There are so many things you should do as a mother. And so many things you shouldn’t. There are opinions, articles, experts, advocates, infographics and judgements (spoken and subliminal).
The months after having a baby are some of the most raw, vulnerable and delicate moments of a woman’s life. Hormones are all over the place, logic went out the door during labour, stress is high and sleep deprivation is significant.
And yet it’s in this perfect storm that you have to figure out how to feed your baby.
Something most of us didn’t realise before having a baby is that breastfeeding is actually a learned behaviour: for the mother and the baby. Sure it’s natural and instinctive, but that doesn’t always ensure that it’s an easy act to perform.
There is so much hype from breastfeeding advocates that breast is best and I’ve come to see how alienating it is. And how crushing the articles, images and opinions must be for a mother who’s done all she can and tried as best she could to breastfeed her baby, only for it not to be the right option for them.
I feel safe in saying that the vast majority of mothers decided during their pregnancy (or even prior) that they would breastfeed their baby. I know that some mothers choose to formula feed from the beginning, and I believe this decision wasn’t just made on a whim or because she didn’t feel like breastfeeding. I think there’s an innate drive, and an equally strong physical response to breastfeed our baby. Milk production following birth happens whether we want it to or not, and so I feel this is the ‘natural’ part to breastfeeding.
I also have no doubt that every mum wants the best for her child.
I believe most new mothers have a deep desire to breastfeed their baby. And so I feel there is no need for a breast vs bottle debate. Either formula feeding or breastfeeding are chosen from the beginning, or breastfeeding was attempted and then formula was chosen.
Any women that has breastfed their baby knows the challenges, the bumps in the road, the curve balls that come along the way. It’s not easy, and the sad thing is that for the mother’s who’ve tried and given their all, the change to formula feeding their baby often brings immense guilt, sadness and feelings of inadequacy.
And this is where we are failing mothers. This is where the support of new mothers needs to change.
There is so much emotion linked to being able to breastfeed your baby. I really believe as a society we are letting new mothers down by continuing to be so black and white about early feeding.
I’ve seen it before my eyes as I work with new mums and babies in my practice. A new mother is trying. She’s doing her best. She’s exhausted and yet she continues to give more than she’s got for the sake of her child. And to throw the 'breast is best' information in her face when she finally relents and formula feeds for her sake and her baby’s (because it usually takes breaking point to make the change) is implying failure.
And that is how we're failing this mother who's doing all she can.
The guilt-inducing information and alienating advocacy of 'breast is best' is actually really damaging to mothers as a whole. There are so many situations and circumstances whereby a mother can no longer breastfeed her baby and has to give formula. This women doesn’t need breast is best information on her Facebook feed or images comparing formula vs breast milk ingredients.
She needs love. And support.
There no longer needs to be a conversation on why breastfeeding is the best option, or how formula compares to breastmilk. Everyone knows the benefits of breastmilk. We know what should be baby’s first drink. This is no longer the information that needs to be shared.
I believe what new mothers actually need is support with whatever they’re trying in the moment, today.
If a new mum is breastfeeding her baby and trying to overcome challenges she’s having, she needs support. If a new mum has decided breastfeeding is no longer working for her baby, or herself, she needs support. If a new mum wants to formula feed from birth, she needs support. If breastfeeding is the chosen option and it works for both mum and baby, she needs support.
I have created an event to honour the efforts of the new mums of Newcastle,
offer a support network and to begin changing the conversation from how we feed our babies to how we support the mums. I am proud to present:
is an event for ALL new mothers.
Regardless of your early feeding story, the presenters are coming together to provide
a nurturing event where ideas and answers are shared and support is offered.
Each presenter is a mum herself, and so Feeding Your Newborn Workshop is an event where mums are supporting mums.
Join us at
on Wednesday 19th February at 9.30am - 11.00am
Yours in feeding and motherhood,