Breast is best – is that what matters most?

Eden feedingBreast feeding always brings up such debate and almost drives a wedge between those that do and those that don’t.

I chose not to. “What?! You mean you can and you didn’t?!” Yep. I was poorly after I had Florence. I expressed the colostrum for about 4 days but that’s it. I wasn’t in a good place physically or mentally so Ben and I decided formula was best.

With Eden it was a slightly different story. Great labour and I was much stronger emotionally, however I still stopped after two weeks. Why? It wasn’t right for us as a family. I was in tears whilst doing it through physical pain and stress, and I saw this made me completely unavailable to Ben and Florence for as long as I chose to do it.

Sure I’ve felt some guilt – and that was the killer. I know mums who absolutely love breastfeeding so why would they not do it as long as they could? But I’ve also known mums who do it in spite of pain, in spite of not enjoying it. Why? Obligation, social pressure, fear, a strive for perfection and more. All too often mum’s sacrifice their own happiness and do ‘the right thing’, and I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m simply saying that we don’t need to conform to people’s judgement or scientific evidence, it’s way better to do what makes you happy and just love ’em. That’s what’s more important than anything. Feeding our babies is taking care of their basic needs, and vital for their survival for sure. But love is what makes our babies grow into healthy, happy adults.

So how do you love a baby? Work on eliminating your fear and guilt as much as possible because it’s impossible to be afraid and be loving at the same time. Relax about breastfeeding. Forget about what people might think. Remember always that you are going to do the best you’re capable of and right now that’s enough. We’ll all make mistakes with our kids that are far greater than giving them a bottle of formula. When we do make a mistake with them, we need to tell someone who can love us and let it go.

Breast feeding might boost your baby’s immune systems and even their IQ’s but does it make for happier people? Is it such a big deal that it should divide mums, create martyrs or mum’s riddled with feelings of guilt and inadequacy?

For the 50 or so years that you’ll be a parent, choosing to focus on what we feed our babies in the first 12 months seems a weird thing to focus on. Surely we should be asking: “How do I keep my cool and remain loving when I’m at my wits end?” “How do I raise happy, responsible children?” “How do I make my partner a priority when I give so much to my kids?” And a million other questions.

As I said, breast milk is amazing, this isn’t news. But how about creating happy and loving families? Now there’s something worth talking about.

11 thoughts on “Breast is best – is that what matters most?

  • Interesting read, Have you considered this side of Breast feeding

    Yes there were times when it was extremely painful and I did not enjoy it, why did I carry on?

    Nothing to do with the latest fashion or pressure. I choose to breast feed because it feels so incredibly natural and normal to me. For me breast feeding Is intoxicating and instinctual I couldn’t give it up, seriously couldn’t not without a fight or until baby is ready! It makes me feel human, strong and extremely powerful.

    Breast feeding has enabled the most amazing connection between me and baby, like the one we had when she was in the womb. When she was my secret yet to be shared, when I was the only one who new her. I like that.

    Most of my days are spent hanging out with predominantly breast feeding mums and not once have I heard anyone judging or discussing the virtues of breast feeding over bottle. I think the pressure comes from the media and the government pressuring the midwifes and health visitors to push push push breast is best when women are at their most vulnerable.

    I have however, heard one bottle feeding mum say she feels she has missed out on the bond breast feeding seems to give mums and their babies.

    Here’s to happy mums and healthy babies, who at least aren’t starving 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Es. I wrote the blog not as a defence of bottle-feeders. I do believe that breast is best (if you can) but ONLY if it makes you happy. I’m glad it’s of benefit to you and many others. I’m equally glad for those who do not and still establish a beautiful bond with their baby.

      My point was in the grand scale of a child’s life, there are many more important things to learn and talk about xx

  • Only just seen this! Well said Kerry. Breast definitely is best….if you can, but unfortunately not all of us are able too! I struggled on for 12 weeks with Penelope & it caused lots of pain, tears & stress. It’s only when I stopped feeling guilty & actually thought about what was best for me & my daughter that I realised as fantastic as the benefits of breastfeeding are it just wasn’t working for us. We are all different, but once I stopped stressing over it and let go of the feelings of guilt & made the change our bond was stronger than ever. X

  • Ker, I’ve just found your blog and I love it! Amazing writing and very insightful. This article hits home with me (even almost 6 years on). Breast feeding is great but when it’s not right for you it’s hard not to feel judged. It was a massive factor in my post natal depression due to the awful time we had with it. I wish mum’s that imply we didn’t try hard enough would understand how hurtful and offensive that is. Your bond with your baby is not based on whether you can breastfeed or not, there are so any other wonderful things that make up the role of being a Mum.

    Anyway rant over …… I think you are totally spot on with what you have said above.

    xxx

    • Hey Mel! We had very similar experiences after our first baby and I think one of the biggest factors in healing emotionally is knowing that others have been through the same, that we are not alone. Mums will always feel judged because each of us parent so differently. My intention with this blog is to help mums feel accepted when they’re not doing everything ‘by the book’.

      Appreciate your comment! Lots of love xx

      • Absolutely, it’s great you are doing this. There is so much pressure as it’s the most important job in the world ! Not too much responsibility 😉 xxx take care xxx

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