Latest Posts

Interrogation by the baby feeding police

By 21:53:00 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Sunday we went to lunch with Cotswold Dad's family. They had a guest, a friend of Cotswold Dad's grandmother whom I have met only once before last year when I was pregnant with J.

Baby J started getting upset before lunch and I mentioned to Cotswold Dad that he was probably hungry as he was due a bottle. The family friend upon hearing this, asked a loaded question in a slightly patronising tone, variations of which I have been asked by many people.

'Are you feeding him yourself?'

Ok, I think to myself, I have several ways of responding to this:

A) No, at 11 weeks old we feel he is old enough to feed himself  (although he can't hold his own head up), we just leave a bottle somewhere he can reach it so he can help himself when he is hungry (We have also modified a rabbit feeder to attach to his cot at night for similar purposes.)

B.) No, when he's hungry we put him in the front garden with a bottle and sign saying 'feed me' in hope that someone passing by might take pity on him.

C.) We're supposed to feed him? Who knew!

D.) I bottle feed him due to various problems encountered when breastfeeding (see previous posts Part1 & Part2)

A deep breath later, I went for option D and launched into my full story - J's feeding issues, weight loss, hospital stay - the works. I was justifying my choices to someone I barely know, and its not a one off. I have been asked this question by family, friends, family friends and even total strangers working on checkouts or who stop me in the supermarket.

Firstly, why did I feel the need to justify my choices to people? My biggest enemy is that one phrase 'Breast is best'. It's been stuck in my head certainly from early pregnancy if not earlier. It is an expectation that all mothers will feed their own baby and this message is everywhere when you are pregnant. It comes from the midwives, doctors, and the media, and is reinforced by tv shows, your peers - the message is everywhere. 

At our second ante-natal (parentcraft) class, I had a whole session on breastfeeding. I was given leaflets, was lectured by the midwife that it was the best thing, we watched a dvd on breastfeeding, they even brought in 2 mums with baby's who were 4-5 months old who were breastfed to explain their experiences - the issues they had and their tips on holds etc. We were then sent away with lanolin samples (have to say that stuff is fantastic though) and a further NHS dvd on breastfeeding. I felt both institutional and peer pressure to breastfeed and did not explore any other options. After all breast feeding is 'natural' and 'Breast is best.'

Of course things didn't go to plan as you will have seen in my previous post.

Then I had to consider formula feeding J and at first I felt like I was failing him, after all 'breast is best' and it is supposed to be better for him due to antibodies in the milk etc. I felt that if I gave him formula I would not be giving him the best chance and that I'd be letting him down and I was reluctant and initially refused point blank. 

When people ask about feeding, this all comes back to me. I worry that they will think badly of me - that I'm too lazy etc. for breast feeding or that they will look down on me. After all with the older generations - they managed so why can't I? Usually when I explain to people why I formula feed J, they understand completely and are sympathetic - I think this I why I end up justifying myself to people every time I'm asked.

Secondly, why do people ask me this question in the first place? What business is it of their's how I feed my baby? Why do they think it is acceptable to ask this?

I think this is a highly personal and private decision for myself and my partner to make. If I wanted advice from others I would ask for it and whilst I am happy to confide in close family and close friends I find it slightly intrusive when anyone else asks but at the same time I don't want to be offensive or rude to people who genuinely (most of the time) mean no harm. So I grit my teeth, put on my shiniest smile and go into extensive detail into my life decisions.

People are judgemental what ever you say or do, you have to make the decision that is right for you and as long as your happy with that, what other people say, think and do should not matter. The problem is we're human, so it does...

You Might Also Like