This weekend I found myself in the centre of a breastfeeding debate on Twitter. Situations I usually like to avoid because the people who debate over twitter are normally a little more outspoken than I am and clearly have a lot of confidence from behind their computer screens. I was shocked to find myself being judged by a number of extreme pro breastfeeders over one simple comment I made to another blogger.
The blogger had asked for tips on what to put in a new mum hamper. My answer was “after my experience with breast-feeding I always give a new mum a bottle of ready made formula. Emergency milk supply!”
Well, on Saturday I woke up to extreme pro breastfeeders judging me for discouraging breastfeeding and that giving a bottle of formula is a terrible idea.
Let me make something clear. I’m a pro breastfeeder. I will always encourage breastfeeding to any new mum, however after my struggles with breastfeeding Lamb, I will also encourage them to move over to formula if breastfeeding is a huge struggle and simply making their life hell. From my experience with Lamb I genuinely feel the emotional state of the mum plays a huge part in the success of breastfeeding, and if it’s simply making you unhappy, this is neither healthy for you or your baby.
I stand by my opinion of giving a bottle of ready made formula to a new mum. You may disagree, but breastfeeding wasn’t easy for me and without a top up of formula every now and then, I would of given up breastfeeding completely. This is my personal opinion and choice and I’m entitled to this.
So the debate continued and I found these women attacking me more and more. One even went on to say “couldn’t you just pump?”.
Well, love, I did pump. I pumped for 4 and a half long months and had a supply of frozen milk as long as my arm. Is that good enough for you?
The 2 women, who another twitter user called “the breastfeeding police” which I found rather amusing, made comments like “you shouldn’t encourage the use of teats” and “you should be directing them towards support groups, not promoting the use of formula”.
Ok, so as you obviously missed my breastfeeding post and clearly don’t read my blog, I’ll give you a run down of my experience with breast feeding.
Lamb couldn’t latch. He didn’t feed for 3 days even though I had numerous midwives using various techniques to help him. I refused to give him formula and desperately wanted a solution to allow me to breastfeed. Yes, that’s right. I chose NOT to formula feed. The answer to all of my prayers was nipple shields. Oh yes, a form of “teat”.
So, extreme pro breastfeeders on twitter, answer me this. If I should be discouraging the use of teats, how the hell was I supposed to feed my child if the only thing that made him latch was a nipple shield? Go on, enlighten me, because you clearly know best and have all the answers when it comes to breastfeeding. I’d love to know what several midwives and my local breastfeeding support group were doing so wrong that they couldn’t teach my son to latch. Oh, wait, I know, it’s that breastfeeding magazine you advised me to give as a gift instead of a bottle of formula. Of course, the answer to my problems, a magazine. Why didn’t I think of that when my son was screaming with hunger at 3 days old, unable to latch and not getting enough from the hand expressed milk I was feeding with a syringe. I should of sent Daddy Lamb to my local 24 hour magazine shop to pick up the breastfeeding magazine you talk about, that would have done the trick.
Let’s move on to the next comment which in all honesty made me laugh out loud. “It’s a shame you’re not still pumping or you could have donated your milk instead of formula”.
What the hell? This conversation begun with a simple comment suggesting a bottle of pre-made formula to be given in a new mum hamper as a form of emergency milk supply, and now you are telling me I should be donating my own breast milk instead? You do know the mum in question 1. was not somebody I know, 2. had yet to give birth so we have no idea whether she wants to breastfeed, or 3. may be more offended at the thought of another woman’s breast milk than a harmless bottle of formula?
As I told you numerous times, I’m pro breastfeeding, always have been always will be, however life isn’t easy and breastfeeding can be ridiculously challenging and point blank impossible for some women. It’s people like you who cause rifts between the breastfeeding and formula feeding world. It’s people like you who create a bad energy around breastfeeding mothers. Your suggestions and comments are not supportive like you think they are, they are intrusive and damn well annoying. You spoke to me with such authority, like you actually think you are the “breastfeeding police”.
Guess what, breastfeeding isn’t a law. Mothers DON’T HAVE TO BREASTFEED. I love breastfeeding and everything associated with it. Bonding, nurturing, the added bonus of it being amazingly good for the baby, oh and lets not forget weight loss! But I had to come to terms with not being able to feed my baby naturally, and I found a solution. That solution involved teats. Nipples shields, bottles and yes a dummy! Is there anything wrong with that? NO.
What do you say to a breastfeeder who uses bottles? Because they are clearly going against your beliefs of discouraging the use of teats. Was I wrong to express my milk and feed my son with a bottle? Because if your answer is no, then you are contradicting yourself and what you promote so confidently over Twitter.
You know what I think? I think you had the easiest experience with breastfeeding. You didn’t have ‘inverted nipples’ like me that meant your nipples were too small for your baby to latch, you didn’t have flow problems which meant you ran out milk and couldn’t feed your baby in the middle of the night. Your experience was most likely fulfilling, joyful and rewarding. Not stressful, exhausting and emotionally draining. Your nipples probably didn’t look like the Grand Canyon and require endless amounts of Lansinoh Lanolin cream. You probably didn’t leak at the sound of your baby crying and spends hours of your day changing clothes so you felt slightly clean and normal.
Or maybe your experience was a struggle like mine?
Either way, who are you to tell me what I can or cannot give as a gift? You are entitled to your opinion, as am I. Fair enough if you tweeted a reply along the lines of “I disagree with giving formula to a new mum”, but you didn’t do that did you? You felt you had the right to continously tell me what I had suggested was wrong, and question my experience with breastfeeding. I ended up justifying myself to a complete stranger. Explaining that I am, in fact pro breastfeeding and trying to get you to understand my reasons for the suggestion.
Ranting like this over a blog post isn’t something I normally do, however I am a fan of a ranty post 😉 but I just had to express my feelings over what I had experienced. Something I can’t stand is people who are narrow minded, who express their (unwanted) opinion and feel they are always right.
Formula feeders who believe breastfeeding is disgusting. I don’t actually know what to say to people like you. You do know why females have breasts, don’t you? I’d be interested to know how the human race would survive without formula before it was invented.
Breastfeeders that believe mums who formula feeding their babies are not giving them the best start in life. Sure, breast milk is better than formula, I’ll happily agree with that, but there’s no way I think that formula feeding is bad for babies. Hello, it’s 2015 and formula has been around for a bloody long time. I’m pretty sure they’ve got the ingredients right by now.
I started this post with the opinion I’m pro breastfeeding, but you know what? I’m pro happiness. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and at times it caused me great sadness, which ultimately led me down a path of unwanted emotions. It took me 16 long months of being a mum to fully enjoy what I had. I can proudly say I am over the dark days and thoroughly enjoy being a mum, but it’s taken me a long time to get here.
My advice to you extreme pro breastfeeders on twitter, if support is so important to you (as you kept badgering on about during our conversation) why don’t you actually try being supportive? Because what I felt during our discussion was far from it. I felt bullied and judged.
I will not let you get me down, if anything you have made me feel proud of what I achieved when I breastfed my son. How many mums do you know who managed 4 and a half months of full on expressing day and night? Not many, I’m sure. Expressing is ten times harder than feeding naturally, so you know what? That makes me a super dooper breastfeeder.
And those that wake up in the night to mix up a bottle of formula, wait for it to cool, then sit and feed your baby, you’re pretty super dooper too.