Today I am going to write about a subject I have no strong feelings about. A subject that does not rile me nor particularly interest me if I’m honest. Breastfeeding.
So Jamie Oliver made some pretty ill-informed, condescending comments on the subject last week, calling breastfeeding “easy” and “convenient”. But seriously, who pays any attention to Jamie Oliver these days? Any man who thinks those meals can be prepared and cooked in 15 minutes is clearly delusional anyway. Then more recently Adele waded into the debate, telling Mr Oliver “to go f*** himself”. Delightful!
But why is breastfeeding so divisive? Surely by now everyone knows that breast is best. And as mums don’t we have more important things to worry about than what someone else thinks about how we should be feeding our babies. We are all grown-ups and we can make our own choices. Of course everyone will have an opinion, but that is the peril of living in the free world. And of course haters gonna hate. And Adele’s going to get potty-mouthed. Such is life.
Every woman has her own breastfeeding journey and that is something that we must respect. Like
Jamie Jools Oliver your journey maybe “easy”. Or it maybe complicated. Or it may be upsetting or painful or private. But whatever it is, it is your decision and no one (let alone a celebrity chef) should make you feel uncomfortable or unworthy. Or indeed, superior and smug.
Personally I have no opinion either way. I don’t understand all the strong feelings it provokes. Everyone does their very best to feed their new babies. And in this country we should just be thankful that very few babies are malnourished or starving. And that formula is affordable not a luxury. We should all stop squabbling and listen to each other a bit more.
No one should be made to feel ashamed of their choice. Let me share with you my breastfeeding story (sorry, you didn’t think I was going to miss this opportunity to talk about myself did you!).
My twins were born at 29 week or if you prefer ten weeks premature. I had every intention of breastfeeding the pair of them but I had made no firm decision, realising that until parenthood happens to you, you should hold off deciding anything. Very adult, non?
The twins were so teeny tiny that they were fed through a tube for the first four weeks. I expressed my milk every three hours or so. This is why I have no opinions on breastfeeding. It is never as black and white as “bottle or breast”. My babies drank breast milk but could not breastfeed.
As soon as they were ready the nurses in the Special Care Baby Unit encouraged me to put the twins to the breast. Martha latched on well and began to gain weight, but Freddie struggled. This made me realise that for some babies breastfeeding comes naturally and for some it doesn’t.
After a while of Freddie not gaining any weight I asked the nurses if I could bottle feed him some of my frozen expressed milk. And hey presto! the boy took to it like a duck to water and started to plump up nicely.
And I found myself having to make the decision as to whether I would breastfeed one twin and bottle feed the other. You might have made a different decision. Jamie Oliver might have advised me to choose otherwise. I don’t care. This was down to me.
I decided that only breastfeeding one twin felt like I was cheating on the other. It felt unbalanced and unfair. So I bottle feed them both. I bottle fed a mix of breast milk and formula. And I never felt guilty or ashamed because I did my very very best in a difficult situation.
And that is all any parent can do. Their best.