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I am not a member of the Breastapo

I’ve been really saddened over the last few days to have people assume that, because I breastfeed, because I trained as a mother supporter and because I have set up our local breastfeeding support group, I am some kind of militant breastfeed or else type.

And even worse to discover that they haven’t shared their difficulties and worries with me because they assumed I would judge and dictate what they should do and potentially make them feel guilty because of their decision. I can’t even start to express how much that saddens me.
Because how wrong could they be.
Breastfeeding for me hasn’t been easy – with both Toddlergirl and Babygirl I got thrush, got exhausted and then had to find a way to combine with working which meant a rather too close relationship with my breast pump.
I came close to giving up many, many times but for me with Toddlergirl, breastfeeding became my totem, the thing I could do for her that nobody else could – the thing that wiped out my confused feelings about her, her preference for Mr Muddling and my confusion over my own identity and whether I could become a good mother. I also had incredible support – my own mother was there to sit with me, helping me with problems, understanding that it was tough and sharing her experiences (and feeding me cake regularly), Mr Muddling spent hours caring for us and helping us and I had friends to share the experience with.
But it was hard – really hard and having gone through that I wouldn’t blame anyone else for making the decision to not push themselves down a path into pain, misery and potentially post natal depression.
And with Babygirl I have to say that I’m really not enjoying feeding her – we haven’t yet got to that place where it works for both of us and frequently it doesn’t work – its painful, it makes my skin crawl sometimes and I hate that she vomits back what seems to be most of what I give her (there’s gratitude for you!). There are moments when I’m incredibly close to giving up the breastfeeding, to saying that this isn’t working for me and I need a break. But I’m not at the stage yet where I feel that moving onto formula is right for us and I’m very very glad of the support I have that help me continue and I know without that support I could easily have given up many times.
This is why I’m so saddened, I know that breastfeeding isn’t easy, I know that it isn’t as simple as a baby and a boob and there you go, I know that without really good support moving onto formula is the option that works best – yes, formula is in many ways a great thing, without it babies would die and yes, without it, many women would have been driven beyond a point they should ever go trying to feed their babies. Yes in an ideal world all women (and families because it is about more than just the woman) would have lots of support, lots of help and unlimited cake and it would all be easy but it isn’t. And you know, most people who support breastfeeding know that – we’re not here to judge, instead we’re here to talk to if you need us, to help if we can and to share our experiences in the hope that they will perhaps help other people.
Surely a happy mother = a happy family and that’s what we should be aiming for, not setting women at each other, creating additional mother guilt and ensuring women don’t seek out the support they need for fear of being judged ?

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18 comments to I am not a member of the Breastapo

  • Tracey-Jane Hughes

    >You are so good to have written about this. So many women have so many problems and no support that what you have done/do is fantastic.

    I had a relatively easy time with my two, but I see so many women who go through so much pain to do what they think is right for themselves and their families. I believe that's what we need to support – what's right for each family group.

  • Josie @Sleep is for the Weak

    >Excellent post. As someone to whom breastfeeding is obviously important I hate the thought that other people might think I would judge them or be insupportive of their choices. I too found it very hard at times and have many friends for whom formula feeding was the right choice for them. Mutual support and empathy is always more important than high and mighty principles.

    On a more personal note I'm sorry to hear that you are struggling and hope that you can find a way through. It is good to know you have so much support and I hope that I can be in that number xxx

  • Emma @notsuchayummymummy

    >This is a wonderful post. I adored breastfeeding and did have an ideal experience. However, that doesn't mean I believe everyone can and must do it. I had a rare experience and have met many mums who have had a tough time.

    No one should be judged on how they feed their child. Both breastfed and formula fed babies are happy and settled. Breast may be best for some people, but not everyone.

    Support is key and women who berate others for not breastfeeding are, in my opinion, just awful. We should support others in our position whatever they decide. Motherhood is difficult enough without turning on each other.

    I think you're very brave and I love your honesty. Good luck to you and Babygirl whatever you decide to do. xxx

  • Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy

    >Good post. And you are so right, it should all be about support and not about creating more guilt etc. Did you see Really Rachel wrote a post recently about difficulties of breast feeding that generated quite a few comments:

    and Mummy Do That has a really interesting take on the debate and push to get mothers breast feeding again which is well worth reading too.


  • angelsandurchinsblog

    >You're on fire this week – second time I've been moved to comment. Amen to everyone chilling out about the whole breastfeeding thing. I found it agonisingly painful for the first five weeks with each child, then got sorted and carried on till seven months or so. All well and good, but hated the 'mother earth' comments. It's a bit like 'natural' childbirth, something I never managed. You get them out and feed as best as you can; it's such a shame certain organisations and mothers pile on the guilt.

  • Tara@Sticky Fingers

    >Here here
    I too really struggled the second time around. I got mastitis, I had a HUNGRY baby and I was sore sore sore. But I stuck with it because it was what I wanted to do. No one pressurised me and no one was there making me feel guilty if I gave up.
    You are so right that the most important thing is to have a happy, confident mum. And if they need help or advice or a shoulder then it is important to have someone there to offer those things, not stand over you tut tutting because you have 'failed'.

    I'm afraid those stereotypes are out there because there are women like that, who preach and who look down on anyone who doesn't do what they did.
    Shame on them, I say x

  • bumblingalong

    >As someone that didn't breastfeed (and you can find out why on Really Rachel's post above – maybe one day I'll blog about it), I really appreciate what you're saying. It can be really easy for people to get defensive and end up pushing away the support they could have had from people like you.

    Well done, and I'm really sorry that people you could have helped have made such judgements about you. It might be, however, that it was just a side effect of the emotional and hormonal turmoil that comes with all of this, and had they had a sensible head, not a baby head, on, they would have realised that you wouldn't have judged. Remember, whether they should or shouldn't. they probably already feel guilty.

    So please don't take it personally – and please don't let it stop you reaching out to others who are having difficulty.

    Hope feeding with Babygirl becomes the experience you'd like soon.

  • More than Just a Mother

    >Your attitude is wonderful. I love that you recognise that this 'most natural thing' isn't always the easiest thing to learn. Keep up the good work – we all appreciate it!

  • Muddling Along Mummy

    >Thank you for your comments – its crazy that so many women have difficulties and yet so few people are told that it might not go well and here's how to find help (around here there is literally no support apart from my little group)

    BiB – off to have a read of those – I got behind on my googlereader and somehow missed them first time around …

  • Aly

    >Hi There! As you know I'm also a peer supporter too.So much to comment on so I'm going to write my own post after the weekend as it's the breastfeeding workshops this weekend.You can always DM on Twitter if you wish to have a natter via e-mail.Supporters need support too.

  • Mwa

    >Very nice post. I felt the same about breastfeeding, although I seem to have had less difficult a time. I wouldn't judge other women for not doing it, though. That would be awful. I didn't like being judged for breastfeeding, though. Some people treated me like a bit of a freak.

  • Muddling Along Mummy

    >Mwa – that's an interesting point you raise, that actually breastfeeding can make you feel like a freak based on other people's reactions. I had that from about 9 months, being asked when I was going to stop & how it was no longer a benefit for her …

  • solveig

    >This is a great post and has really made me think about my own experience of breastfeeding, which I may also post about sometime.

    Thanks for this.

    S x

  • It's a Mummys Life

    >I'm a bit late on this on MAM, but hope you'll read this. I bf my first (she's 2 and 2 months now), and tried bfing my second (she's 7 months). With Eliza it was tough but easy at the same time. I had PND but found the bf helped with bonding and all that. With Tilly it simply didn't work and I was starting to get depressed again. I found it almost impossible to bf with Eliza constantly trying to pull her off me. It was all just such a stressful hideous time, and it's supposed to be so wonderful. I gave up. There I said it. I had some support, but don't have a mum and was on my own alot. I wish I had done it for longer (6 weeks is all i managed) but once I took the decision life became easier for all of us. I wish I'd 'known' you then though. Would have helped I think x

  • Muddling Along Mummy

    >Solveig – thank you, look forward to reading that post

    It's a Mummys Life – I think we underestimate just how difficult it is to do it with 2, how to combine the needs of 1 with the other and the inability to do both things at once.

    You have no reason to feel bad – you did the right thing stopping yourself spiralling into depression and the bigger impact that would have had on your family. You did the right thing for you and for them. I wish I'd known you then so I could have told you that it isn't about being a mummy martyr, its about doing what is right for YOU and your family then and there ((hugs))

  • mummy limited

    >1st time commenter and a bit late in the day but agree with so much of what has been said. It is such a shame that as women we so often judge rather than support. I do wonder if it's an expectation thing, Breast feeders think that formula feeders are judging and vice versa so we all try and justify our decisions and retreat into each camp. Such a shame.

    I admire anyone that has bf baby number 2. I can't imagine what that must be like as you have to be fair to both kiddies.

    MAM- Am a little relieved that am not the only one who gets the stopping questions at 8/9 months. This is where I am now and have been quite shocked at how quickly I've gone from normal to weird in some people's eyes.

  • Rowan

    >When I had son #2 at Kings College Hospital, I was appalled to discover that they'd changed the rules so that formula milk wasn't going to be made freely available to new mothers who had to stay on the ward for a few days – they would have to bring their own in. Although there was every kind of support for those who wanted to breastfeed, they were going out of their way to inconvenience those of us who weren't able to breastfeed or chose not to. As it turned out, son #2 had to spend 3 weeks in neonatal because of low blood sugar and the nurses up there were much less judgemental than the midwives and let me do whatever worked for me; a v v meagre amount of expressed milk but mostly formula.

  • Perfectly Happy Mum

    >Fab post thank you for submitting it to A Mother'Secrets! x

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