In the news this week the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver made public the lovely news that he was expecting his 5th child (wowzer) with wife Jules and on the back of that announced he was going to launch a campaign to make more mothers breast feed as our national breast feeding statistics are the worst in Europe. He claims that breast feeding is “easy” and that bottle feeding can contribute to health worries such as obesity in children. This landed him in some rather hot water with women up and down the country who slammed him for piling unnecessary guilt onto new mothers.
I have a confession to make… I bottle fed my daughter from day one and have never felt a seconds guilt about it whatsoever!
I have a serious aversion to having anyone touching my nipples. Even I can’t touch them without triggering my gag reflex so the thought of a child latching on for hours on end was enough to make me reach for that first wonderful tub of formula. My daughter reached every stage of development early and with notable applause by health visitors and midwives. She slept fantastically and was easily settled leaving me to simply enjoy her, in my opinion there’s a lot to be said for the saying ‘happy mother, happy child’. I was bottle fed and so was my brother and both of us have reached adulthood with no signs of morbid obesity and have always (touch wood) enjoyed great health. Another reason I won’t spare a guilty thought over bottle feeding is because I already suffer from crazy mothering guilt for plenty of other things and I’m sure I’m not alone.
For me it started the day we brought our precious bundle home from the hospital and I realised that the world is a dangerous place. Just walking close to the upstairs banister rail whilst holding Scarlett left me with a nauseous feeling and I spent the first three weeks going down the stairs on my bottom incase I tripped and she went flying.
There’s an extremely steep hill in Harrogate called Parliament Street which I’d have nightmares about accidentally letting go of her pram and seeing her roll at 100mph into the busy road at the end. I still try to avoid Parliament Street now, which ironically is where Jamie Oliver’s restaurant is located, and even looked online to see if there is some kind of body harness I can purchase to attach myself to the pram or a remote activated parachute to stop any unexpected pram rolling. There isn’t unfortunately, but yes I feel guilty for walking on steep hills.
I feel guilty when I see other people’s toddlers tucking into quinoa salads and avocado smoothies when all my child will eat that day is sachets of ketchup and Cheerios, but then I think atleast ketchup is loosely a tomato and Cheerios have 5 different grains… If you’re in a similar boat then don’t worry the food fazes never last, yesterday Scarlett ate a mushroom and I almost leapt up to high five myself.
Food size is a huge point of guilt for me as I cringe at Scarlett putting anything into her mouth that hasn’t been lacerated to the size of a pin head or liquidized for fear she chokes on it but then I realise she can’t get to 25, go on a date and have mummy bustling into the restaurant ready to measure her meatballs.
I felt extremely guilty when we were out walking with a friend and the pram rolled into a lake. Before you panic, the pram was empty and the only reason it went in was because I was so busy making sure Scarlett (who was walking) didn’t. It still didn’t stop me having palpitations of shame that I’d let anything of hers roll away from me. On the upside it needed a clean anyway and the little dip I took to retrieve it was quite refreshing.
So, I guess what I’m saying is mother’s endure enough pointless guilt about the most ridiculous things from dusk until dawn, daily. If you can breast feed and enjoy doing it then that’s fantastic but equally if it’s not working out for you or you really don’t fancy it then don’t beat yourself up. If your child is happy, healthy and thriving then pat yourself on the back and keep going.