Now I never did like the term teenage parent which is why I have titled this post as “young mums”. First off this isnt going to be directly about my own experiences. Those I have already written about in my post “My Breottle Experience“. So why am I writing about breastfeeding when I have a 3 and a half year old? Well because it is National Breastfeeding Awareness Week of course!
So when I decided I was going to write a post about young mothers and breastfeeding I of course turned to my best friend google for some facts and figures.
Breastfeeding rates increase with mothers’ age. Mothers aged 30 or
over had the highest levels of breastfeeding in both 1995 and 2000
(50% 62% respectively). However, females aged under 20
demonstrated the lowest breastfeeding incidence (24%) in both
1995 and 2000.
Ref: Infant Feeding Survey 1995 and 2000 cited in “Equality and Inequalities in
Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland: A Statistical Overview (DHSSPS,
Now this is something I wasnt suprised to find out. It is of general opinion that young parents will bottle feed over breastfeeding for various reasons, some people believe its for the sake of vanity, not wanting their breasts to sag, some think its due to the convienience of bottle feeding meaning that anyone can look after the child and feed it, there are heaps of reasons. The sad fact I believe is that young parents often arent able to access to the right information and resources.
As a young parent I was lucky in that my Mum wasnt going to let me get away with sitting on my arse for 9 months, producing a child and then not know what to do with it. I may have been 16 but I was going to know how to be a mother. Thankfully after ringing around she found me a midwife and health visitor led course for me to attend, it was a great course with 4 or 5 other mothers and some had their partners there too, some were the typical what you would expect teenage mums to be, others werent. We were educated on birthing choices, labour, what to expect from labour, how to change a nappy, clothing a baby, bathing a baby, and of course feeding a baby, bottle and breast were discussed and I can remember some of the other girls straight away saying they wouldnt be breastfeeding for numerous reasons.
I was lucky that I had the chance to go on this course, not all young parents do, infact most dont, in 2006 when I had J like I always do I turned to the internet, but again there wasnt much in the way of support. Now there are sites such as Prymface and Bubbalicious.
So ultimately where does the responsibility lie? Its easy for us to say that young parents generally dont breastfeed, but in reality maybe more of them would if they had the right information and support. Maybe its the system that is failing them like it does in so many other ways? It probably also comes down to your local area, in mine there was very little, however I was pleased to find this booklet on Nottingham City’s site. So next time the media starts bashing young parents for not breastfeeding, consider weather the education and support was there, weather the circumstances were right.
I was lucky the support was there for me. I was able to try and breastfeed. My son got a few feeds in. A few of those important early colustrum filled feeds. I still to this day feel guilty that I was unable to carry on and alot of that guilt is down to other parents and the media. But I know there was no way I would be able to breastfeed in my circumstances but that doesnt mean I wont be trying again next time round!