At first glance there doesn't seem to be much link between breast feeding and disposable knickers, so perhaps I had better explain the story of the disposable knickers. Before I had children, I was quite into 'green' and alternative things: I'd been using a mooncup for years (if you don't know what one of those is, then I suggest you google it, I love mine. (Unless you're male, or squeamish that is, in which case it's probably best you don't know). I'd been using fertility awareness as birth control for a long time, (successfully, that's not why we were having a baby). Whether I would use cloth nappies or not wasn't even a question, of course I would. And then I started to pack my hospital bag.
I researched all kinds of things on-line, spoke to friends with children, and started to plan what I'd need. It might have been eight years ago now, but there was plenty of information and advice out there on the old internet. I discovered that what I really needed in my hospital bag was a few pairs of disposable knickers. Somehow it made sense, you might make a bit of a mess of your pants, so it was far easier to get some that you could just throw away, so I did. I'm not sure if you've ever seen disposable knickers before, but they are uncomfortable, elasticated, papery things. If I remember rightly they cost around the price of cheap reusable knickers too, but still someone had said that I needed them, so get them I did. I think I wore a grand total of three of my six pack, before I came to the unavoidable conclusion that they were utterly pointless.
Of course buying disposable knickers isn't really a big deal, a bit stupid, but not a major problem. But really it shows a bigger issue. When you're pregnant for the first time, you get bombarded with information. At the same time that you're trying your hardest to work out exactly what you should or shouldn't be doing, this is all new territory, and you don't want to get it wrong. Somewhere in all of that it's easy to loose sight of the way that you want to do things, and to take on board everything that people tell you.
How does all of this relate to the problems I had with breastfeeding? Well, while I was pregnant I was told so many times that it was hard, that even though I was sure that I wanted to breastfeed, I was beginning to doubt my ability before I even tried. Then, once he was born, and the problems started, I was met with the kind of support that left supplementing with formula as the only option, and so I took it. I'm not saying that things would have been different if I'd been more confident in my own choices, or people hadn't told me these things, but I'm sure that it didn't help.
So what would I change if I did it all over again? What would I suggest to other people in the same situation? Stop, and listen to yourself, what feels right to you? There is no right or wrong way to parent, but there is a right or wrong way for you to parent, and it's important that you listen to yourself rather than other people. It doesn't matter what it is, you shouldn't do things or not do things when deep down they don't feel right to you. If it doesn't feel right, then it probably isn't. It's too easy to fall into the trap of leaving your baby to cry because you've heard that it's best for them to self settle, even though it tears you up inside, or not to 'spoil' your baby by holding them too much. Really if it feels wrong it probably is. Of course everyone is different, and you really need to listen to what your instincts are telling YOU how to parent.
If you're talking to someone else just starting out on their parenting journey, try and remember what that overload of information is like. Suggest things, but let them find their own way, and listen to what their own instincts are telling them. Don't frighten them with scary stories of labour or breastfeeding, not everyone has it hard.
Oh, and most of all, don't by disposable knickers, they're totally pointless.