The internet is full of advice and views on breastfeeding, though very few of these will have been written by a man, so I know this is risky!
For those of you that follow my blog regularly this post may come as a little bit of a surprise. If my usual humour and stories about Robbie are what you are looking for, you may want to check out a different post as this may not be the article for you.
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Many men will feel highly uncomfortable even talking about about breastfeeding, let alone writing on the subject. Before Robbie, my son, was born I was one of those men. I always felt a little awkward when I saw Mums nursing in public and never quite knew how to react to it.
I am also sure there will be a few mothers in the world who will think it is not my place as a man to comment on breastfeeding at all. However, these are the exact reasons I am writing this post.
For years now, midwives and all involved in the profession have strongly recommended breastfeeding and rightly so. The medical benefits to raising your baby purely with breast are clear and of course, every parent wants to do what is best for their child.
There is evidence that breast milk contains nutrients that can not be replaced by any formula. It is proven to lower the chances of illness and strengthen the child’s immune system and the benefits can help well into adult life.
Aside from the health of the baby, breastfeeding also has some great benefits to the Mother such as reducing the risk of breast cancer and other illnesses, shrinking the uterus and creating a bond with the baby. It can even burn up to 300 calories a day and help with weight loss.
More recently however, the slogan ‘fed is best’ is becoming more frequently used. Since I have began writing this blog I am now involved in numerous parent groups and this issue comes up constantly, at which point I hide away behind my screen.
The phrase ‘fed is best’ is almost guaranteed to start an argument amongst mothers who have never met and have no real understanding of each others situations. Those that purely breastfeed will criticise those that do not and at times accuse them of prioritising themselves over their baby. Nothing is more hurtful for a mother and often this could not be further from the truth.
The arguments are not just one sided. Those that combination feed or purely use formula often argue back regarding the length of time the baby remains fully dependant on Mum and how this can affect their social development.
I will never get too involved in these debates but what I will do is talk about the Dad’s perspective, after all that is what this blog is all about!
For us, we chose before Robbie was born that he would be fed with a mixture of breast milk and formula. It was a decision that we took purely on what worked for us as a family as well as talking it through with our midwife.
We had our reasons. I was desperate to be as close as I could to my new son and also to take care of my wife as best I can. My opinion was that I would rather my wife still be getting sleep and the occasional opportunity to be away from Robbie without this causing a major disaster.
Post-natal depression is a devestating illness and was not something that I wanted to affect my wife. We have always shared responsibily for everything in our lives equally and our Son would be the same. It was not just her job to look after him.
Of course, we did try all we could to keep him only on breast milk for the early stages. Sarah was having trouble expressing and Robbie was losing weight as he was simply not getting all he needed from her. We had No choice but to add in formula a little earlier than we had hoped. For many, this would be seen as a disaster but not for me.
Being able to feed Robbie in the middle of the night so Sarah could get a little sleep was not a burden but an honour that many Fathers will not have. It can be tough for a new Dad to establish such a strong bond as often we are packed off back to work within a couple of weeks and the baby can become Mum’s ‘problem.’ I wanted to spend every second I could with Robbie before my two weeks were up.
To put it simply, fed was best for me. Even if we had chosen breast only, the weight being lost by Robbie would have resulted in formula anyway. For those that judge any Mother or Father for the way that they are feeding their child need bear in mind that you do not know their circumstances nor the situations that have led to that decision.
Everybody wants the best for their child. What can often be forgotten is that they also want the best for their wives, husbands and other children. Breast milk is the best nutrition for your child but a few minutes off may make your wife a better Mother. Each of us is different and so long as the child is being cared for to the best of our abilities, none of us should be judged.
If you are expecting a baby please do not take my words as any kind of advice or expert opinion, they are just my thoughts. If you would like to find the benefits of breastfeeding above formula, check out the NHS website Here.
For those guys who still can’t get their head around breastfeeding (I was one of you before Robbie arrived) there is a fantastic article about how men can be supportive during breastfeeding over at www.refinedprose.com that is well worth a look.
I would really love to hear any thoughts on this post as it is not an issue I usually discuss and realise it can be controversial, so please drop me a comment in the box below. If you prefer something a little more light hearted, please have a look through my Diary of Dad series in the links below.
The item shown below is the machine we have used for Robbie since birth and has certainly done us proud, feel free to check it out by clicking the picture below.
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