Ahhhh. A week into my life as a blogger, and already I get to tackle one of the biggies. Breastfeeding!
You’d think after watching the fallout from Mairi Campbell-Jack’s thought-provoking post over on A Burdz Eye View recently, I’d know better, but hey, I will claim new blogger naievety and go for it.
*Takes a deep breath*
If I have to read the results of another study, giving yet another reason why breast is best, I will poke my eyes out. The latest one, which is splashed all over the papers today, states that breastfed babies develop fewer behaviour problems in later life.
Don’t get me wrong, I think breastfeeding, in general, is awesome. But what is the point of these studies? Who are all the resulting articles targeted at?
There are many women who, for one reason or another, choose not to breastfeed. I truly can’t believe that reading a story such as the one on the BBC website will do anything to change their minds.
There are many women who would very much like to breastfeed, but for one reason or another are unable to. As far as I can see, an article like this just rubs salt in the already painful wounds of such women, and increases the burden of guilt they may already be carrying.
There are many women who have successfully breastfed for anything from a few weeks to a few years, and are happy with their decision, but don’t feel the need to shout it from the rooftops. They, like me, probably roll their eyes when they see yet another headline about breastfeeding, and keep scrolling. (Or, y’know, go online and write a big ranty blog post about it…)
And then there are those other women, who dress their babies in t-shirts that say “I Love Mummy Milk” and raise an eyebrow disapprovingly when that one poor woman at the first antenatal class reunion brings out a bottle of formula. They are the only ones that care about the results of studies like this – because it gives them one more reason to feel good about themselves and one more link to post on their Facebook page.
I would truly love to see breastfeeding rates in the UK improve, because they are shockingly low. It is hard to argue with the fact that breastfeeding is good for your child’s health. In the current economic climate I would think the fact that it’s free would be a real selling point. But telling people that their children will be better behaved in five years if they breastfeed them now? It’s not going to work.
I would far rather see the money spent on such studies going towards initiatives that provide genuine breastfeeding support for those that need it; more health visitors working in communities where the rates are low, more breastfeeding specialists on maternity wards, more support groups, mentoring and buddying schemes…
Let’s stop finding new sticks to beat non-breastfeeders with, and instead spend our intellect, our money and our energy on more positive solutions. If we manage to do that, then maybe a few years down the line we will end up with a generation of impeccably behaved children. Somehow I doubt it, but the other benefits will be immeasurable.