So breast is best, apart from when it’s not…


Yet another piece of research has come out to say something controversial about breastfeeding. Before I go any further I am a full supporter of breast feeding (don’t shoot me) I have breast fed 2 of my 3 babies but not for the recommended 6 months.

I feel for new mums, how on earth are they supposed to do the right thing when the right thing keeps changing? New mums need support, encouragement and a kind word or 2 to give them the confidence to make the right choices for them and their babies. We must not forget that the fragmentation of family means that many new mums don’t get to see a new born let alone hold one before they give birth to their own. They won’t know how to change a nappy, when their child is hungry and will be desperately concerned over the seemingly silliest things. (My husband was incredibly worried about our son’s poo even keeping a nappy to show the Midwife when she visited. He LOVES to be reminded of that now!) In short; new families and new mums need support.

When I had our 1st son the guidelines were that breastfeeding was great and weaning should be around 16 weeks. My son was on the larger side of average (9lb 1oz, I’m a size 8 ) and was hungry. He showed signs of being hungry early on as he regularly drained 9oz bottles, he was watching my food, crying when we were eating but the crunch came when, at 15 weeks, he grabbed chicken sandwich off my plate and stuffed it in his mouth. I weaned him after that and he seemed a much more contented baby. Son no 2 came along and he was 9lb 15 1/2oz. he was a fabulous breast feeder, 10 mins and he was done and always satisfied. He was an enormous baby, chubby, large, yet seemed very content with breast milk. The guidelines changed from weaning at 16 weeks to 24 weeks and I always assumed that we would never reach 24 weeks but we did. Then 25, 26, 27 weeks and he showed no signs at all about wanting food. Finally at 28 weeks he tried a bit of banana and that was it, he was off. I let him eat whatever we did just broke it up for him and pretty soon he was eating meals with us and really enjoying his food.

Son no 3 (8lb 9oz 39 weeks C-section) was breastfed for about 3 months. I could have continued but I had a 5 year old and a 22month old and I found it nigh on impossible to get out and about with them if the baby needed feeding. I had suffered from depression and didn’t want to be housebound so I made the choice to stop. He seemed fine on formula and was weaned around 22 weeks again when he showed us he was ready and again we didn’t puree just gave him what we ate.

Now, the point to this recount of my life?

My children have all been different weights, different feeding methods and have had hugely different appetites and we felt it was important that they showed us when they were ready. We didn’t decide that 23 weeks and 6 days was bad but 24 weeks exactly was fine. Anyway how did someone arrive at 24 weeks when you can have large babies, small babies, premature babies in fact babies of all different sizes just as adults are. Our children weren’t the average children the growth charts and statistics are formed from they were individual. How would children have shown their parents they needed more food in the past? They would have reached to get the food themselves and the parent would have given them a little of what they had. Where did it all go wrong? Where did the instinct go from parenting and it became a formulaic, stage driven, guidelines riddled thing to endure?? How can we take the control back?

If I were to have another child (which from past blogs you’ll see I won’t) I would trust my instincts but do you know what’s even better, I’d trust my baby.

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About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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5 Responses to So breast is best, apart from when it’s not…

  1. Sarah says:

    Great post! I don’t know why there has to be hard and fast rules for kids. Key words are ‘individual’ and ‘instinct’! No mother has the right to critisise another for doing it differently. I’m lucky I never have had friends that did but I believe that’s rare!

  2. Claire says:

    I’ve breast feed from the start – although a rocky one and with little support from the midwives at the hospital unfortunately (another story).
    My son was born 7lb 8oz, he’s done crazy things like gain 17oz in one week in the first 6 weeks! Definitely hungry and loves his milk. But until recently was not showing signs of being interested in what we were eating, however in the last few days he’s been definitely trying to grab food so I decided that we would give the baby rice a go. He’s now 25 weeks old. The road to weaning seemed equally daunting, looking at various advice in books – how much, when, consistency etc., however today I mixed the rice up how I felt (instinct) it should be and he’s wolfed it down.

    I think that instinct is important as well as treating the child as an individual, they definitely have their own personalities from the start and to enable us to get through the day both mum and baby need to be happy.

  3. Claire says:

    http://www.babyfriendly.org.uk/pdfs/unicef_uk_response_to_BMJ_article_140111.pdf

    The above link is to a good article/ UNICEFs response covering all aspects of the debate – worth a read.

  4. That was a really good article -thanks. I feel very sorry for bombarded mothers 😦

  5. hakea says:

    The first baby is definitely an experiment as new mums listen to all the conflicting advice from friends, acquaintances, nurses, ‘experts’. It’s hard to trust yourself when you haven’t been through it before.

    Unfortunately the nurses insistence that I breastfeed my first baby (I now call them ‘nipple nazi’s’) meant that my baby was hungry for the first six weeks of his life. Luckily I took him to the paediatrician, a male, and he kindly said that it might be a good idea to supplement breastfeeding with a bottle. Finally, someone who allowed me a workable solution.

    I ‘comped’ my second baby from birth and he breast and bottle fed for 14 months. I refused the home visiting nurse scheme.

    Comped the third baby and he fed for 9 months. The nurse recommended a different formula to the one I usually used, said it was more compatible with breast milk. I later found out that the new formula was taken off the market because the babies couldn’t absorb the nutrients properly. My child is small for his age, and I have to wonder whether it is due to using that formula. Once again, I wish I hadn’t listened and gone with what I knew.

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