I’m a midwife, so let me begin by saying that I support breastfeeding wholeheartedly, but do you know what I support more? A happy mum. Yes, I’ve said it, I would rather a mum was happy than their child breastfed. So I think we need to have a chat about how the government wants to get women to breastfeed.
Throughout my years in the NHS and during my training there have been many different drives to increase the rates of women that breastfeed their babies. Some are actually beneficial, like having breastfeeding support workers that come to the house to give help and a shoulder to cry on when you’re so sore it feels like needles are being pushed through your breasts every time the baby latches. Others just enrage me, such as plans to give women money or vouchers to breastfeed. Yes, money. Cold hard cash to get your boobs out.
Why does this make me angry? Because firstly breastfeeding is most successful when the mother is fully invested, and not in it for the pocket money.
“The other is that it is making women who can’t breastfeed or choose to bottle feed feel like crap.”
Just one more thing to increase the mummy guilt that they probably have in droves as the peer pressure to breastfeed has already got to their vulnerable hormonal bodies, days after going through the most difficult thing in the world… giving birth.
Why should women that have the goods God gave them, get a reward for something that is sometimes not an option? I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed, my medication meant that it would pass into the milk and cause issues for my daughter.
“It was never an option for me and so many women (and other midwives) judged me for either not coming off my medication (guess what, that’d have killed me) or because I should set an example for my ladies by doing it myself.”
Excuse me, what? I SHOULD do it because of my job? Regardless of the perfectly legitimate reasons I couldn’t? So I wouldn’t get some money or vouchers to reward me for doing what was right for me and my baby because I couldn’t get my tatas out and lactate like biologically should?
I don’t think that’s fair.
“Now let me make this clear, I am not saying formula milk is as good as breast milk, as breast IS best.”
But I just want it on the record that it isn’t cool to promote this with cash when it’s not always a choice for a mum.
If you want to increase the rates of breastfeeding you need to put the cash elsewhere, spend more money on midwives and lactation consultants that can dedicate the time to help establish breastfeeding in the integral first few days. Create more beds on the wards so women can stay longer to have the help on hand.
“Or spend more money on community services so that midwives and health visitors have the resources to come to women’s houses more frequently and the time and space to run breastfeeding cafes that women can attend daily and make friends in the process.”
Let’s start spending the money properly, shall we? Rather than making women who chose another method of feeding feel even shittier when they probably already feel bad enough already.
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