DEAR MUMS, ONLOOKERS AND JUDGEMENTAL SOCIETY
BY ANITA HEIGLAUER
I want to reach out to you in the hopes of creating awareness for a topic that is sadly still an issue even in our generation - and maybe now more than ever. Unfortunately, "Mum shaming“ exists, in many ways, and it puts more pressure on mums than you might even imagine.
5 years ago, almost to the day, I decided to undergo a preventative double-mastectomy due to multiple breast cancer cases in my immediate family. This means that all of my breast tissue was removed and reconstructed by means of cosmetic surgery.
It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make as it brought with it the possibility that I would never be able to breastfeed my children, should I ever be lucky enough to conceive. The recovery was long and painful, and as I found out only after having given birth to my beautiful daughter, it was not the end of the story.
Being a mum who gives her newborn baby a bottle, turned me immediately into a selfish, uncaring and irresponsible mother.Or so I was made to believe.
Random people would approach me asking me wether I would be breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mothers would claim in my presence that they would never give their child the bottle. Not to mention the judgemental glances of passersby, or random acquaintances.
Even some nurses in the hospital where I gave birth had no tolerance for not even trying. For obviously not even making the effort, they had me get up off my hospital bed to get my daughter’s formula myself, despite just having had emergency surgery the day before, tubes and syringes still sticking out of me.
One might say that it should have just bounced off of me, as I knew the real reason behind why I could not breastfeed, but that was easier said than done. As a first-time mum, you’re naturally insecure already, and being treated like that only makes it worse.
Now that my daughter has just celebrated her first birthday and I am settled into motherhood I know that being a good mother does not have anything to do whether you have been able to breastfeed or not.
Yes, I would have given anything for that bond you can immediately create by giving your child this part of yourself, and yes, I still mourn after this feeling every once in a while.
But I realised that bonding can happen in many ways but one. I am lucky enough to raise my daughter bilingually and as a self-employed mum I can perfectly work around my daughter’s schedule. This is my way of bonding. Of creating this special connection that hopefully lays the groundwork for my daughter to grow up in a nourishing environment, for her to grow up to be an inspired young woman who will always speak for herself and stand her ground. Because this is what I did by making my decision. I chose life over prejudice. I chose future over past.
So I urge you... please don’t judge a book by its cover. Either read a couple of pages or don’t judge at all.