Feeding Your Baby
Ah, the great breastfeeding / formula topic…it’s one most parents know to avoid. A topic that’s been known to provoke high emotion, heated conversation and ultimately a fair bit of guilt placed on each other. While it isn’t always on purpose, it does feel a little unnecessary.
What I have never really understood, and still don’t really.. is why people feel like they can have an opinion on how YOU feed YOUR baby. Isn’t that the beauty of being a parent? That we have the right to choose what is best for our little families.
I’m a midwife as many of you will know and a huge breastfeeding advocate – don’t get me wrong. I exclusively breastfed all of my babies until about 18 months, including the twins (the last baby though decided to wean super early for me at 9 months).
Everyone knows that breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, it contains all that they need for the first 6 months of their lives. Majority of parents have the intention to try and breastfeed but there are so many unknowns when it comes to the start of your breastfeeding journey.
We have a poster at work (& it’s probably at most hospitals and birthing units) that outlines all the properties in breastmilk vs formula (see below). The breastfeeding side is about a hundred times longer than the formula side. I look at this as a midwife and a mum who totally champions breastfeeding and all it makes me really feel is sad. Imagine a mum that desperately wants to breastfeed but they can’t due to a low supply, inverted nipples, a baby that has a severe tongue ties etc. They walk around the corridors of the postnatal unit and they see this. Completely disheartening!!
The question I find myself asking is, how do we find the right balance? Yes it’s important to know that what’s in breastmilk because it is superior to formula and it totally needs to be promoted. But to me, is having these images plastered on the walls making the mum’s that desperately want to feed.. feel a million times worse than they already do?
There’s is enough guilt/emotions when things don’t go the way you may initially want, so as a midwife, I desperately want to see our profession make this an enjoyable process for women without added pressure. I just don’t know how to tackle it.
I run antenatal classes and during the ‘feeding your baby’ week I always say that it’s great if you can breastfeed, but remove the expectations and pressure so it’s not a stressful journey for you if you can’t. The pressure that society / midwives / doctors / plunket etc put on women definitely doesn’t help!!
I don’t know the answer to changing the views around it. Yes, I would LOVE everyone to breastfeed, but that’s not the reality. So much of this journey, like labour and birth is out of our control.
I am a HUGE believer in the fact that at the end of the day our goal is that your baby is FED, however that may look. And that the mental wellbeing of our mum’s is just as important.
Feeding is such a huge part of those first few, precious months, so this journey needs to be enjoyable for both baby and mumma, without guilt and full of support.
Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this important part of being a mum.