Breast feeding

I suspect you’re right - these things evolve over time, don’t they. Clearly, your Mum had an extra layer of complexity to cope with in terms of caring for your sister as well as you guys - I don’t know that Social Services would be so involved these days… perhaps a little more reactive.

I LOVED and continue to love feeding our little mate. Bath and bed time with her is just the best bit of the day and I got to do that after work every day, building our little bond as well as giving Mum and chance to do Mum stuff.


Our daughter was breastfed until she decided she didn’t want to be any more, so a little bit before she turned three. She didn’t get it at first, was massive and we were in hospital for 10 days for some various reasons, so she was formula-fed for about two weeks, but she wasn’t really into that either! The pressure to breast-feed is pretty intense. It was very tough on my wife because of the issues that we had getting the process started.

However, I can definitely say that the social pressure she faced from people telling her to ‘get her off the boob’ as she got over a year old was incredible too. We adopted a policy of listening to what our daughter wanted (partially because she’s stubborn as hell, and also because it helped with her sleep, which was literally awful), and she’s totally fine - eats like a horse, and a wide range of foods too, despite pretty much everyone we knew prophesying some sort of C4 documentary hell.

You have to do what is right for you and your kids. Everything else is just noise.

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Why do people think the UK has such lower rates compared to other countries? Presuming that mothers in France are no more naturally pre-disposed to breastfeeding than mothers here and face all the same issues?

I’m not sure there are any trivial reasons. I mean it’s weird when I look back on us trying to get her to latch. We spent money on external help and just hours trying to make it work. Just made us so unhappy and stressed and obviously stressed her out too because she was hungry but wouldn’t get it (man that stubborn streak is well and truly there aged 4.5, btw).

It’s just massively stressful and it really telescopes. It was probably only a month at most before we just accepted we had to use bottles for the breast milk and weren’t going to put ourselves through it any more. I’m not sure how long before we went to formula.

But my point is only that I don’t think you’re thinking straight at all. Lack of sleep and constant worry… I mean you literally cannot stop worrying about EVERYTHING. Is that a rash, could it be meningitis? I still wake up in the night and if I do I go and check on her and make sure she’s breathing. Weird…


Cause it’s difficult and we’re all super stressed about everything?

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Whipped out the classic meningitis fear over nowt last week!!

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That stat about Britain having the worst breastfeeding rates is somewhat misleading as I believe it relates specifically to children being breatsfed beyond 12 months (there are more children being breastfed at 6 months in the UK than France for example).

The reason for this however, I’m not sure - anecdotally, there definitely seems to be an expectation that 12 months is the max that you would choose to breastfed for in this country for some reason. Also anecdotally, my experience in France is that they are waaaaaay more sniffy about women breastfeeding in public. Same with Germany and Australia actually.

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Lack of education, health and well-being in general, I think.

That tends to be borne out by a breakdown of breast-feeding rates by age of mother/parents, education level, access to local services etc. Within the UK there is a huge variation.

Anecdotal, sure, but I know of quite a few young mothers (from my home town, and from when I worked with SureStarts) who wouldn’t breastfeed because ‘it wasn’t natural’.

That’s the one thing it totally is. How odd.

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all 3 of my kids struggled to get enough/ gain weight on the breast. It was definitely the most stressful stage of parenting - and TBH a relief when we admitted defeat and switched to bottles. Unhappy babies switched to being full and content.

All my kids are absolute prime physical specimens so everything worked out fine I guess

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Ah right, yeah, I dunno. You’re right there. I mean I can’t even get in the headspace of someone being ‘with it’ enough to make breastfeeding decisions on that sort of cold hard logic after having a child!

However, AFAIK as long as you are pumping breast milk and feeding the baby that, the mechanism doesn’t really matter. Obviously it’s a much bigger (and far more expensive) faff to bottle feed but if a woman decides she doesn’t want to breastfeed but still pumps, I guess that’s fine. That said, I assume pumps will mess up your appearance as much as a baby’s mouth?


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Well can’t really fight against that.

I wouldn’t necessarily classify that as a ‘trivial’ reason though. More about absolute disconnect from fact and reality, and goes to a much more worrying causation.

Also, anecdotally, we do love a headline about this kind of thing in the UK. That and how we have the worst behaved kids in Europe etc.

It seems crazy that this is still the case though, it’s impossible to move through pregnancy and birth in the NHS without having breastfeeding impressed upon you as the ultimate best thing ever in the world ever.

both our my daughters were solely breastfed by my wife. it was intense for both and both failed to “thrive” as they call it - my first ended up being diagnosed with reflux and excema which didn’t help, and our second turns out is a greedy little chicken, and last night at 8 month ater 1.5 bananas and a whole avocado as finger food, dropping ONE piece. my eldest was breastfed until she was 19 months old, one feed at night in the end.

the stress of it wears my wife out, for sure, but she is an advocate of it all - she is the only one of her siblings to not have been breastfed and the only one with a few chronic health issues.

i am a strong advocate of anyone breastfeeding but also understand the balance that is so hard to comeby - some people just can’t, and that’s something the NHS needs to respect, but also up the ante with education. i might be biased- my wife is learning to become a breastfeeding specialist - but it has so many benefits for everyone involved; seriously, there are no studies contradicting that. however, the stress levels induced by the pressure… that’s a different matter.

as for why the uk is so bad… I’m unsure. we’re generally a very unhealthy group of people, especially with drinking and short-cut foods, so it doesn’t surprise me that there are people who just won’t try it at the first sign of difficulty. but i marvel at it’s amazingness and the wonderful bonding that it creates.

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My partner wasn’t breastfed and she feels the same!

there is another aspect that might be an issue - the rising levels of inverntion in birth. the interventions, like at worst cesarean, and best mild pain medication, all interupt the natural process the body needs when giving birth, and i think (from what i’ve read and discussed with my wife) these can harm the hormones needed for breastfeeding to really take hold and the signals can be disrupted.

my wife’s first birth was emergency c-section and it took five days for her milk to really come in. we expected the same for the second, but the milk was there within 24 hours, really obviously.

my thought process follows that if breastfeeding is harder to start (low millk supply, which in turns leads to low levels of latching and latch quality) then it provides a natural barrier to anyone even wanting to try it.

It’s literally what breasts are for.