by Robyn Jones – B.Sc. (Psych), NSW, Australia
Having a new baby is an amazing experience. It comes with the wonder of how someone can be so tiny (and so loud at the same time!) and the fact they are dependent on us to take care of their every need for a while. There are so many ways we can care for and nurture our new tiny human, and so much we can do as women to support them to grow up healthy and strong.
Feeding our babies is one way of nurturing and caring for our baby, but there are currently a number of myths floating around and interfering with this process – myths that can leave many women with feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, failure, unplanned pregnancies, physical harm, and much more. Not what is needed at this precious time of immense change!
Six breastfeeding myths exposed
It is hoped that by exposing the following six breastfeeding myths in this 3-part series, along with the fact that we all have a choice in how we feed our children, that as women we will understand more about ourselves and our bodies, as well as the importance of taking responsibility for ourselves over and above what we hear or are told.
Because this is every woman’s divine right – to know ourselves from the inside out, to know ourselves as the naturally intelligent beings we are, and to connect to the wisdom we all hold within our hearts that is there to guide us through our lives and experiences as women who have children.
This is why it is important to debunk the lies and myths that can trap us in harmful cycles, ideals and beliefs, that can affect us both physically and psychologically for years to come.
So let’s begin…
Myth 1 – Breastfeeding is the ‘best’ way to feed and nourish baby
We have all heard the slogan “Breast is Best”, which comes with an immense amount of pressure to do what is ‘best’ for our children. But who decides what is ‘best’? A man, a woman, someone we know, someone we don’t know, a doctor, a scientist, a nutritionist? Who?
We are the experts on our own lives. We know ourselves the best (as we are with ourselves 24 hours a day), we know our children the best (as we look into their eyes and into their hearts everyday from the moment they are born), and we know what is best for our families as a whole. We need to claim this knowing back for ourselves, and by deconstructing this particular myth around what is the ‘best’ way to feed our babies we are presented with an opportunity to do this.
The truth is that breastfeeding is not always what is ‘best’ for some women and babies, it is not a one size fits all solution, and we need to be careful not to allow the pressure of what is apparently ‘best’ impact on our health or the health of our baby. Is breastfeeding with incredibly painful or bleeding nipples what is ‘best’?”
Breastfeeding is only ONE way in which we can feed our babies, but is not the ONLY way.
Please note: Whilst this article is not here to debate the fact that breast milk is specifically designed to feed our young, it does present the opportunity to discuss some of the myths that are floating around about breastfeeding, which can cause a significant amount of harm to women both physically and psychologically.
It is also important to acknowledge that by purely advocating breastfeeding as the ‘best’ way this ultimately gives the use of formula a ‘bad’ reputation, which is in fact not true. Formula is an extremely viable option to feed and nourish our babies with, and as women, we have the choice of what feeding option is most supportive and the best for us and our babies.
Myth 2 – Breastfeeding is the strongest way to bond with baby
Bonding and breastfeeding are often grouped together with the impression that one is dependent on the other, but the truth is that connecting and bonding with our baby comes from our heart, not our breasts.
Feeding our child, whether that is from our breast or a bottle, is an extremely delicate time that offers us a chance to stop… feel… and connect with the gorgeous warmth that naturally emanates from our baby’s heart – to look into their eyes, to touch their gorgeous hands and feet, to feel them grasp our finger, and to feed them life sustaining goodness. This is a most delightful time, and one ALL women can experience no matter what feeding option has been chosen.
What does support us to connect more deeply with our babies is the level of care we honour ourselves with. This level of care is about expanding our love for ourselves, therefore expanding our hearts in the process. We then have a greater capacity to love another, namely our baby.
This is where bonding and connecting with our baby comes from, not simply our breasts. When we have established a love for ourselves, our babies naturally feel this through whatever feeding option we may have chosen. Exercise your heart today by loving you in some way, shape, or form – because we use our hearts to connect with others, not a body part.
Two down, four more to go
So that’s two myths exposed, explored, and discussed. We have more to come. Join us for Breastfeeding Myths Busted – Part 2 as another two myths are deconstructed and the falseness and harm they can cause is revealed. With a further two myths busted in Breastfeeding Myths Busted – Part 3.
Before you move on, it would be great to hear from you about your thoughts and feelings on what has been discussed in this article and whether the myths that have been busted have had an impact on you or your breastfeeding experience. Please share in the comments below.
Original article was published on the Mouths of Mums website on June 26, 2016.