Milk time – Why do mums shame each other so much?

I’m really lucky that breastfeeding worked out for me in the end. It was something I had envisioned doing when I fell pregnant and I am glad that I was able to however, it didn’t come without it’s difficulties. While I would consider myself to be pro breastfeeding, I have no problem with formula and women that decide to formula feed for whatever reason. If you’re feeding your baby then that’s the most important thing.

When my little lady was only 5 days old we had to go back into hospital. She had lost more than the 10% of her weight and this caused me no end of guilt. I’d thought I was doing well at breastfeeding both but all of a sudden I was blaming myself for the fact that she wasn’t growing like she should be. Obviously this was all my fault! Looking back I can see how ridiculous that was but I still struggled with guilt for weeks.

While we were in hospital we bought some formula to act as ‘just in case’ but I didn’t want to use it. I don’t know why I felt so strongly about it though! Maybe my mum telling me how I had to ‘avoid formula for at least the first month’ or the fact that I felt like I should be able to provide for them didn’t help but either way, I should have known better.

By 4am I was tired. I was drained. I was full of self loathing and disgust so what difference would using formula make? Turns out it just brought me a great sense of relief. I had been feeding two children and trying to express milk between to act as a top up and it still wasn’t enough. 5 days might not seem like a long time to try but it was all I managed before putting my own needs first.

After that my life became much easier. I would feed/express as much as possible and during the night my partner would look after the twins so that I could get a few hours kip and it made all the difference! They would have expressed milk if there was any but formula was always on hand if I hadn’t managed to express any that day. By 4 months we had managed to get a pretty good routine going and by about 8 months I was able to stop using formula completely. It was a long time but I honestly feel like using formula was the best thing for all of us, however I’m glad I’m back to full breast now!

I actually think that after a certain point breastfeeding is easier in a lot of ways. My two are 15 months and don’t sleep through still. I feed them up to 4 times a night (although it’s usually once or twice – thankfully) and I can’t imagine having to deal with making up bottles in this time too!

Even though I am a strong advocate of breastfeeding I have still had problems with breastfeeding mothers in the past. Largely, I have found that because I have twins people assume I didn’t breastfeed (and that I would automatically have a Section) and use this as an entry question so they can get one up on me. It’s odd how much mums feel the need to beat each other in any way possible. I have been asked if I breastfeed in the past and when I answer yes they look almost disappointed. So long as you’re happy and your babies are happy with what they’re getting then I don’t care! Just enjoy the precious time we have with them.

My worst experience for feeling shamed was when my partner and I went to McDonalds. I know, not exactly prime feeding for me but it was a special treat. A woman came in with her friend and they both had children. She sat down and started breastfeeding her child and then looked at me, looked at the twins and smirked. She had no way of knowing whether I breastfed or not (and in all fairness I have no idea whether she was actually judging me or not) but I felt self conscious as a result of that.

Often you’ll see stories about people that have complained when seeing people breastfeeding in public. I have only done it a couple of times, however if my little one needed feeding there is nothing that would stop me. My advice to people when they see someone breastfeeding in public is ‘would you be offended if they were bottle feeding?’ if the answer is yes then you have issue with where the child is, if the answer is no then you need to keep your opinion to yourself. Mothers, whether they breast or bottle feed do not need the added stress of dealing with being shamed so pipe down and let her get on with it.

So we need to stop kicking up a fuss and trying to get one over each other. We all parent differently and we all need to enjoy our kids while they’re young. So long as babies are happy and being fed then all is well with the world. We’re all in this together mummies, so embrace each other, stick by each other and help each other! We all need it from time to time.

Rachel
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