In a conversation this week a friend of mine lowered her voice to a hushed "secretive" whisper to admit that she didn't really like breastfeeding. Shock horror! Are you allowed to say things like that?! Of course you bloody well are... but my friend, a successful, confident, 30-something mother of two in the company of friends in her own home felt like she couldn't say it outloud.
It's such an emotive issue I even wrote a disclaimer paragraph to go here...
But I deleted it because I shouldn't have to apologise for writing some of the things that I sometimes feel!
Why is it ok to say the good bits but not ok to say the bad bits?
Top tip: this is way more fun to read if you imagine SuperNanny is reading it. (She pronounces acceptable "asseptable")
Acceptable: Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world.
Unacceptable: Breastfeeding is the most boring thing in the world.
Acceptable: It's so convenient because you can breastfeed in a park, on a train, on the beach, in a supermarket.
Unacceptable: Breastfeeding on benches or the floor or in the plastic chairs at toddler groups is bloody uncomfortable and gives you neck ache. And cold boob..
Acceptable: Breastfeeding is the healthiest start for your baby.
Unacceptable: Yeah but it's not really THAT much healthier. Formula fed babies are fine too.
Acceptable: It strengthens a baby's immune system.
Unacceptable: They will still have a river of snot running from their nose for 80% of their childhood. It is not a get out of illness free card.
Acceptable: One of the many benefits is that you don't have to wash or sterilise bottles.
Unacceptable: The main reason you're sticking with it is your hatred of washing up.
Acceptable: You can get some really lovely breastfeeding clothes and underwear.
Unacceptable: You have to pay double the price of normal clothes and underwear. You'll never feel as good as you do in an underwired bra and even the sexiest of (extortionate) breastfeeding outfits lose their appeal with two soggy boob patches.
Acceptable: You will get thin because breastfeeding burns loads of calories.
Unacceptable: You will get fat because breastfeeding is exhausting and draining and will make you crave cake and chocolate.
Acceptable: It's great for bonding with your baby.
Unacceptable: Actually, bonding happens when you have time to look at, talk to and play with your baby, not when its face is buried under your jumper.
Acceptable: Women should feel empowered to breastfeed wherever they like. They shouldn't have to hide.
Unacceptable: Sometimes it's not 'society' but the woman who wants a bit of privacy. I never use a shawl or build a tent around myself to feed. I'm very much an out and proud breastfeeder, but sometimes even I feel a bit weird if a stranger strikes up a convo if I'm starting or finishing a feed. .
Acceptable: Breastfeeding is calming and relaxing for the woman and releases oxytocin, the 'love' hormone.
Unacceptable: It can also make you feel trapped and claustrophobic and like your sole purpose for existing is someone else's nourishment and comfort.
So if you sometimes feel like a frumpy dairy cow who smells of gone off milk and you long for a strong G&T and a bra without windows, don't despair! You are not alone.
Not loving breastfeeding doesn't make you a bad person... Putting other Mums down because of the type of milk they feed their baby makes you a bad person!
Maybe if we were allowed to be brutally honest about breastfeeding fewer women would give up when it gets hard. Maybe we should prepare mothers that it can be hard, frustrating, unpleasant and draining rather than promising an easy, natural, hazy state of bliss that will guarantee you a perfect, healthy baby.
|Get lost Gisele!!!|
If you're breastfeeding and struggling, don't hide away or give up! Talk to someone else who is going through the same thing.
You could even email or tweet me if you don't know anyone else!