Is breast really best? If you are struggling with fatigue late on in your pregnancy and wondering whether or not you are going to breast feed your baby then this blog could be for you! There’s been a lot in the international press lately about the pros and cons of feeding your baby by breast or bottle. Looking back at my experiences, and comparing with Gillian and Lee-Anne in the office, I thought it would help to give you a run down on my time breast feeding.
So here are some interesting articles in the press:
- In 2017 the Australian Greens Minister fed her baby who produced a “motion” while she did. In 2016 the Australian Parliament changed rules to allow breast feeding while in Parliamentary session. (1)
- In Iceland’s Parliament they are feeding babies now. (2)
- Well known fashion blogger, Chiara Ferragni from Italy, is breastfeeding her baby.
The late Jo Cox MP told everyone “This is what women do. Get over it” and she’s right. But there’s a difference between doing it well, as we see in the links above, and doing it as a form of exhibitionism. I don’t think most women would do the latter. For most women it’s something the have to do, or want to do, and exhibitionism is the last thing on their minds. It’s a natural process, just like having babies. It’s more about where is safe, clean and quiet to feed my baby in peace with minimal interruption to my life and the life of others and minimal exposure in public. If a baby’s hungry, then a baby’s hungry and nothing will stop it wanting fed on the spot.
I remember with my first child when I decided to breast feed and that was never an option for me, I was always going to give it a go. I have asthma and there is some eczema in the family and medical advice has always been that it is better to breastfeed. 73% of women in the UK breast feed for some period of time, higher than some press articles suggest. Benefits for baby include protection from infection and sudden infant death syndrome. For mum it’s from a variety of cancers, obesity, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. (3) There is often mention that it stops babies developing inherited conditions like eczema and asthma and that it improves their brain function. However, despite feeding all 3 of my boys two of them do have these conditions. And brain function, well they are ok but not child geniuses by any means. A recent flight next to a brain surgeon from London was rather interesting as he mentioned that the wiring of the brain is totally random so that is why we see children who are extraordinary musicians or scientists when the parents have very low IQs. There you go…explained!
For me the first one was easy to feed and expressing I found a complete nightmare, too slow, too fussy and I couldn’t keep up the volume. The problem was then that having not taken the bottle for 9 months, after a 3 month delayed return to work for that very reason, the only choice was to get him onto a sippy cup with cows milk. He woke every 2 hours for 2 years, long after breast feeding had stopped. I think he was always hungry!
So child number 2? He was born 2 weeks premature so put in baby care where they fed him a bottle with formula overnight so as not to wake me, feeling they were doing me a favour but I was, at the time, so distressed that he’d been given formula instead. In hindsight? It was the best thing the nurses could have done. He took both formula and breast, which allowed dad some time to feed him and get involved, me to get some sleep, and as he took both it meant I could easily return to work. Not only that but he slept through the night (well for me that meant at least 4 hours) and was on a 4 hour routine from day 1. I did find formula much more of a hassle in terms of sterilising bottles, warming to the right temperature and making sure I always had one handy. And when travelling, especially take off and landing on a plane, breastfeeding is just SO EASY! It even puts them to sleep so less screaming in front of all the other childfree impatient passengers who are not used to the noise.
And child 3? Well after number 2, I wasn’t going to move from that 4 hour routine after it had worked last time! No hassles.
Have you ever wondered why dairy cows queue up to be milked in the morning? You’ve never breast fed if you don’t! Oh, the relief! I did have times where my bust was extremely sore, or they bit me, or I attended a work go carting event and the overalls on one side were soaking wet with warm milk leaking out! Very embarrassing in a group of men but they were all cool as they knew I had just had a baby and were, thankfully, all married as well. I have also had the experience of feeding in the corner facing a wall in a small gallery coffee shop locally and been told to leave the premises as breast feeding was “not allowed on the premises”. I now refuse to go there. I also hated hiding in Boots (and in those days BHS) toilets to feed the baby. Totally unhygienic but there was nowhere else to go. I don’t think I would have been up for feeding in Parliament but then perhaps times are a changing, and that’s got to be good. I certainly would have fed somewhere quiet and not exposed much skin. But that’s me. Oh, and the cabbage leaves? Yes they work. Bit smelly though, booked cabbage! So does Arnica cream. Labels4Kids also sells the breast buddy and they work too!
To conclude, breast feeding or not?
In summary, breast feeding or not, do what’s right for you, what doesn’t cause you continued pain and infections, and what works for your lifestyle. If you are not sure then just give it a go. Remember, the milk will come in anyway so you have it there then baby may as well get the benefit, even if it’s only for a few weeks or even days. At least you tried to give them a good start. Then don’t feel guilty about formula. If you do it then you do it because it’s right for you.