Whether you breastfed or bottle-fed your baby, would you say you were well-informed about breastfeeding during pregnancy?
If not, you're far from alone, according to a recent survey commissioned by breastfeeding brand Medela. A total of 1,956 mums took part in the study via social media, and 70% of those respondents said they wished they had been given a more realistic picture of what to expect when breastfeeding.
What's more, 66% of the mothers surveyed said they wished they had received more information on breastfeeding throughout pregnancy.
Medela says the survey suggests that mums 'would like to see a real and honest picture of what breastfeeding is truly like' and that it's no surprise, given the prevalence of 'unrealistic images and glamorisation of breastfeeding', that 'many mums wish they were given the real facts so they could not only be better prepared, but also ensure they didn't feel bad if the early days were not as easy as they thought it would be'.
Medela Medela UK's Education Manager and in-house Lactation Consultant, Sioned Hilton, commented:
"Breastfeeding has an endless list of benefits for both mother and baby however it can be difficult and exhausting in the early days as mums adjust. By managing mums' expectations and giving a realistic image of what to expect, as well as ensuring they have the right information early on in pregnancy, we can help to prepare new parents for this special time and potentially help prolong their breastfeeding journeys."
Having not encountered any major challenges with breastfeeding my kids, I feel I'm hardly qualified to comment on this topic. That said, I can't personally think of any information which could have been dispensed during pregnancy in order to better prepare me for the realities of breastfeeding. In my case, I don't think knowing how much breastfeeding can hurt would have helped me before my babies were born; I'd just have had yet another thing to lie awake at night worrying about.
Then again, even though I had a pretty realistic picture of breastfeeding in my mind before my babies were born, nothing really prepared me for those difficult breastfeeding moments - such as when my health visitor announced that my son was 'failing to thrive' and would need to be formula-fed and possibly even hospitalised if I didn't crack breastfeeding sharpish. I'd like to say I didn't beat myself for being a failure at that point but that wouldn't be true - I did.
Fortunately in our case, a breastfeeding counsellor was there to pick up the pieces and both baby and I fared just fine. But others aren't so fortunate and who knows - maybe I'd have coped with that experience a little better if, like the survey mums suggest, I'd had more information throughout pregnancy about what to expect with breastfeeding. I just wonder if I might have been in danger of dismissing it then, especially during my first pregnancy, as so many of us tend to float through first-time pregnancy naively assuming we'll find it all comes as second nature to us.
But of course if even just one mum reckons better support or information might have made her early days of new motherhood easier, then she's worthy of our attention.
And Medela also asserts that the results send a clear message from mums and beg the question 'If one or both of these findings were addressed, would breastfeeding rates improve?' That's definitely a question worth trying to find the answer to.
Do you agree that more information during pregnancy would have helped you prepare more effectively for the experience of breastfeeding? Could you have better prepared yourself for breastfeeding if you'd known what to expect? We'd love to hear your thoughts over on our Facebook page.