Is it me?
Probs it is me.
It’s like when you notice women with prams everywhere when you’re pregnant.
Seems to me there’s a bit of beating up of breastfeeding supporters and advocates going on.
Allegedly they (we) are making women feel guilty about not breastfeeding.
Even when a woman has had a bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer (if you must know) … see Emily Wax http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/oct/18/breastfeeding-mothers-formula-breast-cancer%5D
A couple of my thoughts on this:
1.96% of women in Australia initiate breastfeeding. In my professional experience, first-time mothers who plan to bottle-feed their babies from the go-get are as rare as inverted nipples*. I’m guess I’m saying this is a very small group of women to be getting an awful lot of words written about them. They in no way should be judged for their decision, but I would hope that their decision is an informed one.
2.Women who are feeding their babies at least some formula are more and more numerous as time goes by…85% of Australian mothers, in fact, just before their babies turn six months old. So formula feeding to some extent in our culture is not a rare occurrence, although as to why this is….it’s complicated. But women who are formula feeding shoudn’t really feel like a marginalised group. By six months they are firmly in the majority.
Lactation Consultants and midwives and peer counsellors who provide care for women and their newborn babies really want to help the 96% of mothers fulfil their goal of breast-feeding their babies. Women need some/none/mega amounts of support to do this.
Some breast-feeding supporters are over-enthusiastic in the way they explain breastfeeding, or in the way they explain the benefits of breastfeeding. It’s all a pretty embarrassing scenario really, with breasts and nipples and crying babies and stuff.
And it’s also in the context of recovering from childbirth (with maybe one third of women recovering from major abdominal surgery), no sleep, managing visitors and a lack of privacy in hospital, perhaps a lack of general support from home too…
All in all it’s a very challenging environment to be teaching people about a new life skill. No wonder misundertandings arise.
Breastfeeding supporters know that this postnatal environment is a tough gig. It’s neither “technologic nor dramatic”.
They (we) do it because they feel privileged to be a part of this time with a family and their new baby – and all the promise it holds. Many do it because they themselves had difficulties with their own first or subsequent babies. Some do it because they feel that this time is one of the most important in a new family’s life, even though it’s the cinderella of maternity care (few doctors are interested or present, many midwives are more interested in labour and childbirth, it’s all happening in a pretty tricky environment,as I mentioned earlier, of sleep deprivation, post-operative pain, sore bums, bloody pads and renogotiated family relationships).
I’m saying that we’re not in it for the recognition or the laughs.
But we believe that if women set out to do something like breastfeed their baby, we’ll help them to, even when it gets tough.
Because they, and their babies are worth the effort.
*very uncommon indeed.