As a follow up to my post yesterday, I quote from a national UK newspaper; ‘Only 1 in 100 [mothers] are obeying NHS guidelines that they should exclusively breastfeed for the first six months,’ Daily Mail, Wednesday 21st November.
This illustrates my point about judgement from society perfectly. Obey? The use of the this word is loaded with the insinuation that new mothers are wilfully deciding to act in a disobedient manner and ignore doctors guidelines. It is the choice of the individual woman and her partner to make. I heard this advice, along with many other new mothers presumably, and I tried to do what doctors said is best for my baby. My baby is six weeks old, and I am still expressing religiously at regular intervals for my baby. I have had to start supplementing so my baby gets enough to eat.
I acknowledge that while I am a UK citizen and follow current UK medical advice, I am not currently a UK resident and so my baby was not born in an NHS hospital. However, she was delivered in a hospital abroad by a British trained obstetrician, following current UK practise.
Should I be vilified for failing in the eyes of the NHS? Does this make me a failure as a mother? Is it not a measure of success that I managed to breastfeed for a shorter period of time, even if I did not make the six month mark? Did my baby fail to get any benefit at all? Would it be preferable for her to become undernourished and hungry during the first few months of her life?
Or would the NHS prefer it if I kept developing mastitis, and possibly other complications, and if I were a UK resident, keep making return visits to my local NHS doctor and costing the health service money? Does it not say something about the amount of difficulty faced by new mothers that only 1% of mothers meet their target? As a middle manager and a teacher, I do not consider that to be a realistic or successful target setting procedure by any stretch of the imagination. If only 1% of my students were meeting a target I had set them, I would not be doing my job properly and I would be answerable to senior management and government bodies alike.
So are all these women, the other 99% of new mothers who do not exclusively breast feed for six months, wilfully disregarding medical advice and choosing against providing the best for their baby? I find this a staggering indictment on British women if this is what is being suggested to any degree. I certainly have not chosen this path. I want the best for my baby, as do, I am sure, the 1% of breastfeeding success stories. So why make 99% of new mothers feel like monsters?