Today I have been told I should ‘give up breastfeeding’. If I had a penny for every time I had heard or overheard that I would have a fair amount of pennies, probably enough to buy myself an ice cream. In my mind getting 1p for hearing that phrase is one time too many… Yes I am aware Boo is 16 months old, yes I am aware she can drink cow’s milk now (and she does!) but I am also aware that it is none of your business how I feed my child.
Today was different, because today I heard it from my G.P. I am trying not to be too angry or upset right now because I don’t want this post to turn in to rant I want to discuss why this is wrong on so many levels.
First – ‘giving up’ that sounds like defeat, failing – no wonder all of the ladies who have to stop breastfeeding before they feel ready too, feel guilty and like they are failing, if they are told to ‘give up’ or worse that they are ‘giving up’. This is not how it should be seen at all. If you have to stop breastfeeding it is probably because of a number of different reasons and you should never ever be told you are giving up! I shudder to think of how much more upset I would be if I was an exhausted first time new mum dealing with getting breastfeeding established and I was told to ‘give up’.
Second – It made me think of ‘giving up smoking’ which you do for the sake of your health because it is a bad thing (don’t get me wrong giving up smoking is an awfully difficult thing to do, and I have seen my mum struggle through it on a number of occasions – thankfully she succeeded years ago) but in my mind I couldn’t help but feel I was being told to ‘give up’ breastfeeding because it’s a bad thing now that Boo is older. Maybe this is just me, because I seem to be facing a lot of negative, hmm what’s the word, vibes? about breastfeeding Boo now that she is a toddler.
I am aware that I may be being a little bit oversensitive about this issue, and of course I know my G.P. does not think breastfeeding is anything like smoking, but they should have been more careful about the language they chose to use. Had they said ‘I think you should stop breastfeeding’ I wouldn’t have been as annoyed, and definitely not as upset. Also the fact that I was told my other option was to ‘bottle feed for a while’ – not sure how that is going to work… magically my supply will
In my experience it feels like breastfeeding is pushed relentlessly until 6 months by healthcare professionals and then they seem to lose interest, do they tick the box to say that you reached 6 months for their statistics and then thats it? You are own your own? Support is woeful in my experience after the 6 month mark and I have been told all sorts of things that I know are not right. Not only does the opinion of everyone in the general public who wants to share their opinion seems to change, but you feel like a hindrance when you mention you are breastfeeding to the G.P. because they have to change what they were going to prescribe you. (Not all dr’s I have seen are like this, but enough are have made me feel uncomfortable).
I am not trying to complain about healthcare professionals I think most of them do a fantastic job under difficult circumstances, and I know how lucky we are to have the NHS, and I know a lot of healthcare professionals are so busy and working with limited resources, but the simple phrasing of the way they phrase things can make a massive difference to the person they are talking to – who is going to them for guidance and advice. I will say though, that the ladies that have answered my phone calls to the National Breastfeeding Helpline have been amazing! And it’s great that there is a helpline there, providing great advice and support for breastfeeding mums.
I honestly feel that more training and education is needed for healthcare professionals about breastfeeding as a whole. Supporting new mums without being too push and making those that have to change to bottle feeding feel supported too, and those that decide bottle feeding is best for them from the start. Support as breastfeeding continues as there are different challenges as your baby becomes a toddler. And I also think that healthcare professionals should be be more considerate of the language they use. Noone should ever be told that they should ‘give up’ breastfeeding.