Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Breastfeeding is NOT always best and bribery will not change my mind!!!

A subject that has raised almost as much controversy as penisbeekergate  (funny really when you think that's where this all started).

In case you haven't seen the news story today  there is a new scheme being trialled in which mums will receive £200 of high street vouchers if they breastfeed their baby.

The pilot scheme involves 130 mums.  if they breastfeed their baby for 2 days they get £40 of shopping vouchers, continue for 10 days they get another £40....manage 6 weeks that's another £40.  If mummy has preserved for 3 months she will be rewarded with another £40 and finally £40 will be given at the 6 month mark.

There is no mention as to whether expressing milk counts as breastfeeding in this scheme, I am assuming it doesn't for the purpose of this blog post.

 This scheme makes my blood boil.  I am all for encouraging mums to breastfeed but bribery that's where I draw the line.    I am aware of all the 'nutritional' value and 'bonding' experiences that breastfeeding gives but what happened to the world where mums could make a decision and NOT be made to feel like a second rate bad mother.

I had no intentions of breastfeeding Ben.  
  • I didn't want a child who would become dependant on me for his milk... what happened if something happened to me?
  • daddy wanted to play a big part in feeding his child and why shouldn't he?  If I was sole breastfeeding he'd not get this early bonding experience. 
  • i had (and still have) no intentions of 'getting em out' in a public place.
  • I like my sleep.... why shouldn't daddy have to take a share of the night feeds?
let me just clarify I have absolutely nothing against people who breastfeed.  I have so much respect for you and the choice you have made ...... it's just not for me.

My midwife when I was pregnant with Ben was in the pro-breastfeeding club ...... I sware she was on commission.   We were writing my birth plan and she said "you will be breastfeeding him when he's born won't you?!".   "No" I replied, stating I couldn't think of anything I would like to do least in the world after giving birth.  I explained I had the bottles, the steriliser and even a tub of milk all ready.  The look she gave me was one of disgust.  She looked at me as if I was something she had trodden in with a "we'll see shall we!".   she continued to pressure me into breastfeeding as the weeks went on until I eventually said I would just to shut her up.

And so Ben was born, as I held him in my arms the midwife told me to breastfeed him, I'd not been to any classes, I'd not read up on it.  I didn't want to do it - it was that simple but rather then face another argument (lets face it who does after labour), he stopped crying (yay).  The midwife walked over and said "see he's happy" and wandered off.  This was the only time anyone ever checked my breastfeeding 'technique'.

I fought to discharge myself from hospital that day.  There was no chance I was staying in overnight, I got my way and took Ben home.
He woke in the night, I fed him.  He cried - I cuddled and fed him.   He didn't wake me up as much as I thought a newborn would.  He was my first child tho, what's right for one baby is not necessarily right for another.  When he was awake he still seemed dozy.

The midwife (not my normal one) came for a followup visit the following day and asked me about his doziness, how much milk was he taking etc.  I explained I didn't know as he was breastfeeding.  This is when she checked my 'technique' the summary - I was doing it all wrong.  I had, in effect, starved my newborn baby for 24 hours.  She was such a nice, sensitive and caring midwife compared to the one I'd seen for the last 9 months. She was more than happy to spend as long as I wanted teaching me how to feed Ben.  I said "can't I just open the formula?" and she even offered to go and make it for me.  There was no questioning and no pressure, most of all I felt like a human being.
I did try and persevere a little bit so Ben got some nutrition - I expressed as much colostrum as I could and gave him these additional feeds alongside his formula.
...........and Ben ..... is now 5 years old and thriving.   He is about as far from clingy as you can imagine.  

I know a friend who has just gone through the most nightmare few weeks as she tried to get her breastfed baby to take a bottle as she had to go back to work.  baby refused anything to do with a bottle (even from daddy) and she was getting more and more stressed over how to handle it.
I know i wouldn't/ couldn't have coped going through this.  Going back to work and leaving your new baby is hard enough without all the added pressure of having to watch them scream and get distraught because you won't give them the one thing they have relied on you for for the last 9 months.

Fast forward 2 and a half years and meet Noah.  After the last experience I was even less determined not to breastfeed, I refused to be bullied this time.  I set out to find myself a different midwife and was really lucky to get someone who respected me and didn't try and pressure me into anything.  I had an awful pregnancy (but that's another tale) and when it came to packing my hospital bag I even packed formula, and sterilised bottles.   
Noah was born (again this was not a simple experience for me, I will blog it one day) and before the midwife could even ask if I was breastfeeding i told her there was a bottle and carton of milk in my bag if she could decant it for me.
 ........ she laughed.  Then went to the fridge and got me a tiny bottle (of the formula I requested) and advised I can use as much of their stock as I liked while there.

There was no pressure, at no point was I treated like a failure and I was much happier in myself.  Noah took to a bottle like a duck to water and, when daddy eventually made it to the hospital to see his son, he could simply take over the feed so he didn't miss any quality time.

This time round I didn't express anything, did I feel guilty ... no.  No harm had come to Ben because he didn't get breastmilk for the first 6 months of his life and Noah certainly wasn't about to suffer any lasting damage. ........ 2 years on ....... Noah is a lovely, funny active little boy with an appetite to put an elephant to shame.

So yes, I agree there is nutritional value in breastmilk and if you can and want to feed your child it's a fantastic start to their life.
yes, I agree that midwives should be encouraging breastfeeding, I have absolutely no problems with them talking to mums about all the options and making them aware of the benefits of breastfeeding but please DO NOT force it down their throats (so to speak).  

Just because a mother chooses not to breastfeed her child she is NOT a failure and should NOT be treated as one.  This initiative is basically arguing this point.  

There will be parents out there who take up the initiative because they need the money.  Think of how many nappies £200 will buy you from Asda.  How many of these mothers will decide they don't like breastfeeding, get stressed with worry over a child who isn't thriving but yet continue to breastfeed because they have accounted for this initiative in their budgeting and so are relying on these vouchers.
How many mothers who choose not to (or can't ) breastfeed their child will feel they are now at a disadvantage because they can't claim this £200?

What will happen if a woman on this 'initative' needs to choose between stopping breastfeeding (perhaps because she needs to take a certain medication) and loosing her vouchers?

So at the end of the day I still believe this bribery will only be accepted by people who will be breastfeeding anyway.  No amount of money would ever make me breastfeed another child if I were to have one after the experience I have been through and I would be very angry to think my friend (now on her 5th breastfed child) will be receiving £200 of vouchers for doing something that comes naturally to her and that she enjoys.
....... what next an additional allowance on your child benefit if you choose to use washable nappies?
Just my view (and I'm still very angry so I hope it makes sense), would be interested to hear yours...............


  1. I agree with you 100% here lovely. Well written post! I am seeing a lot of posts like this, but funnily enough not a lot supporting the idea.

    Thanks for linking it up to my post

    Laura x x x

  2. I agree with you 100% I was going to bf with my first, to be honest mainly because I am tight (how expensive is formula!!) and lazy (all that sterilising seemed like hard work!) but it didn't come naturally and I and my son did not enjoy it - so bottles it was, and it was fine, in fact more than fine and now he is 4 and is just fine!

    2nd baby I kind of wanted to BF as we had so little money and formula was going to be a problem but honestly that was the only reason, if there had been an incentive like that I'd have felt even worse when I had to use bottles (kind of had to - I gave breastfeeding a half hearted attempt in case baby really took to it, but he didn't and that was fine. )