Two weeks ago I went to the doctor, it had taken me months to get sorted and I had a couple of quite important things to talk about. The first was some pain in the back of my head, and the doctor was insistent that it was nothing to do with an infection I had just when Little Dimples was ill, despite it being in the same place. So he recommended a nurofen based gell. When I asked if it would be OK with breastfeeding, he looked around the room pointedly at Little Dimples (15 months) and Curly Headed Boy and then said “Why? Do you have a baby at home?”. Shocked I said “But she’s only 15 months” and then I got ‘the look’. It’s the one that Mums get if they breastfeed LESS than or MORE than 6 months; a mixture between disgust and ‘you are a freaky mum’.
How come didn’t he know that the World Health Organisation recommends that if you can, you feed until 2yrs old, and that the average around the world is 4yrs old. I don’t need a pat on the back, I just didn’t need ‘that look’. I’m not saying that you should breastfeed by the way, or that you have to feed for that long; just that I don’t expect to go into a doctor’s surgery of all places and get ‘that look’.
I do remember facing similar ignorance with the health visitors. Now I know that many health visitors are probably really nice people, however I decided early on after the arrival of Little Dimples that their main reason for being was to make each Mum cry at some point in time. When my health visitors did the weaning talk around the 6 month time frame, she automatically started to talk about weaning off breast milk as well. To her it was the same thing. I had to look on the internet to be sure that I ‘didnt have to stop’ at 6 months. In retrospect I realised that to keep up to date with information on childcare does require some time and effort on the internet, and if you are not full of passion for your job then you don’t keep up. But why hadn’t someone higher up done the research and passed down the information?
At the point with the Health Visitors I didn’t have the confidence in myself to complain about the misinformation. However I’m a few years on now and after going home, and realising that in my shock I’d forgetten the other reason I’d booked to see a doctor, I was suddenly incensed and decided to complain. I’m so glad I did. When I talked to the practice manager she was both lovely, and very concerned. I realised that sometimes it might seem like we have to complain and not get listened to, but it’s always worth it because eventually one of the people will listen!
So as it’s world breast feeding week, I thought I’d post this story and encourage Mums to stand up for their choices to use formula, breastfeed or do extended breastfeeding; because the one thing that is the same about all of us is that we all will get criticised for our choices by someone somewhere, and often the people that we least expect.
Here to cheer you up on a grey day is Jessie J with ‘Mama Knows Best’ – watch it loud and proud!