Is that a question?
There seems to be a lot of interest in the breastfeeding study from Brazil, I was trying to decide whether or not to write a post about it, I did have difficultly pushing the publish button once I had written this, for two reasons; I didn’t want to inadvertently offend anyone as this is an emotive subject but also because the overall response to this study seems to be, sadly, a lot of people stating that this study made them feel guilty about bottle feeding. This is terrible! No-one should feel guilty, I wrote a post recently about how as parents we shouldn’t judge each other and maybe we should all be kinder to ourselves. And this stands for bottle or breast feeding as well as stay at home and working mums.
I am a very firm believer in the fact that it is not and should never be bottle VS breast or stay at home parents VS working parents. We are all working towards the same goal, we are on the same side, we are not awarded brownie points for making someone else feel crap about themselves and their choices.
I don’t for one minute think that the study set about to make parents feel bad about bottle feeding, though obviously I haven’t read all of the newspaper articles so some of them could have added fuel to the fire. And I know there is a lot of pressure out there to breastfeed from healthcare professionals etc which isn’t helpful. I believe that as mums we should be given information so we can make an informed choice and then be supported in that choice.
What I want to say is this…
I decided to breastfeed Boo for a number of reasons, it was a complex decision which my husband and I discussed at length before Boo was born (there was some doubt about whether I would in fact be able to breastfeed – having had one operation on each breast to remove lumps). However if this study had come out before Boo was born I don’t think it would have really influenced my decision (I am not sure I would even notice 4 IQ points?). The possibility of a few IQ points and the possibility of a little more earning potential would not be the main reason why I would choose to breastfed, they may contribute towards it in some small way, but so did a hundred other factors. I am in no way dismissing this study, I think it is really interesting and great that a study on this scale has been done and I am hoping to get some time this weekend to have a look at the information in more detail, but I don’t see it as the be all and end all, or definitive proof that ‘breast is best’ for everyone because I don’t believe this issue is as simple as being boiled down to a one size fits all.
And to the mums who bottle fed… would the possibility of 4 IQ points and the possibility of a bit more earning potential for your child have changed your mind at the time? Would it have made you try breastfeeding when you really didn’t feel comfortable with it? Would it have made milk flow where there was none before? Would it have made the early days any less tough and relentless? Would it have changed the way you feel about any of the factors which contributed towards your decision to bottle feed? I nearly decided to switch to bottle feeding on a number of occasions (I won’t lie I found breastfeeding very challenging especially in the early days, and even now some days it is difficult) and I honestly don’t these two things would have been the deciding factors.
I was bottle fed, and speaking to my mum about it I can see why… she was living with my father and his parents when she left hospital with me (under those circumstances I would have probably bottle fed too… awkward – living with the in laws – especially my father’s family but let’s not go there right now). There are limits to what you can put up with, and lets fact it being a mum to a newborn is scary crazy and we need all the support and reassurance we can get. Each person is different… I have breastfeed in public but I have drawn some lines and one of those lines is in front of my maternal grandfather for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to wave my boob around in front of him so if, for whatever reason I lived with him, chances are I would have made the decision to bottle feed? Who knows, I am not in that situation so I cannot say for definite but most probably I would have gone down the bottle feeding route. My mum also bottle fed my brother, because as she had done that with me so she did the same for him. I know my mum doesn’t feel guilty about it, as far as she is concerned she made the decision that was best for the family and that’s that. I don’t ever think that my mum should have breastfed me and my brother, it’s not my decision to past judgement on.
One of the comments which appeared on my Facebook news feed was that ‘as long as the baby is fed and looked after what does it matter how they are fed’ well yes to an extent but I don’t think it is as simple as that to be honest. I feel that as long as the decision is the best for the family then it is the right one, the mum and how she is feeling has to play some part in this breast/bottle feeding is about mum too.
I think it’s time for me to wrap this post up now as I fear I am rambling….
To everyone who is or has breast, bottle or mix fed their babies – you are doing a fantastic job and you should feel proud that you are doing what is best for your child, your family and yourself.