In honour of Breastfeeding Awareness Week (19th-25th June 2011), I intended to write a post a day about my breastfeeding journey. I’m a few days behind, but I’ll get there in the end. Like breastfeeding, I am taking it a day at a time…
The more time I spend on baby and parenting forums, the more often I see the phrase “a rod for your own back”. It seems that everything you do as a parent is setting yourself up for future issues.
This is my guide to the heinous crimes committed by breastfeeding mums:
1. Feeding to sleep
Don’t do this. Not under any circumstances. If you feed a child to sleep, they will NEVER learn to go to sleep alone.
Bad mum tip: Breastfeeding makes babies sleepy. Fast. You get little enough sleep. Why spend hours rocking or try to wake a baby up again when you could have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. Make the most of it. They won’t always be so easily manipulated!
2. Feeding for comfort
Don’t let your child use your breast as a dummy. You are just spoiling the child… Mothers are for nourishment, not for comfort!
Bad mum tip: It is OK to comfort your child. Babies need to suck. Don’t tell anyone, but breasts are surprisingly effective for this purpose. They are a similar shape to dummies, cheaper and don’t need sterilising. They are also very comforting… Breastmilk cleverly adjusts in line with your child’s needs so your “atrocious” parenting will have few ill effects. The only time you need to change it, is if it is making your breastfeeding relationship difficult. If it works for you and your child, it’s right.
The facts: Kellymom on comfort nursing and feeding to sleep.
3. Not having a “routine”
You are making a rod for your own back if you don’t get your child into a routine as quickly as possible. Babies don’t need feeding more than 4 hourly, they are just snacking…
Bad mum tip: “Feeding on demand” is the most successful way to establish, and maintain breastfeeding. When you follow their cues, babies are less grumpy and give you an easier life, so why fight it? Besides, everyone knows that the ideal place for breastfeeding when out and about is a coffee shop. Treat yourself to cake while you’re there! Baby will settle into their own routine before long anyway. It will change if they’re teething, ill, they’re having a growth spurt, or even in hot weather to make sure your milk always meets their needs.
The facts: Is snacking that bad? Great article by Diane Wiessinger.
4. “Still” breastfeeding (at any age)
At some point in your breastfeeding relationship, you will hear the dreaded, “are you still feeding?”. Depending on your particular circle, it may start earlier or later… but it will start. It usually comes just at the point when you feel you are finally getting the hang of it. It’s sometimes curiosity, often well-meaning, and occasionally downright rude, but the effect is always to undermine your confidence when you’ve worked so hard to get to this point.
Bad mum tip: There isn’t one really. They are wrong. The WHO recommends exclusive feeding to 6 months, and breastfeeding alongside solid food to 2 years at least. The proportion of mothers in the Western world that manage that is tiny so to criticise a mum who is trying to do the best for their child at any age seems incredibly harsh. If you are “still” breastfeeding, whether at 4 weeks or 4 years, you probably know why you are doing it. This is my favourite list of responses for those times when the criticism gets too much.
I have made lots of rods for my own back. I chose them myself and, so far, they are wonderfully supportive rods and I don’t regret the hard work at all. Of course my daughter will probably grow up to be clingy, spoilt and dependent. You are welcome to tell her that… if you can catch her…