Putting down the “Breast is best” high horse.

boobie

Last week I read a post on Selfish Mother about breastfeeding. It was very tongue in cheek and satirical (at least, that’s how I took it) and the general point was that, breastfeed or formula feed, what is important is that mum and baby are happy and healthy.

Within minutes of it being shared, Selfish Mother‘s Facebook page received a flood of “OMG I’m so sick of anti-breastfeeding posts” and “I hate this kind of thing, it stops the sharing of information and knowledge. At the end of the day it’s simply not true that it doesn’t matter, breast is best” and my personal favourite, “I’m totally supportive of choice but just because she didn’t have the dedication and determination to continue on her breastfeeding journey doesn’t mean I’m not doing what is best. I am, breastfeeding will always be better than formula. No judgements if you choose not to but that is fact.”

Fuck off. No really, fuck. Off.

I am an avid supporter of breastfeeding, I am breastfeeding my own child until she is ready to stop. There is no but here, I’m not a but-er, I’m just an avid supporter of breastfeeding, while in addition to being an avid support of women’s rights and with that their ability to choose.

This kind of thing is the reason that women like Katie Hopkins and men like Nigel Farage, with their anti breastfeeding rhetoric, gleen so much support. Get out of my bra and away from my nipples ladies and gents, it is 100% someone’s choice to breastfeed and, I hate to break you’re bubble, but it isn’t always a case of breast is best. Had I breastfed Reuben, he wouldn’t be here. He would have starved to death. I had so much milk with Toby and the same with Edith, that I feel I would to able feed the masses and still have some left over, so don’t make me squirt you when you come at me with the “I’m not judging you” bullshit. In the same way that every pregnancy is different and every human being is different, every breastfeeding experience is different.

When something is written that tries to support both sides and end the debate there is always someone who comes out and shouts “but it’s the best” – well that’s a mighty fine high horse you’re on sweetheart but it’s got a faulty leg and needs shooting.

The whole debate is pointless. Nutritionally we know that breast milk is THE best thing – packed with more or less everything a person could need, certainly everything a baby could need. Unless, of course, that mum is a drug addict. I’m sorry, breast is best-ers, I can’t hear you, what were you shouting at the top of your lungs? Is THAT mother’s breast best? Of course not. It is a unique circumstance where the breast milk would be detrimental to the child. So breast isn’t ALWAYS best. In the majority of cases, of course it is, but not always.

It can’t be.

Is breast milk superior to formula? No doubt about it. Is breastfeeding a magical and wonderful thing for a woman to do? Absolutely. Is it worth postnatal depression, a starving baby and a whole host of medical complications if the baby has to be hospitalised because the mother simply didn’t have enough or couldn’t get the baby to latch? Never. It just isn’t. What I find beyond ironic is that whenever I see something that is along the lines of “who cares how baby is fed, fed is best” it’s always met with comments like “I’m not patting you on the back for basic parenting – feeding your child is a basic thing, do the better option and breastfeed” – actually seen that one, in a “gentle parenting” group – you know the group where parent’s believe in “gentle” parenting but are flat out assholes if you DON’T agree with their every point.

What is wrong with saying do it your way? Why is it that when it comes to the breastfeeding versus formula argument there is always this pressure, this aggression towards women who choose not to breastfeed? I have a whole host of friend’s who didn’t breastfeed, for a variety of reasons: they didn’t like it, it was too painful and they didn’t want to be in pain and not enjoy those first few weeks, they didn’t want to because they don’t like the thought, they wanted to go back to work early. Those are perfectly valid reasons for not feeding. It’s not compulsory, and by trying to make it so, we encourage this image of “nipple nazis”. We live in a society that is rich enough and progressive enough to have the ability to choose how to feed a baby.

So let women choose and for god’s sake, get a hobby that doesn’t involve scouring mummy blogs, social network groups to look for any woman that is apparently “stifling the sharing of information” by saying I don’t care how other people feed their baby.

H x

51 Comments

  1. July 11, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    What an amazing Post! So many people are ready to tell you what THEY think you should be doing rather than keeping their nose out your business.

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

  2. April 20, 2016 / 11:16 am

    I believe every step of parenthood is a choice and there is always someone there ready to tell you you’re doing it wrong. Personally I do breastfeed, but when I was taken into hospital due to a severe DVT I was put on a load of drugs which meant I couldn’t feed. Devastating as it wasn’t my choice. However my husband was able to look after our son by giving him formula. I kept pumping (really challenging) and after almost 2 weeks of no breastfeeding I could return to it,but still needed to mix feed until my supply was back up. I am grateful that we have access to formula, for me it helped on our journey. We all need to support each other and give freedom of choice.

    • Harriet April 21, 2016 / 1:58 pm

      Exactly Alice, and thats what I really want to make clear – as a breastfeeding mum myself, I want to support and normalise breastfeeding, just not to the detriment of those who can’t, are struggling or choose not to do it. Its about respecting each other’s right to choose. H x

  3. April 15, 2016 / 8:08 pm

    “Get out of my bra and away from my nipples” 😆 just the best line! This is why I love your blog! x

  4. April 15, 2016 / 6:46 pm

    As always lovely, a great post on a pain in the arse subject! I breastfed Toby for 4 months and brought myself so close to a pit of despair that the only thing that saved me was stopping. I did so to save my sanity and to be the best mither I could be to a baby who was suffering. You know what some dickhead told me? “Breastfeeding wasn’t the problem, you should have expressed if you needed a break that badly” Aaaand block!xx

  5. April 12, 2016 / 4:19 pm

    I am simply astounded that this is a thing still. I mean come on, we all know our boobs are primarily there to feed our babies. If the boobs don’t work as they should, baby can’t latch or any other reason why the booby thing isn’t going to work for mum or baby then so be it. Who cares how baby is fed, just feed it and let the mums get on with what they have to do. People just have to moan about things don’t they. Well I’ll just moan about them moaning about utter nonsense. Big respect to all mummies and daddies out there, those who feed breast milk and those who don’t. I really don’t care, just enjoy these wonderful months 🙂

    • Harriet April 13, 2016 / 10:53 am

      Absolutely Lynette, it’s vitally important that a mother and child are just allowed to feed however works for them!

  6. April 11, 2016 / 11:39 pm

    I couldn’t help but laugh! Nipple Nazi’s is a term I have most often used when I have been bullied about choosing not to breast feed.
    I have never given my reasons for my choice, I simply state ‘I never wanted to’ when it is more complex and long winded.
    I considered with my 3rd, unfortunately having Fibro meant I needed medication, so after that there was no consideration.
    A mother should choose how to feed their bundle of poopiness without prejudice. If you want to boob feed – go for it. Bottle feed – Go for it.
    In my case, breast feeding Little T would have caused him a lot of harm. All these chemicals, he would be high as a kite.
    I chose not to with K and R, that was my decision not to. No other reason.
    I don’t care about how babies are fed, as long as they are.
    I have felt immense guilt on Mum and baby groups when they are in there basically saying their baby is starving from lack of boob juice, Then I felt immense hatred towards the nipple nazis telling her to stave her kid because breast is best. FUCK OFF! Not in this case clearly.
    That made me decide I am not fit for mum groups so I left all.

    Oh another thing that got me… ‘My baby is going blue, what should I do’ ‘My kid is having a fit, help!’ ‘What is this purple rash?’… GET OFF FUCKING FACEBOOK AND CALL 999/GO SEE YOUR GP!!!!
    Seriously, get the fuck off the internet and never return.
    Every person in the group turns into a Doctor. Er no loves… You are not medically trained just because your kids had/may have had/looks like it

    Sorry for the take over. Nice to see a refreshing look on it other than DO THIS DO THAT (Both boob and bottle nazis are equally as bad)

    We should be supporting, not calling social services (Yes, this has happened a lot) or belittling poor women that are worried, anxious or upset.

  7. April 11, 2016 / 7:41 pm

    I think every woman should have the freedom to make an informed decision about breast-feeding as with all other things in her life. CAn’t believe the squabbling that goes on over how Baby is fed. Frankly appalling!

  8. April 11, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    I breastfed all my children but I will always support a mothers right to choose how to feed her baby. With LM I was told I might not be able to breastfeed because of her having down syndrome and she had to be tube feed for the first 3 weeks of life and then went on to bottles with my expressed milk as she couldn’t latch on to my nipple properly until she was 5 weeks old but I remember get glared at in a coffee shop by a group of breastfeeding mothers because I was giving my daughter a bottle. They judged me without even asking or knowing the struggle we gone through just to get the tube removed.

    That is why I will always say Fed is Best!

  9. April 10, 2016 / 11:28 pm

    Ah we know them as the Tit Police around here. I’m so glad to be over that stage in my life of people questioning how and why I am feeding my babies a particular way. I’m definitely in the camp of ‘do what is best for you and your family’. Great post!

  10. ‘Nipple Nazis’ – Ooh that one made me giggle!
    I agree with you completely.
    I wish more than anything else in the world that I’d tried harder to breastfeed Lily longer than those first couple of months but then I’m reminded that she was born with low glucose levels and on that very first day we had to give her formula or risk her going to NICU. I continued to breastfeed but it was NEVER enough for her and we were both not thriving.
    Breast isn’t always best, no two experiences are the same, this shouldn’t be an issue, choice is everything
    X X

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 9:45 pm

      I couldn’t agree more – choice is everything and every time that is threatened, it brings us further away from being able to help the women that really want it. 🙂 H x

  11. April 10, 2016 / 9:17 pm

    I think it’s up to each mother, whether she chooses to breastfeed or not and if yes, for how long. My mother went back to work straight after giving birth, so a mix of formula and breastfeeding was the only option.

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      Exactly Nadine-Johanna, and it’s entirely your mother’s choice to go back to work that soon as well, though she would be judged for that. As mother’s we need to support each other and uplift each other despite our differences.

  12. April 10, 2016 / 8:55 pm

    Well said! I feed my little girl formula s F the worst I have had is being told I was violating her human rights by not breastfeeding. It’s maddening. Choice is best. Xx

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 9:52 pm

      Are you kidding Laura?!!! Violating human rights???! That is madness, and put bluntly, the forcing of a women to utilise a part of her body in a way that she doesn’t choose to is a violation of her human rights, which means it would be a violation of YOUR human rights to force you to breastfeed, in the same way it would be a violation of your human rights to force anything unapproved on your body. That is an appalling thing for some one to say to you, I’m shocked! The only way you could violate your child’s rights is if you chose not to feed them AT ALL.

  13. April 10, 2016 / 8:25 pm

    This debate really gets me cross. A mother should be able to feed her baby as she chooses. End of. I bottle fed and had lots of negative comments about that! ‘Oh (surprised face) you’re not feeding him / her yourself then?’ Er No. And it is any of your business because????….. Live and let live 🙂 Kaz x

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 9:56 pm

      Oh I had that with Reuben too Kaz – you are nicer than me I used to say “No, he trots down to the local pub and ordered fish and chips himself… Ohhhhh you meant am I not bottle feeding him? Because I’m sure as shit feeding him myself by prepping the bottles, holding the bottle for him and getting up at 2am to give him said bottle. It’s obscene that people feel they have a right to comment. If I want to talk to a mother about her feeding methods (when she invites the topic) then I ask are you breastfeeding – both methods of feeding are TOTALLY valid. Grr..

  14. April 10, 2016 / 8:05 pm

    It really does seem crazy that the word ‘breastfeeding’ seems to provoke such strong emotions and there seems to be no right way about it!
    I think it’s a decision that a woman needs to make herself, considering what is best for her family, – and everyone else needs to accept that – I don’t get why pregnancy and having children means that you are fodder for public criticism.
    I have breastfed my daughter, who is slowly weaning herself now, she is 2 now – and I can say that as they get older the tide turns and you get more and more judge for breastfeeding – ‘are you STILL breastfeeding’ or ‘you’re going to still be feeding her when she is at school’ and I am not even going to get started on the pressure from healthcare professionals to stop breastfeeding once your child hits about 1 year (as it would just turn in to a rant!)
    It really feels like you can’t win!

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 10:01 pm

      Oh I’m right there with you Jenni. When I had Edith and my husband and I were supposed to go to watch an event with some friends but she wouldn’t take a bottle so I stayed and he went (another contentious matter haha!). We were going with couple friends who don’t have kids – they later invited us to an event in September and the woman said to me, she’ll be well off you by then won’t she, I mean she’ll be 9 months… when do you stop doing it? About 3-6 months?”

      Needless to say she got a surprise when I pointed out that the more I learnt the more I as sure E wouldn’t be done by then and that the world average for natural weaning (which is the most common breastfeeding practice in the world, it is only infrequently seen in UK and USA) is actually 4 years old. Yup. 4. years. old. I’m personally not sure my comfort levels will stretch that far, I would much prefer she was weaning by 2, but we will come to the bridge when we cross it.

  15. April 10, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Why won’t women just support other women,honestly I wish everyone would leave the cruelty and gossip at high school! x

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 7:34 pm

      Exactly – don’t you just wish they would!?

  16. April 10, 2016 / 9:25 am

    Brilliant post! You hit the nail right on the head here. So often I hear people say “I’m not judging BUT…” I BF my first and it was amazing. She took to it so easily and then self weaned at 11 months. With my second I tried but couldn’t. For two weeks I perservered feeling like a total failure because “breast is best” I started doubting myself, thinking I didn’t love my baby enough, thatI couldn’t do the most basic thing of feeding her, that I was a bad Mum, that she was better off without me….It was a horrible time and I stuck to BF because everyone told me it was best. After the baby was hospitalised dye to extreme weightloss, a lovely nurse took me aside and said “I’m not meant to do this but there is no shame in switching to formula. You are doing more harm by trying to breastfeed. Breast isn’t always best, love. Fed is best.” I sobbed my heart out in relief and switched immediately. I felt so relieved but alsoscared that the pressure to BF was so intense. As you put it so eloquently “fuck off”. (Oh and it was tongue tie that prevented Baby from feeding).

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 7:36 pm

      Thank you so much Tori! It’s such a sad state of affairs. There isn’t effort support for women who want to breastfeed, but I’m convinced if we took the effort that goes into the pressuring and judgement of those who don’t WANT to feed (which should be their choice) then we could offer better support and up breastfeeding rates by a mile. Hx

  17. April 9, 2016 / 10:42 pm

    This is a subject i get annoyed about as my experience trying went all wrong and I had no support and then people write rubbish about what is right and wrong. I think there should be support for mums who choose to BF and everyone else can get lost.

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 7:39 pm

      I’m a bit confused by your comment Angela… did you think I wasn’t being supportive of those that want to breastfeed? My point is essentially if we took the pressure away from bullying mother’s who don’t want to breastfeed or decide they don’t like breastfeeding and are going to move on to formula, and applied it to providing better support for mother’s who, like yourself, have everything go wrong, then we could really make a difference and our breastfeeding rates would skyrocket. Women who want to and need help don’t get it because we’re too busy judging and pressuring women who don’t. Which is their choice and right… they in no way need to “get lost” if they don’t want to feed.

  18. April 9, 2016 / 8:32 pm

    I personally feel that at the end of the day it’s an individual choice. Some prefer to breast feed others not but as long as the child and mother are happy then that’s all that matters.

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 7:41 pm

      Amen to that Melanie – it’s a choice, pure and simple.

  19. Natasha
    April 9, 2016 / 7:57 pm

    There are way too many passive aggressive mothers that think absolutely anyone can breastfeed without issues. There are loads of reasons people don’t and I feel like people get way to into other mothers’ business!

    • Harriet April 10, 2016 / 7:42 pm

      Couldn’t agree more – how you feed your baby affects me in no way whatsoever so why do I have a right to comment on it… I don’t… it’s not hard is it haha! H x

  20. April 9, 2016 / 5:56 pm

    I think it is completely down to the individual circumstances as some mothers can’t breastfeed due to various reasons and some babies don’t really take to breastfeeding x

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:02 pm

      Totally agree Rhian – and it’s a personal choice too 🙂 H x

  21. April 9, 2016 / 4:01 pm

    Great post. I decided not to breastfeed my two girls but I have decided to breastfeed my third who is due in July. I had a bunch of women who breastfeed saying I’ve harmed my girls by giving them formula.. saying I am a bad mum and so on. It’s so wrong to how mothers can be so nasty in how you decide to feed your child.

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:04 pm

      Oh Beth what a load of bollocks! I can hand on heart say that Reuben is the healthier of my three and he was exclusively bottle fed for medical reasons. Does that mean that breastfeeding is responsible for the other two not being as healthy? Of course not – it’s just an individuals body because we’re all different. Best of luck this time – if you want any advice or an ear to burn, hit my email 🙂 hx

  22. April 9, 2016 / 1:39 pm

    I don’t see why people have to argue about everything. Just do or parent as you wish. I tend to ignore the opinions x

  23. April 9, 2016 / 1:12 pm

    Your intro says it all for me, as long as mum and baby are happy, then who cares and who has a right to judge x

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:05 pm

      100% Rachel – who the hell cares as long as it’s all going well for mum and hub! H x

  24. April 9, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    Well said! The whole breast vs bottle is always a contentious debate, and I dare say that the majority of parents have an opinion, but there’s nothing worse than seeking out arguments over it!

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:05 pm

      Thank you Danny – You are so right and I’m convinced that is what the majority of keyboard warriors do. H x

  25. April 9, 2016 / 11:47 am

    Bloody brilliant darlin’ … I bloody love you !!! Haha I know we’re only blogging buddies but honestly we are so on the same page. You know how horrible my experiences were and how I still get upset about it – reading things like this always makes me feel better. I’m gonna share share share xx

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      Ahhh thank you my wonderful lady! I know what you had to put up with and how upsetting it was for you, NO ONE on either side should face judgement. I’ve had the comment about E not feeding anymore – it’s just a case of get out of my bra and focus on your own nipples. sheesh! H x

  26. April 9, 2016 / 11:17 am

    I don’t know why anyone thinks this kind of thing is anyone else’s business! The world would be a much nicer place if everyone just lived and let live.

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      Couldn’t agree more Becca – focus on your own bubba and how YOU feed, not others! H x

  27. April 9, 2016 / 8:32 am

    I’m so torn on this issue to be honest which is why I haven’t blogged about it at all. I’m a breastfeeding peer supporter and think that it is great that there is more awareness of breastfeeding today. I hate all the opposition to Jamie Oliver’s comments and the championing of Adele’s. I personally don’t care how anyone feeds their baby and definitely agree that breast is not always best but those circumstances are actually quite rare if the person gets the right help and support. I know lots of people who didn’t breastfeed because they just didn’t want to, they thought it was weird (or bizarrely sexual) and I think all this negativity criticising those supporting breastfeeding is doing nothing to help breastfeeding numbers which is sad.

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:13 pm

      I can agree that the criticism of Jamie Oliver was sad – he got it because, let’s face it, he is a pain in the arse and doesn’t have boobs. It was going to rub people up the wrong way. That being said, I think it’s important to try and big each other up either way. I am still feeding E at 14, nearly 15, months and I have no intention of stopping. I feel like any friend who wants to talk about breastfeeding would get a plethora of support from me, I’m happy to hold your hand, happy to tell you that, yes, it will hurt at first but if you can persevere its soooooo worth it. But only if you choose to. This pressure and demand of women whose hormones are crackers and bodies are battered in some cases, is just so wrong. I too had friends like you who didn’t want to feed (sexual I can’t understand and that argument does annoy me – it’s not intentional judgement but I struggle with that) because they don’t like it and that’s cool to me, provided they don’t try to put me down for doing it or put friends/family off.

  28. April 9, 2016 / 8:18 am

    Well said!! I know 100% breast is best health wise for your baby but somethings it’s not the best option. My third daughter struggled to gain weight and we had to stop despite all my efforts. We just couldn’t continue with a screaming, hungry baby. It later transpired that she had a tongue tie.

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:16 pm

      Thanks Jodie – I think that you are right. In the tongue tie case, you could have had help and continued with that, and it’s a shame that the midwives/health visitors didn’t pick it up for you, but the point I’m trying to make is that HAD they discovered it before you moved on to formula it would be your choice whether or not you persevered and corrected it. There should be no pressure, no guilt and certainly no judgement if you said, okey dokey, we’re leaving it there and cracking on with formula. It’s YOUR choice. x

  29. April 9, 2016 / 7:19 am

    It’s quite amazing that what women choose to do with their bodies can be such a heated topic of discussion. It’s no one’s business except for hers!

    • Harriet April 9, 2016 / 7:17 pm

      Perfect way to put it… funny how it’s not really interesting to anyone what men do huh? x

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