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Breastfeeding should be a personal choice and mothers should be supported no matter what they decide
The Breastfeeding Debate
Member Name: loraollie
The Breastfeeding Debate
Date: 15/03/11, updated on 15/03/11 (40 review reads)
Advantages: Breastfeeding is great if it works well for you and your baby.
Disadvantages: Breastfeeding is exhausting and painful.
Until I became pregnant I really didn't think about breastfeeding much at all, other than that it was a cheap and natural way to feed your baby. Being pregnant made me far more aware but I hardly ever saw people breastfeeding in public. Joining the NCT for antenatal classes didn't enlighten me much more, other than to tell me that you should have lots of skin-to-skin with your baby as soon as it was born to promote successful breastfeeding. I even attended a breast-feeding specific class and learnt a few facts including that a baby's stomach is the size of a jelly bean when it is first born (hence the need to feed so often) and... that if you decided to give a baby formula, it would take a month for the formula to leave the baby's system. It was insinuated that giving a baby formula was like poisoning your baby. By this stage I had already decided I would like to breastfeed, but I was angered by the suggestion that formula would harm your baby. Two months later and I had a baby who latched on easily but fed every other hour night and day. Nobody told me how much breastfeeding would hurt - the first 2 minutes of every feed stung like mad for the first two months. Nobody told me how exhausting it was as it was impossible to sleep for more than 90 minutes as that was the longest my baby could last without a feed. One Saturday, I'd had a particularly bad night, feeding non-stop and my husband was at an emergency dental appointment. Home alone, faced with a 3 week old baby screaming blue murder and sore, empty boobs, I decided to give my baby some formula. It worked, he calmed down and he slept. But I was in turmoil. Everything this lady had told me about poisoning my baby with formula came flooding back and I cried for hours and felt guilty for months. I exclusively breast feed for 18 weeks (apart from the one bottle at 3 weeks), then gradually introduced formula and stopped breast feeding at 22 weeks. My baby now has 4 bottles of formula a day (as well as solid food), lasts 3 hours between feeds and is healthy and thriving and sleeping through the night. All of the guilt I felt over giving him one bottle of formula was ridiculous as he now has it all the time. Breastfeeding is hard and there are so many reasons why it doesn't work for so many people. Anyone who chooses to breastfeed should be applauded and supported and anyone who chooses to formula or combination feed should be applauded and supported. Every baby and mother is different and you have to do what works for you and never, ever feel guilty about your decision.
Having just read another interesting review on this subject, I wanted to add a little bit about my experience of the nhs view on breastfeeding. I had a c-section and was in hospital for 2 nights. Luckily for me the 1st night I had fantastic staff on duty who were endlessly patient helping me to breast feed. I was convinced I wasn't producing any milk and one midwife taught me how to hand express at 3am to convince me I was! Without their support I wouldn't have coped on that first night. However my second night was appalling (my baby was born on a bank holiday weekend which could have been why). The staff never responded to my calls until I had rung the buzzer 3 or 4 times and after my c-section I couldn't move and really needed their support. My baby was screaming and as I couldn't walk around with him, my only option to calm him was to feed him. He fed well that night and frequently but one midwife came to me and said that as my baby was screaming so much she would give him a bottle to calm him down. She wouldn't take no for an answer until I got very vocal and listed how many times he had fed for in the last few hours...eventually she left me alone but she made me feel completely unsupported with my decision to breast feed. The vast majority of my friends who had a baby in that hospital ended up giving their baby a bottle, despite wanting to breast feed. By contrast a friend's baby was admitted to a hospital 10 miles away from mine having lost 20% of his birthweight and the hospital refused to let her bottle feed him. She was in hospital for 3 days with people making her express and try breast feeding every hour. Her baby lost more weight while he was in hospital until they very reluctantly agreed to let her formula feed him. It was appalling, visiting her in hospital and seeing the change in her baby, I was staggered that they wouldn't give him formula, they would rather have tube fed him. The fact that two hospitals 10 miles apart can have such different attitutes to breast feeding astonishes me.
Summary: You have to do what is right for you and not feel guilty.