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Challenging negative attitudes of women who bottle feed

(103 Posts)
Eirlys Wed 17-Sep-08 18:12:33

I am training to be a breastfeeding helper and am so shocked by one of the women on my course, I have completed the 2nd session this morning and after both sessions I have been tense all day.

She keeps spouting that she fed her two for a year (this was approx 20 yrs ago) and she got no help or support [in a way that implies that the majority of us who need/needed it are saps], and it was just natural. Today she went on a rant (entirely tangential to what we were talking about) on those who bottle feed, it sounded totally Daily-Mailish and like one of the Trolls who come on here and 'innocently' ask why women are so lazy as to not breastfeed. I couldn't hold my tongue and said that most women I know want to breastfeed but their breastfeeding experience is often sabotaged by wrong/poor/no help. I had murmurs of agreement from the rest of the class.

Perhaps it is just me who has the problem but I am really worried that she is going to come out of this class as a breastfeeding helper with this attitude.

I am a HUGE lurker and read loads of threads as I am so interested in breastfeeding but only made a few posts. I would be very grateful for the advice of you wise mnetters out there on how I should deal with this woman (or just tell me that i'm being too sensitive).

allgonebellyup Wed 17-Sep-08 18:17:05

im sorry i am a bit like the woman you speak of!!
breast feeding really aint such a big deal - yes it can be tricky to get started and a little painful..but women have been doing it for thousands of years without BF counselling

tiktok Wed 17-Sep-08 18:18:28

You are not being too sensitive at all, Eirlys.

It's really important this woman changes during the course and learns her attitude and outlook are unkind and unhelpful.

Can you have a word with the trainer?

You had your murmurs of agreement from the rest of the class - that's your proof you have support.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 17-Sep-08 18:20:16

I doubt it AGBU. Granted they wouldn't have been called breastfeeding counsellors - mothers probably.

tiktok Wed 17-Sep-08 18:20:46

allgone - your attitude ignores the social and cultural aspects of breastfeeding and the fact that many women are saddened and distressed by their breastfeeding experience.

To dismiss the need for support in the way you have just done is actually quite rude, and a bit cruel.

frankbestfriend Wed 17-Sep-08 18:22:26

Allgonebellyup- women thousands of years ago had no alternative but to persevere with it though. Now there is an easy alternative we do need bf counselling if we want to encourage women to stick with it.

Joolyjoolyjoo Wed 17-Sep-08 18:24:04

I don't think you are being too sensitive. I'd love to help women to bf, but I think it is vital that you understand that it is their decision! It sounds like this woman is very militant and might actually deter people who are finding it difficult sad. I get angry at people who insist that bf is always easy. I nearly gave up with dd1, because it was so painful, and people kept telling me I must be doing it wrong, because otherwise it would be a wonderful, beautiful thing. I couldn't see any other way to do it, and was ready to chuck it until I spoke to a friend who told me she was in agony for the first 2wks and to give it time. I'm now feeding no 3, but I think you do need someone realistic to guide you at first! And someone sympathetic, not telling you to pull yourself together and stop being a sap! And if, at the end of it all, a woman does decide to stop bf, her ranting on about their feeding choices is hardly going to persuade them to continue angry

abear Wed 17-Sep-08 18:24:06

Also she should realise some people really can't breastfeed - I have a friend who takes medication for Epilepsy & unhelpful disapproval for people in that position is so negative. I think a word with the trainer is a good idea - you are right to be worried as some people who can't continue breastfeeding for whatever reason (or never want to do it for a whole year in the first place)will have their guilt compounded by that lady's attitude. Mothers feel guilty enough as it is afterall. Maybe the tutor could do a bit on how to deal with it when there really is no way forward with the breastfeeding for some.

MilaMae Wed 17-Sep-08 18:29:48

Eirlys you sound lovely,no idea of any help,just wanted to say
I'm sure you'll do well. Hopefully she'll fail the course with that attitude anyway.

Allbellyup words fail me......

ForeverOptimistic Wed 17-Sep-08 18:32:07

angry sad hmm at allgonebellyup!

Eirlys Wed 17-Sep-08 19:53:32

Thanks all for your helpful posts, (very sweet milamae smile). I had considered having a word with the trainer - they must surely have noticed this attitude by now! I didn't want to be too meddling though, and I like your suggestion abear, of tying it in with course content is a good idea.

allgonebellyup I suspect that whatever we say will not change your POV, but women were breastfeeding for thousands of years before doctors took an interest in it and how it "should" be done, and before artificial feeding became a big business opportunity.

nickytwotimes Wed 17-Sep-08 19:57:34

allgonebellyup - many women didn't manage though, hence wet-nursing, which was practiced on a casual basis by my Grandmother and her neighbours and friends. Also, many kids did not thrive or even survive. I am not for a minute saying that inability to successfully bf was a major cause of infant mortality, but ffs, it didn't help.

nickytwotimes Wed 17-Sep-08 19:58:46

...and also, women WERE counselled - by their mothers, sisters, aunts...
It was a part of the culture.

MarlaSinger Wed 17-Sep-08 20:01:54


BF problems aren't always physical, you know. Sometimes people have to choose between breastfeeding their baby or sustaining their relationship with their partner.

Yeah, a piece of piss that one hmm

yousaidit Wed 17-Sep-08 20:10:02

Er, I couldn't bf my dd even though i tried solid for 3 weeks: what doi you suggest,allgonebellyup? that i should havce just 'persevered'? What about my dd's cousins who were in intensive care because they were being bf and weren't getting enough milk and the support my sil got when they were ryushed to hospital because they were soi weak they weren't moving was 'eat a sandwich to get your milk up'? Is that the 'just getting on with it' that women did years ago? And what was it that i was doing wrong? Please tell me, as i'm sure you must know siomething that the minimum of 12 different nurses, m/w, hv, doctor and bf councellor from nct didn't know? Oh, and i suppose women just getting on with it years ago means there was never formula years ago? isd that just a recent investion? was it just 'feed your baby or they starve' years ago? Nothing to do with the horrific but necc practice in the days of pre formula were animals were used to provide milk???????????? Like babies drink animal milk now??????? A bloody good counsellor would have helped i like to think, but i didn't get one.

Hulababy Wed 17-Sep-08 20:17:42

I dislike women like this - it is because of women like that why so many people struggle on on ther own, and don;t seek advice - because they are scared of the negative atitudes they will be faced with.

I really did try to BF. It just didn't happen. I got little support, if any, from any health professional and no referrals to anyone who would help. I was clueless back then. I ended up mixed feeding and then giving up entirely at 6 weeks. I felt really sad about that (not now - am fine with it as was right thing at the time). When I did give up there was still things wrong - for example, it took more than a couple of days or more, at 6 weeks of trying, tfor my breats to feel full and hard, not at all like I had been told to expect.

Maybe with less people with such negative atttudes more people would get help and support, and be able to breastfeed longer.

penona Wed 17-Sep-08 20:28:31

Wow! I am so shocked that someone on a course to be a BF helper thinks like this. What on earth is the point if she thinks it's natural and easy - surely she can't imagine how someone would need her anyway? Very weird.

I think mentioning it to the tutor is a great idea. I called the NCT BF helpline and the woman there was soooooooo lovely it made me cry alot (was hormonal, of course). Could you suggest some kind of role play in the course where this woman is confronted with an 'I can't do it' mother and see her reaction? Might help her see that it is nt helpful? They might be her personal opinions, but as a BF helper those opinions will not help anyone....

lazyhen Wed 17-Sep-08 20:36:34

I think it's women like that that represent the 'breastfeeding militia' that people (like me) avoid at all costs. I agree with peona that if it really was easy then she'd be redundant (please let that happen).

I honestly think that courses like this need to have the other side of the story. How about some (brave) mother coming in to explain why she couldn't/didn't breastfeed.

I'd love to see how she could respond to stories of some of the women on here.

Reallytired Wed 17-Sep-08 20:37:01

Thousands of years ago, our mothers, sisters, aunts and granmothers were other breastfeeding councellors. Families gave support and the knowledge of how to breastfeed was passed from mother to daughter.

The problem is that in the 21st century we have lost this knowledge. That is why special help and support is required.

I have serious reservations about someone with such a blinked attitude being on a course to become a breastfeeding councellor.

Poohbah Wed 17-Sep-08 20:42:32

Oh, one of the women on my course said that she thought that women who feed toddlers are freaks and it disgusted her. She didn't finish the course but neither did I. smile

FruitynNutty Wed 17-Sep-08 20:47:16

My DS would have starved if it weren't for formula. I have been devastated ever since about my body letting me down.
Breast-feeding is a big deal. Breast-feeding councellors are a god-send! A friend of mine has just had a very small baby who was losing weight by the day. She wouldn't take milk from the breast so my friend has to spend every waking hour expressing milk to give to her - it's a huge deal to her as she is mentally and physically exhausted, she can barely leave the house. If it weren't for the BF councellor she would have given up and used formula.

Thank heavens for caring breast-feeding councellors!

Ellbell Wed 17-Sep-08 20:55:04

I've never said this on here before, but fuck off AGBU. My dd would probably have died without either formula or donated milk.

She's 8 now, and I am still sad that, despite trying for 6 weeks, I didn't manage to bf her. Never once did she take milk direct from my breast (though I did express a bit for her).

Good on you Eirlys. Good luck with the course.

Ellbell Wed 17-Sep-08 20:56:24

Of course, until relatively recently me and dd would both have died when I gave birth to her, so that would've solved the problem nicely.

FruitynNutty Wed 17-Sep-08 20:57:40

Good point Elbell so would Ds and I come to think about it hmm

Hulababy Wed 17-Sep-08 21:03:17

Yes, DD and I would both have probably died in childbirth too, in the olden days - so the fact I couldn;t grasp the art of breastfeeding wouldn't have been an issue.

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