Award winning journalist Madeline Morris says there isno doubt that breastfeeding is a huge benefit to new babies. But, having experienced the reality of breastfeeding first hand, she also knows that it doesn’t always work out.
Although Morris was prepared for the fact that she might encounter breastfeeding difficulties, having had a breast reduction, she was shocked by the way other women around her struggled with the pressure to breastfeed.
“I watched friends completely tie themselves into pretzels trying to breastfeed,” she says.
Morris notes that there is a huge amount of pressure on women to be “perfect” mothers and that breastfeeding has become one of the biggest indicators of that “perfection.”
“It’s not enough to be a perfect mum, you have to be a breastfeeding perfect mum,” she says.
In her new book, guilt-free bottle-feeding, Morris works with paediatrician Dr Sasha Howard to dispel some of the myths that surround bottle-feeding and provide bottle-feeding mothers with a powerful message; your baby can grow up to be perfectly healthy, happy and smart.
Morris, who is an investigative journalist, spent three months conducting thorough research into both breast and bottle-feeding. “Of course there are benefits to breastfeeding, but the scale of those benefits tend to be over-sold to women,” she says.
For example, Morris says that recent studies have shown that the link between obesity and formula feeding is not as clear-cut as breastfeeding advocates suggest.
Morris says that whereas formula feeding has been blamed for an increase in obesity, the link is actually due to poor feeding practices that could be eliminated with better support and information for bottle-feeding mothers.
“There is a cone of silence around bottle-feeding. We’re not taught to feed sensitively, we’re just told to do what it says on the tin,” Morris explains.
When you consider that only 16 per cent of babies in Australia are exclusively breastfed for six months it becomes obvious that there is a huge need to offer women bottle-feeding support.
“The majority of Australian babies are getting formula at some stage. We need to do better by those babies by teaching parents how to formula feed safely, andlovingly and in a way that is going to promote maximum health and bonding,” says Morris.
For many mothers, a return to paid work means a switch from breast to bottle-feeding or the introduction of mixed feeding. This can be a huge source of guilt for women who may already have conflicting feelings about returning to work.
For women in this situation Morris’s book provides both the practical advice needed about making the switch as well as reassurance that they have nothing to feel guilty about.
Morris’s message to these women and all bottle feedingmothers is this: “You’re not a failure for bottle feeding your child.”
“Your child can grow up to be perfectly happy, healthy,smart and just as bonded to you as a breastfed baby.”