Breast is best…. we know

17 August 2015

headshot simonebell parentstalk

Ok, so I know I will probably get slammed for this, maybe even hunted down and speared, because it seems everyone has an opinion on breastfeeding. Why we should do it, why it’s best for baby (or toddler, or 6 year old child), why we need to gather a cast of thousands to breastfeed in public to make a stand or whatever it is that floats your boat.

At the end of the day, I am no expert and I certainly don’t claim to be. Strike me down now pro-breastfeeders - but my babies were all bottle fed. If you can’t cope with the rest of this post, please stop reading now.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. I spent weeks with my first baby trying to breastfeed. She cried. I cried. I think my husband may have even cried. I just couldn’t do it. It was hard to convince me to try her on the bottle, until another 3am hallway pace with a crying baby, when my mother quietly brought out the tin of formula she had purchased that day. Hit me again Mother Guilt, but I came to the realisation that breastfeeding was just not for me.

It wasn’t a light decision or the easy way out to put her on the bottle (trust me, planning an outing with a thermos and carefully measured formula is not an easy task). I was told by my health care nurse that I was not giving my baby the best care, and she would be sicker than other children as she got older. Wow, strike me again while I’m down. Even my uncle threw in his 2 cents worth on why I should be breastfeeding, and bottle feeding was bad.

With social media hitting our airwaves in recent years, I’ve got to tell you I’m a little tired of the breastfeeding debate. Scrolling through Facebook, I noticed New Idea have posted a picture of a US photographer breastfeeding her three year old asking for the hate mail to stop. Yay for her (here we go again - insert sarcasm).

I had a friend who fed her 2 year old on one breast, and her 5 year old on the other. I didn’t look twice. Her business, not mine. Everyone has the right to make their own choices with how they raise their baby. I certainly don’t condone mothers being made to feel guilty when breastfeeding in public, but on the other hand, I also think they should be concentrating on feeding their child because the child needs feeding, not because they need to make a statement about feeding in public.

And I feel that half the photos that appear on the internet or magazine covers are just that - making a statement. This particular photo is asking for hate mail to stop - yet the photo is completely staged. ‘Here, jump on my breast, so I can take a photo, post it publicly, and see how many keyboard warriors jump online - but please make the hate mail stop.’

Breastfeeding photos, breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding in private - it should always be with the right intention. To feed your baby and enjoy the bond you have created with this beautiful little being you have created. These moments really don’t last long enough for your mind to be elsewhere. With the power of the internet, there will always be people ready for an argument. I’ve seen posts on local community Facebook pages asking for 'Kids party face painter' recommendations - with 'no nasty comments’. So of course people will always be opinionated, whatever the topic.

So breast feeders, go back to enjoying your babies. Feed them when they need to be fed, wherever you are, for however long you want to whatever age you want. Give the attention to your baby, not the internet trolls.

And bottle feeders, no guilt. Please, no guilt. I remember the wise words of my mother. “When they get to school, no-one will even know if she’s been bottle fed, or breast fed. Do what’s right for you.”

My mother was right. I now have a 14, 15 and 17 year old. They’ve never been sick other than the odd cold. They are smart, intelligent girls all doing well in school with great plans for the future. Nobody has ever questioned whether or not they were breast or bottle fed.


US photographer Jade Beal has posted an image of herself breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. Jade says she doesn’t feed in...

Posted by New Idea Magazine on Monday, August 3, 2015

Written by

Simone Bell

Although she sometimes feels like she’s caught up in a real life Kardashian show (minus the Range Rovers), Simone is our resident mum of three teenage daughters. She’s kept busy with talk of makeup, fashion, friendships and all the important girl stuff. A city girl, living in the country, married to her teenage sweetheart - you can catch up with her antics on the KOTC blog. 

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  • Guest - Keiran Hodges
    Well said Simone. I was very determined to breast feed my first baby for a variety of reasons but mostly because I didnt want to be a bad mother. I wanted to give my child the absolute best. My nipples were cracked and bled and I cried every time my baby woke for a feed. I never felt the "letdown" and questioned whether I had any milk at all. Was I in fact starving my baby? Great, more guilt. It was my husband who dragged me kicking and screaming to buy bottles and formula. Thank god he didnt buy into the breastfeeding argument and therefore was able to make decisions about OUR child guilt free. From the moment our daughter took her first bottle none of us looked back. I kept breastfeeding but complimented these feeds with bottlefeeding. My children are both well and have not suffered in any way shape or form from bottlefeeding. We have bonded and to date no one has been able to tell my kids were bottle fed. Basically I dont care if you bottle feed or breastfeed your children. So long as you feed your babies, surely that should be what matters.
  • Guest - Justine Stewart
    Absolutely! I think also a lot of the problem is that some media outlets LOVE stirring up fights and conflict = a cheap way to try to get more readers/clicks. One of the guiding editorial philosophies of Kids On The Coast when starting out was: "let's not cover this parenting issue in the typical x versus y story way". Breast may be best, and natural, but for some people it just doesn't work out. In the so-called good old days, those babies would be either breastfed by someone else or died. Dying is "natural" too!! Somehow I'd rather mums who can't breastfeed feel okay about switching to a bottle!

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