BY RHIANNA (GUEST WRITER)
Hi everyone, first of all I want to thank that mama club for allowing me to write this article and thank you to all of the fellow mamas who are reading this. The aims of all of the articles I write are to help other mama’s feel supported, represented and a little less alone.
A little about me before we get into my article. My name is Rhianna & I am currently training to be a children and families social worker. I started up my own online community to encourage discussions on taboo motherhood topics such as the importance of sexual health during pregnancy and share different motherhood journeys.
Now that you know a little more about me & my background we will get into the nitty gritty! For years breast feeding has been promoted by health care professionals as it provides your baby with the best start in life and we can understand why, as it can help with things such as bonding and building up your baby’s immune system. However, I believe it is important, like with all decisions we make in life that we are able to make informed choices, breastfeeding should be no exception to this and this requires being given all of the information surrounding breast feeding, including the bad. So, in this article, I want to address a few of the reasons why some women may decide not to breastfeed and why it is vital that we support them.
Why do some women say no to breastfeeding?
While I was pregnant with my first child, I was determined that I wanted to breastfeed. I went out and I bought nursing bras, milk storage bags, a breast pump and I even attending breast feeding classes! However, after my quite traumatic birth the thought of having to breastfeed my son seemed like the worst thing ever, I was absolutely exhausted from losing over 1 litre of blood and in excruciating pain from my c section. Once I was able to finally leave hospital and take my son home, I very quickly developed severe post-partum depression and anxiety, which made caring for my new born extremely difficult. Luckily because I had chosen to bottle feed my mom was able to help with night feeds which really helped with my recovery. A traumatic birth or mental health issues are just two of the reasons that women may chose not to breastfeed. Others include:
- Loss of body autonomy – Some women who breastfeed may feel that they have lost ownership of their bodies. This loss of bodily autonomy can affect their self-esteem, sex life, and body image which can really impact their decision to continue breastfeeding.
- Medical issues – Some women may not be able to breast feed due to health conditions that can cause a low milk supply, or a mom might worry about the medications that she has to take and how it will affect her baby. Women who have had breast cancer may not be able to breastfeed after radiation therapy or a mastectomy. There are also some medical issues, such as HIV, when breastfeeding is not recommended.
- Inability to have breaks – breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, ties a woman to her baby. It can make having that all important alone time practically impossible and in turn heighten feelings of low mood, mom rage and anxiety.
- Lack of support – The task of feeding a baby can fall entirely to the person breastfeeding, especially if the baby will not take a bottle or another caregiver does not bottle-feed the baby. If a partner or another caregiver does not offer help with other tasks, such as household chores, changing nappies, preparing bottles, or getting up at night with the baby, breastfeeding can be exhausting. Again, this leaves the person breastfeeding with little or no time to themselves.
Why is it important to support women who choose not to breastfeed?
One of the best ways you can help a new parent is by supporting their decisions, whether they decide to breastfeed or bottle feed, use jarred food or homemade or if they want to go back to work or stay at home. As a new parent, all you want is to have a happy and healthy baby, you will constantly doubt if the choices you are making are right and if you will be a good parent, you will feel guilty about absolutely everything. We are so harsh on ourselves as parents, the last thing we need is other people judging us as well. Whether these people are family, friends or even health care professionals. It is important that as a mom choosing not to breastfeed her child, as a community we do not make her feel guilty for taking into account her own needs, as a happy and content mom will almost definitely make for a happy and contented baby.