Interesting article in The Guardian over the weekend, seeking to try to re-ignite the debate over breast versus bottle in the wake of further recent reports of significant health benefits for breastfed babies.
I have to say, having experienced both (I fed my toddler until she was 9 months old and then resorted to bottles and formula when I returned to work) I have to say I am an out and out breastfeeding advocate. I’ll come to my reasons why later. But I also have a very strong belief in the often-heard mantra “happy mum, happy baby”. I struggle, when reading media reports such as that published by The Guardian yesterday, to understand why we are trying to pitch one ‘camp’ against another. Is it not enough to wish for women and their babies to have the best possible start for them? Whatever that may be?
I will confess to getting frustrated when women don’t even attempt to feed their babies, or come up with a shallow or cosmetic reason not to (I once heard of a relatively young mum with the opinion that boobs were purely for sex..her boyfriend would be mortified, she claimed, to find a small child hanging off her…) But I also appreciate that people have some bad experiences with breastfeeding and, as such, can’t always continue for as long as they would like. Inevitably, formula then fulfils that need.
I’d really like this blog to be supportive for other mums who are feeding their babies – as I have said before, a support network is crucial to successful breastfeeding and I hope people will see my experiences and thoughts as an extension to this. I really want other mums to be successful with their feeding journey and to get the satisfaction and incredible bonding experience that I had with my first born.
At the end of the day, nothing (in my mind) is easier than using your own ‘portable feeding system’ to look after your little one – nothing to pack up and transport around with you, no need for fiddly sterilisation equipment, or worries about ingredients (cruciferous vegetables sometimes excepted, but more on that in another post!). The Guardian article makes reference to breastfeeding not being free if you consider a ‘mother’s labour’ in undertaking it. I can only assume they are referring to some effort being required to make it work which is undoubtedly true. But, really, from the minute you give birth to that precious bundle, you nurture, worry, tend, nourish and protect it with all your energy and instinct. Breastfeeding is by no means the pointy end of this (no pun intended) and, in fact, often provides a quiet moment or two to study your little one without distraction.
I’m happy for people to make their choices – breast or bottle – remembering that ‘happy mum, happy baby’ mantra. But I struggle with anyone who goes out of their way to encourage any of us not to use our natural resources to give goodness and nourishment to our children. Effort or not, I don’t think any parent would change the ‘labour’ associated with having kids as the rewards are so considerable.