Advanced search

Women who don’t be believed for their reasons not to BF - a feminist issue?

(285 Posts)
Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 15:34:57

Bear with me, I’ve posted this here because I don’t think it’s a feminist issue and I want to unpick my thoughts.

I struggle with my reasons for not BF one of my children.

I was put in a position where the decision was out of my hands.

I do think the comments around “did you try could have tried different should have tried that” are almost victim blaming and they make me very very angry and feel disbelieved.

I attempted suicide due to the horrendous time I had feeding that child. There was eons of support. I did the absolute best I could.

So why am I not just believed?

Please bear with me.My thoughts in this I find distressing and I’m trying to understand and unpick how I feel.

Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 15:38:17

*do think

Bloody phone.

I think it’s a feminist issue.

Hammerofthetwat Tue 23-Jan-18 15:39:22

I hate women that shame women over their life choices. It’s bullying. I’m childfree, anyone cusses my choice, I go at them. It’s personal. Not political.

Tissunnyupnorth Tue 23-Jan-18 15:40:03

Why do/did you feel that you had to give reasons about not breastfeeding?

Hammerofthetwat Tue 23-Jan-18 15:40:19

Sorry to hear you had this sweetheart. Silly people should grow some empathy.

ladyballs Tue 23-Jan-18 15:40:24


I don't have personal experience. But my sister came under a lot if pressure to breastfeed her second. She'd had severe mastitis with her first and quite rightly made a decision based on her experience and her health.

I think breastfeeding comes under the banner of things silly women can't be trusted to make decisions about - including their pregnancy, their health and pretty much everything else.

I'm sorry you've been through such a terrible time. X

Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 15:42:44

I’m on another thread and I said that BF isn’t best for every baby and was disbelieved.

I als had it said that “most”women should have tried differently harder etc etc

And that upset me. And I want to figure out why It’s so differently viewed to the we believe you.

If I say I was sexually assaulted no one here would say what were you wearing did you have a short skirt most women who are assaulted wear short skirts and low tops (I know that’s not true)

But yet if you say you didn’t bf it’s “some people don’t try hard enough could have tried differently” etc

It’s the same attitude. Or I think it is. And I want to figure out why that is. Why aren’t women just believed?

rememberthetime Tue 23-Jan-18 15:59:39

My daughter was born with a cleft palate and could bf either. I felt very guilty like I should have found a way to get around her actual disfigurement.

JJPP123 Tue 23-Jan-18 16:03:12

Blue I've come across from the other thread because I can see what you were trying to say and I agree with you.

I think people get so carried away with the breast is best/ normalisation message (which is very important) that they stop to think about the individual women experiencing problems.

Physically would it have probably been possible for me to BF my first born. Mentally it wasn't. It isn't helpful to retrospectively state that actually I could have done if I or some one else had done x, y, z.

I'm not sure how it's a feminist issue (although I'm happy to be educated!) Other than it would be nice if women could be kinder to one another.

Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 16:07:50

Thanks JJ.

I KNOW I’m not articulating it well but it seems part of some internalised patriarchy that even women buy into that a woman can’t just say “I couldn’t BF”without having to explain and have her reasons held up to scrutiny and just basically not be believed until the point at which she (me) ends up goaded to the point of upset whereupon Illogical emotional gets sneered out.

AccrualIntentions Tue 23-Jan-18 16:09:47

I struggle with the assertion that's always made that a minuscule number of women "can't" breastfeed. I'm left feeling I can't legitimately use the word "can't" and have to say I "chose" because there was nothing physically wrong - supply was decent, nipples were fine, baby could do a textbook latch and didn't have tongue tie. But she would not feed. We spent 7 of her first 10 days in hospital with her dropping loads of weight, having low blood sugar and really high jaundice levels. Maybe we would have got there in the end after seeing the umpteenth HCP but mentally it broke me. I strongly believe I could not have continued without doing myself and my relationship with my baby (and my husband) some serious damage. My stubborn insistence on bf because "all women can!" probably cost the NHS thousands. But to the bf lobby I fall into the "isn't it a shame she didn't try a bit harder" category. Maternal mental health is not adequately considered in the bf debate.

BertrandRussell Tue 23-Jan-18 16:15:38

It was me talked about "trying differently" rather than "trying harder"
The point I was trying to make on the other thread is that evidence from other countries shows that with the proper help and support the vast majority of women can bf. It is rare for there actually to be physical reasons why they can't.

My view is that women should be able to make proper, informed decisions about how they feed their babies. There are lots of reasons why a woman might choose not to bf. That is entirely her business. But no woman should ever feel that she has to stop or not start because she is not given the support, information or help she needs. I know several women who were given downright wrong information from HCP which led them to think they couldn't bf. That is not their fault. But while I absolutely believe them when they say what happened to them, I am not going to believe them when they say that they couldn't bf. Because they don't know. Obviously there are women and babies that actually, physically cannot. But for everyone else, it should be a proper, informed choice.

AccrualIntentions Tue 23-Jan-18 16:15:48

The feminist element, imo, lies in the fact this is yet another aspect of parenthood where women feel they have to justify their parenting actions and decisions to the outside world. Men are rarely challenged on the parenting decisions of their family (although I appreciate they can't bf!) And the language - women are dismissed as "bitter" or "smug" depending on which side of the fence they fall - and it's almost always by other women.

ladyballs Tue 23-Jan-18 16:19:16

I worked with a man who was furious his partner couldn't breastfeed. In her case she had severe PND and she and the baby were being cared for by her parents. He was (is) a tosser who insisted he knew better than her.

Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 16:23:35

Bertrand did you actually just say you are not going to believe a woman? Is that really what you mean?

BertrandRussell Tue 23-Jan-18 16:26:03

“And the language - women are dismissed as "bitter" or "smug" depending on which side of the fence they fall - and it's almost always by other women.”

Well, they are dismissed thus by some arseholes. Who should be dismissed in return.

I agree that women are constantly judged on all aspects of their lives, but particularly as mothers. But I really think the femininist angle here is the attitude of the health care establishment. Women’s concerns are routinely ignored and minimized. Imagine the research that would go into supporting breastfeeding if men did it!

Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 16:28:52

Bertrand. My point and the point of this thread is that there is a disconnect between we believe you in terms of sexual assault and we beleive you when it comes to not breastfeeding.

And I think you’re a hypocrite for saying that you don’t beleive women when they say they couldn’t BF.

TheBlindspot Tue 23-Jan-18 16:29:20

For what it's worth, I believe you.

I struggled and ultimately failed to BF following a traumatic birth and PPH which affected my supply. By the time it arrived, well over a week after birth, DD was used to a bottle, wouldn't latch and I'd already been told off by the hospital for giving formula when all I was making was 1ml of colostrum a day. Not enough to feed a 9lb baby but apparent 'nature knows best'.

I tried for weeks to get her on the breast. I had feeding consultants and midwives coming into me daily for weeks, literally. Nothing worked. Then she got silent reflux and didn't even want formula so that was a whole other issue. In the end I expressed and mix fed for six months before moving exclusion formula. The pumping did me in but I felt so guilty about not giving her 'the best' that o continued.

If I had a £1 for everytime I've had the (virtual or otherwise) faux sympathetic head tilt and comments along the lines of 'I'm sure you did your best but if you'd had the proper support I'm sure you'd have had more success' from the BF mafia I'd be loaded. I did have great, and plentiful support. It just didn't work for us.

Feminist issue? I think so. It's one of those issues that should be a choice, and yet even these days it's still not, not really or even if it is it's one that's judged heavily.

Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 16:29:52

Arseholes who say things like I don’t beleive women when they tell me they can’t BF, Bertrand?

BertrandRussell Tue 23-Jan-18 16:30:34

Bluedoglead- my friend told me that she could not bf because she had no milk. On day 2. She completely believed this was true because that’s what she was told. But it was not true. She was told a lie and believed it. I believed that was what she was told- but I do not believe that she could not bf, no.

Rumpledfaceskin Tue 23-Jan-18 16:31:38

think breastfeeding is a feminist issue but not for the reasons you state. No one in RL would honestly confront you in the way you’ve been confronted on the other forum about your feeding decisions etc. But society can not stop pushing breast is best because some women can’t breastfeed as it is very beneficial for most babies, mothers and public health. What do you actually want people to do? Accrual out of interest did they cup feed your baby whilst you were in hosp? Your start sounds very similar to mine. Jaundiced baby no obvious problems just didn’t know how to suck for 1st week.

Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 16:31:42

Bertrand how can You not see what you’re doing? How can you be so cruel?

DailyMailareDicks Tue 23-Jan-18 16:32:27

I knew I would struggle to breast feed due to previous surgery, so I was very conscious of this throughout pregnancy. Posters in the ante-natal clinic annoyed me the most. 1 poster about the dangers of alcohol and smoking during pregnancy. 8 different posters promoting breast feeding in various different ways.

I was given support when DS was born and tried expressing, I only ever managed to express 0.5 oz so my baby would have died without formula.

Yes it is a feminist issue. I feel the need to explain my reason and that it is a 'valid'. I want to know how many women suffering from post natal depression have tried to breast feed and the pressure has triggered their depression.

JJPP123 Tue 23-Jan-18 16:35:14

I think the ratio is probably pretty high Daily. That is at least my experience from the PND support group I attended.

Bluedoglead Tue 23-Jan-18 16:35:39

Me, daily, and I attempted suicide. Worked out how much money there would be and everything. Worked out it made no difference because I wasn’t BF therefore anyone could FF.

I COULD NOT BF. and for ANYONE at all to question that and ask try harder differently is patronising and infantilising and a feminist issue.

Why don’t I deserve to be believed?

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: