I could write a thousand posts on “mum guilt” and I probably will, as it is something that I feel most days. Ranging from feeling guilty that I have left her nappy on for an hour or two too long, to having a pang of guilt because I haven’t looked at her in five minutes to take in how beautiful she is. Mum guilt is everywhere. It particularly comes into play when it comes to feeding.
I have been exclusively breastfeeding for four months now and planned to do so until Elbie was at least six months old. This for me was not due to the pressures put on by society and all of the midwife advice we were constantly been given but because as parents this was what we decided we wanted to do, or so we thought. I am a nurse and I do strongly believe that breast is best, that is what we have boobs for right? Although when I was pregnant I said that when the time came we would try to breastfeed but if for some reason we couldn’t then so be it, we had tried. I also felt very strongly and still do, that as a woman it is our right to decide which way to feed our babies and no one should ever make us feel guilty about our choices. After all we are all just trying to do the best for our little munchkins. So why did I have a massive surge of mum guilt when Eddie and I discussed the idea of combination feeding?! It’s not like we had decided to start starving our child or force feed her poison, we were toying with the idea of giving her a different source of nutrient. If I’m honest I’m not sure why I feel guilty. Is it solely because I feel like I have broken a promise of feeding until at least six months or is it because of other pressures put on by society? Most likely though it is a bit of both.
I recently read a couple of articles that were published in the Guardian about the UK having the lowest breast feeding rates in the world. With figures published in the Lancet showing that just 0.5% of British children are breastfed until the age of 12 months compared to 98% of Scandinavian countries. That is a massive difference! They went on to discuss that some of the possible reasons for this is that although we are told breast is best there is actually little out there to support women to breastfeed. The public are also not keen on seeing women breast feed in public which to me is completely absurd. I have to say if anyone tried to tell me not to breastfeed in public they will wish that they have never said anything at all. I feel very strongly about being able to feed your baby wherever they need feeding but that is for another post. We live in Brighton so I think we are slightly shielded to the rest of the country as we are lucky enough to live in a very open minded city but I think it is actually the opposite here, you might get a funny look if you weren’t breastfeeding. Along with the reasons above there is also the added pressures of trying to form a routine (we all know about that) and to feed at certain times of the day which is difficult when breastfeeding. There are a multitude of reasons why women decide to not breastfeed their babies or combination feed and no which way is right or wrong.
With all of this in mind and my nagging mum guilt I brought up the topic with a few of my mummy friends who all said without doubt that I was being ridiculous and should do whatever was best for us a family. Of course I already knew this and probably would have still gone ahead anyway but a part of me needed approval from my peers. Silly I know. We have now started to introduce the odd bottle of formula here and there for Elbie and my guilt has subsided because I know she is a healthy happy baby getting all the right stuff that she needs to grow up to be a super strong big human. I havent discussed the reasons why we wanted to start combination feeding so in my next post I will explain this.
Pressures around feeding are so strong even when you think you are resistant to it but at the end of the day as long as my baby is healthy that is all that matters. So say good bye to mum guilt, for now anyway.