So here’s something from today’s news agenda that is bound to make women feel great. Yet more pressure heaped on unwitting new mums to breastfeed because it “could” – note that word, could – when used in news it generally means “we don’t know whether it actually will or not – “make dramatic difference to nation’s health” and if you’re feeling particularly altruistic as well, you COULD “save the NHS £40m a year”!
Hurrah! Let’s all get lactating.
What none of these headlines ever bother to go into is how bloody difficult breastfeeding is, and how much of a villain you’ll end up feeling if you can’t actually do it. I never knew this either, until it happened to me.
I’ve just spent a year writing Birth, Boobs and Bad Advice, a book about mine and other women’s battles with breastfeeding – not the sort of book I ever imagined myself writing, believe me, – but when I found myself in hospital with a hungry newborn and no breast milk worth writing home about, I may as well have put a red cross on the door of my ward and handed myself over to social services.
Within two days of giving birth I’d been told that I’d “ruined” my baby’s stomach lining and was on a “slippery slope” (to what, I’m not sure) purely because I made the seemingly controversial decision to give my son some formula when he returned from a hasty trip to Intensive Care because he hadn’t had enough to eat.
Just recently on Facebook a friend of a friend kindly explained to me that what I had done was the equivalent of giving a child mouldy apples instead of freshly squeezed apple juice. Wow, thanks for clarifying, not that I asked. But not to worry, she assured me after sharing that pearl of wisdom, she wasn’t being judgemental. Well that was a relief.
The book’s coming out in about 3 weeks time so please get in touch if you’d like a cheerful email reminder nearer the time, or you’d like to share your own story of breastfeeding horrors here on this blog. Also I’m happy to debate the issue with those who disagree that breast is not always the only option but if you come across as a complete troll you’ll probably end up in the virtual bin and I might take the piss out of you for good measure. Your call.
Just be clear, I am NOT anti-breastfeeding. If it works for you and your baby, that is awesome. What I am is anti-bullying, anti-ignorance and pro-choice.