Breastfeeding?: I'd Rather Go on a Night Out

The Bottle Vs Breast debate is not one I had any had any desire to partake publicly in - mainly because I feel so strongly about it - as I didn't want a post to degenerate into a rant. Quick clarification - I feel strongly about the debate and how publicly it is disputed, NOT about my stance in the debate. I recently came across an article though, and felt I couldn't hold my tongue any longer.

Benefits of breastfeeding vs bottle the debate fed is best maternity
I was intrigued - with so much hype around the Bottle VS Breast debate - and what with everyone and their nan appearing to disapprove of sole bottle feeding - I'd have assumed the British rates would have been higher. By title alone, this article confused me. Societal influence has been evident during my short pregnancy, but not in the way this title suggests.

Never once has it even been inferred that I shouldn't breast feed in order to 'get my life back', in fact, quite the opposite, even bringing up the idea of bottle feeding from birth seemed to be met with disapproval from all angles and all persons. As I read the article, I just seemed to get more angry....

I am not breastfeeding. 

There are multiple reasons for this, and I will not turn this post into a justification of those, so I won't get into them. All I will say, is that my choice is exactly that, MY choice, not yours, not my midwives, and certainly not the expert writing for the Telegraph...

I really don't think I like this Amy Brown. How it is that anyone can put a countries reduced breast feeding rate primarily down to girls wanting a night out on the lash completely escapes me. I'd like to think her words have been twisted and that's not when an 'esteemed public health expert' was trying to insinuate. Never once during pregnancy have I felt like I'll be missing out on a night out when my child is born.. I'm sorry, but come on, if your main concern after giving birth is getting back out on the town - then you should not be in the position of giving birth in the first instance. I'm only 21: I'll be the first to admit I had my fair share of nights out in the run up to my pregnancy, I'm young and I still like going out. I can tell you right now though, when this baby is born the last thing on my mind will be getting back out on a night out, I have absolutely no desire for that whatsoever. Even if I did, I'd like to think I cared enough about my unborn child not to let it prevent me from breastfeeding if that was what was best for him. I'm pretty sure not all UK mothers-to-be are as selfish as Professor Brown would like to make out.

81% of British women start out breastfeeding though, what about that statistic conveniently left out of the article? Breastfeeding is hard. Breastfeeding up to 12 months is extremely hard. Give these ladies some credit. Maybe lack of breastfeeding at 12 months has less to do with this desire to look good, and fit into our old jeans or go out on nights out, and more to do with the fact that it is difficult. For some, latching just doesn't happen, it's not a one size fits all kind of activity, and mothers shouldn't be made to feel bad because they cannot breastfeed up until 12 months. For others, its just exhausting, it can be painful, or maybe the situation just does not allow for it. I get virtually no help from the UK government during my maternity leave, but I have not been in my job long enough to qualify for statutory maternity pay: I will have to go back to work, long before 12 months has passed. It's just not tangible for me to feed that way and get back to shift work - I'm not any less of a mother for that though, and I can't handle folks like Professor Amy Brown putting down this choice to my desire to fit in with society, as opposed to actual situational needs.

Every country she seems to have advocated as having these fabulous breastfeeding rates are countries that are also malnourished and war torn - comparing developing African countries to the United Kingdom is absolutely ridiculous. It's not societal influence, its societal requirement in those other countries - I doubt very much formula is flying off the shelfs in these countries - not because of the benefits of the boob, but because it's probably not on the shelf in the first place. These women cannot afford to feed their child that away, it's simply not an option.

Argh. I've ranted. Well and truly ranted.
Just what I didn't want to do! Ah well - in an effort to hopefully turn this post into more of a discussion post and less of an 'I really don't like Amy Brown and what she has to say post' - I've turned to the mummies of the blogging world armed with my article - here's what they had to say on it:

'I never felt pressure to get my "life back" but i was pressured to breast feed at the hospital whilst me and my daughter stayed there for a week. She was in NICU because she was 4 weeks 1 day early, and she just wouldn't latch on. I chose my life as a mum, and this is my decision to stay a stay at home mum until she goes to school. There's no going back to your old life because your life now revolves around the tiny human being you created. Breastfeeding is hard, my baby wouldn't latch on and expressing hurt like hell, therefore, i was stuck formula feeding. As long as baby is fed, strong, healthy and thriving, we should be happy.' 
Lauren @lnohara95

'I actually felt social pressure TO breastfeed. I was one of the 2% who didn't make enough milk. I had all the support and paid for lactation consultants and nothing at all increased my supply enough to exclusively feed my baby. I combination fed (both my sons) and was still breastfeeding them to the ages of 12 months and 15 months, alongside giving formula. However, I felt such stigma around bottle feeding that I would avoid giving a bottle in public as much as I could and would never let anyone photograph them being bottle fed!  I never had any negative responses to breastfeeding in public and felt comfortable doing it anywhere, most often without a shawl or cover because it got in the way! '


We decided to combination feed from the start for lots of reasons, firstly as we run a business where I simply had to go back to work pretty soon, and secondly hubby can feed him any time if needs be and he doesn't miss out on the bonding time. But in saying that if we are out I still find formula easier due to the taboo it still is in society! I think it has nothing to do with getting your life back, at least not for me. I will point that out all of the countries they are showing as high breadtfeeders after 12 months are almost ALL third world: formula is probably unheard of, you simply have to breastfeed and it is far cheaper in a poverty ridden country, not a fair comparison at all.

I don't agree with everything in this article (the 2% unable to feed is probably because of medical reasons is probably true but I'm not convinced this has been recorded, rather it's a sample. I don't think the pressures listed are true) but overall I think it's a good article. I do think on the whole society in the UK has an expectation for mothers and babies to behave in a way which doesn't support breastfeeding e.g. Expectations around babies sleep and mother's independence. Even KIT days which I do think are a good idea put pressure on mums to bottle feed- if you can't get your baby on a bottle sufficiently in advance of going back how can you do a whole day in work? As many women struggle to express, bottle feeding often means formula feeding.

Although I kind of agree that lower down the article has a point regarding changing attitudes - even though it's the law I personally wouldn't feel comfortable sitting at work in the break room pumping milk whilst people are eating their sandwiches - the rest I think is ridiculous. I think the only reason the stats show that 97% of women want to breast feed is because everyone is so scared to be branded a bad mother if they don't say "they'll at least give it a try" because of the pressure surrounding breastfeeding. Even the beginning of the article is very "pro breast" as opposed to "pro fed" with the whole "200,000 babies could of been saved by breastfeeding". If that isn't scaremongering I don't know what is!

What's your views on the subject, have I taken the article completely the wrong way? Let me know in the comments, until next time,

debate, pregnancyKirsty3 Comments