Friday, 14 January 2011

Comment: Mum's and Personal Choice

Another day and another set of "experts" have found yet another way of causing Mum Guilt.

This time, not unusually, its Breast Feeding related, which is hardly a surprise.

Apparently, for ages and ages us Mummies have been told we should Breast Feed exclusively for the first 6 months of our babies life. This is exactly what I did with Mini. 

This was in the days when as a rookie Mummy, even in pregnancy, I read and researched every guideline almost daily (in fact it became an obsessive compulsion. Almost like my Twitter usage now but in a much more unhealthy way) and followed it to the absolute letter. And if my longed for girl needed nothing but Mummy Milk, then so be it. 

In fact, I breastfed Mini until she was 1. Even when her teeth came through. Even though I couldn't ever express so had to do all night feeds for 3 months and didn't go out for an evening, or longer than an hour in the day without her, for the whole of that year. 

I loved breastfeeding, loved the closeness, and very rarely got the hump with it. I also liked that I could eat family sized pizzas and huge helpings of Chinese take away without putting on a pound (in fact I actually think I looked at my best then- skinny of waist but massive of bosoms!).

Mini finally started having home made food bang on 6 months old. I often wondered if she was in need earlier, but no, the guidelines and the Midwife told me not to so I went along with it.

Cut to when Littlest was born, and of course he was born at 28 weeks, and hard as I tried, I had no milk. I cried, I was so upset.  So, Littlest had to have formula- most babies in SCBU do end up having this milk, and, frankly at the time there are more important things to worry about.

By then, I wasn't so obsessed on the "rules" set out by the experts. I felt disillusioned by them, as I had followed the guidelines, and he was still early and very sick. With that in mind, when Littlest came home, I decided to let him tell me what was what. And if he felt hungry, and I felt he was needing it, I would give him solids.

With Littlest, I knew- he started to be grouchy in the day (he still is if he's hungry even now), and waking up for a night feed again. By his corrected age (which is what we go by as do the medical people), he was meant to have been 4 months old. 

With the knowledge that he was hungry and it was upsetting him, I gave him, once again, home made food, mashed up. Immediately he went back to happy chappy, sleeping through.

With what is being said today from these experts, we now shouldn't Breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, but should give solids at 4 months. The scaremongering thing though, and the thing that a new rookie Mum who was as worried and easily guilted out as I once was, is the reasons they have given.

Apparently, if you don't, or haven't given solids at this point, your child could have allergies. It could have less Iron intake then they need. Finally, it may stop them having a healthy sleep pattern as Breastfed babies wake more in the night.

What a load of speculation that is. 

As I said above, I have one breast fed exclusively, and one formula fed and weaned at 4 months baby.

Who has the allergies?

Littlest- Mr Weaned at 4 months baby. Very severe allergy too- if he eats fish or peas (including chick peas), he goes into anaphylatic shock. He was the child who was woken by his hunger for food.

Mini has no allergies at all, not one. Not even hayfever. She was a great sleeper by 3 months, rarely waking in the night. She is rarely ill, I think in close to four years she has been ill 3 times. 

You know what- this isn't a post to say "You must breastfeed". Hell no.

This is a post for all you rookie Mums. All you Mums living with the "Mum Guilts". 

This is your baby. This is your call. 

If you have an expert give you the law as it stands at that point (because according to a friend of mine with more than one child, in between her eldest and youngest the information from experts had changed 3 times), nod politely, tell them you quite agree. Then if it doesn't suit you, disregard.

No one knows your child like you do. We have an intuition to our children, I truly believe that. Unless its something which could make them ill, just remember, we carried them, we brought them into the world without their help, I think we have a damn good idea what's best.

Breast or bottle? Its all good! 

Down with Mum Guilt I say!


  1. Hi, jumped here from Jeniwren's blog. When the WHO first recommended exclusive breast feeding for 6 months, it was in response to a) third world countries were the quality of food and food hygiene were very poor and b) families in western 'civilised' society who found exclusive bf to be too limitiing, and they would start to wean, literally when the baby was only 8 weeks or so old in some situations.

    Apparently this started at around the same time as the industrial revolution, when women started working in mills and factories, so it was inconvenient to have a baby who needed to be bf every two hours or so.

    I was demented when I had Mini Mint as he wouldn't latch on at all, and was positively brow beaten by my medical advisors to 'keep trying' - until he eventually ended up in hospital, severely dehydrated and with a kidney reflux (something that I am ashamed of now).

    I think the happiest families and mummies are the ones who work out themselves what needs to be done - if baby 'needs' food at four months, give it to him, don't beat yourself up about your parenting, - there's enough people out there who'll do that for you already. You're a great mum just for TRYING to do the best thing for you and yours.

    (not that you asked for my opinion... sorry.)

  2. Neither of my girls were breastfed after trying my hardest to!
    Neither of them though were weaned at 6 months as even when I did try they didn't want
    I think your right we should do what we want for our babies - we know them best!

  3. Still BFing my son at 11 months. He was onto solids by 4 months and I felt SO awful. Looking back, it's what felt right at the time. I wanted to try to get to 6 months without food but that didn't happen ;).

    With a premature baby it's that bit harder to BF. Hence why formula is fit for it's purpose in that scenario. Here they are pro-bottle feeding. My Health Visitor and midwives kept telling me I should feed my son a bottle to get a break from him and their insistence and pushiness just really irritated me.


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