There is no topic in the ‘mummy’ world that will spark emotions quite like the topic of breastfeeding. Whether you are doing it or not doing it, whether you found it easy or difficult, whether you did it for a day, a month, a year or not at all, you will have an opinion on it. Fortunately, this entry is not a breast vs bottle debate (yawn), nor will I endeavor to lay out the facts (check out the World Health Organisation website). This is actually something I feel very strongly about, something that makes my blood boil…
The discouragement in celebrating breastfeeding.
I will give you an example of where I am coming from.
There is a secret world on social media. A “pro-breastfeeding” world. Groups set up to support breastfeeding mothers, to share advice and give encouragement and, above all, to celebrate breastfeeding through photos, memes and quotes.
I am a member of several of these groups and on one recent occasion, I shared a “pro-breastfeeding” post. As soon as I pressed the ‘share’ button I knew I had done something I was going to be judged negatively for, and right on cue the comments started…
“It’s not like this for every woman”
“I personally didn’t want to breastfeed…”
I promptly deleted the post.
It got me thinking, why is there so much animosity towards celebrating breastfeeding?
From speaking to other mums I have found that many of them breastfed their babies at the start, but it became too difficult, demanding and/or painful for them to continue. I also know mums who, for personal reasons, did not breastfeed at all. I have the utmost respect for these mums, because they are doing the best for their babies and no one has the right to lecture or judge or make them feel bad about their decisions.
Then there are those mums who persevered with breastfeeding and eventually came to a place where breastfeeding was easy, relaxing and enjoyable.
These mothers are proud of their journey, I am one of them.
I breastfed my eldest daughter for thirteen months. I am currently breastfeeding my youngest who is seven months. I will continue to breastfeed her for as long as she wants. (Yep, for as long as she wants… judge away)
On looking into this topic, I have found myself realising that in public (and on social media) it is ok to talk about breastfeeding as long as you are having problems. As soon as it’s going well you are expected to just get on with it and stop talking about it for fear of upsetting someone who did not have the same experience as you.
Breastfeeding is a natural part of life, up there with sex, pregnancy and childbirth. It is a continuation of that process and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be celebrated in the same way.
It may not have worked for you, or it may not be your personal choice, but the next time you see a positive breastfeeding post, rather than tainting it with negative comments just take a moment to think about the reasons why that mother posted it:
Maybe she was at the point of giving up, and then turned a corner.
Maybe she’s a young mum who is the only one in her group to be breastfeeding.
Maybe she’s under pressure to “just give him a bottle, it will make him sleep through.”
Maybe she is proud that through all the sleepless nights she has spent crying because her baby wont latch on, she’s finally cracked it!
Maybe because she loves looking into her baby’s eyes as she feeds.
Maybe because in her crazy stressed-out life, she enjoys the peace that breastfeeding brings her and her baby.
And maybe, you could even ‘like’ it.