I couldn’t not do a little post to celebrate with the rest of the UK in a bid to #normalisebreastfeeding.
I think its so important that we as mothers share our journeys, celebrate our achievements and just generally unite in motherhood. Weeks like this don’t intend to highlight our differences, although many will shout that they do. But merely celebrate our accomplishments in something that is far from easy!
I’m the first to say that its not easy. I’ve described breastfeeding as the most selfless act I can think of. Our journey has been plagued with challenges and tears and doubts. But I can say that it has been worth it. I am so grateful we are on this journey and while some days for me it is a love/ hate relationship with nursing, for Elin, it is purely love. It is a privilege to give her that. For as long as she needs I can be her safe place, her comfort, her warmth, her calm. And that is a gift I will gladly give her until she no longer needs and wants it.
In our family, breastfeeding is the norm. My toddler has no quarms on ‘helping herself’ no matter where we are, my husband has become an expert in concealing accidental nip slips and anyone knocking on the door knows there is a strong likelihood boobs will be loose. My wardrobe is decided by what has the best boob acsess and Elin already ‘feeds’ her dollies.
But sadly for the rest of the country that’s not always the case. There is such taboo of daring to feed in an ‘indiscreet’ way, or feeding beyond when society deems it acceptable. The fact is, breatsfeeding is never not appropriate when it comes to nourishing our children.
I’ve seen first hand how breastfeeding is actually the exception now, not the norm in our world. From the innocent, ‘well if you just gave her a bottle’; to the seriously poor, outdated and damaging advice from health care providers; to the assumption that I am obviously not breastfeeding now. Because, you know, she’s one now.
The amount of times we have been told by family, friends and strangers to ‘just give formula’ in the face of any parenting issue is astounding. I wouldn’t dream of telling a mum who formula feeds ‘oh, just give them breast milk’ and yet we are told the opposite on a daily basis. Because bottle feeding IS the norm.
None of this is our fault. None of these people actually mean any harm what so ever. There is just a lack of understanding. We see breastfeeding problems (and there are tons, really damn hard ones) and offer formula as the solution. It does have its place, babies thrive on it. It saves lives and offers an excellent alternative to breast milk. But if a mother has decided to breastfeed we should support that with facts. Breastfeeding problems have breastfeeding solutions 95% of the time.
If a mother chooses a different route that is obviously fine. That’s great in fact. I respect that. I even understand that, as I have questioned this choice so many times myself. I would support any mother who makes an informed decision that empowers her and her baby. Besides, there is so much more to motherhood than how we feed our babies. But for the women who was discouraged because of societies lack of education and understanding, that is where the problem lies. Because she deserved more. So if a week like this gets people talking, helps to educate and normalize, then I’m all for it.
If nothing else I will celebrate with the mother who breast fed for 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 years, because it is a genuine gift to our babies!