Luck, Guilt and Breast Feeding

I’m a very lucky girl. Not only are my family and friends happy and in good health, not only have I had the opportunity to visit places all over the world but I met my husband just as I returned to the UK, we bought the house we wanted and we could be married where we wanted and I’m now enjoying well paid maternity leave. We also fell pregnant immediately, there were no complications and apart from mild heartburn, occasional hives and sleeping discomfort in the latter stages the pregnancy was textbook and rather enjoyable. The birth was relatively quick for a first baby, I managed to get through the contractions at home until I was 4cm dilated when I got to the hospital, and only 4 hours later Spencer had arrived, too quickly to allow me to have an epidural but not too quickly that I couldn’t have an episiotomy rather than tear. He was in good health and we could eventually go home later that same day. I’m incredibly lucky that he latched on straightaway and we’ve had no issues with breastfeeding, something I wanted to do. Spencer is now careering towards 4 months old and now I come to the guilt part of this post, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to breastfeed anymore and I feel guilty. The press is full of brelfies, bottle-feeding mothers being publicly shamed and all the miraculous benefits of breast milk. There’s no doubt that breast milk is prefect for babies, it’s what mother nature intended after all, but that by giving your baby breast milk until their three year old will make them a genius with the immune system of a Greek God I just don’t buy. I was bottle-fed and I can fight a cold much more effectively than my breastfed husband, and I know plenty of bottle-fed people who are not riddled with eczema and asthma. It seems like everyone has an opinion, only yesterday Sharon Hodgson, shadow minister for children and families, said there was a ”growing cultural obstacle” preventing working class mothers from breastfeeding their children and mothers on the likes of TOWIE and depicted in soaps should be shown breastfeeding to encourage working class mothers to follow suit; great, more pressure for those who can’t breastfeed. I had planned to breastfeed until Spencer was 6 months old and enjoy the bond between us for as long as possible, and it is lovely to have that closeness but that can also come from bottle-feeding. It comes down to some practicalities, my boobs are enormous and I have very little to wear and I want my body back, breast-feeding him can take twice as long as with a bottle, I worry he isn’t getting enough from me as he seems fuller with formula than with breast milk. I have days when I’ve simply had enough and will start the next day at giving him formula at every feed not just the one before bed, but then other days it’s so easy when he suddenly gets cranky to drop down my nursing bra and make my baby happy and I don’t want to lose this convenience anytime soon. Most mothers I’ve spoken to have some story of feeling guilty about feeding their baby, it can be pressure from family members about either using bottle or boob and neither being approved of, or of trying to persevere with breast-feeding at the insistence of midwives and health visitors to then be told by medical professionals that the child needs formula to gain a healthy weight. I know I won’t be breast-feeding Spencer when he’s 6 months old but I still don’t know when I’ll finally finish because the guilt of stopping too soon is sometimes overwhelming. I know I should just do what’s best for us and that’s what every mother should do and I will listen to my son and my own needs in the end but there’s so much pressure out there it’s hard not to be affected and feel the guilt.


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