I’m standing up for breastfeeding mothers – and giving them permission to stop!
Now let me be clear, I’m not telling anyone how to feed their baby, either when they are born or when they are older.
In fact I am doing the total opposite and promoting the right as a parent to choose what you want for your child.
In the past there has been anger across the country when ignorant folk have asked breastfeeding mothers to leave the premises while doing the terrible act of feeding their child.
But just as frustrating – but not so widely spoken about – is when people try to bully mothers into breastfeeding or to keep it going after they decide the time is right for them to stop.
With both of my children, when I have mentioned to health visitors during baby weigh-ins that I was switching from boob to bottle for my return to work, I have been met with a ‘oh, you know you don’t have to stop don’t you? You could keep a night feed or a morning feed which would be better than nothing, or express milk during the day’.
Yes I do know I don’t have to give up. I want to.
Now I am a strong person and happy to smile and then when I get home, do what I want. But I know it is not the same for everyone.
At my baby group (where as a mum-of-two I seem to regarded as an oracle!) I have met many mums who have found it very difficult to do the same. And watched one mum left feeling guilty after she asked for advice about the switch after nine months of feeding.
Totally ludicrous, and I told her so.
I also met another mum who continued to struggle when person after person did nothing but give her advice about keeping going.
It was only when she saw a new health visitor who said to her it was okay to stop that she actually felt she could – she felt as though she needed someone’s permission.
Obviously there are fantastic health professionals out there and lots of help and advice when you need it. And there are parents out there who do some amazingly stupid things.
But too much advice and opinion can be just as toxic as no help, because they worry about their babies when there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes mums really do know best!