This is a blog detailing something I feel passionate about—but for once, it’s not books!! It’s a women’s issue—and my books are full of women’s issues.
Breastfeeding? What do we think? Which of these is your opinion?
- Yuck – lactating, abnormal tits on display. It’s weird. Why do mothers feel the need to do it in public?
- I try to cop a look whenever I see a nursing mother. Right on!
- It’s beautiful.
- Wasn’t there a sketch on Little Britain about that?
- Breastfed children – do they ever leave home?
- It’s nature. Not bothered…
- I live in Australia. It’s everywhere.
- I know nothing about it.
I’ve seen a lot of debate on the internet about this subject recently and some of it quite frankly made me laugh! Apparently society has gone from throwing nursing mothers out of Harrods or wherever, to slating those mothers who bottle feed publicly… crazy, much?
I breastfed my daughter for seven months and that was my choice. I wasn’t bullied into it. I wasn’t forced to do it or pressured by media or society. I did it because I wanted to. It was like a smoker deciding to quit; I made an informed choice and followed through and I breastfed. However, let’s get real…
Breastfeeding my child for that length of time was very, very hard. I’ve been recently astounded by the whinging, whining, moaning minnies I encounter everywhere in my sphere—but until you’ve given birth and breastfed a little beast trying to suck the life from you, you ain’t known pain! LOL. I’ve written ten novels and several short stories and blah blah blah and the list goes on… but nothing I have ever done in life has ever been as hard as breastfeeding, let me tell you. IT IS SERIOUSLY HARD.
I am by no means a breastfeeding maniac. However, if you read my books, you will discover my female characters breastfeed. All of them. Why? Because if you come to me and ask, should I breastfeed my child? I will always sit down and tell you, YES!
I’ve encountered all sorts of opinions on this matter. All sorts. Here’s a few…
- A friend of mine had serious mastitis. She gave up breastfeeding after that. It left her traumatised. I didn’t blame her. She had a terrible time (read Unfurl, Chloe suffers it in there, and mastitis is something I had too—it was fucking horrible).
- A health professional I was visited by spouted off at me about breastfeeding, i.e. the benefits etc., but when she had her own first child a little while after I had my daughter, she managed it for two weeks, citing it was just too hard, too stressful, and she couldn’t cope. She gave up, yet she’s employed by a government trying to get more mums breastfeeding!
- My mum breastfed me but when she had her other three kids, she just couldn’t cope. She chose to bottle feed the others. It was her choice.
- One of my friends said, “Boys shouldn’t suck their mother’s tit. It’s perverse.” I wanted to ask her what she would have done before formula. Handed her child to the nursemaid no doubt? I accepted this girl’s opinion, though I thought it was ludicrous.
- Some women do whip their baps out in public. In fact sometimes when I visited baby clinic, I thought some of the women only turned up for an excuse to get their breasts out without vilification. I fed in public a lot but you couldn’t see anything. I wore layers and was strategic and sometimes people would be talking to me not realising what I was doing until the kid was getting burped and spewed everywhere.
- I have witnessed those Nazis who watch other bottle-feeding mums with daggers shooting from their eyes, muttering the words, “Cruel witch, feeding her baby that rubbish!”
Extreme some of those, aren’t they? I thought so.
Why is breastfeeding so hard?
- You don’t know whether your baby is latched on properly.
- You can’t see how much milk they are drinking.
- Your nipples hurt like hell until they toughen up.
- As well as mastitis, you might get blisters, a rash or all manner of lovely ailments in/on your breast.
- When the baby wakes in the night, it’s all up to you. The father can help by getting you a drink, changing a nappy or whatever—he could even warm up expressed milk for you. However, your weeping breasts will still probably wake you up regardless.
- When you’re really tired, and exhausted, and the baby just don’t do what you want—you feel like a failure, you feel like giving up.
- The father sometimes feels helpless, too. It’s all about working together and communicating.
Why am I glad I did it?
- When my baby needed to feed, I could pop her straight on. No making up bottles. This meant I could feed in the night and get back to sleep very easily because I didn’t have to leave my bed or use my brain in the kitchen.
- When my baby had injections and needed soothing, I could soothe her instantly.
- I never worried my breast milk was mixed incorrectly. I always knew the baby was getting the best stuff for her. When she was ill with a cold, it cleared up super fast.
- I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within a month of giving birth. My stomach also went down quickly.
- For seven months I didn’t need to sterilise or mix up bottles.
- My daughter never had a dummy.
- Serena is now four years old and has never had any kind of illness that has required antibiotics, not yet anyway, touch wood. She gets over illness really quickly.
- There are few really rewarding challenges in life and though it was difficult, I still look back and feel a massive sense of achievement, doing what I did. It was tough but I have a strong bond with my daughter.
It’s really hard to say why without writing a thesis on this, but mothers seem to have it really tough in this day and age. If we’re not back to work as quickly as other mums, we feel guilty. If we go back to work too soon, we feel guilty. We’re under pressure non-stop, living in fear of what people think!
The Earth Mother is a rarity, I’m afraid, because we live in the modern world and there’s just too much stuff out there to make it easier on ourselves, like jars of baby food and scientifically researched formula and … the list goes on. I say sometimes it’s better to be kind to ourselves and go easier on ourselves. Your mental health matters more than doing everything by the book. I am a strong person and I can tell you, breastfeeding was the hardest thing I ever did. It was harder than studying for my degree or working in a media company. It was harder than writing any novel.
Whatever choices you make, make the choices that are best for you and don’t give a second’s thought to what other people think. Do what’s right for you. I don’t know where all this criticism of mothers has come from to be honest—we should all stick together and stop competing with one another or judging one another by our choices.
I was told this, that and the other when I first became a mum but I just tried to ignore everything I had thrown at me and get on with it. I thought as long as my husband agrees with what I’m doing, sod what anyone else thinks! NEVER LISTEN TO ANYONE who says, “Well it was done like this in our day…” We’re living in the 21st fucking century people!
Having worked in the media, all I can say is, DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ! OR HEAR ON THE RADIO. OR WATCH ON THE TV! IT’S ALL BOLLOCKS!