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to wonder why there isnt a low intervention "its what your body is designed to do" movement for breastfeeding in the same way that there is a low intervention trust your body group of people when it c

(27 Posts)
honeytea Wed 30-Jan-13 10:49:37

I have friends who are very passionate about intervention free home births and often say "a woman's body is designed to give birth just follow your instincts" I respect this opinion but I choose a hospital birth i wasn't too keen on cleaning up that mess

whilst I was pregnant I was more worried about breastfeeding than the birth, everyone I spoke to said how hard it was and how I should seek support and advice, a friend gave me a book only about breastfeeding.

Ironically it tended to be the "a woman's body is designed to give birth" friends who were most likely to advised I see breastfeeding support people or join breastfeeding support groups.

I understand some women do struggle with breastfeeding, in the same way tgat some women (me included) need outside support in birth. Am I the only person who just wants to get on with breastfeeding and assume that most women can just do it without groups or books or lactation consultants, if there is a problem seek help but assume there won't be a problem and just get on with it as it can be scary for expectant mums.

Goldmandra Wed 30-Jan-13 10:56:50

I guess once you're in labour you don't need support to get you to see it through. You have no choice.

However, if you have BF problems you will probably consider giving up at some point. If there were no formula alternative you'd have to stick it out or let your baby die but there is. Having access to support at this time could be the only thing that keeps you going.

I was lucky both times. Apart from one two day hiccup at a couple of months old both of mine took to it like a duck to water and it was a dream. I was of the mindset that my body was designed to do it so it would be fine but actually I'm quite sure that had nothing to do with my lack of problems.

FirstTimeForEverything Wed 30-Jan-13 10:57:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GetOrf Wed 30-Jan-13 10:59:04

The body isn't designed to give birth. That's a load of nonsense in the first place. It is a series of evolutionary compromises with historically a fairly high mortality rate.

CailinDana Wed 30-Jan-13 10:59:09

It doesn't really make sense to compare labour and breastfeeding. You have little or no control over labour - it's just going to happen and the main issue is how you and the people caring for you deal with it. FWIW I think the "go with your instincts" approach is a bit misguided - if a baby's stuck, it's stuck, if you have a PPH no "instinct" is going to help. I do think a positive frame of mind is important to prevent panic but that's only a very small part of the picture.

BFing on the other hand is something you actually have to do, and get a small wriggly being to do. It's not something women generally know how to do automatically, even though it is "natural." Given the time when you're trying to do it - just after birth, when you're tired and hormonal, it makes sense to seek support so that you don't give up too quickly when it gets hard. I don't see why people shouldn't advocate getting support, as that will help a lot of women get through the tough few weeks at the start.

ICouldBeYou Wed 30-Jan-13 10:59:32

I really think that breastfeeding is a skill that has been largely 'unlearned' because of our culture and the fact that children, young women and young mothers are not constantly surrounded by mothers freely breastfeeding, in plain sight, etc.

The majority of women do 'just get on with it' but it does no harm to share your experiences with others to help them, to build a network of support that you feel comfortable with should a problem arise and - for me certainly - have a chance to socialise with other breastfeeding mothers, get comfy with it and confident!

I think 'booby group' is a very positive thing and missed it when I had my 2nd (despite no feeding issues) although I had a more 'natural' informal group of breastfeeding mothers.

AudrinaAdare Wed 30-Jan-13 11:03:35

I think support and information are crucial. I was given so much bad advice that DD and BF were scuppered. With DS I lost the use of one nork the very first night when a midwife brutally pulled him off without breaking the latch hmm Luckily I knew about Lansinoh and had some with me and that was from a professional!

I fed him for two years and with each new stage (and tooth grin) came new developments which could have turned into problems. Thankfully I had MN by then but remember thinking it only I had known xyz when DD was little... it's definitely a lost skill.

SayCoolNowSayWhip Wed 30-Jan-13 11:04:46

Personally I found bf-ing one of the hardest things about childbirth. For me it really wasn't as simple as 'plug and play'. I wish I'd read more about it beforehand and had some sort of support in place. I struggled for 7 months until she thankfully decided to wean herself!

3monkeys3 Wed 30-Jan-13 11:14:36

I think breast feeding is very difficult. There seems to be a bit of a mythology surrounding and people think that if they encounter problems they are unable to do it and women who have been successful are merely lucky. Bf involved a lot of work and determination for virtually everyone, it is hard for everyone, you have to really want to do it and even if you do it will still be hard. You have to fight through weeks of exhaustion and often pain and the burden is yours alone. Of course it is worth it and it becomes much easier after you get past the 4 month growth spurt, but it is very hard at the start, for everyone.

3monkeys3 Wed 30-Jan-13 11:15:42

Sorry about grammar above - one handed iPhone typing - am bf!

aufaniae Wed 30-Jan-13 11:28:06


If you want to just get on with it yourself that's great.

However if there is a problem it can really help to know where to turn for advice.

Health Visitors are not actually BFing experts - neither are GPs. IME they are not always up to date with the latest evidence-based thinking on BFing. However they are where most of us will first turn for help if we don't know any better. Some HVs and GPs IME can give really outdated advice.

Knowing about organisations such as La Leche League from the beginning are a great idea. If you go straight to them when you need help, you have a better chance of establishing successful BFing IMO without wasting time being misadvised.

Also, if you're in the UK, we live in a culture which is very anti-BFing. Many women find it helpful to just spend time with other women who see BFing as normal, as many new mothers will be surrounded by people who are not supportive of BFing. I know I took courage from the (rare!) sight of seeing other women BF children over 1yo in public, it made me realise I wasn't the only one!

AutumnMadness Wed 30-Jan-13 11:35:15

I think that both birth and breastfeeding can be very very difficult. While I am all for less medicalised births and breastfeeding, I don't for a second believe the "trust your instincts" matra. As pretty much any human activity, successful birth and breastfeeding require the right cultural environment - emotional support, education, experienced and supportive midwives, right physical environment, etc. The expectation that any woman should just be able to "let go of her fear", give birth in the field, and then suckle her babe without a nipple crack in sight is naive.

ICBINEG Wed 30-Jan-13 12:20:35

Someone told me that even if you are in a coma your body will give birth eventually.

You can't BF in a coma however.

So this is the difference. One action is actually mostly out of your conscious control and the other really isn't.

honeytea Wed 30-Jan-13 12:28:00

It's interesting to hear your opinions, it seems iabu!

For me breastfeeding was lovely and easy, I actually looked forward to each feed because it felt nice and I felt so close to my baby, no one had said that might happen I had just been told how I had to get through tge first few weeks.

I started reading what to expect when you are breastfeeding and it sent me into a panic, it all seemed so technical, I'm not a technically minded person so it just made me feel like I would fail.

AutumnMadness Wed 30-Jan-13 12:42:16

There's an idea, ICBINEG! I might ask to be put into a temporary coma for my next birth.

noblegiraffe Wed 30-Jan-13 12:47:25

The 'women's body is designed to give birth' types are idiots misguided. In places like certain parts of Africa where women have no access to medical care and are left to get on with pregnancy and childbirth maternal mortality rates are something like 1 in 8. My mum physically can't give birth naturally, she would have died in childbirth like so many female members peppered through her family tree (it's genetic) were it not for c-sections.

As for breastfeeding, without support from either books, medical professionals or family members who have done it before I think it's unlikely that most people would figure out how to latch on a baby correctly for themselves. And with tongue tie etc, not all babies can do it successfully without support and intervention.

niminypiminy Wed 30-Jan-13 12:54:35

tbh, OP, that's the kind of suggestion you can only make when something has come easily to you, and you imagine that most people are like you.

I can see a lot of mileage in the idea:

It's natural for children to sleep, why are we bombarded with information about how to help the do this?

It's natural for children to learn to speak, why is there all this stuff we are being told all the time about how to help them?


SirBoobAlot Wed 30-Jan-13 12:54:51

I understand what you're saying, and as a peer supporter it's always a difficult line to tread between being realistic, and making people aware of the possible problems. The majority of people who choose to breastfeed do so without a problem. But some of them need help. And I think it's better to tell people that if there is an issue that comes up, these are the place to go / the people to contact who can help you over the bump in the road.

Also, seeing as the breastfeeding rates are so low in the UK, it is important to let people know they are not alone, as that tends to be one of the biggest things I have coming up, especially in antenatal sessions.

Birth and labor are separate issues, though I think its similar in that people like to tell you their horror stories. I'm still not sure why that is...

drjohnsonscat Wed 30-Jan-13 12:55:01

I think that's the problem. If you don't have a problem bfing you don't know what the problem could possibly be. Whereas we can all imagine what the problem with childbirth.

But there can be huge problems with bf - fwiw the majority of my friends had problems bfing and I did too. They were all set up for the probs with childbirth (and so none chose a homebirth - most ended up with emergency cs). But were not anticipating probs with bf "because it's natural" and then ran headlong into problems.

So yes, YABU a bit! In fact there is an undercurrent of "it's what your body is designed to do" thinking around bf which is unhelpful. It's also historically untrue I think. Problems with bf are not new to society - Dickens' wife had 10 DCs and couldn't bf any of them. Wet nurses weren't only for when the mother died. Nor was early weaning just coincidental. It's been a problem through history because it is quite difficult - mastitis for example is not some newfangled concept, nor are babies who are weak at birth and cannot latch, nor are the many conditions that cause bf to be difficult.

MyThumbsHaveGoneWeird Wed 30-Jan-13 12:58:11

I agree with the other posters about it being a conscious vs unconscious thing, and that it can be very helpful in a sleep deprived panic to have lined up your sources of help before the birth. I do know what you mean OP. I am from a v non breast feeding area, and I did find the pre birth head tilt "are you going to TRY to breast feed" from friends and professionals quite off putting. It made it sound almost impossible, and that I would be very lucky to have any success at all. I think I would have felt better if everyone assumes I was going to breast feed successfully, but then also gave me the helplines just in case.

In the same line of thinking, now I am still feeding a 2 yr old if anyone funds out I find the shocked "oh haven't you done well?!" A bit uncomfortable making too. I know they are just being nice, but it makes me feel freaky and martyrish.

Bakingtins Wed 30-Jan-13 13:04:05

I think there are parallels between the two situations - both are natural processes. In both cases for most of human history support and advice would have been provided by other women. Breastfeeding is now so unusual in our society, and we are so much more isolated from our extended families, that the skills that would have been learned at mother's knee have been lost and are only likely to be found with (some) HCPs or at BF groups.
The same women who are anxious to avoid medicalised birth are probably also those who attach the most importance to breastfeeding and therefore are keen to make sure that support to overcome problems is available.
My experience in BF 2 babies myself and helping at a support group is that women who sail through it with no problems are a rarity (or perhaps are just not coming to the group) and most women find it a steep learning curve initially and then need some support to overcome the cultral "booby-traps" because all expectations of babies seem to be based on them being FF.
It's great that you were able to just get on with it, OP, but if the groups were not around the BF stats would be even more pitiful.

honeytea Wed 30-Jan-13 13:08:55

I think I was lucky and if there had been problems I probably wouldn't have had the resources set up to help me, I think my baby looked at me when he was born and thought she doesn't look like she read the book I'd better show her what to do ;)

soundevenfruity Wed 30-Jan-13 13:09:32

Both labour and breastfeeding are instruments of evolutionary selection. With birth assistance and formula they largely stopped being a matter of life and death but originally they were. I just don't get where this nonsence about natural (meaning easy and safe) comes from. I am not a feminist but my first suspicion is that all things done by women have been considered easy-peasy for hundreds pf years.

noblegiraffe Wed 30-Jan-13 13:29:55

Let's not forget that interventions which means that babies don't die in childbirth can cause problems with bfing that need extra support. My c-section baby was very mucousy and sleepy and after the first feed there were major issues with getting him to latch on which were overcome by my expressing colostrum into a syringe and feeding him that way until he was sufficiently over the birth to do it himself. I don't think that's an unusual experience, but without the support of the midwives in hospital I wouldn't have had a clue what to do in that situation.

Bakingtins Wed 30-Jan-13 17:49:19

Also - there is! It's called biological nurturing, though I don't think it's intended to replace any of the other BF support organisations.

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