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why is there so much pressure to breast feed??

(588 Posts)
blondebaby111 Sun 30-Jun-13 18:34:01

Just that really??!!! At my first midwife app it was thrown In my face abit when I said I wasn't sure yet if I would but I'd feel more comftable doing both. Why are you made to feel like its such a crime. I'm only 12 weeks so have alot more appointments where this will be brought up.

I have friends who have breastfed and have had miserable babies that rarely settle, they are completely flustered with it and some verge on pnt because of all the pressure. Yet the friends that haven't breastfed or done both seem to have happy babies, they are a lot more happier in themselves and generally just so relaxed. So my views are mixed on this.

I don't want to start a debate but I just wish we could all make our minds up without midwives frowning or thinking its bad if we choose not too....just saying!!!

Hullygully Fri 05-Jul-13 09:20:13

We need to reclaim our breasts from the sex and porn industry.


Hullygully Fri 05-Jul-13 09:23:18

And champagne, I would like to apologize, and I'll apologize to amazingg while I'm at it.

I have been thinking it all over and while I absolutely stand by what I said, I can see that you found me brusque and dogmatic. Sometimes I get a bit obsessed with a point (in this case the application of logic) and hang on until the bitter end when it can become self-defeating. So apologies for any upset I caused you, I didn't mean the collateral damage.

I'm nice really and I am sure you are lovely mothers and your babies will thrive!

MrsOakenshield Fri 05-Jul-13 09:24:18

yes, agree Hully. But here's some good signs for the next generation - a friend's 3 year old son caught sight of a page 3 girl in a cafe - he said 'where is that booby lady's baby?' Top man. DD, when playing mummies and babies, will automatically pull up her t shirt when it comes to feeding her dolly. Perhaps as more people bf, more will understand that what's breasts are for?

Hullygully Fri 05-Jul-13 09:26:35


I remember ds aged eight going for a little walk around a square where we were at an outdoor café and he came back and said, Why have all the newspapers got lady's bosoms on them? And why have all the ladies got blonde hair?

Out of the mouths of babes...

midori1999 Fri 05-Jul-13 09:33:37

"And a midwife telling you that breast is better is going to be countered in your own head with "but I'm fine, and my brothers and sisters are fine, and my friends' babies are fine..." It's not until we get more women breastfeeding in public and in diverse communities that we're going to normalise it and increase bfing rates"

I agree with that completely. Breastfeeding can be hard at the start, not helped by the fact that most women don't have Mothers or relatives who can help them, because, like my own Mother, if they did breastfeed, they were told feed every 4 hours, start for one minute each side, then two minutes etc. I think if all or most of what you have seen is FF, then FF looks or seems the easy option, because it's what is familiar and humans naturally like things that are familiar.

I also agree about men being supportive helping a huge amount. Not least, because having someone to do everything or pretty much everything else so you can just breastfeed the baby makes things a lot easier on a practical note. However, I made sure my DH knew before the baby was born that I was going to breastfeed, formula wasn't an option for me and he wasn't to mention it, not ever, even if things were really hard. He stuck to that and I had an awful lot of problems getting feeding established and I can remember him sat next to me, stroking my arm when I was in tears latching DD on, telling me I was doing great. It might not sound like much, but it made a huge difference.

TinyTear Fri 05-Jul-13 09:36:35

I just don't get people saying ff is easier than bf...

I went on a flight and took my baby and fed her on take off and landing. that was it...

ff friends go on flights and faff with bottles and cartons and trying out the milk on security and asking for it to be warmed up and and and...

It's more of a hassle now she is eating to remember water and snacks and all of that than when all i needed was my breasts

Hullygully Fri 05-Jul-13 09:38:36

yy so much easier. We drove round Europe for two months when ds was three months' old because we couldn't think what else to do with a small baby, and the only prob I had was when my washable breastpads blew out of a window.

And I was prepared for the reality of bfing because a friend told me it goes on for hours and hours and hours and told me to get a big pile of books.

dreamingbohemian Fri 05-Jul-13 09:54:40

Writer here is my two cents.

If you want to beat the formula industry, then you have to kind of start thinking like a corporation and its marketers, and identify the niches in your market. I think part of the problem with BF approaches is that they are very one size fits all, even though you are dealing with a very complex problem.

So what are the niches? First you have Group A, women who have no intention of BF, maybe they think it's icky or their husband won't like it or whatever. The strategy for this group is heavy on antenatal education on the benefits of BF.

Group B are already sold on the benefits and fully intend to try it. So the strategy here is more focused on support for their choice.

Group C are the women who have already had their babies and are trying but having a few difficulties. You don't really need to educate them anymore, what they need is practical support.

Group D is women having major difficulties, who may need practical and emotional support at higher levels.

The reason you need to break it down is that a strategy that's good for one group may be counterproductive for another. Group D does not need more information on the benefits of BF, it will just make them feel worse when it's not working. If you give Group A the information and support for Group D, it may scare them off.

And there is also a Group E, women who cannot BF, or who are 100% convinced they don't want to. The strategy for this group is to have the wits to leave them the hell alone.

What do you think?

MrsOakenshield Fri 05-Jul-13 09:58:52

I guess FF can be easier to begin with, but once established bf is so much less hassle, all you need is yourself and your bosoms. Though I would like to say - if you can, try to get baby to take a bottle of expressed bm - we made a half-arsed attempt at 6 weeks, DD did take the bottle from DH but it wasn't the amazing bonding moment he thought it would be (she just stared off into the middle distance instead of adoringly into her daddy's eyes) so we didn't bother again - come 4 months, when I was ready to be out and about and leave her for a wee bit - would she take a bottle? Would she heck. Which was a bit annoying.

Thinkingof4 Fri 05-Jul-13 10:26:09

amazinggg you're right I didn't know that about different teats, but I have seen some mums try to keep going till bottle is done. I don't know how common this is, or as phineyj said how much the cost of formula would come into the equation in terms of not wanting to have to throw away a half drunk bottle.

Totally agree re husbands/ partners being really important in all this. My dh loves my boobs, but is happy for them to be for 'the baby' when it (finally) arrives (currently 3 days overdue!). He knows he will get them back eventually!

And yy to reclaiming our boobs, I'm amongst the many women who are sick fed up of being objectified just because we have boobs etc!

dreaming what you have suggested makes a lot of sense and would definitely help. I think there would also have to be additional layers to increase public acceptance of bf, more positive portrayals on tv eg on soaps so it is thought of as normal. How often do you see a baby being bf on tv compared to seeing babies with bottles?

Wouldn't it be great to get to the stage when women would ask themselves why shouldn't I breastfeed my baby, instead of why should I bf?

noblegiraffe Fri 05-Jul-13 10:36:45

I was thinking earlier about how if ffers are the ones being shamed and judged, how come it is bfers who are nervous about doing it in public, hiding away, going upstairs, using bottles when out, using bfing covers?

If breast is best, why is it being treated like something shameful?

MrsOakenshield Fri 05-Jul-13 10:41:05

that's a very good point, noble, and one that goes right back to childhood, imo - all these threads about not letting children run around naked on the beach - that's where it's starting. God forbid anyone should catch sight of a breast doing what it's meant to be doing.

Amazinggg Fri 05-Jul-13 10:41:40

Thank you Hully thanks I think perhaps because you found it both easy to do, and convenient to do, you don't fully understand when women struggle with being able to, or find it 'inconvenient' - I don't like that word particularly but it is what it is.

Dreaming bohemian - excellent idea about the clear different groups and targeting them differently - to me the most useful thing on the thread so far! So true that it's not a one size fits all thing and as with any struggle, people need to feel understood and empathy.

Amazinggg Fri 05-Jul-13 10:44:11

Noble - it comes down to motherhood and femaleness in general - everyone judges everyone else and you can't do anything right.

I figure the little ones come out as perfect, heavenly beings and our job as mums is just not to fuck them up too much.

Hullygully Fri 05-Jul-13 10:52:38

It isn't because I found it easy, amazingg, I don't think well, I did it so so should everyone else.

I was just answering the original question as to why people are encouraged/ "pressured"

I do know some people can't or struggle for all different reasons.

lurcherlover Fri 05-Jul-13 10:59:55

Dreaming, I think you're on to something there with your approach of differentiation depending on the mother's circumstance.

It would, however, require a certain amount of pragmatism I've not really seen in the NHS. For example, at my baby weighing clinic, we used to undress the babies on changing mats on tables. There was an incident in the authority (not even at this clinic) where a baby fell on the floor, so now, we have to put the mats on the dirty floor and kneel down to undress our babies, because woe betide it should happen again. It's not occurred to them that they could just put signs up reminding people to please not leave babies unsupervised on the changing tables. The NHS is rather fond of tarring everyone with the same brush and treating us all the same, so whether it's capable of introducing an individualised approach or not...

dreamingbohemian Fri 05-Jul-13 11:52:49

Yes, no offence to anyone, but I don't really expect the NHS to be so organised as to implement a multi-group strategy. But maybe local groups could, or external networks?

It would even be helpful for groups trying to allocate scarce resources. Let's say you're a support group working in a particular area, focusing on a local population. Hopefully you could access enough data to determine that 80% of the women you are targeting are, for example, Group A. So you can focus your scarce resources on antenatal education. Whereas if most of the women are Group C, you can put more resources into developing postnatal support.

Or maybe it could help collaboration -- you could work with other people in a local area and divvy up the groups, so one of you targets Group A people and another targets Group D, etc.

rallytog1 Fri 05-Jul-13 12:04:53

In the current economic climate I'm surprised the message about how much money you could save by bf isn't being emphasised more. If you showed someone how much it costs to ff for six months I think that would be a compelling argument for many people - just imagine what you could buy, or what debt you wouldn't need to incur etc etc.

I am shocked by how much money ff is costing us. We don't have a choice in our particular set of circumstances but I think it would be an encouraging message to those who do have a choice.

Oh, and YYY to more support and education for dads. I was really lucky in that DH was extremely supportive of my efforts to bf but I know others who didn't get that same support at home.

Amazinggg Fri 05-Jul-13 12:06:13

From the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative link

83% of women in England breastfeed at birth. By six weeks, it has fallen to 24% (exclusive bf) and at three months, to 17%.

Please, Writer and anyone else with power to effect change - focus your efforts on postnatal support. The vast majority of women want to, intend to and start off breastfeeding. All the pressure/education/informing of the tiny minority of women who don't intend to bf, is time and money which statistically (and strongly in my experience too) should be spent postnatally.

Champagnebubble Fri 05-Jul-13 12:09:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Amazinggg Fri 05-Jul-13 12:17:33

"National surveys find that three- quarters of mothers who give up breastfeeding before 6 months say they wanted to continue for longer. The reasons given for ending breastfeeding early by the great majority of mothers relate to problems, such as insufficient milk or pain during feeding, which would be avoided or solved if they had received better support."

I declare an interest as someone who works in statistics - but really, the numbers tell you exactly where money and time should be spent. Not on antenatal education, but on practical help and support for new mothers from day one.

Amazinggg Fri 05-Jul-13 12:20:28

The point being, these women wanted to bf, they had initiated it, they had tried to make it work but had failed and were using formula. If they had chosen to use formula and were happy with it, all well and good - but they had wanted to continue bf but didn't have the necessary support.

Making it about how breastfeeding is superior to formula, and pumping funds into educating women about it, isn't working. It might be a truefact but it's not an effective strategy.

dreamingbohemian Fri 05-Jul-13 12:25:16

I totally agree, Amazinggg.

This is why I think you really need to start differentiating within the target audience, and within local populations.

The idea to have more antenatal education seems to me like a shop spending all its time getting customers in the door, completely neglecting them once they're inside, and then wondering why nobody is buying very much.

If we're going to focus on data, not anecdote, then it doesn't matter if there are some women out there who don't want to BF because it's icky, what matters are those 83% who have bought your message but then have problems implementing it. That's where you need to focus.

dreamingbohemian Fri 05-Jul-13 12:26:37


Agree again! Evidence is not strategy.

MrsOakenshield Fri 05-Jul-13 12:41:27

yy to postnatal support. There has to be a reason why so many women stop so soon. And there has to be a reason why countries such as (I think) Holland and Denmark, which have (again, I think) fairly similar social make-ups to Britain, have a majority of women breastfeeding for much longer. Sorry, that's an awful sentence!

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