Breast milk is really good stuff. We know this.
We have seen the campaigns, read the research and studied the NHS literature we have shoved down our throats from the moment we fall pregnant.
When I was expecting my first child, I was told that breastfeeding is ‘a convenient way to provide you and your baby with a multitude of health benefits.’
To be honest, they had me at ‘convenient’..
With the UK still holding the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, the Government’s ‘sales pitch,’ based on the fact that a mother’s milk is healthier than formula, is clearly not working. All it achieves is to load more guilt on the shoulders of women who do not, or cannot breastfeed.
I’m not denying the health benefits of breast milk, all I am saying is that most women know these facts. You can’t escape them.
From the moment our babies are conceived we are inundated with the facts. But a large number of new mothers still choose not to breastfeed from day one.
Not because they love their babies less than those mums who breastfeed, but because for whatever reason, they believe it is best option for their family.
As a society we ignore facts all the time. Plenty of people know about the benefits of exercise but don’t go to the gym. Smokers know about the dangers of cigarettes but they don’t give them up.
I knew that homemade organic baby food blended with extract of quinoa and unicorn milk or whatever…would be better for my child than the stuff out of a jar, but it didn’t stop me using Cow & Gate.
We undoubtedly need to encourage (not pressurise) more women to try breastfeeding. Not only because of the health benefits, but because you can’t really know what is better for you and your baby until you have tried all the options available to you. However, to do this, it is a hell of a lot easier, if you try breastfeeding first.
I am not anti-formula. I am pro Do-Whatever-The-Hell-It-Takes-To-Make-New-Motherhood-Easier. And speaking as someone who has tried formula, exclusive breastfeeding and a combination of both – I believe it is a misconception that bottle-feeding is the ‘easier’ option.
Personally, I found stumbling down the stairs at 2am holding a screaming, hungry baby while mixing and heating bottles with one hand, a lot harder than just pulling up my top.
I know breastfeeding doesn’t work out for everyone, but if it does it can be a great experience and a lifesaver for the sleep-deprived among us! You can literally do it with your eyes closed…
So instead of bombarding mums-to-be with facts that they already know, why not just suggest they give nursing a little go. Even if a baby only has a few swigs of colostrum on day one it is still beneficial to their health. And rather than guilt-tripping mums who are struggling on with breastfeeding, even though it is making them physically or mentally unwell, we should reassure them that formula feeding is not the second best option bit simply a second option.
I reckon it is about time we rebranded breastfeeding. Forget Breast is Best; how about Breast is Best For The Sleep-Deprived or The Lazy or Give Boobs a Bash (OK I may have to work on my slogans).
I loved breastfeeding. For me, it was a wonderful experience but I am not going to be a dick about it. Use a bottle, breast or a bit of both.
You life, your boobs, your baby, your choice. All I am saying is, why not make your decision on a ‘try before you buy (formula)’ basis. If it all goes ‘tits up’ the formula will still be available – what have you got to lose?
So I am NOT going to bang on about the brilliance of breast milk but I would just like to provide the Government (who totally read this blog) with a 16 ways to promote breastfeeding without being a dick should they want to try an alternative campaign:
1) One free hand means you can eat, play on your smartphone, go to the toilet and even enjoy a glass of wine while feeding your baby (seriously, it is fine).
2) Hassle free. If it works out for you and your baby, breastfeeding is a piece of cake. Pick up baby, put on nipple. Job done.
3) You can do it lying down. Let’s face it. Taking care of a newborn is exhausting, so as a new mum anything you can do horizontal is a good thing.
4) You can do it while you are asleep. This is another great selling point for the sleep-deprived. As long as you aren’t drunk, smoking or sleeping on a bed of nails it is usually ok to fall asleep next to your baby.
5) Stick a tit in it. Breastfeeding is the quickest way to shut up…I mean soothe a screaming baby. So try to keep a little milk flowing for as long as possible. My second daughter gave up her bedtime feed at just over two-years-old, so my boobs got me through all of her teething. Result.
6) Amazing boobs. Having spent all of my adult life as a 34A, I finally had boobs! Would it be wrong to breastfeed forever just to keep my size Ds?
7) Tea break. You have a handy to solution to the problem of running out of milk when you really need a cup of tea. (Yes, I have tried it).
8) You don’t have to WEAN I don’t mean breastfeed forever. I am not a total freak. I just mean it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Once they are on solids they want less and less milk anyway. And as for the nighttime, I found the If She Screams Loudly I Will Just Feed Her approach worked for us until my baby gradually weaned herself. Trust me, they will not be sucking at your wrinkly granny breasts when they are 30, so chill out.
9) Bedtime. Boobs are the easiest and quickest way to get a baby to go to sleep. (For those of you thinking ‘Ah, breastfed – no wonder her babies didn’t sleep,’ My combination fed daughter she woke up all night, every night whether she was on breast or formula milk).
10) Milky breasts provide instant comfort to a teething, colicky, sick or overtired baby.
11) Less stuff to carry and remember when you go out. You have everything you need to feed your baby inside you at all times.
13) Pig out. You can eat what you want and have the calories literally sucked out of you.
14) Nursing bras are so bloody comfortable.
15) It is free nutrition. If you run out of money and food (which we once did) at least you have a healthy snack and drink available for your child!
16) You can always change your mind! The good thing about breastfeeding is that if you don’t get on with it, you can switch to formula.
So there you have it. Get your tits out! or not…whatever…
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