Sometimes in life, things that may seem obvious or straightforward need to be pointed out. Especially when it comes to the giving of unsolicited advice.
The debate on breast versus bottle for mums of newborns is a perfect example of how people who did not give birth to the baby in question have a lot to say about its care. But now, thankfully, there’s some official guidance to help drown out the noise.
The BBC has reported that The Royal College of Midwives’ in Britain has issued a new statement, making it explicitly clear that mothers should be supported in the decision they make on how to feed their baby, regardless of the personal feelings of a midwife.
The RCM states that if a midwife is satisfied that a mother has been informed of all relevant information on the benefits of bottle feeding versus breastfeeding, and makes a decision contrary to one’s personal beliefs, it is then a midwife’s role to reserve their judgement if necessary.
Whilst the RCM believes that breast milk is better for an infant than formula, that doesn’t mean that formula is not an excellent option, or even detrimental. As long as there’s an informed choice, midwives need to respect their patients’ decisions.
Chief Executive Gill Walton said: “The RCM believes that women should be at the centre of their own care and as with other areas of maternity care, midwives and maternity support workers should promote informed choice.
“If, after being given appropriate information, advice and support on breastfeeding, a woman chooses not to do so, or to give formula as well as breastfeeding, her choice must be respected.
“We recognise that some women cannot or do not wish to breastfeed and rely on formula milk. They must be given all the advice and support they need on safe preparation of bottles and responsive feeding to develop a close and loving bond with their baby.”
Mamamia‘s go-to midwife, Midwife Cath, was overjoyed to hear this news, and posted about it on Instagram:
Midwife Cath has delivered over 10,000 babies in her 42-year career. Despite this, she is still criticised about the techniques she chooses to teach new parents, and her advice about using formula as a perfectly acceptable option to nourish one’s child. She said in an Instagram post in March:
“My crime – I encourage new mums to be happy and enjoy their new babies, to feel proud to be a mum, to feed their babies a bottle of formula if they are hungry and I encourage their partners to be involved in the bath time routine.”
Midwife Cath also wisely observed, “Do you know how anxious and depressed women get if their baby does not sleep?”
Yes, Midwife Cath, anyone who’s been a mum of a hungry newborn knows that all too well. And we’re just as glad as you are that The Royal College of Midwives has made it clear that anyone who wants to mess with a mum’s decision of whether to use breast or bottle to address that hunger is now, officially, invited to back off.