August is ‘World Breastfeeding Month’ with campaigns and initiatives galore being launched in a bid to encourage expectant mothers to forgo the formula and favour the breast; which ‘is best’, according to every ‘expert’ I’ve ever come into contact with.
Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, I’m no childcare specialist; rather I’m just an imperfect parent. Mind you, I do bow to the superior knowledge of those who profess to be ‘perfect’ and who, interestingly enough, insist that breastfeeding makes your child ‘smarter’, ‘healthier’ and, according to a WHO study, “can cut the chances of a child becoming obese by up to 25 per cent”.
Wow, given those odds one would almost be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that all breastfed babies grow up to be fabulously slim, super-fit, filthy-rich, nerdy-anoraks who live charmed lives.
On the other hand, if Ireland has one of the “lowest breastfeeding rates in the world” (according to the Irish Maternity Indicator System), would it be fair to assume that those of us who’ve been bottle-fed are a bunch of overweight, work-shy slackers, saddled with an inferiority complex and a low IQ? Nonsense!
As far as I’m concerned, (and as a mother who eventually bottle-fed both her babies), while breast milk provides many positive benefits (yes, we get it); there are numerous situations when it’s just not an option, and no mother should ever feel guilty, nor should she feel ashamed because she chooses formula!
When I was pregnant with both of my daughters, every medical expert I came into contact with – my family doctor, my obstetrician, the nurse testing the urine, the midwife facilitating the ante-natal classes, even my in-laws – tried to brainwash me into breastfeeding. I’m sure many Roscommon mothers will be able to relate to my experience because it is not unique.
When my own daughter tearfully told me how she’d felt ‘pressured’ and ‘bullied’ to breastfeed my granddaughter, I became very concerned. Remembering how inadequate I had felt all those years ago as a teen mother guilted into breastfeeding, I immediately identified the ‘bully’ who was applying the ‘pressure’ and discreetly (and respectfully) told her to back off and mind her own business.
Don’t get me wrong readers; I’m all for breastfeeding if that’s what a mother wishes to do and I’d be the first to support any ante-natal initiative which supplies education and training around this process as actively as it does around labour and giving birth. However, it’s my opinion that, rather than place an emphasis on the romanticised version – where mammy is bathed in a rapturous glow a la Duccio di Buoninsegna’s Madonna and child – the programmes should provide expectant mothers with the full facts.
Lesson one should focus on the cracked nipples, the screaming-hungry infants, the emotional highs and lows, the marathon pumping/expressing sessions, the leaking boobs, the milk-stained t-shirts and the physical toll breastfeeding takes on your body. Oh I nearly forgot, the fact that Irish culture is so flippin’ uptight, the slightest accidental flash of a side-boob in a public area is likely to cause some well-intentioned curtain-twitching busy-body to cover you in a ‘decency shawl’.
Full disclosure! I did try breastfeeding my babies…I lasted three whole months on my six-week-premature number one infant before I gave up. I threw in the towel (literally) after only three days on number two because I just could not cope with a ten pound creature, (adorable and beautiful though she was), attached to my boob 24/7!
Again I’m not anti-breastfeeding, it just wasn’t for me, but I do know that many women – the members of that exclusively breastfeeding brigade #EBF – have had wonderful experiences doing it; and that’s great, fair play to them. In fact, one of my friends didn’t wean her kid till he was six years old; even expressing and freezing her milk in a flask for the ‘little milk monster’, as I jokingly called him, to drink at school. (Yep, I just threw up in my mouth too at the thought of it).
By overstating the benefits of breastfeeding and skimming over the drawbacks, it’s my opinion and my experience that (some, not all) ‘lactation consultants’ are doing a grave disservice to mothers. No one should feel guilted, shamed or harassed into signing up to that #EBF club as part of their #mammysquadgoals.
Breastfeed or formula/bottle feed whenever, wherever and however you like ladies; the choice is yours and yours alone…it is not your partner’s, your mother’s or your in-laws’, and it’s definitely not your pushy lactation consultant’s. Before those fingers start pecking away at the keyboard, composing those letters of complaint to the editor, I do know that not all lactation consultants are pushy.
Oh by the way, I looked it up and like a ‘birth doula’, being a ‘lactation consultant’ is an actual job. Who knew? Fair play! Maybe I should consider becoming a ‘complex bottle-feeding consultant’. If I did, my motto would be #prochoiceformammies!
It’s going to be scorchio!
Complaining is not just our nation’s national pastime, it has quite literally become part of our identity. Sure it’s who we are; i.e. a miserable bunch of whingers with every single aspect of our lives being viewed as a certified disaster. Am I right? You know I am.
It all began with what I call the great persecution when we were controlled by the Brits and told what language to speak. Next came the great suppression, where every aspect of our lives was influenced, restricted and restrained by the opinions of the Catholic church, enshrouding us all in a cloak of negativity and criticism. In fact, (and I hate to admit this), if I haven’t ripped apart some aspect of my own life before breakfast I don’t feel I can face the rest of the day! (That’s being dramatic but you know what I mean).
With that in mind, and as the mercury’s set to rise to the high twenties this week, I’d like to offer readers a bit of advice…and it’s this: enjoy the sun while you can. For a few days, forget about your climate anxiety (yes I suffer from it too) and ignore the apocalypse-is-nigh snowflake alarmists who continuously moan, groan, whinge and whine off the Richter scale about the lack of rain.
Yes we’re in the midst of a climate crisis, I get it, and I’m personally very concerned about it. However, given the majority of us are struggling from pay packet to pay packet in order to make ends meet, can we throw shade (pardon the pun) at the doom and gloom nay-sayers and just this once, drop the guilt and take pleasure in (responsibly) feeling the sun on our faces!
Shout out to the lovely lads at the civic amenity centre!
It has been my experience that all too often people are quick to criticise, complain and point out where others have, (in their opinion), fallen short and are, by contrast, extremely slow to highlight it when someone has been helpful or provided them with a good service.
It’s for that reason I’d like to mention the men who work at the Roscommon Civic Amenity waste and recycling centre on the Lanesboro Road and say thank you for being such a genuinely decent, helpful and friendly bunch of lads.
Myself and himself make monthly visits to this Roscommon County Council-run centre, which provides a great service to the public; and even though a visit takes up part of my Saturday morning and leaves my car smelly, I’m very grateful to be able to avail of it.
However, I’m often baffled by the virtue-signalling-you’ve-stolen-my-dreams-earth-warrior-whingers – Greta Thunberg wannabes – who, crushed by their responsibility to Mother Earth, (you’d think we’d entered Mad Max territory the way some carry-on), suddenly morph into petulant prats if the lads politely and respectfully ask them to stop dumping contaminated, non-recyclable items into the wrong bins!
Listen up folks…these lads are paid to work, provide a service, and guide the public on what items are acceptable and what aren’t. They are not there to be subjected to verbal abuse by holier-than-thou, moral grandstanders…so cut them some slack, have some manners, sort out your rubbish and say thank you!