Breast isn’t always best…

Feb 26 • Featured • 766 Views • 14 Comments on Breast isn’t always best…

Despite Government guidelines urging new mums to breastfeed for the first six months*, a new KidStart survey has found that just 44% of you believe breastfeeding is always best.

Over 1000 of you took part in the survey, which revealed 19% feel it’s important to put their own wellbeing first. 16% believe mums should always put their baby’s needs first, while 13% feel it’s important to research all the arguments in favour of breastfeeding and bottle feeding before making a decision. A further 8% argued that no one had the right to tell them how to feed their babies.

As my recent post on breastfeeding v bottlefeeding showed, many of you feel very strongly about being told how to feed your babies – and quite right too. But a friend of mine who gave birth recently said she was astonished to find she was the only one on the ward of 10 women who was breastfeeding her baby. Perhaps some mums still aren't getting the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed.

‘Breastfeeding is the method that has been proven to be the most beneficial time and time again,’ says LivingwithKids' GP Dr Clare Heggie. ‘Unfortunately it does not suit everyone and lots of women who try breastfeeding and had to give up for one reason or another are left feeling guilty and that they have failed. Ultimately, the decision of whether to breast or bottle feed has to be made by the mum and there is no point trying to breast feed when mum just doesn't want to do it or when breast feeding is intolerable either to Mum or baby. It is vital that mums make their own decision about feeding using all the information provided.’

*What do you think – are you surprised by the survey results?

written by Liz Jarvis

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14 Responses to Breast isn’t always best…

  1. Heather says:

    to be honest i’m happy to see that so many feel they have the right to make their own decision. I don’t go in for these arguments that one way is right and that is it. I would like to see all women being given the support to breastfeed if that is what they choose to do and at the same time support for those that choose bottle feeding. More support, less judgement really. Wouldn’t life me nice then?

  2. Karin @ Cafe Bebe says:

    I am a bit surprised at the survey results as I feel that there’s A LOT of women breastfeeding and because of the massive initiative FOR breastfeeding, I expected better results for breastfeeding. I think it’s down to the hospital experience, in part, and the type of delivery and intervention needed during labour & delivery. I was TRULY miserable in hospital when my daughter was born. It was hot, I was trying to prop my c-section self up to breastfeed a daughter and nothing was coming out. Was it the massive amount of drugs that were in our systems? Was it the traumatic emergency c-section and subsequent massive blood loss? I don’t know but all of those factors together were working against us. Education and support is one thing…a relaxing, "home-like" environment where both mother & baby are comfortable and nurtured is another. I think some of that initiative needs to go into the hospital experience and re-educating militant midwives and lactation consultants. If I had felt comfortable and not like a milking machine with midwives grabbing my boobs and making my daughter scream, I might have had a more positive experience and I could have been one of the apparent few who succeeded. Maybe the NHS should consider that?

  3. Muddling Along Mummy says:

    I think a large part of the problem is a lack of support – its all very well telling families that ‘breast is best’ but without support, even if its just cake and saying ‘yes the early days are hideous’, women will not continue Perhaps its also about expectations – breastfeeding is portrayed as being easy and natural when actually it mostly isn’t, its a skill both mother and baby needs to learn, is difficult, time consuming and takes weeks before suddenly it gets better. Perhaps we need to educate people that the first three months are going to be all consuming and incredibly tough and put in place the support they need to get through that and to have confidence that their bodies can continue to nurture their baby.

  4. muummmmeeeeee...... says:

    I think too much emphasis is put on breastfeeding and when you’re a new mum it can be quite overwhelming – you feel it’s something you should be doing and you’re somehow failing your baby if you don’t. When you’re a new mum you should go with what feels right and ignore outside pressures. I happened to love breastfeeding both my babies and it actually connected me more to them at a time when I was struggling emotionally but if it didn’t feel right, I wouldn’t have hesitated putting them on a bottle.

  5. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    I think you know my views already, Liz, but I’m going to say that I find it a struggle to understand why women feel guilty if they can’t breastfeed. What is making them feel that way. Or who? The midwife, health visitor, society. Their husband/partner perhaps? Don’t women have a choice anymore? A woman carries her unborn for 9 months, feeling guilty all that time just in case she eats the wrong thing, or succombs to a sip of wine, and then is made to feel guilty again when the child is born, just because she doesn’t want to do something that she is obviously being bullied to believe is the right thing to do. As you know, I never even attempted to breastfeed Amy. I was a)worried about the fact that my epileptic drugs would interfere with my milk, and b)it was my choice, and I chose not to breastfeed. I didn’t feel guilty at all. I raised my baby on SMA and she fed extremely well. And everyone got a turn to feed her. CJ xx

  6. Mummy Whisperer says:

    I did a pile of investigation & blogs into Breastfeeding some time back, and I found a couple of really surprising things: – There have always been women unable to BF, even when there was the community support – as there are roman baby bottles. – Plus new research suggests that it isn’t the BF’ing that is best for the baby. But the fact that a healthier pregnancy (in all ways – physical, emotional & mental), enables the body to BF, and is the actual reason why the baby will be healthier. I’m totally up for what is best for mum, as long as it comes from an informed perspective of the pro’s & con’s of each. I believe there are the SAME no of pro’s & con’s for both – it’s just that they are in different areas of life.

  7. Nat says:

    Quite surprising results. I think that here in the UK there is a really lack of BF support, I also think that there is a culture of 6 months you must now stop breastfeeding. I had my 1st child in Australia where extended breastfeeding is very normal. I BF my first for 2.2 years and I am still feeding my 20 month old son and I am pregnant with my 3rd. It’s a very personal choice, and I think that if there was better support and less stigma in our society women would be more comfortable to achieve it and for longer periods if they wanted too.

  8. digimumsni says:

    Not altogether surprised by the results and glad to see that all the comments so far have supported the woman’s choice. My first baby point blank refused to breastfeed. No amount of militant breastfeeding midwives succeeded in getting her latched on and being a newbie i sure as hell couldn’t do it. With all the pressure I expressed day and night for the first 9 weeks until I couldn’t do it anymore and moved to bottles. With my second, he latched on instantly but a week later having developed mastitis, thrush and near nipple amputation I started to express again and did so for 4 months. Not easy with a 14mth old in tow and 2 hourly expressing around the clock. Why did I do this? To have that blooming red book (don’t know if you have these elsewhere) ticked to say that I breastfed (well EBM) for at least 3 months so that I wouldn’t be frowned upon. Too much pressure on mums and agree with others not enough support.

  9. Victoria says:

    I’m really surprised. I breastfed all three of mine for about a year each and most of my friends also breastfed, at least at first. Like someone else said, I was made to feel a bit freaky for feeding after six months or so, and felt quite a strong pressure to give up at 13 months with my first, I’m sure I’d have carried on for longer if it wasn’t so unusual. With the younger two, I was happy to give up and buy some decent bras!

  10. nappyvalleygirl says:

    I’m not surprised, because breastfeeding is bloody hard for many people. I did manage to breastfeed but the early weeks were dreadfully stressful with my first (after emergency c-section)and difficult in different ways with my second, who was born at 35 weeks. I know plenty of other people who gave up because they just couldn’t do it or produce enough milk. I do think we need more support in the UK, and also perhaps more education about the difficulties before having the baby. And, in the end, to be supported whatever decision we make.

  11. Bev says:

    Oh, the guilt of a mother! Breast feeding is nature’s intended way and of course it is best for baby – but only if it works out and both mum and baby are happy. I breast fed both my children because i wanted to and – after a fraught few days – we settled into it. But and it is a big but, i was lucky. For whatever reason some mothers – and/or babies – don’t settle into breastfeeding and it doesn’t come easy, at this time the last thing mum wants or needs is pressure, she needs support to continue if it is something mum really wants to do, or assurance that it is ok not to breastfeed. Those early weeks are precious and treasured, they should be enjoyed and mum’s should be supported in whatever decision makes. Good luck new mums xx

  12. Angela says:

    You can brestfeed and still put yourself first… ie not getting up in the middle of the night to make bottles, saving money on formula and buying yourself treats instead and then also the lower risk of breast cancer (apparently according to my doctor)if you breast feed. That said my baby is now addicted to breast milk and will not drink any other kind! I wish he would take a bottle now! but breast feeding was so easy for me, but for my friends who could not because of lack of milk or infections then bottles were easier for them. I dont think one way is better than the other formulas have been designed to give the baby everything they need! I believe it is up to each mother as it is their child, the mother knows best and it varys in each case. My friend was hounded by her midwife (who had no children of her own) enough said.

  13. Angela says:

    Oh bev has a good point there some babys don’t naturally suck on, another friend of mine had to feed her baby milk from a spoon for a week he was premature and would not suck!

  14. Rachel says:

    Too often breastfeeding is yet another stick with which to beat women with. I tried breastfeeding my twins- it was horrific. One wouldn’t do it AT ALL, no matter how hard I tried- I now know it was because she was autistic. But I was made to feel it was MY FAULT. In my experience, there isn’t the correct support to help women breastfeed. But the woman is blame if it doesn’t work. My NHS authority were breast-feeding loonies who refused to even discuss how to bottle-feed. They kept the bottled-milk locked up on the ward and I had to stagger over, catheterised to get each bottle. I was only ‘allowed’ one at a time and they would hand it over silently with a look of complete disdain. Completely Farcical! So do whatever makes you and your family happy. And don’t worry about trying to be perfect.

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