In an extract from her new book, founder of cool collective Mothers Meeting Jenny Scott shares how she came to discover that breast isn’t always best.
1 DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP
Just after giving birth you will be
extremely emotional and tired, so go
easy on yourself.
2 DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
At the end of the day, you can trawl a
billion helpful breastfeeding blogs, read
hundreds of textbooks, but you have to
do what makes you happy.
3 WINNING FORMULA
Feeding your baby formula is not a
crime, and it is no one else’s business.
4 THERE’S MUCH MORE TO COME
Motherhood is laden with guilt and
every month there’s a new obstacle, it
just so happens breastfeeding is one
of the first!
5 MOTHERS UNITED
Keep your head up and never judge
another mama for their choice of
feeding. We are all in the same boat and
we all have to stick together.
When I gave birth to Sonny, I thought breastfeeding would be a walk in the park. I mean, women had been doing it since the dawn of time, right? How hard could it be? At the very least it was going to give me a guilt-free few hours everyday while slobbing out in front of the TV. What an absolutely amazing mother I’d be, feeding a brand-new little person with my very own bazookas. Wow, was I in for a shock. The latching on, the pumping, the constant thirst, the fear of whipping your puppies out in public (my first experience involved me sobbing under a blanket in a National Trust café, with two lovely OAPs egging me on), the constant cycle of waking up every couple of hours, the excruciating pain of cracked nipples and feeling as though your boobs (aka udders) are about to combust at any point. The leaking, the bloody breast pump, the feeling of ecstasy when you have managed to pump two millilitres of liquid gold.
Put it this way, breastfeeding was not quite what I had expected it would be. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I started to look online for some friendly advice on the subject – now that was a big mistake. I don’t think I have ever Googled a topic with so many opinionated and aggressive women up in arms. I was totally gob-smacked; not only about the huge amount of pressure and guilt that was being heaped upon new mums, but I couldn’t believe how many mums felt terrible shame that either they could not breastfeed due to medical reasons, or simply through choice. This was a debate with vastly varied opinions, as well as medical and cultural differences.
By the time I had started researching this topic online I was absolutely exhausted from trying to do ‘the best’ for my son by breastfeeding, and the sheer volume of negative comments made me feel even more depressed and useless. After a few hours I randomly saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I realised that I was really unhappy breastfeeding, I actually didn’t like any single part of it. I really wanted to, and I really did try my hardest for two months,but it was making me miserable. So that weekend I went out for the first time since becoming a mum. I went to a rave in a Peckham warehouse and I’m ashamed for saying so, but I got really drunk. I think I showed photos of my new baby boy toevery single person I encountered. The day after that night out was the day I decided to pack in breastfeeding and yep, I used the alcohol as my excuse. Now I look back and realise how silly I was for thinking that I needed an excuse to give it up, I should have just done so because it didn’t feel right. Not because I felt like I was letting the millions of angry mums on forums get the better of me.
How to be a Hip Mama Without Losing Your Cool, £12.99, Hardie Grant