The Right to Choose
by Sarah Kooger

Breast versus bottle, natural birth versus caeserean - a mother's right to choose.
The right to choose

If there are two things that can spark serious debate, its bottle vs breastfeeding and C sections vs natural birth.

Pre children, I was, and still am, pro breastfeeding. I was of the opinion that C sections were most often not necessary. I felt many woman gave in too easy and, obviously, I was making a rather uneducated judgement.

Three kids later and I'm a lot more open minded and understanding, or so I feel anyway.

During pregnancy I absorbed all the information I could about raising my unborn baby, and although there was a lot of helpful information, nothing I read prepared me for what it was really like. True, words can most definitely not describe what raising a baby would like, or how birthing and feeding would feel. But what shocked me was that much of the information I read was not, well, real.

I was fortunate that my first births were fairly easy 'natural' births (as I type this, i recall that pain relief during labour is yet another debate to be had). My third wasn't as straight forward. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My first attempt at breastfeeding was a shock. All the information I'd read talked about this amazing bonding experience, and how, if you were doing it correctly, breastfeeding didn't hurt. Imagine my shock when this wasn't the case. I was left thinking that I was doing something wrong. The nurses in the hospital told me my daughter was latched perfectly, and that the pain I was feeling wasn't pain, and that I needed to toughen up. My nipples cracked and bled. If it wasn't for the support of my mother, who assured me that the pain was normal and would subside after a few weeks, I may have given up completely, All the support was for breast was best, or the ONLY option, posted plastered all over the walls, however there wasn't a lot of support. Once everything settled down, I enjoyed over a year of feeding, followed by another year and a half with baby number two.

Baby number three was completely different. My plan of a natural birth, and coming straight home was shattered a few weeks before she was due. She was flex breech, with the cord wrapped around her head and feet. Natural birth wasn't even an option. My obstetrician mentioned that had this been 'the olden days' both my daughter and I would have died during birth. 

Last week I got involved in a heated debate over c sections, after a fellow student and my Uni suggested that I was a coward for not even attempting a natural birth. She suggested that the c section was a choice I made, and that that made me less of a mother. I wasn't risking the life of my child or my own. To me, there was no choice. A C section was performed, and my gorgeous wee girl made it safely into this world.

Fast forward from the birth a few weeks and my Arthritis went into major flare up. I was warned of this, however the severity of it shocked even my specialist, and the decision was made to start chemotherapy to shut my immune system down. This meant a full stop to breastfeeding. I loved breastfeeding. The initial hard weeks were over and I was beginning to love it again. I had to make a the hard decision to bottle feed. I was given a few weeks to get myself sorted and get my baby used to the bottle before my treatment begun. And this is where the judgement started. 

Having worked in childcare for so long, I was well used to making bottles, but had no idea on what the best formula was, or where to start. and do you think anyone would help? NO. Do you know what replies I got to that? "you know you should breastfeed!" I even had people tell me to continue despite the treatments! The decision to bottle feed was the best for BOTH of us, for her health and mine.

I went forward with the bottle feeding. And I got hounded for it everywhere I went. I felt bad too, as I made enough milk for about 10 kids. People's judgements made me feel terrible. First a c section, and then this. 

I could go on forever, so a few final words from me...

We are lucky we have choice. The way our children are born, whether that be naturally or by c section. or with or without drugs, is our choice, but sometimes, that choice is taken from us. The plan is to get baby here safely, for both mummy and baby. Who cares how so long as that goal is realised?

With feeding, the main point is that baby is fed. Good mummies feed their babies. Yes, breast is best, but its not possible for everyone, and there is more than one reason why someone may need to bottle feed, beyond not making milk. If mum isn't making enough milk, and good mum bottle feeds their baby so they don't go hungry. Without advertising of formula, those of us forced to bottle feed, or those who choose to for whatever reason, wouldn't have a clue where to start. Without websites that allow a little information on bottle feeding, we would be lost.


This blog was written by SarahK and originally published on Kidspot Social.

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