Breast isn't best - it's an option.
Breast feeding is nutrionally better for your baby that formula milk, it's a fact that we are all aware of. But is it best?
Not for everyone, no. I do not think bottle feeding is better than breast feeding , conversely I do not think that breast feeding is better than bottle feeding.
After spending your whole pregnancy being reminded that 'breast it best' you give birth and for some women breast feeding goes perfectly well but for others it doesn't. And it's when it doesn't that the problems begin, maybe you don't produce enough milk, maybe you find it too painful and find the experience of being 'taught' how to latch your baby on to your breast difficult (countless times have I seen a mother in a maternity ward being instructed on how best to latch her baby on while strangers wander past.)Perhaps you have an over-supply of milk ,maybe breast feeding just doesn't work out for you or maybe you decide not try it at all.
At times like this breast is not best. It's causing emotional upheaveal, you are distressed and your baby will sense this. The thing is you have 'breast is best' emblazoned in your mind. So you try harder to make breast feeding work and you speak to your health visitor or breast feeding counsellor, sometimes this works and you continue happily but other times it doesn't work - and now you have one distressed,tired mother, one niggly and maybe hungry baby and for some people there'll be a equally stressed out daddy knocking about too who feels powerless to help his wife. Is 'breast still best'? No.
Mummy is left feeling a failure - for no reason. Mummys head tells her 'But breast is best. I'm not giving my baby 'the best' .But I am mummy and I want to be able to do the best and give my best to my baby. I have failed.I am not as good as a mother who can breast feed'.
It's a very personal, emotive issue and when you mix that with post-birth tiredness and the raging post-birth hormones it's a a nightmare. Let's not forget also this all comes at the same time that you are coming to terms with your babys birth. Some women have very unpleasant experiences and some have an uncomplicated birth - either way - it is still a huge shock to the system.
Surely at this fragile point in a new mother life the mantra 'breast is best' needs to be questioned ?
Breast feeding your baby does not make you a better mother and I honestly feel that despite what I am sure people will tell us, it doesn't not make you closer to your baby - if you find you can't do it can even push you away from your baby.
Breast is not best. It's an option. Choice is best. Why do we not find 'bottle feeding classes'? Why aren't there more pro-bottle feeding forums to support and empower new mothers ? Surely these would give mothers more confidence, more choice and ultimately happier babies.
What are your thoughts?
*These are my own personal opinions, I do not wish to force them upon anyone and I appreciate that this is a delicate subject for people. I have raised 8 children through babyhood and I have breast fed each of them for at 1 month. Each time I have stopped through an over-supply of milk and each time it has been a heart wrenching time for me. I do nto feel that I have to justify myself but I feel that it's relevant to mention that my personal experiences of breast feeding are not traumatic and do not influence the opinions I write about here.*