Everyone has an opinion on breastfeeding – whether it’s getting flack when mums breastfeed in public or judgemental looks when spooning out the formula.
Put simply, it’s your choice.
In celebration of UNICEF’s National Breastfeeding Week, we’re reminding all mums how important it is to ignore the haters and remember to just do what works for you and your little one.
1. There’s no right or wrong choice
Despite what some people may have you believe, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Lactation Consultant Vanessa Christie told The Huffington Post UK exclusively: “The choice about how to feed your baby is entirely personal… it should always be entirely up to them what they then decide to do.”
2. Your mental wellbeing is more important than breastfeeding
A study by Queen Mary’s University, London, found that there is an elevated risk of postnatal depression amongst women who planned to breastfeed, but did not or could not do so.
The study showed that the expectation placed on new mothers to breastfeed compared to the reality of doing so means that many mothers suffer from unnecessary mental health problems that stem from unrealistic expectations.
3. There is science backing both sides
No matter anyone’s personal thoughts on the matter, there is science showing the positives and negatives on both sides.
A 2016 study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital showed that babies who were fed more breast milk within the first 28 days of life had better IQs.
But a study from 2011, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that the association between breastfeeding and healthy children is not as strong as has previously been believed.
4. You know what is best for your baby
Breastfeeding expert Anastasia de Waal told The Guardian: “The danger of a ‘breast is best’ campaign is that it can make mothers feel like they have failed their baby.”
“For some women, breastfeeding can be excruciating…establishing this kind of relationship with your baby is more likely to build up harmful resentment than a healthy nurturing instinct.”
5. Money and social status play a part too
A study by the US Library of Medicine in 2011 found that key contributors to early breastfeeding cessation are poverty and being alone (as indicated by not having a partner during the postpartum period).
6. Try to ignore the peer pressure – do what’s right for you
Vanessa Christie told HuffPost UK: “The old African saying that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is absolutely true. As our close families often don’t live in the ‘village’ anymore, it has become all the more important for us to seek emotional and practical support from our other mum friends.”
7. It just doesn’t work for everyone
Blogger and mum Annie Ferguson Muscato wrote openly about the “pain and tears” she went through trying to breastfeed her daughter and how she was publicly shamed when buying formula.
Muscato explained; “I cried because I thought breast was best…I thought my body failed her. I thought she wouldn’t be as healthy on formula. I know you think I must not care or I’m lazy but you are wrong.What I know that you don’t is that breast isn’t always best. I know happy, healthy baby is best. I know fed is best.”
8. Your baby gets fed either way
Bottom line, your baby isn’t going hungry.