Firstly, let me say this: I am 100% a fan of breastfeeding our babies. And I am 100% a fan of bottle feeding our babies. Therefore, you might conclude that A) I have done both and B) I am taking my usual judgement-free stance on what other people do to feed their babies…and you’d be right.
But all the statistic waving on the subject of breastfeeding in Ireland of late is giving me, quite frankly, a large pain in my tits. Surely I am not the only person who realises that the real reason we have such low numbers of breastfeeding women in our country is because NO BODY TELLS US THE TRUTH ABOUT IT.
Newsflash: Breastfeeding Is Hard For Some People. Why won’t anyone just admit that to expectant mothers, instead of saying ‘Breast Is Best’ ad nauseum, without outlining the realities of how breastfeeding works? Wouldn’t our young mothers do better with realistic expectations, instead of believing it’s going to be all ‘babe-suckling-at-the-boob-by-the-candlelight’; only to become disheartened when the breastfeeding begins and it doesn’t follow what they’ve been told?
Nope, our health service continues to omit the relevant info, and leave our poor new mothers to fend for themselves when the new baby comes along. If you attend any of our maternity hospitals’ ante-natal classes when you are expecting a baby, you will most likely come away with the following (false) info:
1. If it’s your first baby, you’ll be overdue. You will know you are in labour when your waters break and you feel something like a period pain. Definitely stay at home for another two hours until the pain in unbearable before you come in to the hospital because we’re mad busy.
2. Don’t ask for the epidural until you have been in labour for hours and hours and hours. At the point that you do ask, it may or may not then be too late to actually get the epidural. And sure why would you want it anyway when you’ll have a quicker birth without it? (See Point 1: ‘We’re mad busy’).
3. Breastfeed your baby. It is the most natural thing in the world. Sure they do it in India.
Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot!
First thing off the cliff should be that statement ‘It’s the most natural thing in the world’, because it isn’t for lots of people. What breastfeeding needs is time and patience and support and a demo video of how to get your baby to the boob successfully in public. These are the logistical challenges that modern mothers should have the answers to.
If the Irish health service really wanted to increase the numbers of women breastfeeding in Ireland, I would suggest that they perhaps send all expectant mothers a pack called ‘The Truth About Breastfeeding’. The cover letter would read as follows:
We hope you and baby are healthy and well. In the event that you choose to breastfeed your new baby boy or girl, we wanted to send you the following items out of the goodness of our hearts:
A nipple guard, some super-robust breast pads, nipple cream, a realistic schedule of when you should expect your baby to feed week by week, and when you should be resting your boobs and body, a demo of how to do it in public, a decent breast pump, a bottle and carton of instant formula for when you need it (and THAT’S OK), a list of non-arsehole-riddled coffee shops and restaurants where your baby can feed in peace, and a voucher for M&S so you can get fitted and buy yourself a nice new bra when the time comes that you stop breastfeeding.
Also, everything you decide is up to you.
Love, the Irish Health Service’
[Like this ranty madness? See more over at ‘Breastfeeding Is Back!’]