I have enrolled this year to do a post-graduate course at university specialising in Child and Family Health. I just completed a three-day workshop at university and one topic that was discussed was feeding the baby. I was about 24 when I had my daughter.
Now from a personal point of view I was blessed and very lucky with the whole breastfeeding experience. My daughter was with a very strong suck reflex, and I had plenty of milk, so we both have had a very wonderful experience. I was also very confident and excited about breastfeeding my baby during my pregnancy, and had no doubts I could do it when he arrived.
We all know that ‘breast is best’ and there is all this push to encourage breastfeeding to all new mothers. But upon reflection it occurred to me how there are so many steps involved in breastfeeding, and so many chain of events that have to occur to ensure success. From what I have witnessed and experienced myself it has become obvious to me that breastfeeding really isn’t just about a boob, and a hungry baby. There are so many more elements to breastfeeding that in my opinion are sometimes missed and dismissed when teaching and supporting a mother.
The power of the mind is enormous, and if you have a scared, sore, insecure, afraid, nervous, exhausted mother (to name a few things a mother can feel after having a baby) then how can we expect breastfeeding to come naturally and easily. I am a breastfeeding advocate, but how far do we push a mother to feed if she mentally is not in the right head space. Somehow there is this perception that mothers that formula feed are second class citizens, as though they have failed. I really have a problem with this. I feel that the emphasis and goal should be to help a mother bond with their baby and be encouraged to form a safe and secure relationship. If she has tried the breastfeeding but it is causing more grief than anything then a mother should not in any way feel she has failed if she decides to bottle feed their baby.
We know that breastfeeding helps the mother and baby bond, and we know breast milk is the premium, but let’s not forget all the other things that helps a mother bond with a baby. These would include a supportive family and partner, a confident and happy mother, good nutrition, sleep, time and patience, non-judgemental and supportive medical staff. The list goes on, but I guess the point I’m trying to make is that no mother should feel that breastfeeding is the deciding factor of what sort of mother she is going to be. I have had many thoughts of guilt, doubt and worry with things I have done with my daughter. As a mother you are constantly second guessing yourself and wondering deep down “will this harm my baby?”, but one thing I have never doubted is the love I feel for my kid. I have never doubted the fact that I know my baby better than anybody else, and I will not be made to feel otherwise by anyone. Learning to understand your baby takes time. And although I have breastfed my baby, I don’t believe it is that one action alone that has helped me bond with my baby.
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