Saturday, November 27, 2010

Can't we all just get along?

I am still alive, I just don't have much to say or much time to say it in. But I read this article just now and it made me laugh - actually laugh out loud, not just one of those times where you write 'lol' but actually aren't - and I wanted to share it with you.

How to feed your baby is one of the most contentious parenting issues around. There are hundreds of pages on the internet where you can share an opinion and get slated for it. Not all pro-breastfeeders are breastfeeding nazis, by a long way. Not all formula feeders are... well, whatever they get accused of being. But there's a lot of shouting and unpleasantness going on.

I had a lot of trouble getting going with breastfeeding. Actually, I was fine. I did everything right. Phoebe had a lot of trouble breastfeeding. She struggled to latch on, got a bit upset at some of the very vigorous help we received, and then screamed every time I tried to feed her. We ended up cup-feeding her formula. After 6 days, I got help from an excellent Infant Feeding Co-ordinator and we had a reasonably happy feeding relationship. I didn't love breastfeeding - I felt tied to my baby and stuck to the sofa - the baby decides when she'll start feeding and when she'll finish feeding and you lose any sense of control you might have once had. But I felt it was worth persevering with as I knew it was good for Phoebe - and I'd worked damn hard to be able to do it...

Until we got to 10 months. I went back to work, Phoebe grew top teeth, Phoebe started biting me. Every feed we had, she bit me. It wasn't the most painful thing that had ever happened to me (that would be labour, I think) but it made me nervous about feeding, which made things worse. And I just feel there are some places that you shouldn't have to be bitten. I did try to keep going for a while, but eventually I decided that I didn't want to be bitten any more and I didn't want breastfeeding to become a massively unpleasant experience. I really really wanted to keep going until Phoebe was at least one and probably beyond that and I think that would have been better for her. But she got 10 months of good milk out of me and I am very proud of that.

So... I've seen both sides of the debate - the "I can't breastfeed" part, the breastfeeding part, the switching to formula part. I believe that breastmilk is significantly better for babies than formula is. I believe that nearly all women can physically breastfeed. I think all women should receive much more support to breastfeed, and that breastfeeding should be normalised in the UK as the baby feeding choice. But I also think that the costs of succeeding at breastfeeding (for me it was a week of a nightmare three-hourly expressing and feeding schedule which left me with almost no sleep) shouldn't be underestimated and each family should be allowed to choose when they have reached the limits of their ability to pay that price.

Essentially, I think we should all be a little nicer to each other. And stop taking meth.