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Sunday, 3 May 2009

When breast isn't best

There is a story in today's Sunday Life mag from The Sunday Age about a woman, Rebecca Huntley, and her harrowing experience with breastfeeding, and it got me thinking. There aren't a lot of things I get riled up about, but this is most definitely one of them.

There is already soooo much pressure to deal with when you're a new mother. The whole concept is scary, nerve-wrecking, and daunting, without then adding to it the pressure of having to breastfeed. You see, women already know that breastfeeding is best. We know that it's cheaper, better for them blah blah blah. But having it shoved down your throat during your pregnancy and the first few weeks of your new life doesn't help ease the stress and pressure- it makes it worse.

I truly feel for those women that have tried to breastfeed and it has been too painful for them, because believe me, I know exactly how painful breastfeeding can be, and if it weren't for the fact that my mum is a midwife and so I had help at home every day until I got it right, there's a good chance I may not have breastfeed either of my two children. At best, it was painful, at worst it was a bloody nightmare and some times it took all my self control not to throw either baby away from me when my nipples were red raw. I know, that sounds horrible. BUt unless you've been there I suggest you do not judge. It took me a good 2-3 weeks before breastfeeding was established with my first child, and a week or so for my second.

And what about these claims that formula can lead to lower IQs, allergies, and are sometimes even linked to SIDS? Well let me tell you something, WHO and ABA, and every other organisation that that tries to shove breastfeeding down women's throats. I was never breastfed, because I am adopted. And guess how many allergies I have? NONE. And guess what I just did last week? Graduated from an Arts degree with DISTINCTIONS. I'm not slow, or stupid, or always sick, and I certainly wasn't a victim to cot death. I know plenty of people my age that weren't breastfed and we are all fine, and that's saying something considering formula is better developed now than it was 26 years ago.

So my point is this. When it comes to deciding whether or not to breastfeed the only person who should make that decision is the woman. Persisting for weeks to do something that is obviously making both mother and baby miserable is just not worth the hassle. A mother knows whether she can do it or not, and it's not fair to make her feel guilty if she decides not to, for whatever reason. It is no one else's business whether she breastfeeds or not. It doesn't make her a bad mother if she decides not to breastfeed.

How was your experience with breastfeeding?

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