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National Breastfeeding Month

by Barry

It seems crazy to me that we as a nation do not encourage more mothers to breastfeed their children.  We have allowed the infant milk produces to make us believe (largely) that their product is the only option.  We have also ostracised feeding mothers from public places, so that it is only really a confident breastfeeding mother (or a defiant one) who is going to breastfeed in a public place.

I know a lot of blokes don’t like it becuase of the sexualisation of the breast, but that doesn’t take away from the original biological point that mothers have evolved to breastfeed their children.

Don;t get me wrong, the Infant milk producers have their place for a number of reasons, some mothers just can’t breastfeed for whatever reason, working mothers find it especially difficult.  However, these shoudl be the exception, not the rule.

We have been lucky, my wife has been able to (and still is) breastfeed all of our children with few problems and the advantages are great.  You do nto ahve to worry about creating formula feed, all the special sanitisation etc.  and best of all, its free!  In this age of austerity, that is something to bear in mind.

August is National Breastfeeding month and when you think about it we shouldn’t really have to have one should we?  A friend of mine posted this video today,

You then look at the issues of how Formula milk has been abused in Third World countries and then you get into the whole Nestle boycott issue.

So, lets not stigmatize breastfeeding mothers, lets encourage them.  The state should be encouraging it from birth, midwives should be incentivised to help, advertising should relate the facts better and kids education should really push the message home.  Unlike some exam papers recently

I really don’t see why this is such a difficult issue, it really is ‘simples’


bazkirby August 4, 2010 - 8:23 pm

This is copied (with permission) from my friend who is a Breastfeeding Supporter
Actually, I only agree with half what you write in your blog post. Promoting breastfeeding is, IMO, harmful. There are already enough women who want to breastfeed but can’t. We should definitely not be incentivising midwifes! Pressure o…n mothers is unhelpful.

What we should be doing is adopting the whole WHO code – in countries where the WHO code is adopted in its entirety as law, the breastfeeding rates are far higher. It is no harder to get formula milk in these countries, but you won’t see a bonny smiling baby on the tin, or adverts in any shape or form.

And then all the money we waste on promoting breastfeeding should be put into training the health care professionals who are meant to be supporting mothers in their feeding choices. Midwives get 3 years training in all aspects of maternity – of course they can’t get much time spent on learning about supporting breastfeeding mothers. I have had 3 years training just in breastfeeding support. But midwives and health visitors are usually mums’ first port of call when something’s not right with feeding.

Mothers are too often told to ‘top up with formula’ or ‘try nipple shields’ or ‘just give up on your lovely idyllic ideas about breastfeeding’ by well-meaning but ill-informed midwives. Mothers with sore nipples are told to perservere with the pain because their babies ‘look like they’re latched on well’ even though feeding is still painful. Babies’ heads and their mums’ breasts are still grabbed and shoved together by midwives anxious to ensure that they get some milk.

We wouldn’t need to promote breastfeeding if it was more normal in our culture, and it would become far more normal in our culture if we stopped promoting it and started supporting it properly.

bazkirby August 4, 2010 - 8:23 pm

No 2

However, it is not just me who thinks these things. Most long-trained breastfeeding supporters feel the same.

90% of women who stop breastfeeding before their baby is 6 weeks didn’t want to. They s…topped not because they didn’t think it was the best thing for their baby, or because they just didn’t want to, but because they lacked the support women need to manage to do it.

Naturally, we are meant to birth our babies with women around us who have all had babies themselves. We are meant to snuggle up with our newborns for at least a few days, if not a few weeks, with women caring for us who have all nursed their own babies, and supported other women since then. If problems occur, the people around us should be certain to notice them and help you overcome them before they become real, insurmountable problems.

As things are in our culture, we birth our babies in hospital, surrounded by people who may not have even had their own babies, let alone breastfed. We are expected to get up and get back to normal as soon as possible. We are told to breastfeed in a certain way, at certain times. We don’t let ourselves have enough time and privacy to learn how to breastfeed with and from our babies. Society doesn’t let us do that either.

We do not need to promote breastfeeding in the slightest. We do need to educate doctors, midwives and health visitors in what is physiogically normal in the neonatal period. We need them to understand that keeping mums close to their babies, letting them sleep together and learn from eachother will lead to far higher rates of breastfeeding.

We need the same people to know that when breastfeeding hurts, it’s not working. If it’s not working, it needs to be fixed, not swapped for formula milk. We need them to be aware of their limitations, and seek help from more highly trained breastfeeding helpers when they are not able to help a mum.

I don’t promote breastfeeding at all in my ante-natal breastfeeding classes. I don’t say anything, unless asked, about the benefits to mum and baby. I used to, when I first started out. Now I just talk about how to create and protect a space where women can find the part of them that already knows how to feed their babies, and provide the space and time and love to let their babies access that space within themselves too. I know that the women who come to my classes now have far fewer problems breastfeeding than when I first started working as a BFC. And I know that they feel far less guilt if they decide at some point to move to formula milk.

Being mother-centred, rather than baby-centred, is far more productive in terms of increasing breastfeeding rates. If all the mothers who wanted to breastfeed were successful, then our rates would be far higher in the UK, which would make it more normal, and which, in turn, would help to raise the rates even further.

bazkirby August 4, 2010 - 8:29 pm

I cant hope to “get inside” this line of thinking. Being a bloke, I can only every see it fom the outside. However on the face of it I do disagree with the “press” elements. People see formula feeding on the TV and think that is the way to go. We see little of breast feeding in the press, except stupid documentaries like “i still breastfeed my 13 year old daughter” and the like.

Maybe incentivising midwives is wrong, but we need to do something to encourage all midwives to be promoting breast properly, not paying lip service and then falling back.

“if it were more normal in our culture” – Exactly, it isn’t and it should be. Whatever anyone says, the press have a large role to play.

We should not need “breast feeding month”, its a press gimmick, but by the fact we do need it shows the state of the nation(s).

The “mother led” over “baby led” is not really something i had considered before and it makes a lot of sense (nature over nurture, and all that good stuff). At the end of the day, for the first time mum, neither of them know what they are doing, but they both know instinctively what is right, and when it isn’t working properly.

Catherine Mitchell August 4, 2010 - 9:10 pm

My eldest is 19 and when she was born we knew of the terrible behaviour by Nestle and as a large family, we still avoid their products. I breastfed three of mine (I have four). I used pumps, breast shields and large items to catch dripping milk in. I froze my milk and used donated milk, which without it, my baby would have died and I still thank God for the generous women who fed my baby until my milk came in.

I cant get excited about how it is done, whether it is radical or not, just that it is done, by who ever and when ever. I remember the days of feeding in the car because you were not allowed to feed in public. I remember with no 4 propping him on the Tesco Cafe Table under my jumper as I cut up three rounds of beans on toast whilst sipping a cup of Earl Grey. I never thought about it, I just did it and was grateful for cabbage leaves and antibiotics and that I never had to use breastfeeding as the only source to feed my beloved babies, like they have to in the third world. For that I am ever grateful.

Credit where Credit is due – Good thinking by Mr Lansley about Breastfeeding « The murmurings of Barry Kirby November 28, 2010 - 11:59 pm

[…] he read one of my posts from a while ago?  Or maybe he has just turned his back on other Tory MP’s who would not […]


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