Breastfeeding uncovered documentary...Seeing it from both sides.  |  Blog

Last night there was a very well publicised programme on channel 4 made by Dispatches called “Breastfeeding uncovered”. I purposefully didn’t watch this programme as, even though I am currently breastfeeding, I have some very unpopular views when it comes to programmes like this. 

This programme was billed as the following- 

“New mum Kate Quilton sets out to find out why Britain has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world and whether more support is needed. She meets scientists at London's Imperial College who have measured the presence of hundreds of vital living components in breast milk that make it so much better for babies than formula, and also explores how cuts in public health funding have led to breastfeeding support services closing down. She also breastfeeds her baby in public to find out why mothers feel discouraged and shamed.” 

When I read this I knew that this documentary wasn’t going to be for me. This may surprise you as if you have read my blog for a while then you will know that I’m a Confident Feeding ambassador for Lansinoh and I’m a huge advocate for public breastfeeding. What you may not know if that I am actually even more passionate about women being confident and supported in which every feeding journey they choose. Reading the bio of this programme made me feel like it was going to bash formula feeding mums and that is one think that really rubs me up the wrong way! All ways of feeding your baby can be hard! Women who choose to formula feed usually do so because they feel they have to. Baby has weight gain issues or latching problems and sometimes it is just too much mentally for the mother to fight to get their baby to breastfeed. I’ve been there! I know how awfully hard it is and I also know the gut renching guilt that comes with giving your baby formula. You feel a failure, feel like everyone is judging you and you feel like you’re a bad mum when in fact you are the complete opposite. Deciding to formula feed is such a hard choice and I am yet to find a woman who makes the decision lightly. These women need support too! They need help learning how to formula feed. They need help with dealing with the mental carnage that comes when you choose to do what society deems as “not best for your baby” as all we are told for 9 months during pregnancy is “breast is best”. It may be scientifically “better” but sometimes us Mums have to look at the bigger picture and make decisions that are best for us and baby. Formula feeding, breastfeeding feeding... it’s all bloody hard and we all need support!!!! 

Before having Smidge I had only ever formula fed. Pickle had some issues when he was a baby and therefore he went onto formula. This time round however I have been able to breastfeed so I can see this debate from both sides and I know first had that both need support. Formula feeding Pickle was hard! I felt like I’d failed and like I was letting him down as I wasn’t breastfeeding but mentally I just couldn’t battle as he was poorly right after birth. The doctors wanted to know how much he’d been fed in ounces after every feed because they would then checked his blood sugars. This, coupled with the threat of a lumber puncture and him being taken away from me twice a day for half an hour to have IV antibiotics meant that I was not in a good head space. I just wanted my baby with me and wanted to help the doctors as much as possible so therefore we formula fed. This wasn’t easy! Pickle had horrendous silent reflux so we went through numerous different bottles and milks trying to find what worked for him. The first 2 months of his life was totally draining...feeding whilst screaming, constipation which caused more screaming, stress and fear from me as to why my baby was struggling so much... it was NOT the easy way out and I needed support but as there are no “bottle feeding support groups” I had to muddle through on my own. 

This time I have been Combi feeding Smidge. I have managed to get him on the boob but also express and formula feed him to top him up as he is so hungry. This hasn’t been without its challenges. I struggled at first to get him to latch on and it actually took 2 weeks until he’d feed from me. I found it hard to maintain my milk supply. I felt guilt about having to top him up and blamed myself for not making enough milk. The biggest difference this time round however was that I had support! Health visitors asked me about feeding and gave me advise about latches. I went to breastfeeding support groups where we discussed milk boosting ideas and shared our struggles. Where was this kind of support 4 years ago when I was formula feeding Pickle? Just because society thought I was taking the “easy way out” didn’t mean that I didn’t need support! If anything I needed it more!!! 

And that is why I didn’t watch the documentary last night. I knew it was going to be filled with calls for more support for breastfeeding mums and I disagree with that. It isn’t just breastfeeding mums that need support... it’s ALL Mums! That is why I want to see feeding support groups where all mothers can go no matter how they feed their babies and they can all get support. After all, we are all trying to do the same thing and that is to do the best we can. So... I urge you to talk to your local children’s centres, start making some noise locally about making a change because unless you start the conversation it will never change. 

Yes breastfeeding mums need support but so do all other mums! The change will only happen if we make it! 

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