The “pressure to breastfeed”
Granted, there are definitely some professionals who maintain the “just keep at it” attitude, without offering up much (if any!) practical advice to help achieve successful breastfeeding. This undoubtedly leaves women feeling under pressure, at a time when they may already be feeling distraught and frustrated with the whole process. It is this MINORITY of people which lends itself to a bad name.
Anyone worth their salt in this line of work do not work in this way and luckily there are thousands of specifically trained (mainly) women who devote themselves to helping mothers through this precious time in their lives. They will not dictate. They will work with a mother and her family, to find effective strategies to help her meet whatever feeding goals she has, whilst keeping both her and the baby safe – whether this ends up with exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, mixed feeding or weaning off the breast and introducing bottles altogether. They do, and will, work with it all.
Many also cite that the sharing of information about breastfeeding equates to pressure. Is this honestly true? Sharing evidence-based information, in a sensitive and non-judgmental way, is not pressure. It is necessary.
I believe that enabling parents to make informed decisions about how they feed their baby is surely a parents right. They have the information. They do with it what they want. In my opinion, not to have access to that information in the first place, is wrong on many levels.
Regardless of research or debates, many women simply have an instinctive mothering desire to want to give breastfeeding a go and I steadfastly believe that we all have a responsibility in society, to support them to do so.
The real irony is, the mix of some of our cultural beliefs, social media activity and the genius marketing strategies of the infant feeding industry, is only serving to pressure women into formula feeding. This is why the multi-billion dollar formula companies are laughing all the way to the bank, since the accepted view at large, is that somehow this isn’t pressure, only effective marketing and smart business. This isn’t about being against the product itself, it is simply about the underhand ways the companies go about chipping away at our confidence and changing our attitudes.
Any breastfeeding mother will say that no sooner than they started to breastfeed, the questions and comments (often meant with love) come pouring in:
“How long are you going to be able to keep that up?”
“You need some rest, let’s just give a bottle”
“Oooh teeth, I suppose you’re stopping now then”
“Why don’t you just use a bottle when you’re out?”
…..and so it goes on. The list is endless. Unfortunately, this IS pressure to formula feed. I hear it from mothers everyday and yet it isn’t talked about in the mainstream for fear of causing offence.
However, this is increasingly a one-sided point. We constantly hear about unacceptable judgment sometimes directed towards formula-feeding mothers. But, what of the judgment placed on breastfeeding mothers and the staff supporting them?
In truth, they are being increasingly marginalised, scoffed at, silenced and sweepingly called highly offensive names such as ‘breastapo’ and ‘breastfeeding nazis’. How is this even acceptable? It takes thought and guts to post a picture or a comment online, that implies you are enjoying breastfeeding and mothering in your chosen way and I believe this all to be so wrong.