At the recent Britmums Live conference (an event for parent bloggers), former Blue Peter presenter Katy Hill spoke about ‘mum-upmanship’ - the phenomenon whereby other people’s comments about parenting have the consequence of insinuating inadequacy in other parents.
With breastfeeding, in my opinion, the mum-upmanship tables are perhaps a little bit turned. Although there may be some smug mothers out there insisting that anyone can do it if they try hard enough (because they went through mastitis, thrush and their nipples hanging off* and they’re still doing ok), in my experience the vast majority of parents will instead try and reassure other mothers that they’ve done the right thing, whichever feeding decision they’ve ultimately made.
But there is one mum-upmanship area which does impact on breastfeeding – and that’s the cultural obsession with getting out and about as soon as possible after the birth.
In fact, I always remember (and at this point, I had no children myself and no real concept of ever having them either) standing in line at my local newsagent and overhearing the woman behind me in the queue telling her friend that ‘oh, I just had the baby six hours ago but I needed to get out of the house’ and thinking, ‘really? is that REALLY what you want to be doing?’.
I think its important to remember that there is no rush. That the world wont implode if you stay cocooned inside for a few days, or weeks, getting to know your baby and learning a new skill together. Because breastfeeding IS a skill, and like anything it may take a little practice and time to get it going the way you want it to.
I learnt the guitar as a child, and never did I hear my mum say to me ‘you’re spending way too much time cooped up practicing that guitar. Why don’t you get out and about and forget about achieving your grade 2…?’
Why shouldn’t breastfeeding be the same?
(umm, I’m not suggesting you should achieve grades in breastfeeding, by the way. Just in case you were wondering. Although, that would provide a whole new take on the breastfeeding mum-upmanship thing though wouldn’t it!).
Anyway, back to my point…just like learning to play the guitar and conquering ‘Moderato’ – the grade 2 piece from hell – I found that when I did finally achieve that first feed where everything went how I imagined, the sense of pride and achievement was amazing.
It’s something worth waiting for.
It’s something worth persevering with if its what you want to do.
So basically, my tip is this. Don’t be afraid to forget about the the outside world for a while and just stay wrapped up in your own little world instead. It’s a whole new world you’ll be entering anyway, as a parent. And its worth taking that time to be with your baby, relax and find your feet.
*you’d be pretty unlucky if all that did happen to you, in case you’re feeling scared! Masistis, sore nipples and the severity of thrush can all be prevented by ensuring that you have a good support network in place so that if problems do arise you can catch them early. If you’re pregnant it’s worth checking out what local support is available and perhaps contacting them / visiting if you can prior to giving birth so that you know where to go and who can support you if you need it. I guess that’s another top tip!
Check out some more breastfeeding top tips from these other bloggers taking part in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt:
And why not take a look at Thrupenny Bits as well – they make lovely breastfeeding pillows that can make your time snuggling up inside even more comfortable