So Jamie Oliver has got himself in trouble for daring to have an opinion on breastfeeding even though he’s… a man! (I think actually he’s mostly in trouble for saying breastfeeding is ‘easy’ but it’s hard to tell among the furore!
Well I’m glad that Jamie has chosen this as his next topic to campaign over, highlighting how important it is and how it should start with support for pregnant women.
I was actually really shocked when I read the news a couple of months ago that Britain has the worst breastfeeding rates IN THE WORLD.
Only 0.5% still breastfeed after a year in Britain, our closest neighbours are female opressors Saudi Arabia at 2%. Meanwhile poverty-stricken countries like Ethiopia manage 97%!
Why is this? Well I guess it comes down to choice… British women are asked if we’re planning on breastfeeding whereas it seems like in many African countries it’s the norm and I’d guess that only the super-rich there use formula.
Do we think these African countries have lots of help and support when they run into problems? Maybe… But I doubt it. I suspect they persevere, keep trying and rely on their sisterhood as back-up wet nurses.
I’m not having a go at those that have tried breastfeeding and run into problems, I say good on you! I’m saying that we need to see a cultural shift that makes breastfeeding the norm, not a lifestyle choice. It will take years, maybe a generation or two.
Choices… I know someone who decided not to breast-feed as she wanted her husband to bond with baby… Nonsense! There are plenty of ways dads can bond with their babies! What other reasons do we hear? Wanting to have your own freedom? Wanting to drink? Being embarrassed by your body or boobs? Not wanting to be shamed by people who think it’s ‘disgusting’?
See, we already have a lot to overcome to get people to try breastfeeding, never mind keep it up. So thank you Jamie for trying to raise the issue. We need more positive role models, people like TOWIE’s Sam Faiers… People that you can relate to so that not all the breastfeeding advocates are the mumsnet breastapo that are more likely to put people off than get them to try it!
What else do we need? Well let’s ban the formula milk companies being able to advertise their ridiculous ‘follow up’ milks so that they don’t become aspirational brands that people want to use. Give them less space in the supermarket. I’m not saying we should make it more expensive but maybe there’s a way to get those big companies to donating money to breastfeeding support every time formula milk is sold?
As for me? I’m not perfect, I’m normal, I wanted to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months but got to 3 before we started to top-up. I know I could have persevered with it. I stopped breastfeeding around the 8-9 month mark when I went back to work.
The majority of people were totally supportive of my breastfeeding but there was the odd person that pulled a face like the friend who thought breastfeeding stopped dads bonding with babies.
So let’s start a new era. Let’s talk about it. Let’s see it. Let’s make it the norm. And if you try it and it doesn’t work out, obviously let’s not shame you! #sisterhood