shocked at BF stats...(46 Posts)
I had an antenatal class tonight that focused on breast feeding. I was perhaps being daft, but I honestly thought that about 99% of people at least tried (I mean, OK if it is not for you, but why not try?) but apparently it is only about 50% or so.
Everyone else in the class was really worried about doing it in public as well, again I thought only really shy people who had somehow never seen anyone else BFing would worry about that. I BF my DD for four months (until I had to go on medication) and it never even occurred to me to be shy about it, but then I suppose I have younger siblings and cousins who were BF so I know how subtle it can be. Also I do tend to be quite blase about nakedness and so on.
These are things I kind of understood happened, and felt sorry for people for whom BF wasn't familiar, but I thought they would be in the minority...
I also thought they made it sound much harder then it is, most of the talk focused on all the problems and made it sound really technical, surely they could just tell you the signs of problems and to ask a breastfeeding expert for advice? DD had problems and was an hour away from being on a drip, but a BF councillor sorted us out and then it was the easiest thing in the world. I remember BF walking around the uni library!
Also the DVD they showed was all of women feeding with cushions and footrests and with their entire boob on show, all in the exact same position. I know they need to show things clearly, and that is probably the best position, but it gave the impression that BF is some massive project to embark on. Also there was not one man in the DVD, they could have at least briefly shown a little family snuggling up in bed with the mum on her side, or a woman enjoying a brew in a cafe, casually wrapped in a cardi, and then revealed that she was in fact BF.
I asked about donating some milk to a milk bank, and the other women all looked at me like I was some kind of militant BF freak!
It's a tricky balance because I've heard it said that there needs to be a more realistic approach to portraying breastfeeding. It is difficult at times and it takes determination. Some people have more problems than others, but I suppose not much would be gained by pretending it is easy and perhaps fewer mothers would give up if they had a less idealistic expectation before they started.
But surely there are a lot of mothers just writing it off entirely because they think they have to practically have a GCSE in lactation? And there is all the pressure on the woman when the man can do loads to support her?
It is basically just a case of waving your boob at the baby till they open their mouth, shoving them on and waiting till they stop. The vast majority of feeds must be like that, so why give the idea that it requires huge amounts of knowledge?
I dunno, it is hard because we have somehow ended up with BF being an unusual thing, to the point where my friends think I'm being revolting if i mention I have bid on a pump on ebay.
I ended up bottlefeeding after a few months, so I don't judge people for their choices, but I do think more could be done to help them at least try BF.
UK stats are that 76 percent of women begin breastfeeding. This varies from area to area - in London and the South East it's way up in the upper eighties; in Northern Ireland it's way down in the 40s.
If you thought the dvd was not good, then tell the class facilitator. There are good dvds around showing different posits, with men around, in public etc.
What class was this, Lissy?
NHS "preparing for baby" course. Up to now it has been really good, and they completely skimmed over things like sections, which is fair enough as I suppose most people have a straightforward birth. We saw forceps and all that, which was interesting, but then it was just "you may need a section if it doesn't work"
No that's a nice idea - we're promoting and advertising just about everything these days; the video could be more cosy and show images like OP suggested - especially ones with mum and dad cosy in bed with baby BFing. and dad bringing mum her glass of water... That would have been great!
I think in my ward everyone was trying to BF but I heard one young mum next to my bed practically shouting at the Midwife that she wasn't going to try, she didn't want to... Thats about 1/8 that wasn't going to try BFing.
have you seen the nhs scotland breastfeeding awareness ad lissy? i thought it was nice (though not cosy exactly). sorry can't link as am updating my browser atm, but it's on youtube.
It just looked so technical in the video, not at all like RL BF. I know there can be problems, but it just sounded like you would have terrible problems unless you did it under medical supervision in exactly the right way.
I think most of DDs feeds were done with me gossiping, drinking a brew or playing playstation! I used to sleep through night feeds, although didn't dare tell the class that in case I got a lecture on co-sleeping! (I did it kind of by accident, I would get her out of her moses basket and latch her on, then fall asleep by accident lying on my side, then whoever woke up out of me or DP next would move a sleepy milky baby back into her moses basket)
yes one in two trying bfing sounds right for Washington area Lissy. just nebbed at your profile. where i am is even lower. not too far from you.
i found mw's and hv's in this area really backward 70's about things co-sleeping and bfing. shame you got lectured. it will reinforce the prejudices in the new parents so many will daren't try it.
Not saying that the DVD was an excellent example or anything, but BF is not always 'just a case of waving your boob at the baby till they open their mouth, shoving them on and waiting till they stop.'
I had a horrendous experience with DS and it was nowhere near as easy as this. I have gone on to have a successful 4 months BF DD, but even then I wouldn't say there was much 'boob waving' going on! It was still a real challenge. You are really lucky that it was so easy for you.
There needs to be some kind of balance between your story and the reality for a lot of women. A realistic idea of what it is like. Not so much a soft-focus idyllic picture of mother and baby gazing into eachothers' eyes or 'women feeding with cushions and footrests and with their entire boob on show, all in the exact same position'. A mixture of different scenarios would be good (in bed / cafe / on the sofa etc).
I agree with niggle - it's a tricky balance.
They should tell you that sometimes you get to a point where it hurts so much you see stars, but also that this phase goes away. I've heard a midwife say it only hurts if you're doing it wrong but I was checked and was deemed to be doing it right, and it STIll really hurt. Two of my cousins had the same experience. We all said that if we'd had some warning it would have been better and wouldn't have put us off trying as we were all determined BFers.
At the same time, I agree with the OP- show scenes of BFing in cafes, on sofas, in bed, and even whilst wearing a sling. No sterilising, no powder to measure, no bottle warming needed.
Lissy, I think there might be a happy medium. I agree you don't want to make it sound horribly technical, at the same time it is incredibly difficult for some of us (see all the panicked posts on here) and it's important to let women know that if they do find it difficult they are not alone.
I am 4 weeks in and have found it incredibly difficult. I am worried about doing it in public as it takes a real effort to get baby latched on and I can only do it with my whole boob out.
I liked my NHS classes as I thought they gave me a realistic idea of how bloody hard it would be. If I had been led to believe it was easy I would have given up by now.
Tricky tricky balance.
I also think that the prep implies that it is some whole technical thing that you need a PhD in before you attempt, and I can see why this might put people off and think they won't even try.
For me (and I don't mean this to sound smug, just factual) it was also just wave boob at baby, she feeds, stops when finished. And what is it with the cushions? Everywhere I went people asked if I needed a cushion? Never understood that one.
When I told MIL I was going to a breastfeeding class (NCT) she practically LOL and said - just put them on the breast- what more is there to it?
If it was always as easy as waving boob at baby, there wouldn't have been the need for that DVD. I had the opposite experience: touchy-feely NCT guff about how easy it would be, and found it very very hard. Especially for five days in hospital, when he wouldn't latch on at all, and both he and I spent most of the time crying.
I in fact wrote to the NCT to say their classes should be more realistic about bf, and show how it can be a difficult, and what to do about it, as well as the touchy feely encouraging stuff.
People, including midwives, looking befuddled at the idea that it can be hard does not help the situation.
I can see exactly where you are coming from lissy as it was this technical have to do it like this that almost made me stop feeding ds. Ds would not attach painlessly the way experts show you.
So my approach was trial and error put it in if it hurts take it out and put it in again this could sometimes take me 30 mins. However every time a mw or any professional came near me they demanded I do *the correct way* which caused pain and blocked ducts.
I eventually told them to f off and bf my ds for 3 years and on my dd I told them I did not require help.But any professional who sees me feed dd 10 weeks will still try to change my latch.
However when I had dd there were 12 women in hospital with dd only 2 of us were bf and on ds only 4 out of 21.
It's really tricky, isn't it? I really wanted to breastfeed so found out as much as possible while pregnant - and the more I learned, the more I became convinced that it was a hard, hard thing, a painful thing, something that would be a real trial. I was still determined, but daunted.
I was talking about this on one of the threads and admitted all this - and tiktok made the point to me that women who found it easy didn't come on threads generally and say, I'm breastfeeding and it wasn't a big deal. I found that immensely reassuring...
And in the event it wasn't a big deal - I had a "wave your boob in the right direction" sort of a baby. And I think - while it's important to be realistic - the fact that in many cases it can be that simple does need to be said - because if people are wavering about bf - being told it's definitely going to hurt (when it might not) isn't going to help
It is a tricky one.
I have a friend who gave up specifically because it 'wasn't what she expected' - she thought you just wave your boob and stick the baby on; the baby had other ideas and was much harder to feed.
So more realistic preparation might have meant that she would actually have BF rather than move straight to FF when she realised it was going to be hard work.
I think MWs and antenatal teachers need to emphasise that most mothers won't have major problems bf if they understand the basics but if they do, these can usually be solved. So you're not lulling people into a false sense of security but not putting them off either.
They also need to remind pregnant women that bf is a lost art in our society and what seems impossible to fix might be just because our mums, grannies, etc. dont have the quick answers for us that they would have had generations ago but it doesn't of course mean that there aren't any answers.
At my NCT BF class we were all given a jigsaw to do at the start - some were really easy, mine and DH's was a bit tricky but not impossible - and one couple had one that just wouldn't go together. We were told that was what it would be like. Which was very helpful.
I've been BFing for six weeks now and have found it BLOODY DIFFICULT. I needed cushions and all sorts of props to help me and it was only yesterday that I managed to do it without said props. God, how I wish it had just been a case of boob waving - I may not have aged fifteen years since baby was born...
So - glad it was easy for the OP, but it isn't for everyone.
I think there is a balance needed, and according to personal experience, most people will think the balance comes down in the wrong place.
Films which show the trials of breastfeeding will inevitably be viewed as scaremongering and overly technical by people who had an easy time, and will be accused of putting people off.
Films which concentrate on the health benefits will be accused of setting women up for a fall and making them feel guilty if they don't succeed.
Films which emphasise the joys of bfing will be viewed as unrealistic and unhelpful by people who found it hard, and will be accused of making people who do have difficulties feel as if they're alone.
But I agree that it would sometimes be nice to have more about the loveliness of bfing, when it goes right, and more positive images of people doing it in public and in slings etc, as well as images of women feeding slightly older babies - promotional stuff tends to concentrate on newborns for the, I guess, obvious reason that the pregnant women are thinking about feeding their newborn, but it does tend to reinforce the subliminal message that bfing is only for tiny babies and can stop once they can hold their heads up.
McSnail, it was as you describe with my first. With my second it really was wave-a-boob.
Cannot fathom why the difference, but perhaps it really and truly is just down to experience and exposure etc.
I think it's probably down (in part) to the baby. I really believe some babies are just better suckers. My sister had it the other way around - no probs with her first, dreadful with her second. Which would suggest it's not just the mother...
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