Yes, Gisele Buchden, with your impossibly long legs and lithe model’s physique, but apparently little brain power, I am referring to you.
Your recent inflammatory comments regarding instating a mandatory 6-month breastfeeding sentence on all mothers has sparked an inferno that no amount of backpedalling can put out. It’s akin to saying all women should be a size 10 – the same level of absurdity applies.
The simple, inescapable fact is that not all women CAN breastfeed. Period. For so many, like me, It.Just.Does.Not.Work. Do you then let your infant go hungry, less it be exposed to the so-called perilous evils of Baby Formula? And while I am no medical expert, my son now aged two, appears to be the epitome of health and happiness!
Many of us would have loved nothing more than to be able to share this special experience with their newborn. Try as you might, often persevering to the detriment of your own physical and emotional health, you eventually get to breaking point where something has got to give. And if it comes to a choice between your sanity and duelling with a dwindling milk supply I recall only too clearly which one I was forced to opt for. PND is a very real looming presence amongst new mothers, and with statistics showing that one in ten will succumb to this insidious ailment, it threatens to strike the most vulnerable. They are the Mums already struggling with the cataclysmic change in dynamics to their once ordered world; you couple that with breastfeeding issues and they can swiftly find themselves toppling over into a big black abyss of pain, that can be avoided by switching to bottle feeding.
Controversial comments such as those from Gisele do women, who are already donning a heavy necklace of Mother’s guilt, no favours at all. At a time when you are just trying to adapt to “the new normal” life that has becomes yours, after the trauma of childbirth, with hormones rampantly raging through you, and you find you have a baby who wont latch, wont sufficiently suck and therefore wont take a proper feed, you DO NOT, on top of this heavy burden, also require a complete stranger remonstrating you for failing at something that just does not come naturally to many. As one nurse so succinctly put it, as a part of an online forum; “I am a huge advocate of Breast is Best, but could she be anymore self-righteous about it? The women of the world do not need to be dictated to by a “super”model. Bugger off Gisele. New mothers are conflicted enough as it is”.
I can recall a similar agonising moment of unwanted interference. I was in an elevator with my three-month-old son when a stranger started nosily inquiring if I was breastfeeding him. She then proceeded to make hurtful, and extremely insensitive remarks about his being bottle fed, without knowing at all why we had resorted to it. I was inconsolable for hours after… What fragile first time mother needs that sort of weight hanging like a noose around her neck, ready to constrict at any moment?
And let us not forget the mums, so brave, who give birth amidst the trials of extreme illness. Surely it is ill-advised to breastfeed when there are chemicals coursing through your veins or you are undergoing intense medical treatments to be cured? Or this mum, who remarked “I literally popped a lung when I gave birth and tried so hard for so long to breastfeed and simply couldn’t because my body was too busy repairing my lung to make milk properly. I had no other choice but to feed my son formula as there was no other option”.
What of the Mothers who are forced to return to the workforce only mere weeks or months after giving birth? How does one breastfeed exclusively and on demand if you must be out earning an income to survive? Not all of us are able to earn a seven figure salary for flashing our flesh to the world and therefore able to stay at home til baby starts solids.
So Gisele, perched high above in your ivory tower of self righteousness, let it be known that for many mums, this excruciating inability to breastfeed your baby is far from some selfish choice, but more so a necessity for your child to ultimately survive and thrive. Many bubs are born premature and the mother will not as yet have had her milk come in – these delicate little souls need nourishment more than any other. Would you deny them this because of your bewildering belief that baby formula is riddled with chemicals?
Whilst valiantly advocating you are that worried about the health benefits attached to choosing bottle feeding over breast, I envisage its more so proclamation that performing this task helped your body “bounce back” into shape after the baby was born. Rest assured, if we all had access to a team of chefs, personal trainers and nutritionists, there is no doubt we would all give you a run for your model money.
And instead of adapting this ridiculous notion and overflowing our prisons with apparently delinquent formula feeding mothers (and therefore creating a separate and much larger issue of detaching the mother from her child) how about we encourage these frustrated new mums and comfort them when they cry? Because I believe its much more crucial to have a happy, emotionally stable mother than a child who is suckling breast milk over formula.