Fed is Best?

There is so much pressure on women/lactating individuals to breast feed their children. We all know the benefits of breast milk. It’s encouraged from our first antenatal appointment and continues to after our babies are born. And quite rightly so, right? I’m not sure if I speak for all parents when I say I felt the pressure to breast feed, massively. So much so, when I was told I had to give my new-born formula due to dehydration , I cried. Thinking back, I feel silly. Why did I put so much pressure on myself to breast feed? Was it a standard I put upon myself, or something I had absorbed from my environment? Probably a bit of both.

The research is vast about how ‘breast is best’ and the health benefits of breast feeding to both you and your baby, but not everyone can breast feed. And not everyone wants to. There is also little representation before having a child about how hard breast feeding is. I, ignorantly expected it to be easy. Depicted in pictures and films are new-born babies snugly nursing from their mothers breast with little issues. I assumed my baby and I would take to it like a duck takes to water, boy was I wrong.

I wish midwives and health professionals were more honest about how difficult the whole process is. That way I may have been more prepared and less harsh on myself when I was unable to directly nurse my child. I chose to bottle feed my daughter expressed breast milk. I have been doing so since she was 3 days old. However, I have found myself on the receiving end of many judgemental looks from other mothers/health professionals when I pull out a bottle (of breast milk) to feed her, with the assumption it’s formula. So what if it is?!

As a result of my inability to breast feed directly, I now hold the view that ‘fed is best’. Yes I know the benefits of breast milk, I know it’s ‘liquid gold’. However, I feel there is already too much pressure on parents (especially women) and that the pressure to breast feed only adds to it. You’re not a bad parent if you formula/bottle feed your child. Plus, carrying and birthing a baby is hard enough! We certainly don’t need any more pressure on us, making this journey any harder.

With that being said, I do think the publicity and support around breast feeding is great. It gives mothers the confidence to feed in public and lessens the judgement/sexualisation of something natural. My point is, unless you are the parent of that baby, you shouldn’t judge how that baby is fed whether it’s breast milk or formula. Nobody knows what other peoples’ stories are. Rant over x

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