As a mother, a new mum or an expecting mum, were all aware of how breastfeeding is the most natural choice in the world, that breast is best for your child and gives them the best start in life. Thats the message we receive loud and clear right from our early midwife appointments, and I agree to an extent, its a natural thing to do. But for me I just couldnt do it, I dont really know why, but its a choice I made right from the start and that decision has haunted me ever since.
Its been reported that breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of Postnatal depression by 50% down to the feel good hormone that is produced when your body is producing milk. It was widely reported again about all the benefits, but yet the reports only mildly touch on the other issue that is faced with these results. What about the women who cant? According to the same report those women are more likely to develop post natal depression because of the feelings and pressure surrounding it.
When I was pregnant with Baby, I was advised right from the start that breastfeeding was the best choice for my baby. It was discussed in 90% of my appointments, even though right from the start I advised my midwife it wasnt something I wanted to do. I had some complications during my pregnancy, and there was a chance my baby could have arrived earlier than planned. A midwife actually told me in one of my appointments that I was denying my baby the best start in life.
But what if I hadnt have been so sure on my decision to not breastfeed? What if I caved to the insane amount of pressure because I believed that the midwife was right, I was being a bad mum already and my baby wasnt even born? What if I would have attempted to go against every grain in my body and try breastfeeding, only to not be comfortable, or in control, or even able to do it?
Say I even wanted to breastfeed, and I was one of the many women who try and for one reason or another the breastfeeding just doesnt happen? What happens then?
I know from my friends experiences of breastfeeding how bad it can make you feel if it isnt working. How the whole situation can make you feel like a failure, and still a health visitor will encourage you to keep on going.
Feelings of failure, feeling like a bad mum, can all be starting points of baby blues and Postnatal depression. The feeling is like treading water in a deep ocean and all your trying to do is keep your head above water.
I know, because there are days when I have felt like that, and I have admitted that at times I have suffered from the baby blues.
Its not the answer for every case of Postnatal depression, but again I wonder why no one speaks out for the women who cant or choose not to breastfeed? We are a mere mention in a minority that are more likely to suffer, a statistic, and its not fair.
Im sure everyone of us who chose not to breastfeed, or indeed tried to, would whole heartedly agree that of course breastfeeding is the most natural choice, the best choice, so I ask why so much pressure?
Perhaps the statistics of breastfeeding and the association with Postnatal depression would be different if the pressure wasnt applied to every new mum. Every mum wants to do the best for their children, its an instinct, its natural, but to be a good mum we have to be happy and content with ourselves. If the idea has already been unconsciously planted that our choices arent necessarily the best that cant be good.
I dont blame the breastfeeding pressure for my down days, but I do wonder whether my thoughts of being a bad mum stem from those conversations. Its something I cant forget, its something I vividly remember, so who knows?
As a mummy to the most wonderful little boy, I only want to do be the best mum I can possibly be to him.
And so I wonder, is it all just another government target? Is the pressure really necessary?