Breast-feeding is a Feminist Issue

I normally keep clear of controversy when it sparks on insta and twitter. I choose my battles and stick rigidly and narrowly to them (yeah, I’m on to you gender inequality- you better run.) but the hoo-ha over Unmumsy Sarah Turner’s post that dared to suggest ‘fed is best’ boggles my mind.

I combination fed William (nipple confusion is bullshit). It worked. He was happy. He’d take a bottle from his dad and I could still feed him to sleep. It worked a dream. He was fed. It was the best for our family.

Alex? I’d lost my mind. I kept being told to ‘try harder’ but I knew, I knew, he was tongue tie but the referral came too late. He was on the bottle. And he was fed. It was the best for our family.

And do you know what? Breast-feeding is a feminist issue. It’s another way that women are made to feel they’ve ‘failed’. It’s another way in which fathers are distanced and disenfranchised. It’s another way that women are discouraged from leaving the domestic sphere (it’s a lot easier to work, go out, drink and be merry when you’re not a leaking bag of hormones with a baby dangling off you). And, judging by the explosive reaction to Sarah’s innocuous enough comment that ‘fed is best’, it’s also another excuse for the media and parents to pit women against women.

I am sympathetic to women who found feeding easy and can’t understand why others don’t. My mum always thought women who complained of period pain were being a bit soft because she’d only ever found it mildly uncomfortable. I am intolerant of people who say they have food intolerance (wheat gives you tummy ache? Fart and get over it!). I still partly think people who have hay fever are just being weak. I am not sympathetic because I find having periods, eating wheat and being around pollen a breeze and have been known to do all three at the same time- take last week’s picnic for example. It’s the same for breast feeding- if you found it easy, I get why you may resent other mothers not doing it but BACK OFF.

I live by Amy Poelher’s wise words: ‘fine for her, not for me’. It’s the toughest gig of them all but ultimately, all parents are just doing their best so step away from the comments section, log off the internet, jump down from your high horse and go and smell the roses… if your allergies will let you.

bottlefed

Hot Spots of Loneliness

I write a regular blog post for Meet Other Mums and was asked to pop up some posters advertising the site. It made me think of all the places I visited with a newborn and which of them made me feel the most alone. It wasn’t the cheeriest train of thought but however outgoing, lively, popular, busy or vibrant you are, as a new parent there will be times when you feel side-swiped with loneliness. So I chuffed around Norwich with my posters and flamingo pins and I revisited all those places that made me feel the most overwhelmed and alone. Here’s the list and be sure to smile at any new parent you see at these places.

The Doctors’ Waiting Room

Going to the docs’ is bad at the best of times. No one likes the hushed tones, the oppressive heat, the panic when you didn’t hear if it was your name being called (‘Could bzzzz come to room bzzz for doctor bzzzz please?’). It’s stressful enough to navigate the fierce receptionists and disease-riddled copies of Saga Life magazine. When you add a screaming newborn and a bitching dose of mastitis then you are guaranteed to never have felt more alone. You wish your mum was there.

The Library Play Group

You feel duty-bound to take your child to the Read and Rhyme session at the library. A stash of library books signals you’re doing ok, right? Your kid will def have a head start if it can sing Frere Jacques, right? So you spend the morning prepping for the trip. You’ve remembered the buggy, the rain cover, the expressed milk, and the baby. You forget the library card and that makes you late. You have to squeeze on the edge of the circle and you slump down, just on the outskirts of the group, in a tiz of sweat and nappy bags. Everyone seems to know each other. You’re too self-conscious to sing so you mime the words. You cry in the car on the way home.

The Supermarket

Now, a kid-free trip up the ‘big Tescos’ can feel akin to a mooch in Milan. With a kid, not so much. Some dickhead would’ve taken the last Parent and Child spot so you’ll have to schlep your child across the car park and the baby’s squawking in it’s car seat which is the heaviest thing you’ll ever carry and it’s banging against your hip and you’re already feeling like a failure because you’ve forgotten to bring any bags. Some old person will always tut and helpfully mutter ‘someone’s tired’ and you’ll shout ‘NO SHIT’ really loudly in your head. You might even torture yourself by morosely shunting the trolley through the clothes aisle hoping to find something that would fit, hide the puffiness and make you feel good. You realise you’ll have more luck with the latter in the bakery aisle. You’ll have a really lovely chat with the person on the checkout: they’re usually women, they’ve almost always had children and they always just seem to get it. As you walk back to the car from the trolley park, you think how that’ll be the last conversation you have today until your partner gets back from work.

Social Media

You feel like a teenager when you realise social media makes you feel inferior. You should be above all that, should’ve out-grown it. But when you see all the vloggers, bloggers and buggers meeting up, winning awards and wearing cool slogan tshirts, you feel a key stage three sense of envy . You want to pose against a wall and drink cocktails and have a fringe. Social media manages to make you feel like everyone’s in the cool gang and you’re not invited. You buy a new red lipstick and practise your selfies with a sense of self-loathing.

Cafes

You’ve arranged to meet someone you met at a baby group in the early days. You’ve stayed in touch  sporadically since you first met in a musty village hall. Maybe she’s gone back to work and you haven’t. You feel like she’s got a million interesting things to talk about. You desperately think of things to ask her while you pick food off the floor and try to stop the baby from banging its Lamaze toy against the table. You look at your watch and think about making your excuses but only 40 minutes has passed. Will she think you’re being rude? You just want to go home and put your joggers on. You smile and ask her about her commute.

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You can be a member of the best team in the world, but still feel lonely.

Feeling blue? Pop me a message and we can meet for a walk or a cuppa. We don’t even have to chat- we can just eat our feelings and have a little cry.

NCT Can Do One

When I stay awake at night fantasising about all the ways I can make millions, I often come back to my alternative NCT plan. Still scratching around for names but the winner so far is ‘Sprogging for Slackers’. 

Here’s a sketchy outline of my ideas/principles. I’m considering crowd funding. 

NCT: pregnancy is a beautific experience 

Me: pregnancy is, at best, uncomfortable in a ‘I ate a too-big roast and now want to sleep on the sofa’ way. At worse; it’s the only time you will puke and cry and wet yourself at the same time. 



NCT: you can breathe your baby out to sounds of whale music 

Me: you can do whatever the eff you like: drugs, doolas, dads or no dads. Your womb: your rules. 



Nct: breast is best 

Me: breast, bottle, both. Whatever. 

NCT: having a baby together will shine joy on your relationship

Me: will it HELL. And never, never give sound to your 3AM inner voice: howcanyoulaytheresleepingwhenweareawakeandwhycantyoulactateyouuselessbastardsCURSETHEMISOGYNISTICGODS!

NCT: sleep when the baby sleeps 

Me: hahahahahahahahahaha



NCT: send you home with leaflets about hand expressing and how to recycle your nappies 

Me: I would send you home with a stash of shitey mags and the secret to exactly how much booze you can have before it affects the baby. 

So, I hope you like my business plan. Please leave in the comments any suggestions for the curriculum. Please also leave pledges for thousands of pounds so I can set up this gig up.