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breastfeeding - it's a BIG issue....

(44 Posts)
wavy Wed 09-Feb-05 21:06:48

i am a mum of 2 - still breasefeeding youngest. I have been thinking about breastfeeding a lot and how it is a PROPER issue for women and yet nobody seems to take it that seriously. It totally affects every mothers life - wheather they breast or bottle - and it is politcal and it is emotional.
As other mums do you think it is worth trying to write some breastfeeding stories so people know the range of experiences we go through and what influences (and how diverse those influences are) on how we decide to feed our kids. None of my friends have got a creche at work where they will let you pop down and feed. My work does not even have a creche. Have any mumsnet mums come across a breastfeeding friendly creche. And what do you think of the idea of taking this issue serioulsy. I would love to hear any thoughts and any stories about how and why you did or did not breastfeed or mixed and matched. I stopped breastfeeding ds at 3 months (my Mumsnet nickname was LAST - before I changed computers) but am still currently feeding 13mth old ds. Would love to hear what anybody thinks and what they have been through. THANKS

ChocolateGirl Wed 09-Feb-05 22:26:58

wavy, I would definitely be interested in reading a book of women's experiences of breastfeeding. I was a real formula victim with my first dc - gave up bfding at two weeks - but successfully fed dc2 and dc3 - but didn't real fully understand the politics of it until dc3. Probably don't fully understand it now. I will email you my story if you are interested. I didn't go back to work and so didn't have the creche issue but I used to work somewhere that had a creche on site - don't know what their attitude was to mums who wanted to come in and feed their babies. There was an interesting post in the last few days from someone who was interested in other people's stories too. hth

Fran1 Wed 09-Feb-05 22:37:38

Would happily contribute.

Think its a great idea. I was fortunate to have no real probs with breastfeeding, went back to work p/t when dd was 3 mths but was lucky to be in a very flexible job, when i couldn't get back to feed dd she had bottles of ebm.

BUT ... my issue was with giving up!! i had all the praise in the world from everyone for successfully breastfeeding, but nobody told me how hard it was to give up, they just tutted at my feeding a toddler, health visitors included. Finally stopped when dd turned 2 and now regret all the stress i put us under about giving up, and will plan to feed next child until 2 also!

I also have friends who chose not to breastfeed because of the "embarrassment" factor, and whilst i respect someones wishes to not bf i think it is a shame if that decision is based on others views and not the mothers.

And then there are the people who have difficulties in the early days with bf, who receive actually no support from counsellors/midwifes/health visitors to result in giving up bf altogether and then feeling guilty about it.

Well you can see i feel the same as you! and look forward to seeing others views.

Erinleigh Wed 09-Feb-05 23:10:01

Yes, breastfeeding IS political! I have never thought of it that way, but you're right. It's quite scary how little it is actually done and how hugely it is promoted, in the UK. I am part of a b/f support group started by small group of us in our local surgery with support of health visitor. In 2 years, we have had no new recruits... the health visitor actually told us that in this time period, she had no new mums b/f... only ones who had successfully done it before. I am not trying to demonise formula feeding, b/c I do realise that some women do have difficulty, but people need to realise that difficulty in b/f is unusual, not the norm.

In maternity/neonatal books and pamphlets, the b/f women are shown with their tops completely off, alone with a babe on their boob. Like it's some type of anti-family activity! The bottle feeding mums are pictured standing next to Daddy, as he feeds baby! In Mothercare, not long after I had my two, I heard someone say, "I'm not going to b/f b/c I want my little seven year old to be able to feed her new brother!!!"

Now that I have finished my tirade - I promise, no more to come - my story is that I breastfed my two little boys until just a few weeks ago. They are nearly 2 1/2. I am pg again and milk just was so long in coming and they grew tired of waiting for it, I think.

I was on another thread talking about b/f and mentioned cultural diff as I was brought up in US and moved here five years ago. I grew up seeing my mum b/f five younger siblings, so it seemed a completely natural and normal thing to do. For me, the bottlefeeding seemed strange, and I freaked out when midwife threatened to put twin2 on bottle when he was slow and sleepy with b/f. He eventually caught on, but it scared me: I don't know a thing about bottles except they seem like a lot of work! It has been so nice to b/f b/c I just put them on the boob and usually went back to sleep; left Dh job of putting them back in bed!

I know, it sounds ideal; those of us who have b/f know it's not always so idyllic, and we all have our difficult days. I used to stress a lot in beginning of feeding boys: Oh no, haven't drunk enough water/eaten enough food/rested enough! I think, though, that after two months it all seemed to even out and I began to trust my own body to make the milk the boys needed. Because, to be fair, that's what the boobs are there for!!

bobbybob Thu 10-Feb-05 00:08:02

I had an operation and the hospital took bfing seriously. My ds was allowed to stay in a cot next to me.

And he was 12 months old, so even more impressive that nobody turned a hair!

Socci Thu 10-Feb-05 01:55:14

Message withdrawn

prunegirl Thu 10-Feb-05 07:55:56

Message withdrawn

wavy Thu 10-Feb-05 09:30:28

Thank you for all the messages so far. It confirmes what i thought.....even acknolweding it is an issue generates an excitement that we are allowed to talk about it. For instance it is techincially not illegal to stop someone from breastfeeding at work - upto the employers discretion. And the contracitions at the heart of labour policy - breastfeed exclusivly for 6 months but go back to work as quickly as possible wiht no provision made for breastfeeding! I know very few women who have succesfully combined both.
I am also getting more and more looks and comments about breastfeeding 13mth ds in public. What business is it of anybodys???BUt then i had a friend who breastfeed somebody else child - and I was shocked by what a taboo I found that. So I guess we all have our own limits..... I would love to keep hearing any more stories and thoughts. I still don't know with what end, but something will come out of it..........

moondog Thu 10-Feb-05 09:41:13

socci, wonder what book that was? (Can guess!!)
Yes, b/feeding is a massively political issue in ways that I didn't understand for a long time.

I know I keep on banging on about this but i would really recommend the book 'The Politics of Breastfeeding' by Gabrielle Palmer. It is brilliant. Made a HUGE impression on me (and a very interesting read.

I like your 'formula victim' expression chocolategirl because that is exactly what a great many women become. These companies disempowere and disenfranchise us by taking away our confidence in our bodies and selling us back ones of the few things that we can (with the correct suppport) do really really well.

piffle Thu 10-Feb-05 09:44:48

another happy contributor super idea
I fed both of mine til 16 mths and loved every minute of it, but 2nd time around was a lot wiser about engorgement and mastitis and things, it pays to inform people, it does take work and effort but the rewards are immense!

coffeebean Thu 10-Feb-05 10:42:35

would be happy to contribute - fed ds1 for 2yrs 3 months including while pg with ds 2 - stopped feeding ds 1 (from just 1 feed a day first thing in the morning)when ds 2 had to be hospitalised with bronchiolitis. intend to feed ds 2 for as long as he wants to feed.
returned to work with ds 1 after 6 months - found expressing hard work but perservered until ds1 was 1 year.
hv very helpful, but generally did not find nhs supportive.
Perhaps book or whatever could included some suggestions for what would actually help women breast feed successfully.

DecafArabica Thu 10-Feb-05 12:51:27

I successfully breast-fed DS (now 3yrs 9months) until he was 15 months--his idea, not mine, to stop. My particular rant for your collection would be about how unsupportive the hospital midwives were post c/s. Nobody bothered to explain that this can be hard, nobody offered any help, just made me feel like a complete lumpen idiot & a nuisance when I begged for assistance with getting DS latched on. Through sheer determination I persevered, and once was discharged from hospital, a b/f counsellor from the NCT came round to help and DS latched on beautifully from then on.

Beansmum Thu 10-Feb-05 13:12:37

I'd be happy to contribute- still feeding ds (8 months) and expressing a bottle a day for him to have at nursery. I have found breastfeeding really easy, after the first few days anyway and even the expressing hasn't been too much hassle. I think it is definitely worth it.

I know it is a personal choice and I don't have to understand anyones reasons, but it does amaze me how many mums never try breastfeeding or give up very quickly. I think this is often blamed on lack of support but I'm not sure that's the real reason, some people are still embarassed about bfing or think that bottle feeding would be easier when that's not always the case. And I always hear people saying that they just want their bodies back and to get back to normal, I'm sorry, but that seems a bit selfish to me.

For me, bfing was definitely the easier option, particularly since there isn't anyone else around to help with feeds so I'd be giving every bottle anyway. Since ds started nursery at 4 months I have had to express, but it really isn't much hassle and now that he's only on one feed a day I don't have to express during the day at all, just in the morning.

I was lucky that I could get to the nursery at lunchtimes and feed ds and maybe I wouldn't still be bfing successfully if it wasn't for that, but I would have tried my hardest anyway.

I've got loads of tips about the practicalities of expressing and going back to work, or uni in my case, but this post is getting a bit long!

highlander Thu 10-Feb-05 17:45:53

I wish someone had told me (and DH!) how physically exhausting BF is and how vital it is to eat and rest properly. DS is 5mo and I'm only starting to realise that I can't skip lunch!

tiktok Thu 10-Feb-05 18:00:53

It's caring for a baby that's turing, highlander! All over the world, all throughout history, women have breastfed and do breastfeed without having lunch (or breakfast, or supper, at times!) and without the luxury of rest. Breastfeeding is a physiological process, no more tiring in itself than breathing, or having your blood circulate around you

Broken nights, domestic chores, general dashing about, being on call and having the massive responsibility of looking after a new little person....that can be exhausting. I am glad people don't go on to antenatal mothers about breastfeeding being tiring.There are enough doom-sayers around about bf without adding to them

Having said that, there will be individual experiences which differ from the general - and some people will genuinely believe that they have more energy when bf ceases.

highlander Thu 10-Feb-05 23:24:45

hmm tiktok, I don't want to argue with you, given all your advice on this site got me BF in the first place , and I'm still going strong at 5 months ........... but, as a scientist I fail to see how my body won't be tired when I'm making enough milk to keep the nipper on the 75th centile. I would say 75% of my tiredness is, as you say, just parenting, but I'm sure the rest is due to BF. I've lost a ton of weight as well - down a dress size than I was pre-preg.

suzanneme Thu 10-Feb-05 23:37:42

I don't breastfeed, but can guarantee the creche at my work would be completely happy with you popping in the breastfeed whenever. My boss would be happy about it too. I do work at a lovely place.

suzanneme Thu 10-Feb-05 23:45:52

Wanted to add, having read through, that I tried to BF my DD and DS and got absolutely nowhere with either of them - never got them to latch on successfully once (DS was deeply jaundiced for a week with blood group incompatibility, which didn't help either) and support was crap in my hospital. Told the lactation specialist midwife about my problems with DS on a Friday morning, and her helpful advice was that the support group meets every Wednesday! I think, though, to some extent that lack of info on formula has gone too far now - you literally have no way of finding out how they compare and what might suit your baby best, and no-one is allowed to tell you. It's a bit silly. I am right behind everyone who makes a success of BFing though; good for all of you, and if you could get some proper help for the early days for those of us who can't get it going then I'd love that. I don't know anyone locally who BF successfully, which is kind of depressing.

tiktok Thu 10-Feb-05 23:51:26

Thanks for the comment, highlander

As a scientist, then, you'll know that our bodies do all sorts of things that are totally physiological and very 'active' - digestion, elimination, cell repair and renewal, antibody production etc etc - but none of it requires your body to do much except be on autopilot (to mix my metaphors!). It's the same with breastfeeding. The milk is made without any extra exertion required - and indeed, you are sitting or lying down when you are actually delivering the results of this process ...and you're allowed to doze while you're at it, if you can! You can't (scientifically) estimate whether this process is 25 per cent of 'looking after baby' tiredness, either.

I don't know of any research that compares the fatigue levels of bf and ff women - I'd be interested in it, as it would be good to find out what real women in real situations perceived.

highlander Fri 11-Feb-05 00:20:42

I see where you're coming from tiktok, but I'd like to know why I've lost so much weight (TBH, it's quite nice )

As you rightly say, a study would be very intersting!

Levanna Fri 11-Feb-05 00:48:28

Tiktok and Highlander, I feel that breastfeeding does tire me. My highly scientific reasoning for this is that whenever DD is having a growth spurt I feel totally sapped! She isn't a big night feeder either, just many frequent day time feeds (many more than usual I mean) at these times leave me quite drained.

Wavy, I haven't had to deal with work based feeding issues, but our local community creches are breastfeeding friendly. Pro in fact. They always facilitate mum dropping in to feed baby, or bring baby to mum, or, have fridges and are happy to deal with EBM and bottles.

Levanna Fri 11-Feb-05 00:50:02

Or, specific to my wieght loss, DD1 didn't feed a great deal at all. DD2 is a fairly good feeder. With DD1 I lost little weight. With DD2 I'm back to original (pre PG size) quickly by comparison. ?

wavy Fri 11-Feb-05 09:31:59

This thread is great; and then just looking at the amount of different thread for this so called 'simple' activity. Do you know England was the only country to ban an EU election video which contained a passing shot of a women breastfeeding - even more ridiculous given what you can see in the tabloids every day. ANd does anybody know if girls (and boys) are taught about breastfeeding at school?????ANd I was thinking how the only really familiar image on our screens of breastfeeding is from newsreport of Africa in trouble - distressing and desperate.
Please keep any stories or thoughts coming it is fantastic......

tiktok Fri 11-Feb-05 09:35:44

wavy - the UK and Ireland banned the shot, not of the mother breastfeeding (which remained in the film) but the momentary shot of the nipple.....it's nipples that freak people out, apparently

Hausfrau Fri 11-Feb-05 09:44:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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