Women being ‘paid’ to breastfeed?

I’m sure a lot of us by now will have come across the recent story in the news about the incentive for new mums to encourage them to breastfeed, or at least read somebody’s opinion on it. It seems the majority of my friends have relatively the same opinions on it, that they think it is a silly idea. (I’m not planning to get into a debate on breastfeeding here, I am purely talking about this scheme).

Personally, I agree to a huge extent. 

I think that if a woman really wants to breastfeed (or at least try) then she will do it anyway without a monetary incentive, as we have been doing since the beginning of time. Also, as I had problems breastfeeding little man, it immediately occurred to me, what about the women who do what to breastfeed, but can’t, or struggle (for any number of reasons)? It doesn’t seem ‘fair’ that they don’t get the encouragement they actually need.

Which brings me to the point, surely these funds would be better spent on training health visitors, peer supporters etc. and providing support for those who actually do want to breastfeed, not for financial gain, but for them and their child? I feel that I didn’t have this support when I was struggling and really actually wanted and needed it. Also, what if one of these mothers in the scheme is struggling but so obviously wants to carry on just so they can get their vouchers at the end of it – will there be more support instantly provided to her?

I do understand that this scheme is being rolled out in deprived areas of the country with the lowest breastfeeding rates in order to try and bring them up which is a good thing, but as I said above this could be done in other ways for those that really want to do it, especially in the less deprived parts of the country. I personally don’t think it will work in the long term, with many many women still feeling it is ‘unfair’ or silly for one reason or another. 

Does it really make me a bad Mum?

Recently certain things have been playing on my mind again – mainly “you know what” which I am always feeling at least a bit guilty about and extremely sensitive sometimes. Some days I am fine, and it hardly bothers me, but then I start seeing things about it everywhere and it just starts playing on my mind. Some may say I am overly sensitive about it, or should just get a grip, but that’s just me, I am a sensitive person and things go round and round in my head and I blame myself, take me or leave me, really. 

Which leads me on to the question of am I really a bad mother, for not breastfeeding, and other (controversial) things regarding how I may bring the little man up.

Am I really a bad Mum?…

…for not breastfeeding?

Now I know the answer here should be no, and everyone else would tell me no, like I would tell other people no, but I tell myself that I am all the time! Which really frustrates me as in my head I know I’m not, but my heart thinks different. I did give it a go, it didn’t work out for us. At least I can say I tried. The little guy is doing extremely well, he’s gone from the 50th centile at birth, to the 75th, to the 91st which he is steadily travelling along now. In 6 months he’s only had 2 colds, which I think is good going, who says he wouldn’t have had them even if I did breastfeed him? The main thing is, he is getting fed, and that should be the most important thing, not where it is coming from. Yes, we all know breast is best, but the best thing I can do is to not let my baby starve. I’m not exactly poisoning him, am I? (Though sometimes it bloody well seems like it…)

for co-sleeping?

We did this quite a bit when the little man was very young, because he just would not settle on his own. That feeling of comfort, being near your baby, and knowing my baby is getting much needed sleep, is comforting to me. I do know the risks, I knew the risks before he was born. I will admit, I wasn’t totally set on it, and didn’t think it would be something I would ever do, but I love it now. He sleeps in his cot at night, but sometimes I just want to go and pick him up and bring him to bed with us as he just looks so cute, but mainly because I love our snuggles! The main reason I won’t bring him in with both us though is that I’m worried hubby will roll over and squish him! It is something we do every morning now, when he has had his first bottle, we go back to bed and snuggle for an hour or two, and it is just delightful waking up right next to him with a big smile for me. And me, I’m usually hanging off the edge of the bed as I instinctively move when I’m asleep to make sure he has plenty of room! 

…for using controlled crying? 

We had problems (and still have, during the day, but that will be tackled when we return from holiday) with the little man not going to sleep by himself. He would just want to be rocked, and then when he was put down, he would wake up. It was getting a bit silly as it would be incredibly late when we sat down to eat, as it would take a long time and a fair few attempts before he was successfully rocked, asleep, put down, and stayed asleep. Now, I wouldn’t say we used CC in its entirety. The first night we decided to try it, I was in hysterics as I just couldn’t listen to him crying being away from him. So on the second night I ‘camped out’ next to his bed, and held his hand and stroked his face. Yes, there were still a lot of tears from both of us, but the time it took him to get to sleep got shorter as the nights went on. Now, we put him is his cot, and instead of crying he usually either shouts or chatters away to himself for 5 minutes or so, and then just drops off. I will say I did hate hearing him cry, and did feel like a bad mum at the time for doing it, but we had tried other things with no success. Would I say it was worth it? Part of me, yes, as I now know he can go to sleep by himself if he wants to, but I suppose there is a part that still feels guilty. 

If we all parented the same, how would we learn? What would we discuss? The same things, and have the same opinions on everything. Which would make the world a boring place. As they say, all babies are different. So are parents. 

What if?

Recently I’ve been thinking about a lot of “what if’s” surrounding my breastfeeding guilt. This is one of the things that has led to my PND I think. 

What if I had found a breastfeeding support group before little man’s arrival? I would probably have been armed with all the information I needed to succeed.

What if I had more skin to skin time straight after he was born? He was born onto my tummy and we had cuddles, but I was in such a daze from the gas & air, and from them struggling with my bit of retained placenta and me panicking, that before I realised, he had been taken away to be dressed. And then before I had him back, they were stitching me up and I was in a panic then, I just had to watch hubby holding him. Maybe with that extra skin to skin straight away, he would have rooted and found my boob more easily.

What if there was more support on the postnatal ward? Though this was beyond my control, but I found there wasn’t enough support for them to spend time with me helping, even the breastfeeding peers, they were only on the ward for a couple of hours a day, and there just wasn’t enough to spend quality time with everyone. 

What if I hadn’t given into formula? I expressed for the first 24 hours, but he was starving, I was exhausted, and I just gave in too easily. Would I still be breastfeeding now? 

That’s the biggest what if.

I failed. I couldn’t provide the best for my baby, and I gave in. 

Maybe next time. 

Breastfeeding guilt

Breastfeeding guilt. Something which a lot of women suffer from. I’m one of them right now. 

I managed 24 hours of breastfeeding with little man. And in my head, that wasn’t even ‘proper’ breastfeeding. I had to express for him, because I couldn’t get him to latch on. We tried & tried & tried; with breastfeeding support workers and the midwives, but I just couldn’t do it. I blame myself because I think I could have tried harder. I feel I really did try though. 

I felt so guilty at the switch to formula, because it is drummed into you how much better breastfeeding is for your baby, and how you SHOULD do it. Yes, I know this, but it isn’t possible for everyone. And telling them afterwards that they should have tried harder, or that you are upset that they didn’t, just makes them feel a whole lot worse. And it can last for a long time. A friend of mine still has guilt 6 months later because she had a lot of this from people when she stopped and switched to formula at 6 weeks. Though she should be proud of herself, as she persevered for that long. 

I know formula isn’t the best for my baby (though, it isn’t all that bad, it is as the name suggests, formulated especially for babies), but we were both stressed with the breastfeeding at the time. We were both in tears, him because he was so hungry, and me because I couldn’t satisfy his hunger, and hearing him crying because of that was extremely distressing and upsetting. Now I’m guessing people that were sad I didn’t try harder would rather me let my baby go hungry? Well, I sure as heck wasn’t going to do that. The first bottle he had, he guzzled down, so it was obviously the case. 

Now I’m still feeling that guilt, but, my baby isn’t going hungry, he is in fact thriving. He has gained nearly 3 lbs since he was born just over 5 weeks ago. He’s a proper little milk monster!