Friday, 6 December 2013

Lesson 11: The Breastfeeding Mafia

Not long after I moved into our new house, I stumbled across a baby group quite by chance when exploring the area. I looked at a sea of new faces and plucked up the courage to storm in with the buggy and pull up a chair. 

"You do know this is a group for breastfeeders?"

Awkward long pause.

And then out it came. The usual defensive outpouring of information and justification: "Ah yes, well I'm no longer breastfeeding him actually but I did, I was just looking for a group to meet some other mums..."

I now feel obliged to tell you that my son was 13 months old by this point. But of course this is irrelevant. Whether he had been 13 months or 13 days old, it would not be an exaggeration to say that I simply would not have been welcome unless I was a breastfeeder.

I did breastfeed my son. For three months. Yay for me. 
They recommend at least six months exclusive breastfeeding though, so I guess this means I only get half a medal? 

If you sense any hint of anti-breastfeeding tone in this post you are mistaken. Breastfeeding is FABULOUS. Breast is best, breast is cheaper, breast is more convenient. I have lived it.

I am a FAN. 

But it can also be bloody hard, and there are times when it doesn't work out. Times when you need support and solidarity from other mums, not looks of silent disapproval when you whip out the formula or offers to speak to yet another breastfeeding peer counsellor before you 'give up,' as if moving on to the bottle is the point at which you fail the motherhood exam.  Times when a quick trip to Boots doesn't make you feel SHIT after you are told "You won't get Advantage Card Points on that, we encourage breastfeeding."

Breastfeeding should be encouraged, of course it should. But having witnessed the extreme pressure on mums to breastfeed I fear we have gone too far. Recent talks of effectively paying people to breastfeed only heightens this pressure. 

So what would I like to see? 

Well for a start I would prefer to see 'Feeding Groups' rather than breastfeeding groups. Can a baby group not allow Breast and Bottle Feeders to interact? Perhaps there is a fear that the Bottle Brigade will start pushing Aptamil Hungry Baby to the Breast Club, and the session will culminate in babies snorting lines of formula with not a feeding bra in sight. Of course now I am just being facetious, but you get my drift. 

I would also like the term 'booby juice' banned. It is breast milk.

The Unmumsy Mum


24 comments:

  1. Also, I'd like to add that the breast feeding manuals should show pictures and hints for women with oddly placed nipples..... Just saying ...you know... For a erm friend who struggled after a c section too! The nipples were ON the breasts I hasten to add, just more under earthy than smack bang perfectly in the middle like the photos in the leaflets....

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    1. Ha! I think your *friend* should put together said leaflet for all nipple shapes and sizes ;-) thanks for reading x

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  2. Great post-found you through the Where Rainbows End blog hop. I hate the way some mothers look down their nose at others who for one reason or another don't breastfeed for as long as they deem necessary. We're all mums, we're all trying to do whats best for our babies, and what might be best for your baby, might not be best for mine!Well done for breastfeeding for as long as you did!

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    1. Exactly! I will give it a good go next time round I'm sure, but refuse to feel that judgmental pressure again. Thanks - and thanks for reading :-)

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  3. That's sad that you had that experience - I agree, there should be groups that are for mothers, regardless of how they are feeding their children. Mums need connections, support, solidarity, and sometimes just coffee and cake and chat.
    Like Aedin above, I found you through the Where Rainbows End blog hop - nice to meet you!

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    1. Sorry for the delay in responding - thank you for reading and for your comments :-) I particularly agree that cake should be available at all times!

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  4. All blog hops lead here, I'm over from Dollydowsie too- I'm another breastfeeder who HATES the judgeyness, you're either doing too much or too little, the middleground gets no coverage. Let's all give each other a break and get along. All mums want what's best for their baby, well done on getting to three months :)

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    1. Judgeyness is the best word! Thank you for reading, and sorry for my delay in replying :-)

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  5. The comment about snorting the formula made me guffaw!

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    1. Haha! It is always a risk I suppose ;-)

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  6. O my god, just found your blog and I have been laughing out loud all night. I am a mum to a beautiful none sleeper 6 month old angel, and I found exactly the same thing at my local group.
    You have cheered my snow day up no end.
    Jen

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    1. Haha glad you like the blog! Local groups like that really annoy me, it's bloody hard enough already! Thanks so much for reading :-)

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  7. "babies snorting lines of formula"
    Just spit my coffee out! LOLOLOLOL!

    Thank you.

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  8. I totally agree with your comments about a feeding group. As someone who was advised before the baby arrived that breast feeding was unlikely to be feasible, I struggled for months to get info on sterilising and formula. I did try breast feeding, there was no milk, We had to switch to formula.Yet we had colic, issues with teats etc... Where could we go for advice .... Nowhere. Yet if I'd struggled with breast feeding there's a weekly support group with free lunch provided. I have no issues with breast feeding and wish it'd worked for us, but I also wish they wouldn't treat bottle feeding like a dirty word.

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    1. Way back in 2006 when I battled with very severe, recurrent mastitis following my first baby (who was massive and starving), though I had had NO help or support in those crucial early days in hospital, lying there stunned and off my head exhausted after a ghastly, unnecessarily protracted birth (''yes well, you're bound to be slow to get your milk in... because you WENT FOR a c-section''. Yes that's right, it was sooooo fun and soooo easy. I'm such a cheater!!) ...anyway. Ultimately it just wasn't working properly and I couldn't face yet more antibiotics so I decided to stop and switch over to formula. So I called the maternity unit to ask for some advice on dropping feeds and whether I could take something to dry up the milk (I was so naïve to think I'd be allowed any say in that matter!) and got lambasted by a maternity nurse who bellowed ''WHY WHY WON'T YOU FEED YOUR BABY?? FEED HIM, COME ON!!'' and would not accept I had spoken at length to my GP, just bellowed the order to keep trying (with no actual help, obviously). Anyway. We found ''underground'' help because clearly it's such a disastrously shameful thing, but I have never forgotten that awful period. I hadn't felt like a failure at all... till all and sundry started talking about my ''failure'' to ''choose'' to give birth naturally, my ''decision'' to stop breastfeeding... under the guise of ''empowering me to make an informed choice''. Where was the actual support for the fact that I had a healthy baby, was on the mend myself and everyone was fine? Not good enough! No medal for you!! No free lunch either, you lazy cow!

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  9. I've only recently found your blog and have been recommending it to friends at the speed of light. (Actually a bit slower as I'm a mum of two myself and all reflexes are delayed). Really enjoy the giggles you provide!

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  10. Totally agree. I went along to a group with my 2 week old baby boy and was nervous as hell. Sadly I walked in and because I was the only one bottle feeding (didn't work for us) I was treated like I had the plague! In the end I left saying I'd remembered an appointment suddenly. I ended up walking to my mums sobbing my heart out! An old lady even stopped me to ask if I was ok!
    It has taken me a good 6 months to try a group again but I have found one which doesn't appear to take any notice whatever you are doing and focuses instead on how you are getting on.

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  11. So reassuring to hear someone else talk about the pressures of breastfeeding and the benefits of other options! Second time around, after my first got continually pulled into the doctors office for being underweight, a doctor actually admitted that 'not enough milk' is a thing... I exclusively pumped for my second for 4 mths, (my personal choice in order to give as much breastmilk as I could) but when I suggested that to a weary new mum at a group there was a horrified silence! Where's the support in finding the path best for you and your family??

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    1. It's like they're absolutely terrified that ONCE YOU FIND OUT how easy and fab it is to bottlefeed you'll IMMEDIATELY DITCH breastfeeding. Immediately. Admitting there might be any reason you might possibly have a problem (and the reason why babies died in droves when there was no formula... no wet nurse available and a mother who couldn't = dead baby) or that there may be any slight upsides to formula will be seen as encouraging a sick, evil practice where mothers inexplicably choose to be lazy and not care properly for their babies, laughing as they shovel poison at them!

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  12. I exclusively breastfeed and plan to for as long as I can, upto about 1 year I think,
    I don't understand why mums feel the need to put each other down, bottle or breast feeding we're all just trying to be the best parents we can be

    Well done for breastfeeding as long as you did but also well done for changing to bottles when you needed to, having a stressed out mum isn't good for baby or you

    I completely agree with the feeding group idea, feeding a baby is difficult no matter how you're doing it

    I've only just found your blog and I'm loving it already, definitely getting me through the night feeds

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  13. I have another idea, which I wanted to share here. just apply any sour thing on nipple it also tested way to stop breastfeeding.

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  14. I would dread the next feeding because it just hurt so bad! Michael always said it made no sense breastfeeding guide

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  15. Fed is best! xxx

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