On World Breastfeeding Week, to the Mum who couldn’t meet her breastfeeding goals, who stumbled early on, I see you.
This is a week that can be really hard, and really painful. It’s incredibly difficult to watch others celebrate something you desperately wanted for yourself.
Spud is three this month and yet still the sight of a breastfeeding mother and child brings with it joy (well done you, it’s so hard and you’re doing it!) and a pang of regret, pain and jealously (why wasn’t I good enough? Should I have tried just that little bit longer?)
And those feelings are VALID, I see you. I would even say that those feelings of pain, jealousy, loss and grief are one of the most important parts of World Breastfeeding Week.
In fact, those aren’t the only feelings I feel, I feel ANGRY.
I’m angry that as a society and within our healthcare provision we spend time and money on telling expectant mothers about how important breastfeeding is, how it’s best. But what we don’t do is provide support to mothers struggling to do it.
We are told it’s natural and wonderful, and it is. But what we should be doing is setting expectations that it’s HARD, and that as natural as it might be, not doing it doesn’t make you a bad mother, you haven’t failed, you are enough.
Healthcare professionals aren’t even allowed to support you in the decision either, anything other than breastfeeding would be seen as being “pro formula”. The result of this was me sat in the hospital with my 6-week old son being told by my Dr that he was “flaccid” and what was I going to do about it. Me? What was I going to do? I was here because I didn’t have the answers, I wanted help and support, and what I got was judgement and no answers or support.
The correct answer was “give him formula, he needs something! You’ve tried your best but it’s time to stop being stubborn and give him what he needs.”
But she wasn’t allowed to help me with that decision and I was stubborn. I left with no advice and the decision very much on my hormonal and confused shoulders.
I went home, I bought some formula and I cried buckets in another room while my partner fed him. It was a week before I could bring myself to feed him formula myself, the guilt was so strong, I had been conditioned to see this as wrong, unnatural, a failure.
I hate to think anyone else was made to feel as awful as I did that day, but I know I’m not alone. And that’s exactly why this week is important. Whether you feed your baby for an hour, a week, a month, a year or longer you deserve support. Support to get it right and emotional support if you don’t quite make it.
I know it hurts this week when you didn’t get the support that you deserved, but that’s why we need to share the stories of those that didn’t quite make it, who tried their very best and are still good enough but who’s journeys ends before they had begun, so no other mother ever has to go through the pain.
I see you x