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Is there too much pressure on women to breastfeed?

by Vee (follow)
Parenting (216)      Feminism (56)      Motherhood (31)      Baby (23)     

Breastfeeding migrant mother
Breastfeeding ‘Migrant Mother’ by Library of Congress

Mothers are constantly reminded that ‘breast is best’, but breastfeeding certainly isn’t easy and some women really struggle with it. As a result, many mothers who consequently choose to cease breastfeeding are plagued with feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

Is there too much pressure on women to breastfeed their children?

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I felt like there was when I had a baby I simply couldn't breastfeed, but I'm over that now. You do what you can, and most women do the best they can by their children. If you can't make it work, it isn't the end of the world.

I have three kids and expressed with one for 6 weeks until I got sick of sitting by my breast pump for hours every day, the other two I breastfed for over a year each with no problems at all. They've all turned out healthy, and interestingly the one who never breastfed is now the healthiest eater of the three, so I think long-term it doesn't change much.
Counting down until Godwin's Law is invoked in the comments...

Breastfeeding rates in Australia (and the rest of the English speaking world) are very low, so the pressure obviously isn't working. There's a fair way to go before it evens out the pressure from formula companies and the media. But ideally we need a world where mums are offered real support, not pressure.

Women who are having trouble breastfeeding need help in the form of accurate medical advice (it's ridiculous that there are still doctors out there, who really should know better, telling women rubbish like that their milk will "turn to water" after 6 months, or 12 months, or whenever, or telling them they can't breastfeed during pregnancy...), access to certified lactation consultants, and for people not to give them a hard time for feeding whenever and wherever their babies need them to. Women who can't breastfeed or choose not to also need accurate medical information, access to safe affordable formula and information on how to prepare safely (it's scary that lots of people don't know that powdered formula isn't sterile) and for people who don't know them not to hassle them when they feed their babies in public either. Trying to be a good mother is hard enough as it is without women being nasty to each other about stuff like this.

If you're looking for breastfeeding support or information the Australian Breastfeeding Association is awesome.
Very true Jennifer. I had a skin specialist tell me my milk was "rubbish" because my iron levels were on the low side. I was shocked and felt very guilty about not being able to properly nourish my baby. I then spoke to my GP and she set me straight - after the rage passed and she came to.
by Vee
And why are we "Counting down until Godwin's Law is invoked in the comments..."?
by Vee
Godwin's law is an internet saying that if an online discussion goes on long enough sooner or later someone will mention Hitler or the Nazis. In discussions on breastfeeding usually this takes the form of someone calling breastfeeding advocates "Nazis" or "the Breastapo" or some similar slur they think is clever.

I am aware of Godwin's Law, I just haven't seen it related to breastfeeding. I think it is incredibly annoying and ignorant when people make comparisons between mundane things/people and the Holocaust, but I must say that the 'Breastapo' is quite clever.
by Vee
In a word Yes! there is a bit of pressure on them.
With all the other things to worrie about, it is a pressure time for sure.
I know I felt a lot of pressure.
It used to be. In the UK at least, it used to be the case that if you didn't bret feed then you were looked down upon. There were even support groups about breast feeding. I don't think it is as bad now though.
If breast feeding is the best thing for a child, why not do it. In addition the breast feeding time span is a very short time of the child's life anyways. This short time will lay the foundation for the rest of their lives.
I don't think there is too much pressure on women to breast feed.
I totally agree with the first part of your response, but, respectfully, perhaps the second part of your response would be different if you were a woman with a newborn. But then again, perhaps there isn't enough pressure on some women given that there are women still employing wet nurses to feed their children.
by Vee
A really big YES!

It's the Mum's choice & nobody else's business, including women's' groups, girlfriend mums & the in-laws.

NO woman should feel any guilt whatsoever if she can't bf. It's not the end of the world, there're OPTIONS!
Yes, it's good if you can, even for three months', as bub gets all the 'good stuff' in that time anyway! But if, for ANY reason, you can't don't end up feeling down.
I believe that possibly PND, one symptom of it, could be caused by this PRESSURE to bf.
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