I hear you say.
Breastfeeding barriers in 2023? Surely not?
Surely, it’s widely accepted now, no stigma, no problem, right?
Well firstly, we must address the different types of barriers – because there are the barriers put up by others, the barriers put up by yourself and of course, those pesky barriers that just happen to naturally occur without us having any say in the matter.
BREASTFEEDING BARRIERS PUT UP BY OTHERS
Some people STILL have an issue with mothers doing what comes naturally. Those judgmental folk with nothing better to do with their time than moan about something that doesn’t affect them at all.
The ones who make a big fuss about a mother discreetly breastfeeding her baby in a cosy corner of a cafe.
The ones who make you want to yell,
“DON’T LOOK IF IT OFFENDS YOU!’
The ones that say it ‘puts them off their meal’ even though their own table manners usually leave a lot to be desired.
This might not seem like much of a barrier, but to a tired, brand new Mum it can be huge! No mother feeding their baby should be made to feel ashamed.
The good news is, things have improved over the years, and people with that mentality do seem to be becoming much rarer. And with many cafes, shops and restaurants actively encouraging and promoting breastfeeding – it’ll be the people who protest who will seem like the ‘freaks’ they like to label others as.
And for those still insisting on being archaic in their attitudes, the best answer is to completely ignore them.
Why should we let anyone like that affect our decision on how to feed our babies?
BREASTFEEDING BARRIERS PUT UP BY YOURSELF
This might be a bit of a taboo subject – nobody wants to think they are the ones putting up barriers. If we are completely honest with ourselves, in life we have personal barriers that we must overcome for most things, why should breastfeeding be any different?
And why should we feel bad about genuine, personal issues that might make us think twice before doing something?
You might be:
Worried that baby won’t get enough food.
With a bottle you can see exactly how much your baby is getting on each feed. When breastfeeding, there is no tangible way to tell, and that can be a worry.
Especially to a new Mum.
However, if your baby feeds in a calm and relaxed way, removes themselves from your breast and has a moist mouth they are likely getting enough.
Appearing content and satisfied after most feeds, is another indication your baby is getting plenty of milk. However, your midwife will also be able to help, by monitoring weight gain and discussing any issues you may have.
Worried about the effect breastfeeding might have on your breast
Let’s face it, if you haven’t had this worry, you ain’t human! And no! it doesn’t make you ‘selfish’. or mean you don’t care about your baby.
It makes you normal!
We live in an era that seems obsessed with how people look. The media positively celebrates ‘celebrities’ who bounce back to their pre-pregnancy figures in a matter of weeks but seems to vilify those who proudly show off their perfectly healthy, realistic post-baby bodies.
So, you’d be forgiven for worrying about your baps!
Good news though! It’s a MYTH that breastfeeding will ruin your breasts – of course, when you are breastfeeding your breasts get bigger as they fill with milk, so they will naturally expand to accommodate it.
So naturally when your milk dries up, your breasts will shrink and you may be left with excess skin for a little while, which can give the appearance of sagging breasts.
However, pregnancy itself makes your chest area become bigger, so even if you don’t breastfeed, the effects as they go back to normal size will be the same! So, nothing to do with the actual breastfeeding itself.
We particularly like this Blog for tips on ‘bouncing back’ after breastfeeding, to help put your mind at ease!
Worried that Dad won’t be able to help with feeding
Ugh, aren’t men useless? Can’t even breastfeed a baby! Jokes! Of course, men aren’t useless – they even helped create your little one. However, the fact is no, men can’t physically breastfeed a baby. This can be off-putting for new mums who are worried they won’t be able to catch up on much needed sleep.
Well, if you want to exclusively breastfeed, dads can help in other ways – run errands and take on other chores to help you out. But there is also the option of combination feeding, where you express milk for Dad to give to your baby in a bottle.
Some parents also like to offer formula in a bottle for night feeds and revert to breastfeeding in the daytime. There is no right or wrong it is a matter of what works for you.
Worried about feeling exposed whilst feeding
Breastfeeding is, by definition, something that can leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed. Some women can feel uneasy about feeding in public, which can put them off.
There are lots of breastfeeding items on the market now that can help to effectively cover up, so you are able to discreetly feed your baby.
BREASTFEEDING BARRIERS THAT NATURALLY OCCUR
Not producing enough milk.
The struggle is real!
A friend recounted a story where (20 years ago) she told the midwife she wasn’t producing any milk and the midwife proceeded to try and milk her like a cow! Only to then agree that she was indeed not producing any milk.
My friend KNEW she wasn’t. She had no need for breast pads.
There wasn’t a single drop.
If this happens to you, it is rare, and it’s also not your fault. You aren’t any less of a mother if you can’t feed your baby this way. Fed is BEST.
While you can still breastfeed while suffering from mastitis, it is incredibly painful and can result in an infection, so if this does happen you may choose to stop breastfeeding. Mastitis can also make you feel pretty rotten!
So, it might be in your best interests to stop so Dad can give you (and your poor breasts) a break.
Struggling to feed even though you’re producing milk
Although breastfeeding is one of the most natural things a mother can do for her baby, many women do struggle.
More than you think!
Luckily though there is more support than ever! Your midwife can put you in touch with local NHS breastfeeding support groups, and there are also independent breastfeeding specialists out there too.
As it’s not such a taboo subject these days, you can also talk to your Mum, your friends etc. who have experienced it before.
But as touched upon before, you need to do what is best for you and your baby.
Don’t let anyone else decide for you, shame you into doing (or not doing) anything that you’ve set your heart on doing.
A loved, fed baby is a happy baby.
Emma Attwood Photography – based in Eckington, Pershore- specialises in newborn, baby, and maternity photography.
Want to know more about my Newborn Session? Head over to emmaattwood.co.uk/newborn-sessions-worcestershire/
Or how about a Maternity photoshoot to capture your beautiful bump? emmaattwood.co.uk/your-maternity-photoshoot/