As many people know, I did not breast feed. I wanted to and I tried to the point where I was sitting in my cousins room with her trying to get the wee one latched on and boobs on display (she was a volunteer for breast feeding initiative) whilst my child cried and other kids ran around. But I just couldn’t.
I still to this day, nearly 5 years later have that guilt, which yes I applied to myself but one which is given by the media and their campaigns , some midwives, doctors and most surprisingly other mothers. Other mothers can be mean, absolute bitches. They can be the most judgmental of other women and so very damaging to the point where it can have an effect on ones mental health.
We all have choice, but when breast isn’t always best due to the detrimental affect it can have on a mothers mental health, where do we draw the line? Should we stop when weeping in pain due to cracked nipples, soreness and immense pain or do we keep going because in our heads all we can hear is “breast is best, breast is best”? We bang on about how a happy mother is a good mother….but what if its a difference between not doing it and instead bottle feeding , with a baby who is getting the nutrition in other ways and a mother not being in pain? will my daughter come to me one day and say “I’m not happy with you because you didn’t breast feed” absolutely not.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it isn’t fair that ones parenting skills are judged upon what choice they make. Why judge someone when what they choose could make a hell of a lot of difference to their mental state? Some people think that breast fed babies are healthier, I think this isn’t fair to say as its an individual thing and environmental factors come into it as well.
I was speaking to someone this morning who felt that she had to hide the fact that she hadn’t breast fed, from her health visitor for fear of judgement and having to justify the reason why. is this the type of world that we want our kids growing up in? That we can’t think for ourselves and that we would rather make others happy before ourselves? In the back of my mind I feel that when or if we have another baby, I will defo breast feed this time and make up for the mistakes that i made the first time round. In reading that I shake my head and tell myself to feck off at the thought. Now if I am having a thought like this, there must be many more women out there who feel the same?
What we should be promoting is choice, and that as long as your child is getting nutrition, growing and having a parent who is looking after them, loving them and that the basic needs are met, that this is enough? Do they want a parent who is being pulled in so many different directions and feeling so much guilt and stress that it ends up in anxiety and depression? Im sure that we all know the answer to this.
I am not anti breast feeding, I don’t want this to come across, I just want top stop another mother from feeling that the reason why she has perinatal mental health issues is because it happens and not because she couldn’t breast feed. That the bond doesn’t come from breast feeding alone but other things too.