“It’s just another way to bash mums.”
“I’m fed up of being made to feel guilty.”
“Some of us couldn’t breastfeed, and this is making us feel bad.”
That’s just a few of the comments that I have seen when a mum who breastfeeds dares to show any pride over what they have achieved. Apparently, it is one of the few things that you can’t be proud of for fear of upsetting someone else.
Well, guess what? I am fucking proud.
I am proud that for almost six months, I was the SOLE source of nutrition for my baby. From the moment that she was born until she was five and a half months old, not a single thing passed her lips other than my breast milk. She doubled her birth weight and more, and that was down to her and me.
She has never even had a bottle of expressed milk. Not for want of trying, but she demanded it straight from the source. I have been the only person who has ever fed her, done all the night feeds, sat there for hour after hour of cluster feeds, battled blocked ducts, and thrush, both of which can be incredibly painful.
I am so fucking proud.
Am I trying to make someone who formula-fed their child feel bad? No, I’m not. To be quite honest, I really don’t care how you fed or feed your child. As long as they are fed, and you are both happy, I really don’t give a shit. If you breastfed, well done. It is bloody hard work. If you formula fed, well done for putting up with the hassle of sterilizing and making bottles – not to mention the expense! But, do I actually care what you did? No.
Because it isn’t about you. It’s about me. My pride is about me, and what I have achieved.
I have formula fed two out of the four of my children. They’re both fine. One was formula fed because of a lack of support and knowledge, the other was down to choice, so I can hardly get on my high horse and take the moral ground over my feeding choice. I do wish I could look back and say that I had breastfed them all. Obviously I do believe breastfeeding is better, otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing it now.
I can only speak from my own experience as a bottle-feeding mum, but I can hand on heart say I never experienced any judgment. No one ever made me feel bad for it, not even a midwife or health visitor. No one ever pressurized me to breastfeed, raised an eyebrow when I was feeding or asked me when I was going to stop. I never questioned whether it was the right place to feed them.
With breastfeeding, I’ve had countless people ask me when I am swapping to bottles, raising eyebrows and rushing over to cover me up or adjust a blanket so I don’t inadvertently flash a nipple because god forbid anyone sees. I’ve also checked out places before feeding to make sure no one is likely to get offended.
I’ve also been accused of making other people feel guilty because of my feeding choice.
I mean, what the actual fuck?
If my feeding my baby in the most natural way possible makes someone feel bad, that is on them, not me. I’m not depriving my child of the incredible benefits of breastfeeding to make someone else feel better, nor will I stop talking about it or hide away.
I’ve achieved something amazing. I have breastfed a child for almost six months. The last big feeding survey was done in 2010 so things may have changed since then, but at six months, only 1% of mums were still breastfeeding.
There’s some luck involved, of course. I’m lucky that neither of us has any medical issues that have stopped us, but mostly, it has been down to hard work and perseverance from both of us – the feeding through the night with no one else able to help, even when you want to cry with tiredness, the not being able to go out alone for more than an hour in case they want a feed, having to think about every single item of clothing that you wear.
It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
It’s not about you; it’s about me.
I’m fucking proud.