Breastfeeding // “Easy and convenient” for whom, Jamie?

jamie oliver breastfeeding debateI’m a bit late to the party on this one, as I spent a lovely tech-free day with the family yesterday, so I’m only just catching up with the news of Jamie Oliver’s new campaign…

And it’s “Get British Mums Breastfeeding”.

Oh, good.

Because we all need a man wading into the propaganda-ridden world of “breast is best” to explain to us stupid women why we should be breastfeeding our babies.

Why we’re going to make them fat later in life by not boob-feeding.

Why we’re failing in another aspect of our lives.

Dumb women – they can’t even feed their babies properly. 

Jamie is quoted to have that said breastfeeding is “easy and convenient”, and from a Mama who has experienced both a positive and not-so positive breastfeeding experience, I’m here to tell you that neither of my experiences have been easy, nor have they been convenient.

Both experiences began, as all “easy and convenient” experiences do, with cracked bleeding nipples; not because my latch was wrong – but because your nipples are not used to being suckled 100 times a day (unless you’re into that kind of thing, of course). Have you ever had a gaping wound on your nipple, Jamie? It’s horrifically painful. Have you ever seen blood round your baby’s mouth, Jamie? It’s fairly traumatising. Have you ever begun to associate your child with pain, Jamie? It’s a mind-f*ck. Oh, and add to that the after-birth pains every time baby noshes on your boob… Ouch.

I tried to feed Busby, but due to stress and PND, my milk had dried up within a month. I would sit on the sofa for hours on end, trying to pump milk that just wasn’t there – and felt like I’d failed her. It wasn’t just the pressure I’d put myself under either; ‘helpful’ family members would stick their two cents in, speculating why I was failing. Health Visitors (my favourite Health ‘Professionals’) would bring round knitted boobs and patronisingly explain to me daily how to get my baby to latch on ‘properly’, like I was a child in reception, ignoring my protestations that she had a perfect latch – she just wasn’t getting any food. Consequently, she began to lose weight, and it wasn’t until an understanding Health Visitor said to me “you don’t have to do this”, that I saw the light at the end of the very dark tunnel. Nick gave her the first bottle of formula, as I sat on in tears, sobbing that we were poisoning her… but the more she ate, the more she began to thrive, and I came to the conclusion that the most important thing was that she was fed and wasn’t going hungry.

As for the ‘helpful’, guilt-inspiring information saying that babies who are breastfed have better immunity and less chance of having any allergies; Busby barely ever had a cold up until she started Nursery, whereas most of the breastfed babies we knew seemed to be constantly poorly. And the same applied to allergies.

Oh, and the utter rubbish linking higher levels of intelligence to breastfeeding? I have a secret to tell you – it’s genetics, chaps – not what you eat as a baby.

H-Bear’s breastfeeding experience was better. I was more prepared and I didn’t put the same amount of pressure on myself as I had with Busby, because I was fully aware that if I couldn’t breastfeed again then it wasn’t the end of the world.

I breastfed H-Bear for four months; it was a better experience, and once I got into the swing of things, I started to enjoy breastfeeding. We formed an amazing bond, and I enjoyed the excuse of being able to spend the day in bed feeding in the early days. But rather ironically we discovered he suffers from a cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) and silent reflux, and therefore he couldn’t tolerate my breast milk – he’d spend all the time screaming, he wasn’t thriving, and wasn’t gaining weight properly, so we had to move to a special hydrolysed allergy formula. Since then he’s been a different baby.

My experience of breastfeeding H-Bear was convenient in the fact that I didn’t have to clean and sterilise bottles… or wait all of 10 minutes for a bottle to cool down, but I think that’s where the ease and convenience ended.

The hundreds of pounds spent on ‘breastfeeding friendly’ clothes, nipple creams, breast pads, maternity bras wasn’t massively convenient. Not to mention all the extra food we had to buy to keep my energy up whilst I was feeding.

The continuous sleepless nights up feeding, and not being able to share night feeds, all after growing a baby for 9 months, the physical exertion of birth, and the seemingly daily cluster feeds… That wasn’t easy.

Trying to get a baby to latch on underneath swathes of fabric, in the fear that I might flash my nipples to anyone and everyone… That wasn’t convenient.

The men that inevitably (and rather obviously) stared when I was feeding… That wasn’t easy.

Jamie Oliver, of course breastfeeding is important; it is the best nutritional start in life. But it’s ignorant to think that every woman who doesn’t breastfeed isn’t properly educated. At the end of the day, breastfeeding is a choice, and if I’m honest the two most important things are that 1) Baby is fed and 2) Mama is happy.

Instead of launching a campaign to make us Mums feel even more inadequate, how about campaigning about the mental health of new Mamas – because the support services for postpartum mental health are fairly appalling, and a successful, positive breastfeeding experience is undeniably linked to the mental health of the baby’s mother.

But yes, back to your original point, breastfeeding is definitely the easiest and most convenient method for feeding your baby… if you’re a man.


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  1. 20th March 2016 / 6:10 pm

    Completely agree. I never wanted to bf and I’ve never felt guilty either, I won’t allow it. I know exactly what is best for my child but it never appealed to me, to have a child strapped to me most of the time, all these women that say hue lovely it is spend the first few months shattered and moaning about how they get no bloody sleep as if the newborn stage isn’t hard enough!? I’ve long since accepted I have a selfish view of breastfeeding, it doesn’t bother me, I know the facts, I’d encourage others to try it (I actually did the few hours but just ouch no not after 3rd degree tears and labour thanks!) but the reason I really don’t like it? Because u feel pushed, I feel it rammed down my throat and that gets my back up. One of the few times I’ll share my opinion on things I think!

  2. 20th March 2016 / 10:43 pm

    I’ve been sittng on a bf post for a while now too. Well said and I agree entirely. It is such a big deal for women but for men it is easy to make judgements when they are not the ones going through it all.

  3. 21st March 2016 / 11:49 am

    Urgh, I haven’t heard this one yet (I’m obviously out of the loop) but I think I would punch a man that told me breastfeeding was convenient and easy. It seems like everything that is out there, on the internet etc, is designed to make a mum feel inadequate and now this. Sorry, I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet over this one. Completely agree about the mental health thing – we should be concentrating on helping new mums adjust and take some confidence in their own decisions, rather than telling them they’re wrong all the time.

  4. 21st July 2016 / 4:12 am

    Great post Hannah. Well said and I agree entirely. It is such a big deal for women but for men it is easy to make judgments when they are not the ones going through it all.

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