This is a guest post by Lauren, one of our brand representatives, from Purely Taken. Photography. Lauren has had the unique experience of breastfeeding twins, bottle feeding, formula feeding AND re-lactating. Here is her experience.
"A few months ago I was on Facebook and I came across a beautiful image of a new mumma breastfeeding her baby. I started scrolling through the huge amount of comments and quite frankly was disgusted with the amount of negative words from the public.
I feel like these days you can’t win. If you breastfeed your baby, you had better do it either in a grotty toilet cubical, under a very annoying cover (that will NOT stay on) or better yet, become a hermit and stay at home all day, every day for the entirety of your breastfeeding career. I knew mums who would carefully plan out their day so that they never had to breastfeed in public.
And don’t even get me started on the topic of breastfeeding your baby past 6 months! “Are you going to stop feeding him?” “That’s probably why she’s so attached to you.” “You’ll be feeding him forever if you don’t stop now.” ‘Shouldn’t you just put her onto cow’s milk?”.
Yet, if you formula feed your baby there are looks and remarks from people too. “If you had just pushed through a few more weeks, you would have been fine.” “You probably did have enough milk” “If it hurts you were doing it wrong” and then there’s the common “breast is best.” Ok, I want to explain that last one. Yes, breastmilk is best for baby – nature made it that way. But reminding someone of this fact AFTER they have stopped breastfeeding is in no way helpful to them and honestly, it’s a bit mean.
Breast milk may be best for a baby but breastfeeding or expressing is not always best for babies and it may not be best for YOUR baby. When a mother is in pain emotionally or physically from breastfeeding or pumping, it HAS to affect the baby too!
The comments go on and on… and on! I know, I have personally been victim to the ‘helpful’ advice that is laced with judgment. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in education from family and friends (how are young mums supposed to know how to breastfeed when they are not allowed to see a mum breastfeeding in public???) And advice is super important and helpful- WHEN it’s done in a supporting manner.
Why does it matter to anyone else whether you breastfeed, express feed, formula feed, combination feed or SNS feed (a little tube that goes from a bottle to your nipple so baby thinks she’s getting it from your breast) That’s right it doesn’t! It wont’ change your life if your sister, cousin, friend formula feeds and you know what, when all you children are no longer toddlers and are getting into trouble with their group of friends, the formula fed babies will not smell, look, or act any different than the others. (let’s face it, all kids smell).
I want to tell you a bit about my own journey, which is the reason I chose to do this little project of mine.
I have twin boys who are now 18 months old. When I was pregnant I was wanting to breastfeed but didn't want to put too much pressure on myself (like I usually do) so I went with "I will breastfeed if I can for as long as I can".
When my boys were born, I exclusively tandem breastfeed them for about 4 weeks. At this stage the pain had become so unbearable, I just couldn't continue. Although, being a stubborn girl I continued to provide them breast milk via expressing. I would cry for days just thinking about stopping. I don't remember how long I went, perhaps 2 or so weeks - It felt like forever... until I ended up back in hospital with mastitis & 'decided' to call it quits. I felt so guilty when I stopped breastfeeding. I would almost try to avoid bottle feeding them in public because of the guilt.
I don't believe anyone should have to feel that.
The guilt slowly went away but it was always in the back of my mind. Until, that is, the day I decided to re-lactate. My boys were about 4 months old & my milk had all but dried up. After 2 months of pumping & feeding I successfully re-lactated with one twin (the other wasn't interested).
So here I was, holding one baby to the breast whilst holding a bottle for the other who lay sprawled out on my lap. It was a pretty funny scene and those who saw me do it knew it wasn’t always easy but it was my choice to make.
I got to the point where I just didn't care about anyone's judgements anymore. In fact, I almost wished that lady (among many) in the shop giving me the stink eye said something!! I was going to feed my babies any where, any time and ANY WAY I wanted! If you don't like to see me bottle feeding my baby = DON'T WATCH. If you don't like to see me breastfeeding my baby, it's pretty simple= DON'T WATCH. Really, you don't need to watch that closely anyway.
My twins are now 18 months old. I am still breastfeeding one twin & now the other thinks he's missing out so at times asks for and takes to the breast. I'm cool with it, they're cool with it, as is my awesome husband. No one else's opinion matters.
So..next time you see a formula feeding mumma, instead of passing judgement, how about smiling at them, how about encouraging them or asking if they want you to hold the screaming baby whilst they get the bottle ready. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Just remember you have no idea what journey she has been on.
So. next time you see a mumma breastfeeding in public, instead of passing judgment, how about smiling at her, how about talking to her about… anything. Ask her if she wants you to pass her water to her that is just out of reach. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Just remember you have no idea what journey she has been on.
My message to you mummas. You know what is best for your baby! Do it and do it proudly! You are awesome no matter how you feed them!
Thank you for your gorgeous story Lauren! You can read the full story on Lauren's blog here, and check out her beautiful breastfeeding photography.
More about Lauren:
Lauren is a mum to gorgeous twin toddler boys and an amazing photographer based in Mildura, Victoria. You can find out more about Lauren on her website: Purely Taken. Photography. Don't miss her amazing maternity & breastfeeding photography!