It gets rammed into it with every new mother: breastfeeding is best for your baby. And so many women go to great lengths to feed their child themselves. Even if they almost get under it themselves. Are we not going too far in this? As far as I am concerned.
A friend of mine had her first child a while ago. She’s such a woman who was made to be a mother.
All her life she wanted nothing else and the pregnancy was the best time of her life. She enjoyed it intensely, was super relaxed, and had full confidence that once the baby was there, everything would just go by itself. I, meanwhile, quite taken by the mother tongue and moreover, of course always skeptical, had my doubts. But I said nothing. Because of course, it could just go without a hitch. And if there was someone to whom that would happen, it would be my girlfriend, the primal mother. But when the first euphoria after the birth of her son had ebbed away, reality hit hard. The reality of young motherhood and how intense and heavy it can be. She was exhausted from the broken nights, the recovery from her emergency cesarean section was slow and painful, she was, like any young mother, terribly insecure and then there was breastfeeding. That breastfeeding that she wanted to give so badly, that breastfeeding that was natural in her opinion that she was going to give. But that turned out to be a bit more complicated than expected. Because the baby wanted to drink every hour and the blood blisters were now on her nipples. Because there was a thrush that wouldn’t go away. Because nipple shields and herbal teas and lactation experts and many more aids were used, but to no avail. Because the walls were closing in on my girlfriend because she had nowhere to go. Because she could not even eat normally herself or could take a shower because the baby only wanted to breastfeed. This went on for weeks. Weeks in which I saw her shrivel and languish further and further. A blushing, strong woman turns into a sad pile of misery. And one day I got a desperate text: “I want to quit so badly, but I can’t. I feel so very guilty. ” And oh, how angry that made me. Not on her, but on what we, as a society, do to women today. Because really, everything for the baby, but we can also go too far.
Before the sanctimommies raise their torches and pitchforks again, I’m not against breastfeeding. Not really.
I’ve said that so many times now. What I do oppose is the crazy pressure we put on young mothers to feed their children themselves. Because many mothers are under it. I’ve seen so many girlfriends struggle at their own expense just because they thought they were bad mothers if they stopped breastfeeding their kids. Mothers whose maternity times were completely blighted because everything revolved around breastfeeding and its failure. Mothers who fell into depression and look back on that period years later with pain in their hearts. Those years later I still feel guilty for not being able to do it. Which, if you think about it for a moment, is of course ridiculous. And pure indoctrination moreover. Lately, people have been shouting that we should get breastfeeding out of the damn corner, but sorry, I don’t think that’s the point at all (or at least not anymore). All you hear as a young mother is that you have to breastfeed. That it is best for your baby. And so actually the only good choice, because which mother doesn’t want ‘the best’ for her child? In the best case, bottle feeding is regarded as a ‘good alternative’, which means indirectly that it is a second-rate option anyway if there really is no other option. There should be no advertising of bottle-feeding for children under six months, midwives insist on the importance of breastfeeding from the first pregnancy consultation, Maternity nurses are not allowed to provide bottle-feeding and at the Consultatiebureau you are often looked at with a skewed eye when you tell them that you are giving your newborn baby the bottle. Breastfeeding has become the norm. And although I understand that the WHO has started this breastfeeding propaganda in recent years with the best of intentions and it is of course good that women are educated and helped in that area, an incidental result of this is that bottle feeding has become socially undesirable.
In developing countries, where hygiene and regulations leave much to be desired, it is indeed often very important that mothers breastfeed.
Simply because bottle-feeding can be unhealthy and dangerous for their child. However, that is simply not the case in a country like the Netherlands. All formula sold here must meet very strict quality requirements and is therefore complete and healthy food for your baby. Is it the same as breastfeeding? No. Does it make your child big and strong? Yes. And that’s what I think it’s about. Mothers have a choice here and they should be able to make that choice without being bound by a social judgment. Information is fine, coercion is not. And many mothers start breastfeeding not because they want to, but because they feel they have to. There is no fair information because it is not even allowed to talk about bottle feeding before your child is six months. So actually it is quite disappointing with that freedom of choice.
I would therefore prefer to say to any young mother who is through it: please stop it. Don’t do this to yourself.
We are completely destroying ourselves with this nonsense and for who the hell? Supposedly for the baby, but what the heck does a half-dead, unhappy mother do for that? I breastfed twice and I regret it like the hair on my head. Really sorry. Looking back on it now, I wish I hadn’t let the breastfeeding movement get me this up and really done the best for me and my kids. By giving them the bottle when that breast just didn’t work out. Then I would have saved myself and my children a lot of grief and frustration. The cult of breastfeeding ruined two months of my motherhood and left me struggling with guilt for years afterward. Because that is then the innuendo when you finally stop: that you have not ‘done everything about it’. But even if it is (which is really wrong in almost all cases), what else? Even if you didn’t do anything about it, what difference does it make? Your baby, your body, your life after all. No, a woman does not have to try to breastfeed at all, as far as I know, there is no article about that in the Constitution. And she doesn’t have to ‘just push through’ if it doesn’t work, or if, on closer inspection, she doesn’t like it. What she must do is feed her baby. And make sure she stays healthy herself. That is really the best for the baby. as far as I know, there is no article about this in the Constitution. And she doesn’t have to ‘just push through’ if it doesn’t work, or if, on closer inspection, she doesn’t like it. What she must do is feed her baby. And make sure she stays healthy herself. That is really the best for the baby. As far as I know, there is no article about this in the Constitution. And she doesn’t have to ‘just push through’ if it doesn’t work, or if she doesn’t like it after all. What she must do is feed her baby. And make sure she stays healthy herself. That is really the best for the baby.
I’m worried about my girlfriend. She is a shadow of who she once was. I tell her she can quit, that’s not a crime.
That doesn’t make her a bad mother. But she can’t. Because she is afraid that she will sell her baby short. That he’ll be an unhealthy kid with at least five IQ points lower than he could potentially have had she just sacrificed herself for him. She had been so excited about motherhood and now it has become one big deception for her. I find that painful to watch. And I can’t help her, because someone who’s been brainwashed is beyond reason. I’ve been there myself and I know how blinded you can be. It’s such a shame because I would love to spare her what I’ve felt myself. Because now I know that it can be done differently. That it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Because young motherhood is difficult enough in itself. And yes, breastfeeding is a wonderful and natural thing and it can undoubtedly be delicious. If it works. But if not, dear young mothers, then just stop. Take a shower, sleep, eat, and let your husband or grandmother or the neighbor give the baby a nice bottle. It probably won’t make him sleep through, or cry less, but you know, it won’t kill him either. And you will love that breastfeeding if you continue like this. At least, it can really feel like that. And that is a shame when there is just such a beautiful new life to celebrate.