As a secondary school teacher I have taught another of subjects, one such subject which is not one of my specialist subjects is Health and Social Care GCSE, A Level & now BTec. The popular misconception about this subject is that it is “just about how to rear a child” – this and child development is indeed part of the syllabus however, it does cover of a number of other complex issues regarding the care of all types of service users. Anyway I digress from the reason for writing this post! The head of this subject is very much a purist when it comes to breast feeding and very vocal about – which when teaching children, who are very impressionable – I disagree with…
She is also a mother of two children whom she was able to breast feed until one year of age. When teaching students about early child development she focusses solely on breast feeding and the benefits of feeding a child in this way and skims over the other ways of feeding a child which, personally I feel is wrong as students should be empowered by being given all the available information so that, when and if they choose to have children, they can make an informed choice. Although, in private discussion she does acknowledge other methods of feeding (which is relief ! ) she continues to vocalise the mantra “breast is best”.
I have been very lucky in the sense that I’ve had experiences of both breast and mixed feeding a child. With my first child J, the decision to mix feed was the result of other external factors. J was 13 days early and as a result had low sugar levels, this resulted in an overnight stay at the hospital, where I was ordered to stop breast feeding him and to offer him formula instead to try and increase his sugar levels. Apparently, hospitals have since changed their policies regarding this and ask mothers to continue to breast feed alongside any other method they employ in cases such as this. Upon discharge from the hospital I began trying to breast feed him again however, he would not take to the breast so, I continued with the formula and also offered him expressed breast milk. In retrospect his refusal of the breast was probably largely due to acid reflux which he was later diagnosed with and certain breast feeding positions aggravating this condition.
With my second child E, I have been able to breast feed her from birth to five and a half months to date. All of these methods have advantages and disadvantages. Having exclusively breast fed my second child I now understand why people are so smug about having breast fed their children as it is not easy – well not for me anyway!
There are numerous reasons why people choose to breast feed or not their children such as, culture, physical health of child and mother, work commitments, having older children etc. What those breast feeding purists, who judge those that formula feed seem to forget is that, it is a personal choice and one that is right for them – just as the choice to breast feed is. Some breast feeding purists judge those that formula feed or mix feed to such an extent that they depict them as the devil incarnate! Parenting makes you feel inadequate enough at times without having to face criticism from other parents about their preferred methods of feeding. Such people should consider how best to feed a child is not an easy one and there are a whole myriad of other factors involved when it comes to doing so. Just as it is a human right to make our own decisions, our choices should therefore, in turn be respected. The advice given to women regarding breast feeding should be less biased so that, women choose not to breast feed or mix feed their children do not feel that they will shunned by the rest of society for not exclusively breast feeding or feeding their child formula. Being able to breast feed is a wonderful thing and the use of formula milk should be seen as being just as acceptable – the reasons behind the choice in the method of feeding that a woman and her family chooses should only be a concern to them and them only.