On July 6, 2019. By Bunmi Sofola
RECENTLY, more than ever before, there has been a step up propaganda on the advantages of breast-milk for babies. If, for a reason, you can’t breastfeed your baby, the-poor mite might he left with a future so disadvantaged you would wish rent-abreast-milk options are readily available on the market.
According to an expert rooting for women unable to breast feed: “You’re exhausted, your new baby is screaming and you’re desperately trying to breastfeed; after all, you’ve been told throughout your entire pregnancy that ‘breast is best.’ But your baby isn’t gaining weight. It’s agony every time you try to feed, and all the experts have time to do is tell you to ‘keep at it’ which only makes you feel even moire guilty.
“Nobody’s denying that breast-feeding is best for your baby. Indeed, mothers’ rights to breast-feed their babies whenever they need to cannot be overemphasised. But some experts are currently concerned that ‘breast-feeding bullies’ might be doing moire harm than good.
A couple of years ago, a renowned British paediatrician, Dr. Ganesh Supramaniam, claimed that: ‘The militant attitude of breast feeding or nothing is causing hundreds of babies to be readmitted to hospitals suffering from dehydration.” In a new book: What to Expect When You’re Breast Feeding… And What if you can’t? author Clare Byam-Cook, a qualified nurse and midwife who now runs a private practice helping mothers to breast feed, observed that: “Women are told they have to breast-feed, and then are sent home and left to get on with it. No one tells them it’s a skill that has to be learnt. Currently, more than 70 per cent of mothers breast feed when their baby is born. But only 25 per cent are still breast-feeding when the child is six months old. And, 92 per cent of mothers have given their six months baby milk other than breast milk.”
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One of Clare’s patients, who said she was still angry about her treatment by breast feeding bullies, said: “I had an emergency Caesarean with my first child. My daughter was taken away from me when she was born because she wasn’t breathing, and given a bottle of formula. She looked content and I was exhausted and in pain, so I decided not to breast feed. The midwives disapproved, so I was determined to breast feed my next child. Unfortunately, he was also born by caesarean. I tried really hard, but my nipples were so sore and cracked that after a couple of days, they were bleeding. I told a midwife that I was bleeding and in pain. She said:’Just carry on. The blood won’t hurt your baby.’
“I was very stressed and in tears every time I tried to feed. Eventually, I rang my own midwife who told me: ‘Your son needs you to be happy more than he needs your breast milk.’ That was the best advice I was given and I put him on formula.” Another of Claire’s case-study, Siobhan, said she came under intense pressure to breast feed when she was expecting her third child. “Every time I had an appointment, they’d ask me if I was going to breast feed. I told them I wasn’t. They refused to put that on my notes—they just put a question mark I was called, a ‘silly woman’ and one midwife even asked: “Does your husband know what you’ve decided?’ Everyone says breast is best and if you can do it, that’s great. But women who can’t shouldn’t be made to feel bad. All my children are fit, healthy and bright. I defy anyone to spot any difference between them…!
Another of Clare’s case-study observed that: “With my first child, the nurse tried to get him to latch on a couple of times, then gave up and left me to it. 1 couldn’t get the hang of it, so I put him on infant formula. Then I tried with my second child. My mum wanted me to do it, and even when I told the nurses in the maternity ward my intention, they all became my new best friends. One said: ‘It’s the only way. But once I took my son home, things were very different. Releasing milk was very painful. My breasts would sting every time I tried to feed. It was as if I was being cut. I looked everywhere for information. I even rang a support line but the woman was on the other end of the phone—she couldn’t see what I was doing, she told me to get some cream which didn’t help. Again, I gave up, and I felt as if I’d disappointed everyone. I wanted to do the best for my kids but it was agony. Everyone tells you how wonderful breast feeding is, but nobody tells you how much it can hurt. And, no one has the time to help you.”
Clare urges you to take heart if you’ve encountered the breast-feeding bullies, and not feel guilty. “It is not true that every woman can breast feed,’ she says. “You might not produce enough milk. Your baby might have certain conditions that make it difficult, such as a floppy larynx. Or you might have awkwardly-shaped nipples or breasts. And, some babies just don’t want to suck. If someone gives you advice and it doesn’t work, that means it’s bad advice! It’s not your fault. You should do whatever feels right for you and your baby.”
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