To each their own.
Yesterday, I overheard two mums in the park talking about how someone in their mothers’ group had her ten-week old baby on formula.
Cue: gasps of horror.
The tone of this discussion (read: bitch session) was condescending and judgmental. Their blatant lack of support for this woman was appalling. Their sense of superiority made me mad. Breastfeeding is neither heroic nor, mandatory. Mothers should not be shamed for feeding their baby, from nipple or teat.
Sadly, such criticism is nothing new. No other role in life is as scrutinised and criticised as motherhood. And new mums are easy targets. Every mother has a story about the unwanted “advice” from a relative, friend or even a stranger in the park.
I remember my first trip to the shops as a first-time mum. A passerby stopped to admire my new born. But her admiration was quickly replaced by a series of rude questions. “Did you delivery vaginally?” she enquired. Stunned, I murmured I had. “Good,” she said, “much better for the baby.” I realised then I would need a tough skin as a mum.
I can now handle intrusive questioning from strangers, but when the criticism comes from mums I really feel irate. Who knows why the woman from mothers’ group stopped breastfeeding? Perhaps she wasn’t producing enough milk and her baby was losing weight; perhaps her nipples were so blistered, bloody and grazed that another nose-to-nipple latch was too agonising for the new mum; perhaps the baby couldn’t latch efficiently; or perhaps this woman felt 10 weeks was sufficient and her circumstances meant that bottle feeding was the most appropriate choice. Who knows, who cares?
Breastfeeding, when it works, is a lovely experience. It’s intimate, facilitates bonding and everyone knows the health benefits are unmatched.
I enjoyed breastfeeding my firstborn enormously. My experience with my second-born was the polar opposite. My nipples were consistently blistered and my baby suffered silent reflux. She thrashed about at my breast, screamed her little lungs out and the experience was terribly stressful and tiring for both of us. I felt anxious before, during and after each feed. It was horrible. I had support, and we persevered for six months but it was never easy.