flaskmatning - att gå emot normen

Bottle feeding – going against the norm

Everyone's situation is different and all mothers deserve to feel the best for their baby, whether they are breastfeeding or not.

Whether you are breastfeeding, pumping or bottle feeding, it does not define you as a mother. Everyone’s situation is different and all mothers deserve to feel the best for their baby, whether they are breastfeeding or not. One could argue that whether or not to breastfeed should be free from the opinions of others, and something for each individual mother to decide. So simple.

But this is far from the case. Instead, it turns out that feeding is among the most charged of topics among parents of young children. Many people who cannot breastfeed feel a sense of failure, and many who have chosen not to breastfeed say that they have been met with skepticism and have felt a strong need to explain and defend themselves. In both cases – if they chose not to breastfeed or wanted to but could not – the lack of breastfeeding is reported to have created feelings of shame and guilt. Below are some excerpts from interviews Unna has conducted with mothers on the subject, which we think highlight the stigma surrounding bottle feeding:

“I feel that there is a strong norm that you should breastfeed your baby. It is cheered on and you are met with positive reactions – which can be good. As long as it doesn’t happen at the expense of those who can’t or won’t breastfeed – that they are then seen as inferior. It’s so hard to be a new parent anyway, no one feels better about being judged.”

“…then there is another dimension: I have been fully satisfied with not breastfeeding. I gave it a try but felt quite quickly that I didn’t want to. It was simply too demanding for me. The bottle meant that we could help two parents from the start and I have never mourned or regretted anything, as some people seem to do. But I am and have been happy with this choice, and I am afraid to say it out loud. It is as if it is a bit ugly. As if it would be more okay if I had fought and cried my way through the first six months, desperate to get breastfeeding right, and then mourned the fact that it never really worked well. So twisted.”

“In my group of friends there was a strong unwritten rule that you should breastfeed because it was so natural and created such a strong bond through the closeness of breastfeeding. I saw breastfeeding as the essence of motherhood and I even thought that I would be the kind of person who would breastfeed my child for a long time. This was before I had children. Neither my first pregnancy nor delivery turned out the way I had imagined. They were a disaster. Once our daughter Leia was out for an emergency section, she needed specialist care and we didn’t get home for a fortnight. My milk production never really took off, and every time I tried to stimulate it, I had an anxiety attack I could barely handle. Bottle feeding was the only successful thing in this first period, and I have had to re-evaluate and accept. I’m humbled by the fact that anything can happen and there’s not much you can control when it comes to this.”

If you want to read a nice book about going against the norms as a new parent, including opting out of breastfeeding, read “The Birth of a Parent” by Emilia Bergmark-Jiménez.

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