Today something different as a rebuttal to an article posted on 18 March 2016 in response to Jamie Oliver’s thoughts on supporting women to breastfeed: a guest post by author and breastfeeding counsellor, Heather Welford.
EDIT: The article Heather is responding to has had some amends since originally posted, and some of the most florid bits of it have now been toned down. But it still stands as deserving of Heather’s criticism.
OK, Fleetstreet Fox. We get it. Breastfeeding is not for you. You don’t want to do it, and there are a bunch of advantages for you, as you see it, in hitting the bottle, right from the start.
But wow. Please don’t pretend you know about this stuff as it applies to other women, and other babies.
We don’t expect an evidence-based piece of science from you. ‘I don’t like breastfeeding and I don’t want to do it’ would be enough to justify your choice with me, and most other human beings, I reckon. If someone presses you for more, tell them where they can stuff their maternity bra….just don’t come out with the ignorant vitriol you have listed in your column today [18 March 2016]. Otherwise you are going to make a right, er, tit of yourself.
Let’s start with something super-easy. ‘Breast milk has more sugar than some formula milk’.
The sugar in breastmilk is human lactose. It’s meant to be there. It’s been evolved to be there over a good many zillions of generations, to meet the needs of baby humans. This human lactose is more than a tad different from the 27 teaspoons of sucrose in a can of fizzy pop – but you knew that didn’t you? Really, you did, I think.
Moving on to the sludge you say is the breastmilk made by a mother on a poor diet … however much junk she eats, the breastmilk she makes will be just fine. This is because the breastmilk she makes is not made from her own diet. No, honestly – it’s not. Who’d have guessed, that what goes into her breasts is not a sieved-up mush of burgers and fries. In fact, her diet is irrelevant. Her breastmilk has no need of the regulations that make sure formula is made according to the rules, because her body makes breastmilk from her blood, and does a very good job of it, too. Actually, it’s worth checking the science on this one as the idea that you have to watch what you eat is such an unhelpful myth.
And while we’re talking science, all that stuff about breastfed babies (and their mothers) being healthier because they are middle class? Any good study takes this into account – it’s called controlling for it, soz if you know this, but not everyone does – and guess what? There are still fewer infections, hospitalisations and yes, cancers. Breastfeeding’s not a magic wand, and breastfed babies do get sick – but in some parts of the world not breastfeeding can be truly devastating (imagine bottle feeding as a refugee mother, camped out in the Jungle in Calais or Idomini in Macedonia – how on earth are you going to keep your feeding equipment clean and safe? The same goes for mothers and babies in the developing world, where breastfeeding is a literal life saver every day – how odd you think formula is better for them).
Breastfeeding can hurt – not going to argue with you there, and I have the experience with my own kids to know you’re right. But happily, I got good support and information, and changed the way I was positioning my babies (needed tweaking each time) and it stopped. A network of knowledgeable supporters and well-trained midwives and easy-to-access information – that’s what Jamie is asking for, to enable mums who do want to breastfeed to do it without pain.
And while we’re on about personal experience, unless you are aged about 70, your mum was in a very small minority feeding you Carnation milk. Formula milk has been widely available since the late 60s, and was in routine use for about 15 years before then. Ask her again. It might be another example of you getting your facts wrong.
As some of you know, I am an NCT breastfeeding counsellor myself so this guest post is received with much love, warmth and great respect for the author.
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