To think the breast is best strategy is all wrong

(450 Posts)
SheepOrWine Fri 26-Aug-16 18:20:55

Just back from the health visitor clinic where I was at in front of an entire wall (no exaggeration) telling me why breast is best. Apparently for one young woman it was the best decision she EVER made. This morning I read about another study which "proves" that breast is best (presumably because the many, many existing studies on this are not enough and they needed another one?) At my NHS antenatal breastfeeding class, more than half of the allocated time was dedicated to the benefits of breastfeeding.

Has anyone ever been persuaded to breastfeed by a poster or a news article? Is there anyone out there who seriously has not yet heard the "breast is best" message? Does the NHS just think women are a bit stupid but if you tell them to do something enough times they will do it?

Wouldn't this money be better spent on helping those women who want to breastfeed to do so successfully? Three months ago I was on a postnatal ward with DD where I received conflicting and often incorrect breastfeeding advice. Every time I buzzed for support a frazzled looking HCA or midwife would come and glance at the latch say "yeah that's fine" and walk off. I asked four times to see the breastfeeding advisor but she never arrived. I was discharged without anyone observing a feed.

8 weeks on I gave up breastfeeding as I just had enough of all the various problems I was having with it and for which I was completely unprepared. Before I had DD the posters were useless as like most women, I already knew I wanted to try to breastfeed. And now, post-breastfeeding, all these posters do is just make me feel guilty. What a waste of money.

Felascloak Fri 26-Aug-16 18:24:29

YABU. There are a lot of mothers who never even try to breastfeed, we should be encouraging a culture where BF is normal and the default option (fully accepting that for many people BF wont be suitable for a variety of reasons). I think the posters help give that impression, that there is no reason to discount BF until you've tried it at least.

chitofftheshovel Fri 26-Aug-16 18:24:44

What was discussed the other half of the time at the NHS antenatal breastfeeding session?

TheWitTank Fri 26-Aug-16 18:26:44

YY on the more support -it was shit when I had my DD. I had massive bruising all over my breasts from a too busy midwife trying to help me get a latch. She gave up in the end and promised me she would get me some support. Never happened. I gave up and bottle fed. I remember crying in agony she hurt me that much - and I am not a cryer. There was sod all physical support, leaflets are pretty useless.

hackmum Fri 26-Aug-16 18:26:47

I agree, OP. About 80% of women start breastfeeding, but a lot give up quite quickly. It's the support in the early stages that is missing.

LottieDoubtie Fri 26-Aug-16 18:27:08

On the contrary I think the posters appear so desperate that they give exactly the opposite impression! I'm with you OP actual support is more important.

SheepOrWine Fri 26-Aug-16 18:27:11

chit we played with dolls and tried out different breastfeeding positions.

felas but the majority of women already start out breastfeeding?

CarShare Fri 26-Aug-16 18:30:57

Yanbu- I had a similar experience. When I gave up in the end, my HV said "well to be honest it really doesn't make any difference to the health of your baby anyway". All very conflicting but I'd have liked more support.

Trifleorbust Fri 26-Aug-16 18:33:30

I doubt there is a single mum who doesn't know that breastfeeding has some health benefits over bottles. From my point of view, the resources put into 'informing' them of this point are really targeted at making them feel guilty enough to do it and stick with it when (from what I've heard - pregnant with my first) it hurts like hell and prevents you getting any time to yourself 😂

LisaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 26-Aug-16 18:36:41

No one should ever be made guilty for not breast-feeding - it's a very personal choice and some women, try as they may, can't do it. It's so unfortunate that there's so much conflicting advice out there - and that women don't get the help they need. There are, however, Baby Cafes, The La Leche League and the Breastfeeding Network that offer help and support. Maybe the posters should be advertising those rather than just the BIB message? SheepOrWine, please don't feel guilty - just enjoy your healthy baby, there are plenty of us out there who weren't breastfed and we are 100% fine with it!

AGruffaloCrumble Fri 26-Aug-16 18:38:10

Some of the health benefits still surprise me. I'm on my second DD and have breastfed this one for five months so far. I think YABU. Not everyone has heard it actually.
Trifle those are the kinds of untrue facts that stops people from even attempting breastfeeding. It works both ways. I have plenty of time for myself and it hurt for maybe three days and is now painless. There's so much untrue stuff spouted about breastfeeding I think it's good someone at least heralds the benefits.

Stevefromstevenage Fri 26-Aug-16 18:38:59

I cannot tell you the amount of times I have read on Mumsnet that FF is just as good as BF. That is fine it works for them but it is simply not true to say that everyone takes in the benefits of BF.

Interestingly though breast is best was invented as a tag line by formula manufacturers. Breast is just the normal human feeding of a baby.

AGruffaloCrumble Fri 26-Aug-16 18:39:58

Also I am sorry you feel guilty Sheep, you have nothing to feel guilty for but that is what you are taking from the posters, not what the posters are there to do.

Trifleorbust Fri 26-Aug-16 18:40:16

Gruffalo: In that case, perhaps more of the money should be spent on teaching people how to do it and overcoming those myths (if they are myths), rather than beating people over the head with the benefits to the child. I would argue most people are aware that there are benefits.

Trifleorbust Fri 26-Aug-16 18:41:34

"FF is just as good as BF."

Which in some respects, and for some families, it is. The health benefits are one aspect of a more rounded picture.

SheepOrWine Fri 26-Aug-16 18:43:13

lisa there are several NHS government-funded baby cafes in my local area, and I admit they are very good. However, by the time I'd dragged myself out to one of them following a traumatic birth - on day 10 - it was already too late and I was on the back foot.

Why not ensure women are given that support and advice immediately after birth by making it available on the postnatal ward?

Are LLL and the breastfeeding network NHS funded?

Ilovetea82 Fri 26-Aug-16 18:44:15

I was fully adamant that I wasn't going to breast feed at all, no amount of breast is best propaganda changed my mind on this.
I then met my lo, thought well I'll give it a go as he kinda nuzzled down towards them and managed to keep going for 6months.

I received no support from the midwives and the breastfeeding lady who came to speak to us said we were a lost cause as we had already given him formula (required as they were checking his blood sugars).

I agree a proportion of the propaganda budget should be used to provide better support to new mums. I guess the leaflets meet some sort of requirement though.

MyBreadIsEggy Fri 26-Aug-16 18:44:47

Everyone with a brain cell knows that breastmilk is biologically what is best for a human baby. I'm with the other posters that think less time and money should be spent on stating the bloody obvious that "breast is best" and more put into support services to enable more women to continue breastfeeding.
I also think (maybe controversially) that the the risks that come with formula feeding should be more publicised because it might encourage more people to actually try breastfeeding initially - I wasn't aware of them at all until I did my own research into it. I breastfed until my Dd was 4 months old (funnily enough, I stopped because of really crappy support when I encountered issues with feeding), and was completely unaware of the facts surrounding formula.
Obviously it will always be a mothers right to choose how she feeds her baby, I just think the support and education surrounding breastfeeding in this country is shockingly shoddy which in turn means the attitude towards formula is a bit skewed.

J0kersSmile Fri 26-Aug-16 18:44:56

I hate the way it separates mothers into good mothers who breastfeed and bad mothers who don't. It's more crucial that new mothers don't feel isolated and baby groups don't turn into school ground politics imo.

SheepOrWine Fri 26-Aug-16 18:44:59

If women aren't aware of the benefits why do the majority of women start out breastfeeding?

AGruffaloCrumble Fri 26-Aug-16 18:45:15

I do agree with you there Trifle. More lactation consultants and support. I think the only reason I was successful this time (I wasn't with DD1) was doing my own research and creating my own breastfeeding support by watching videos and using the invaluable kellymom.com. I don't agree that most people know the benefits though, as most who aren't planning on breastfeeding won't have researched it but ultimately it's something we can only guess about how much the nation knows about the benefits. I do actually have great breastfeeding support in my area but I understand it isn't nationwide.

jellycat1 Fri 26-Aug-16 18:46:38

In my experience most women are determined to try bfeeding but dont anticipate how horrendously hard it can be for some - for many reasons. Those of us that try and 'fail' just don't need or appreciate the lecturing. However i do believe the message has been successfully hammered home over the last decade or two and I've never ever heard any woman I've known say they weren't going to / didn't bother even trying to bf.

Trifleorbust Fri 26-Aug-16 18:47:03

"most who aren't planning on breastfeeding won't have researched"

What makes you think this?

Trifleorbust Fri 26-Aug-16 18:47:42

"I've never ever heard any woman I've known say they weren't going to / didn't bother even trying to bf."

I have, loads.

OrianaBanana Fri 26-Aug-16 18:47:50

in Trifle's defence, in my case it DID hurt like hell for weeks. In my case I persevered because I had had it dinned in to me that formula was baaaad but I had an incredibly tough time for weeks on end. If I'd known in advance how tough it could be (I'd assumed, even after NCT and NHS classes, as it's so 'natural' it would be easier - more fool me) I would have researched more into the resources available to us in advance - and it did take research to find out. I also left it quite late to get his tongue tie sorted as the referral procedure was positively Byzantine. These resources should be more widely advertised rather than ALL of the posters saying the same thing, which most women already know.

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