World Breastfeeding Week
How children are fed as infants is really a very small part of this whole parenting gig. So many other factors have contributed to who my children are and who they will be.
These are just some of questions that I've frequently been asked in the 34 months of my daughter's life. Despite the obvious point that they're rather personal subjects to discuss with people I often don't know very well, the topic of breastfeeding and LGBTQ families is an extremely important one.
Changing a nation's attitudes to the female form, breasts and breastfeeding isn't easy, but the west can continue to learn from the world. Educating young children about breastfeeding is one major way to support mothers.
I think these women are looking for some validation, someone to tell them they are doing the right thing for their children. Well let me say it; if you are doing what you feel is best for your children and they are well fed and taken care of then you are doing it right!
Thankfully men with these attitudes are rare, but it's not enough for others to simply be silent on the issue. Silence is complicity and all that. But the real reason we critically need men to add their voice to the debate is their very notable absence from it. Breastfeeding works best when women feel supported by those around her and that includes men; potentially her partner but also her father, her brother, her friends... their attitudes matter.
Let's also be quite clear about modern milk formulae: in contrast to the products of yesteryear, they are safe and when constituted correctly, provide sound nourishment, so no mother who makes a conscious, informed decision to use formula should feel or be made to feel guilty.
It matters because if breastfeeding rates continue to decline, we will lose the collective breastfeeding knowledge and experience of mothers, grandmothers, health professionals and breastfeeding counsellors.
Anyone who is reading this, feeling like they cannot go on or feeling like they cannot cope and are feeling guilty about the alternatives, don't. As a parent, you have more than enough guilt to feel, do not add to it.
I gave up and felt like a failure, my one and very important job and I couldn't do it. Would mother and son be able to bond properly? Would he be stupid? These and other questions whirring through my mind. What made it worse were the reactions of other women, how could I stop and was I really using a bottle in public with formula in it.
After speaking to many mothers, I'm starting to realise that something's gotta change. Somewhere in our support system, everyone got so obsessed with "breast is best" - for the baby - that the mother's needs and difficulties are often dismissed and they are left with mother's guilt for not being able to nourish their baby "the right way" eating them alive.