#Bressure and #Brelfies

Yesterday my Twitter feed was ablaze with people bickering over baby feeding. Apparently the "craze" for breastfeeding selfies [or brelfies] is putting pressure [or bressure] on mothers who cannot breastfeed or choose not to. 

I am SO fed up with reading this sort of thing. 

I breastfeed my baby. I breastfeed him because I can and because I want to and because I feel that it is best for MY baby. That's it. Three little reasons. I don't breastfeed him because I want to make anyone else feel bad. I don't breastfeed him to show off. I don't breastfeed him for any other reason you can think of. 


Brelfies, as ridiculous as I think the word is, do something very important. They show other mothers that breastfeeding is normal. That breastfeeding is good. That breastfeeding in public is acceptable. They encourage other mothers. They help other mothers feel less alone. 1% of mothers are still breastfeeding their babies at 6 months old. Breastfeeding mothers are in the minority. We need the support and encourage, even if it's just through someone's Instagram picture.

I know there are mothers who can't breastfeed, or had to stop for reasons outside of their control. And I know that it hurts to see something that reminds you of difficult times. I know, I've been there. But we can't expect others to hide their pride or their beautiful photos or not talk about their positive experiences just because it hurts us to see or read about it. I am a grown-up. I can take responsibility for my own feelings. 

ChannelMum's suggestion that we support mums however we feed our babies is all good and well. But why use a play on words that has a negative connotation towards breastfeeding? When we talk about feeling under pressure, we clearly don't mean that in a good way. So combining breastfeeding with pressure to come up with "bressure", aside from being daft, is dangerous. 

I'll explain why.

Pregnant for the first time, all I heard about breastfeeding was negative stories. My partner tried to discourage me, because his ex had struggled. "You'll get mastitis," he said. "They'll make you get your boobs out," he said, referring to health visitors. Friends, family, strangers, all questioning me on how I was planning to feed my unborn baby, all armed with negative stories of their struggles and quick to assure me that I too would struggle.

That's what made me feel pressured. That's what made me feel anxious and worried. That's what made me bury my head in the sand. That's what made me decline antenatal classes about breastfeeding. That's what made me think, "I'll just deal with it when the baby is here" and as a result, I was totally unprepared when the worst happened.

By peddling all this negativity around breastfeeding, I missed out on crucial information and support. I should have been receiving information, encouragement and support. Instead people were filling my head with horrible stories and telling me that I'd fail before I'd even begun.

How many other mums-to-be are hoping to breastfeed but are being pressured to formula feed because of other people's negativity? How many are being put off altogether because they see these negative stories in the media, negative hashtags on Twitter, negative debates on Facebook?

How I wish someone had shared their positive stories with me. Or handed me a leaflet. Or told me about an antenatal breastfeeding group or where I'd find support once my baby was born. Nobody did, and ironically I'm sure it was because they were too afraid of "bressuring" me. 


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21 comments

  1. I agree with you 100% . i never thought I would breastfeed until I met my husband. Being Turkish he didn't know anything else and I am so glad. There is a shame to bf here in this country (ireland) and people are embarrassed to get their tits out, god knows they do it after a few drinks but I digress. I'm so glad that I bf all 3 of mine till approx 9 mths. It wasn't without problems but it was a lovely, bonding experience without shame. I think people should have a certain amount of pressure to bf as that's a good thing... formula feeding should not be the norm (obv exceptions to those who can't for medical reasons)

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  2. Beautiful picture and so true. For me, breastfeeding didn't work out. I didn't feel judged at all by breastfeeding mums for bottle feeding. No other mum I know personally has felt judged for bottle feeding. But all of the negative stories about breastfeeding women made me feel guilty, like I should expect to be judged. Even the doctors and health visitors who are instructed to promote breastfeeding didn't put me under any pressure once I'd had my baby. They gave advice but didn't make me feel bad when I couldn't carry on. It irritates me how the media makes women feel guilty, whatever path they are taking. We're all just trying to do the best for our babies, we don't need any added pressure. X

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    1. It is definitely the media! We read about it so much that we start to believe it must exist, when in reality it doesn't, or at least not for the vast majority. Thank you for commenting x

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  3. Totally agree! Breastfeeding is not totally accepted or seen as normal (especially after a certain point) right now and the pictures are helping normalize it. That doesn't mean everyone has to breastfeed. It means if you want to nurse your child you should have support and be able to feel that it's normal. And not to mention- breastfeeding is an important part of my life right now and sometimes I want to share a picture of that. That's the motivation - not to make anyone else feel bad or pressure.

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    1. Yep, you nailed it! Thank you for commenting x

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  4. Human Beings are mammals and hence the mammary glands people! So much for being an evolved species where nursing your new-born infant is frown upon, society sucks.

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  5. Hi Sian - I've just found your blog and it's lovely :) I couldn't agree with you more on this. I'm not a fan of this kind of play on words at the best of times, but especially in this case. Guilt (in whatever form) is unavoidable as a mum and things like this aren't helping anyone.

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    1. Thanks Kate. It's such a silly word x

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  6. I'm surprised you weren't offered leaflets or advice/supported by your midwives and health visitors. I actually had a very different experience from you, I didn't hear too many negative stories about breastfeeding and watched as both my sisters breastfed, and never even considered bottle feeding (of course I would have if I couldn't physically do it) so I do sympathise. #twinklytuesday

    Carolyn
    http://www.stylishmemories.com

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    1. HVs were great, but here we don't see them until after baby is born, which is potentially too late for some mums. I'm glad you had a positive experience x

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  7. I believe it is a very personal choice and some women may choose not to breastfeed at all for whatever reason and we should respect their decision. Equally, I think women who breastfeed should feel comfortable to do so wherever and whenever their baby needs it. I think us women need to support each other no matter how we choose (and some women have that choice taken from them) to feed our babies and just accept people's different life choices not try to pressure either way.

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    1. That is the point I'm making - support all mothers BUT not to the detriment of mothers that want to breastfeed. They don't have to be negative about breastfeeding in order to support a bottlefeeding mother. The negativity in the media, including the bressure campaign, is putting mothers off before they've even had a chance x

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  8. It's madness. If we didn't post a picture everytime it might make someone feel bad, social media wouldn't exist. I feel lucky that I never felt pressure to breastfeed or not and felt the choice was mine. I want to see representations of all women.

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    1. Exactly! I'm glad to hear you didn't feel pressured either way x

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  9. I didn't breastfeed as long as my goal, but hearing others' successes didn't discourage me. Quite the opposite! Seeing other women successfully breastfeed encouraged me, just as hearing other moms' stories of breastfeeding failure made me feel less alone. Honestly, I wish I had more photos of myself nursing my twins. Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.

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    1. I get so many 'how long will you breastfeed for?' Questions.. And if I say 'I'm not sure, hopefully until he's 2 at least' I get some very strange looks indeed. The WHO actually recommend all children are breastfed until at least 2. I'm not sure why people see it weird to do it beyond 6 months! I guess because the majority of mums stop at 6 months? I hope this changes in the future

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    2. Sadia: That's really great that you had positive feelings even if you didn't breastfeed as long as your goal. I wish I had taken more photos too, especially as a newborn. It just goes so quickly though x

      Jane: I hope it changes in the future too. Though when I was pregnant with N I thought you were MEANT to stop at 6 months and start using follow on milk, because of the adverts of TV! Fortunately I soon found out the correct info x

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