the question, is breast really best? No it is not. What is the definition of best because in this aspect I think best means what is best for you and your baby. Best is feeding your baby to make them grow up big and strong; to live a healthy life in the way you and your baby are comfortable to feed. After all, we are all individuals anyway.

So breast feeding mums, I salute you, well done and together we can help to normalise breastfeeding.

Bottle-feeding mums. I salute you as well; you are doing the best for you and your baby. Let’s face it, breastfeeding mum’s are not the only ones getting judged. people who bottle feed get judged just as much too.

It is time to stop shaming each other. It’s time to come together, to stand as one, to stop people judging how we feed our babies and celebrate the fact that there are different options on how to feed and raise our children; after all there is no rulebook.

Remember mumma’s we’ve got this!

Belle x

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