Working out how to feed your new-born is one of the most emotionally-charged and hardest decisions, right after writing down your 20-step perfect birth plan. And we know how birth plans work out don’t we?!
Sometimes feeding can be like that too…
We have that image of rocking our baby in our arms, feeding them gently while they gaze in our eyes. But it is breast or bottle that we are feeding?
The official line is that breast is best, but I think sometimes we need to talk about the fact that it isn’t as always as easy as that.
I always felt that breastfeeding was like riding a bike. It can come naturally, but only when you and your baby have learnt how and overcome any obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are too much and there is no shame in that in saying that it isn’t working for you and othertimes breastfeeding just isn’t your cup of tea.
To be honest, as long as baby is fed and getting little baby fat – the right kind if you know what I mean, then does it matter how baby gets fed? I really don’t think so.
You need to look after yourself and your mental health to be a good mum, and if not breastfeeding is part of that, then good for you. Or you may want to but your body isn’t cooperating (maybe low milk production or a bad recovery from a c-section), then give yourself a break – you made and grew a baby – so it is ok to give your body a break if that is what it is asking for. Or maybe baby isn’t cooperating…tongue tie causes problems or milk allergies or they just prefer the bottle.
Research has shown that there is a link between how you feed your baby and the mother’s mental health, and that the pressure regarding feeding can cause anxiety and stress in new mothers – when you are already on an emotional rollercoaster and sleep deprived. This is unfair and makes me so cross! Yes, it is great that we are trying to normalise and encourage breastfeeding, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of making those who bottle feed feel guilty for any reason.
My only real advice and support I can suggest is to do your research if you do want to breastfeed. Speak to health visitors, midwives and lactation consultants. Visit breastfeeding support clinics if you need to because they help check on your position when feeding and get advice on the latch. Watch NHS videos online and talk to other mums to hear other practical advice.
And in the end make the right feeding decision for YOU and your baby.
Who cares what anyone else thinks – you do you mumma – and enjoy this precious stage with your baby.