Stacey Dooley: ‘Talking Openly About Our Feeding Journeys Can Be Hugely Beneficial’

'Over half of parents feel judged in terms of how they feed their children, which is just so bonkers to me.'

Stacey Dooley

by Stacey Dooley |
Updated on

Prior to becoming a mum, I genuinely hadn’t anticipated there would even be a conversation surrounding how we feed our babies. I learnt very quickly otherwise. It can be such a loaded, contentious issue, my first window into this was when I mentioned fleetingly that I hadn’t yet bought a steriliser pre labour. It was supposed to be a light post poking fun out of myself for being so unorganised but some of the comments were wild. It was clear that some people have very definite ideas of what should work universally, which I just think is totally unrealistic, as obviously every single family’s circumstances look different.

There seems to be so much noise and stigma around feeding in particular. Tommee Tippee had reached out to me and shared some of their research around this topic. Over half of parents feel judged in terms of how they feed their children, which is just so bonkers to me. As if we haven’t all got enough to worry about.

When I was pregnant I hadn’t given it loads of thought about how I would feed my baby, I just wanted to try and have things in place for every eventuality. You’re so apprehensive about the birth itself, getting the baby out feels like the first hurdle and I think I was probably focused on that!

I was lucky as my daughter took to the breast almost immediately. Like 20 mins after I’d given birth, she was wriggling down trying to find my boob. Obviously the latch took a couple of weeks to get right… and often I didn’t know if she was ‘on properly’ so I would express and offer a bottle when I felt nervous to reassure myself she’d definitely had something. Being able to see her take the milk made me feel a bit more confident. I persevered with the boob and I’ve been breastfeeding ever since.  She’s eight months now and doesn’t feel like she’s coming off any time soon!

It definitely hasn’t been without its hiccups. Mastitis is hellish and sometimes you’re so exhausted you could cry. But it’s not forever and when she’s bigger my boobs will become my own once more! No more feeling like a dairy cow!

I genuinely believe talking openly about our feeding journeys has the potential to be hugely beneficial. I’ve learnt how important it is to have peer to peer support, everyone's story is different. I think seeing the parenting community come together has been amazing. We have to offer kindness and support to one another, not judgement and pressure.  Any parent knows you’re battling emotions, hormones, sleep deprivation, anxiety…the last thing we need is being guilt tripped into thinking we aren’t doing it ‘right’ and worrying about how others view our parenting capabilities.  Our best is literally all we can do.

This is the reason I decided to get involved with The Social Feed, introduced by Tommee Tippee.  If we can encourage people to feel like they can be candid in a safe space, the likelihood is parents will feel more willing to share how they are feeling and coping with their experiences.  Their research suggests that 63% of parents feel like seeing their own feeding habits represented on social media has had a positive impact on their mental health.

So the goal ultimately I suppose, is to combat the stigma that can exist and stop shying away from ‘taboo’ subjects.  Being a parent is everything wrapped into one.  You’re euphoric one minute and challenged in the next.  Everyone tells me, ‘It flies by, soak it all up’. So my plan is to try and enjoy every moment, and I really genuinely hope other parents can focus on their ride too without having to worry about outside distractions.

You can follow the campaign at @tommeetippeeuk and #TheSocialFeed, with further information here.

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