It is understandable to have mixed feelings about breastfeeding
For many mothers breastfeeding is a rewarding experience and seems an obvious choice. For others, their worries about breastfeeding can make it seem daunting. We can sometimes receive mixed messages about breastfeeding; on the one hand we are told that ‘breast is best’ but on the other we can feel worried about breastfeeding being difficult or something that needs to be done in private.
Remember you don’t have to decide how to feed your baby until they are born. However, we do know that thinking things through beforehand can help you come to the decision that is best for you, in your own time. And, even if you don’t feel certain about breastfeeding, having skin-to-skin contact with your baby after they are born is a wonderful way to have your first cuddle together. Then you can wait to see how you feel about breastfeeding when baby is here.
What are your worries about breastfeeding?
If you feel unsure about breastfeeding it can be helpful to try and identify specific worries or concerns you may have. You can then think about why that might be a particular worry for you, and consider ways of addressing it.
For some mothers, worries can be around breastfeeding being very difficult or challenging. Television programmes, children’s toys, and even parenting magazines may all seem to suggest that bottle feeding is the normal way to feed a baby. When they do discuss breastfeeding, they often only show the negative stories, and suggest that breastfeeding is filled with problems or difficulties. The truth is that although some women experience difficulties with breastfeeding in the early days, for many mothers breastfeeding longer term is an incredibly rewarding experience.
For other women, the idea of breastfeeding can feel strange because they are used to thinking of their breasts in a sexual way. Advertising and magazines often show breasts as a symbol of sexuality. It can then feel confusing to think about feeding a baby at the breast – even though that is what they are meant for! This can be especially difficult if you have not seen anyone breastfeeding before.
We have included some information here to help you think about your feelings about breastfeeding, to understand the difference between breastmilk and formula milk, and to address some of the concerns you may have about breastfeeding.