As I mentioned last week, I believe that the main reason why most new mothers stop or don’t try breastfeeding is a lack of information.
After all, nobody wants to be the wet blanket who discusses cracked nipples and engorged breasts with a woman who is already dreading pushing a baby out of her body.
However, I also blame self-doubt. When feeding a baby from a bottle, you can see exactly how much they are drinking.
Obviously, this is not possible when nursing and this worries many mums. What we seem to have forgotten is that our body was created the way it was for a reason.
There is a reason our breasts produce milk when the baby is born (which is nothing short of miraculous if you ask me). There is a reason the milk we produce changes according to the time of day and as the baby grows.
Breastfeeding is as natural a part of childbirth as pregnancy and labour are in those countries where formula is not available, so why is it hard for women in more developed countries to nurse?
Have we lost the ability to nurse our own babies or are we sabotaging ourselves?
I’ve learned the hard way that the moment the mother relaxes and trusts her own body, the rest follows naturally.
This time I’ve decided to exclusively breastfeed R until she is a year old simply because it is possible. Now that I am at home and the baby is with me all the time, it’s easier.
With M I used to express everyday because I had to spend long hours at the office and once I was at work, I used to spend my 20 minute break expressing milk in the restrooms.
It wasn’t easy and I sometimes had to run out of meetings because I felt my breasts leaking but I persisted and I did it.
While I believe that determination is key, I also acknowledge the fact that in some cases there is really little option but to switch to formula.
The reasons vary from medication the mother is forced to take, to personal trauma which affects the milk, to the mother working long hours and therefore not having enough time with the baby to nurse and to express.
Having said that, I feel very strongly that, if possible, breastfeeding should at least be attempted and encouraged.
We all know about the benefits of breastmilk for babies, but I also have more selfish reasons for choosing to breastfeed.
To start with, I lost the baby weight quickly (and there was plenty of weight to lose), we saved a lot of money which would have otherwise been spent on tins of formula and I don’t have to prepare or carry around bottles when I go out or abroad.
The best part of it for me is knowing that wherever we are and whatever the time of day or night, I can feed my baby whenever she’s hungry or thirsty.
I’m not one to wear skimpy clothes and feel uncomfortable even on the beach in my bathing suit, but I’ve never once felt embarrassed about feeding her in public.
Another plus point for my husband is that he doesn’t have to get up at night to feed her. He’s a big advocate of breastfeeding for that very reason!
On the downside, the baby is always with me because I can hardly ever be away from her for more than three hours since I’m not really expressing this time.
Also, my friends who bottle-feed have been enjoying uninterrupted sleep at night for many months while I still feed R at least once during the night.
I could go on and on about this subject but all I can say is that this is a very sensitive subject.
I am a 100% in favour of breastfeeding but I also know a lot of women who could not or did not want to breastfeed and their children are as healthy and well adjusted as anyone else’s.
It’s a shame that some women who have had no problem with nursing judge those who chose not to and vice versa.
Because, believe it or not, I am still met with some raised eyebrows when I nurse R in public.
At the end of the day, we are all in this together. We are all doing our utmost to give our children the best start in life and that’s all that counts.