I have now been breastfeeding R for 3 and a half months and feel very proud about it. I breastfed my daughter (with one bottle of formula a day) till 6 months and intend to do the same for R (though without needing the formula).
Now breastfeeding is a word that brings about all kinds of extreme reactions in mums, including guilt, competitiveness, selfishness and arrogance to name a few. Probably on par with the stay at home vs the working mum debate!
A recent study ,reviewing the evidence of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, published in the BMJ suggested that sole breastfeeding for 6 months was not as beneficial and that there were some areas of concern. These were mainly that there was a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia, concerns over higher incidences of food allergies and a higher risk of coeliac disease with its associated implications. You can read the article here. Now you can imagine the uproar that caused!
I myself have become very pro breastfeeding, though never really gave it much thought before having my daughter. I found after having her, this intense need to feed her from my own body, at times detrimental to her own health I have to say. However I have found it much easier the second time round , though each child is different in terms of their needs and weight gain.
A friend of my daughter asked me what I was doing when I was breastfeeding R , and I said giving him his milk. She then proceeded to tell me babies don’t drink milk like that , you have to put it in a bottle! I was gobsmacked! I did gently correct her and tell her that this was the way a lot of mummies fed their children and was completely natural. But this demonstrates the difficulty with acknowledging breastfeeding as a normal activity.
I would say to any mum to try breastfeeding from the word go, but make no bones about saying that it can be painful,exhausting and difficult for the first 4-6 weeks. Its a bit like labour, in that you have to get through the pain to get to the good bit! I also think breastfeeding needs to be made more acceptable and common, so that new mums or mums -to- be can see other women breastfeeding comfortably in public, without exposure or shame and they are more likely to follow the same route.
Good luck to all those planning to breastfeed and those who are already doing it. Those who have chosen not to breastfeed or who have had difficulty, I also wish you the best with your little ones, though I would highly recommend attending a breastfeeding clinic, or get one-to -one support in the home if possible and maybe for your next child breastfeeding may become a pleasurable experience.
What do you think of breastfeeding? Do you agree with choosing not to breastfeed without having tried?
Here are some studies and contact details of breastfeeding centres/specialists to get you started: