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"Happy mum = Happy baby" (or, "Let's please stop saying that")

(22 Posts)
organiccarrotcake Mon 08-Aug-11 19:06:14

I detest that phrase with a vengeance, but, as she writes, to disagree appears to imply that the mother's happiness doesn't matter - when that's completely NOT what I am trying to argue when this horrid little phrase is thrown at me. Because that would be madness, cruel and completely against the point of being a mother supporter or peer supporter (clue's in the name and all that).

Well worth a read. In fact, PLEASE read it, whoever you are.

Mollcat Mon 08-Aug-11 19:51:18

Very very good piece - made me feel less like a complete nutter for STILL trying to BF my apparently un-BFable baby at 12 weeks. Thank you for posting the link.

TruthSweet Mon 08-Aug-11 20:08:28

That statement (when used to bfing mums who are struggling) says that not only they are making their babies unhappy by trying to bf but that formula will make them both happy when she feels so strongly towards bfing.

This can totally undermine a mother who's every instinct is telling her to nurse her baby, and it can undermine her confidence in reading her baby (Is baby really unhappy being bf? Why do I want to make my baby unhappy by bfing them?).

I really agree with the link you posted Organic, and if you ever her such trite, unfeeling nonsense out of my mouth, feel free to slap me! Or PM to give me a wake up call grin

organiccarrotcake Mon 08-Aug-11 20:16:02

LOL truth somewhat unlikely, me thinks. BTW (off topic) did you send the dress as it didn't arrive smile

mollcat I'm pleased. You're getting help here or somewhere that's actually helping, I assume?

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Mon 08-Aug-11 20:20:13

great piece, agree completly. It's a patronising statement.

TruthSweet Mon 08-Aug-11 20:28:56

blush blush No it's still hanging on my bedroom door to torment remind me to post it. Sorry.

Mollcat Mon 08-Aug-11 20:32:07

Yes, yes, I am, thank you. It's just very much two steps forward, one step back. Just had the TT resnipped, have/had thrush, etc, etc, but still going... Not actually any further forward in terms of how much direct BM he gets, but miles further forward in other ways. I have a baby who can latch on and doesn't totally wreck my nipples each time he does. He does sort of need to learn at some point how to latch on deep enough to get the milk out effectively but we're working on that.

PenguinArmy Tue 09-Aug-11 08:04:27

I have nothing against the phrase, it's what convinced me to co-sleep, knowing that I needed rest to function with DD. It's just how some peope use it and misunderstanding what happiness could mean to some mum's and people defining the 'happy scenario' themselves

BertieBotts Tue 09-Aug-11 08:11:04

I agree with Truth about what it implies. I think it could be a good statement if it was used with different intention - the intention seems to be "Breastfeeding is such a martyr's task, and you're only doing it because you think you should, so just stop and don't feel guilty" - which is fine, and perfectly true, if the mother is only doing it because she feels she should, and it's causing her more pain or upset than she personally feels it's worth. But if she really wants to breastfeed, then constantly telling her "You'll feel so much better if you just FF" is undermining and unhelpful. If you've felt that you've had to bottlefeed out of no choice of your own and you're unhappy about this, how does that make a "happy mum"?

HowBreastfeedingWorks Tue 09-Aug-11 14:02:43

Thank you for sharing this piece - I am really glad you liked it smile

organiccarrotcake Tue 09-Aug-11 21:03:37

Hey there HBW!! Lovely to see you here smile

truth grin Do you still have my postal address? Email me your Paypal account so I can send you the postage.

mollcat good. TTs are nasty little buggers and can take time, as you've seen, to get rid of, and thrush is eeeeek - painful - too. But it will pass, and it will be good smile

pugh Tue 09-Aug-11 22:33:21

I fully agree with the statement 'happy mum=happy baby' and wish someone had said it to me when I had a scrawny tiny baby and was v low with both of us unable to establish br-feeding.

What makes mothers happy is choice. Informed choice:from birth to feeding to name it.

Mollcat Wed 10-Aug-11 09:47:35

pugh the point being made in the blog is that the way "Happy mum = Happy baby" is often used doesn't recognise what goes into "happy mum" in every case. If I had wanted reassurance that feeding formula was OK then it would have been a helpful phrase. As it was (is), what I really wanted (want) is to breastfeed my baby, even though logically I know I should just make everyone's lives easier and EFF him, and thankfully I have the "choice" to do that. I'm very informed about my choices. I don't think formula is poison, I just have a very strong urge/need/desire which I can't explain to breastfeed him, so I didn't choose to feed him formula. I was forced to because he was hungry and I was in too much pain.

Unfortunately, I don't have the "choice" (yet) to breastfeed him, because we can't get it to work. If I really had the choice, then I agree I'd be happier. Every mother is different and for some people it will be just what they need to hear - I actually thought it as what I needed to hear, a sort of "permission to FF" which I suspect a lot of new mothers feel they need before they give up breastfeeding. But the "Happy mum = Happy baby" mantra was used to try and make me feel that it was OK to formula feed even though I really didn't want to. It denied my feelings about wanting to breastfeed, it didn't recognise the overwhelming grief I felt (feel) at not being able to. It gave the people who were supposed to be trying to help me an excuse to shrug their shoulders, say "there, there" and walk away.

Mollcat Wed 10-Aug-11 09:53:29

Or putting it another way, what*BertieBotts*said.

Not disagreeing with you pugh, happy mum does = happy baby, but what = "happy mum" is very complex and can be extremely difficult for the mum involved to work out at the time with exhaustion, emotions, hormones etc all coming at her.

pozzled Wed 10-Aug-11 10:10:52

Very well-written article. Agree that "happy mum = happy baby" is fine in itself, but is often (usually?) used in a way that can be detrimental to the mum's happiness. In cases where the mum isn't happy, more effort is needed to find out exactly why they're not and what will make them happier. Sometimes it will be switching to ff (esp if they felt pressured to bf in the first place) but often I think it would be having more support with bfing, or feeling more supported in other ways.

organiccarrotcake Wed 10-Aug-11 12:39:56

Some good points here.

However, I do disagree with the most simplistic meaning of happy mum = happy baby. Babies are not automatically happy just because their mums are which is what this equation implies. Neither are they unhappy just because their mums are. There is little direct relation between the two, other than in extremis.

StayingDavidTennantsGirl Wed 10-Aug-11 13:03:10

I agree, organiccarrotcake. What I would say is that happy, confident mum will find it easier to cope with whatever motherhood throws at her.

organiccarrotcake Wed 10-Aug-11 13:15:40


Firstly, you're not, I am. <swoon> (Elbows you out of way and looks furtively around to ensure DH isn't looking)

Secondly, very true. And happiness often comes from being the mother/father that you want to be, not the one that you're forced into being due to lack of support/poor information/pressure/etc.

StayingDavidTennantsGirl Wed 10-Aug-11 13:17:55

How about we share him nicely, organiccarrotcake? Those wiry chaps usually have plenty of - ahem - stamina, don't they!! grin

organiccarrotcake Wed 10-Aug-11 16:21:44

Well, ok then. I suppose. grin

pettyprudence Wed 10-Aug-11 17:00:19

It's like an underhand compliment isn't it? Basically it implies that you are making your baby unhappy. I was unhappy bf-ing (extreme pain) but my ds was very happy and thriving and thats what kept me going (and sheer bloody minded-ness)

TruthSweet Wed 10-Aug-11 20:36:44

It really boils down to:-

Mum is struggling to bf and is unhappy it's not going well

Ergo Baby must be unhappy*

If she stops bfing she will be happy

Ergo Baby will be happy

Which is nice because it suggests to mums that they are going to make their baby unhappy by continuing to struggle to get bf to work for them (them being mum and baby) so they might as well make everyone** happy by stopping doing what 100,000+ years of human evolution is telling them to do and go with what 100+ years of culture is telling them to do.

* As pettyprudence points out her baby was happy & thriving, it was her who wasn't when bfing wasn't going to plan. Babies don't get sad breastmilk when mum is struggling and happy breastmilk when bfing is going well so they probably don't know. There is even evidence that bf babies whose mums have PND don't have changed EEG (brain wave scans) whereas bottle fed babies whose mums had PND did (they had the same EEGs as adults with depression) so if you do have depression giving up bfing may not make baby happy.

**everyone being their wider social/family/support group as well as the mum /baby.

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