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Can we just for once focus on the positives of breastfeeding? Guest Blog

This guest entry is not from a lactation consultant, a breastfeeding counsellor, an NCT antenatal teacher, midwife or health visitor - but a mum speaking from the heart.
I have seen a lot of negativity in the press recently about how breastfeeding is 'hard'; just recently The Guardian ran with "Breastfeeding is hard, so we should be softer on mothers".
Yes it's hard but caring for a baby is hard, full stop. Can we just for once focus on the positives of breastfeeding? Without going into all the details of benefits to the baby, breastfeeding forces you, the mum who is rushed off her feet 24 hours a day, to sit down and have a rest and has an instant soothing effect on both parties.
I love the fact that lactating allows me to be the proud owner of big feminine boobs and helps me to shed my pregnancy weight pretty quickly. I also love it when my baby gazes into my eyes whilst he is feeding, which makes me smile, and then makes him coo and causes him to lose his latch temporarily while we share a moment. And you can't beat the feeling in the middle of the night when baby nuzzles into your chest for a feed and you feel their cold hands gradually warm up against your skin.
I think some mums' expectations of how 'easy' it should be to look after a baby are far too high. If there was an artificial alternative to pregnancy some would choose it I'm sure. But when did we start to lose our faith in nature? To me, breastfeeding is just an extension of pregnancy. In utero babies are fed via the mother through the placenta; outside utero that continues through the means of breastfeeding.
One mum commented on the aforementioned article that she found breastfeeding hard because she had to do it ‘every two hours’. Cluster feeding is a completely normal part of breastfeeding – particularly during growth spurts – so why not just go with it and enjoy the excuse to put your feet up for a bit longer?
Anything can be hard work and unpleasant if you get yourself into that mind-set. Some people find getting out of bed in a morning hard. I think my partner's job is hard, particularly the hours he puts in, but because he enjoys it he doesn't experience negative feelings about it. This negativity in the press is doing little to discourage our negative connotations of normal breastfeeding patterns and behaviour.
I know so many fellow mums who tried breastfeeding and gave up at the first hurdle because they perceived it to be too difficult or tried a bottle of formula and noticed how well their baby slept afterwards. People must think I only breastfeed because I find it easy or something. Well let me tell you I'm not one of those smug mums who actually found it easy. Both of my babies were tongue tied; I had an oversupply; I have an underlying health condition of which one of the main symptoms is fatigue; we have allergies and food intolerances thrown in the mix and one of my birth experiences was very traumatic. But you know what? I don't care. I don't find the need to look for an alternative way to feed my babies just because I find breastfeeding a challenge. I would die for my kids. I would donate a kidney for them so why wouldn't I breastfeed? It seems like a small sacrifice in comparison.
Our breastfeeding ancestors will be laughing in their graves. With up to 15 kids to look after and only outdoor bathing and toilets, no supermarkets or ready-made bread and a husband who offered little support, it's no wonder formula companies found a gap in the market for their products. But things are different today: we have hot water on tap instead of trying to heat it on a fire and we can get our shopping delivered or buy food ready to go. Why then do we seem to think things are getting harder? Perhaps we have just got used to convenience and for some mums, that’s what formula offers. Anything which isn't convenient is seen as ‘hard work’.
I'm sorry but I'm not conforming to all this politically correct lets-try-not-to-offend-formula-mums nonsense. It's not comparable to having black or white skin where neither is more superior to the other.
It seems that a lot of mums aren't even interested, or refuse to believe, in the scientifically proven benefits of breastfeeding to their babies so maybe we should be spreading more awareness of the benefits to mum. Getting a full night’s sleep because your baby's little tummy is stuffed with formula and keeping an active social life are not the be all and end all. Breastfeeding is temporary. You don't ever get this time back. Take the time out and enjoy the changes in your life. Bond with your baby and reap the rewards.
I know that there are a small percentage of mums who sadly cannot, for medical reasons, breastfeed and my heart goes out to them. But to the remaining mums, let's just celebrate how amazing breastfeeding is and what an honour it is to have the anatomy be able to give our babies the best start in life.
I for one LOVE breastfeeding and yes I found it hard - both times. So as much as your fingers are itching to type something negative in the comments here about how difficult you found it or gave up because of x,y,z, please refrain. Just think a little longer and see if you can find something positive to say about it. Please?

Breast may not be best to prevent allergies

Or so the headlines have told us this week.

The Daily Mail went with:
"Breastfeeding may not help cut allergies in children after all: Study shows bottle-fed babies are equally resistant to host of common conditions"
The Telegraph went for a slightly more emotive slant:
"Is this proof the witches of breast milk are wrong after all?
A new study shows breast may not be best in terms of preventing allergies. Anna White, mum of twins, rejoices.".
Anna appears to be developing a theme (or lacking imagination), as her 2013 piece carried the title: "The witches of breast milk need to back off".

Personally I think Anna might be "rejoicing" a tad too early.

The tiny study of 200, was presented at a conference and so as of yet I haven't managed to obtain a copy. Thanks to the Daily Mail however, I don't need to.

If you read their entire article via "don't link"  it states:
‘This study did not take into consideration whether babies were exclusively breast fed or supplemented with formula."

So as a comparison, let's pretend we want to explore whether salad or pizza are healthiest.  One group eats
Peppers count as salad, right?
pizza only, the other can choose either salad or pizza at each meal, or they can  have one mouthful of salad per day and the rest of the time eat pizza, or any other combination they choose.  They might even only eat salad every few days, but as long as they're eating some - they qualify for the salad group.

If I then gave you that study and said see, whether you eat salad or pizza makes no difference - would you rejoice? More likely you would simply laugh.

Even if we pretend it's true - there is no suggestion formula proffers protection; at best  it's stating formula might not cause harm.  I think Anna understands this, as the only other logical conclusion otherwise is she's "rejoicing" because she's glad babies who were breastfed aren't "protected" either?

The truth is this conference bulletin, that we have no context for (either in terms of the rest of the presentation or indeed funding,) tells us absolutely nothing.  It certainly isn't "proof" of anything other than bad science.

The "auto-bots at La Leche league", as Anna calls them - or the "fabulous mothers who have often struggled themselves, so now volunteer to give their time they could spend with their own family in order to help others to the the tune of thousands of calls per year", as I prefer to refer to them as, won't need to update their training manual just yet.

Sorry Anna.