The breast feeding police are out in force again. Luckily they’re up north for now but, like the French could see the German’s coming, we down here is the South East must start building our defences. Here’s how it will go.
BFP: Hello little girl. If I give you £200 would you get your boobs out in public?
If some-one says this to you then either
1. Don’t listen to another word they say – you will leave with all confidence shattered.
2. Run, run as fast as you can get that Uppa Baby to go!
I wish I’d been in the meeting where they came up with this cunning scheme. I’ve invented a scenario in my head which I will now share.
BFP: We’re behind on our targets to adopt women into the cult of breastfeeding.
Sensible person (SP): It’s not really a cult is it? It’s just the best option for babies health and mums health as long as it goes well. If it doesn’t go well of course it leaves mum with mental health issues so maybe we should take a measured and sensible approach.
BFP: Don’t be silly! We can’t treat these people like adults. Good grief silly sensible person. Now, why aren’t women breastfeeding?
SP: Some women try and fail. These women would benefit greatly from having trained breastfeeding professionals available to them. We need specialists because this is a specialist field. The health visitors can’t cover this subject to the depth required because they have to cover lots of topics.
BFP: We’ve been doing a cracking job of making these people feel like they’ve failed and will go to hell leaving behind a fat and impoverished child with an IQ of 2. Anything else?
SP: There are women who are not even prepared to try. It’s really complicated and in lots of cases the reasons are down to the individual themselves but there are some areas of the country where breastfeeding in public is still a taboo.
BFP: Then they should stay in.
SP: That’s not very good for their mental health either.
BFP: Can we bully them into it.
SP: Again, not good for their mental health.
BFP: Death camps?
SP: The best option is to come up with an overall scheme and put some budget behind it. Get breast feeding specialists up and down the country working with women as the norm, not just for those who go to NCT classes. We also need to break down the taboo. Provide places for women to breast feed privately whilst out and about. Maybe every woman should be leaving hospital with a breast feeding cover. Encourage all media, not just the broadsheets, to include stories about breastfeeding. Soap opera’s can be a very powerful tool for this kind of thing.
BFP: We’ve only got a £2 budget.
SP: (sarchastically) Well maybe you could bribe two women with vouchers for poundland!!
BFP: Fab. Let’s do that. I’ll call the ‘One show’ now and tell them the plan.
I myself breast fed both my girls. I did it because I knew I could pass my immunity on to them and I live in big bad London where increased immigration has brought such delights as TB back into circulation. The first time round I also did it because I thought I’d lose weight. I didn’t. I put on weight infact because I was eating like a horse as do many women. They don’t publicise that bit do they! I didn’t do it because it might stop my children from being obese. I think if what your child eats is a priority to you then you won’t bring up an obese child and you are more likely to breastfeed. I don’t think breastmilk has magic powers! I also believe that a child is born with a certain level of intelligence passed on from their parents. Again, breastmilk doesn’t have the magic power to change that.
The first time round was really hard. I lost 4 pints of blood after the birth. If I’d lost 4 pints of blood in a car crash and had emergency surgery I wouldn’t have been expected to look after a baby. In a maternity unit I was not only expected to look after a baby but be good at it. I couldn’t move my legs! On night 2 the midwife refused to take my eldest child away and give her formula even though she was blatantly starving. I tried to feed her and she cried her head off for 9 hours before the midwife in charge came to find out what the noise was about and finally took her away. I was made to feel a failure. That set a negative pattern where I always felt that I didn’t have enough milk to give her. The reality is that because I’d had such a traumatic birth my body didn’t produce colostrum – it was busy trying to keep me alive! I pushed on for four months giving her a bottle of formula every day and often having to top her up. After four months I had the perfect feed with her in Mothercare in Staines! Everything was great. We looked into one another’s eyes and she pulled off the breast satisfied. I made that the last feed and I smile still to think about it.
Second time round I went into hospital with formula and bottles in my bag. I even took scissors to open the formula and stab anyone who tried to stop me. No-one was going to tell me what was best for my child! I had a perfect birth. No pain killers, 5 hour labour, a slightly tricky delivery of the placenta but it came out. I put the baby to my breast and she just shouted at me so we did the syringe thing but it was bliss. I had skin to skin bonding – the lot. When I started to feed her myself I trained her to open her mouth properly and low and behold we were in a three hour routine before we left the hospital. Breast feeding her has been a total joy. I gave up 4 days ago as she’s 10 months now and is ready to go over to formula fully. I’ve given up because she’s ready – I am not!! My life is no longer about me though!!
I’ve had two very different experiences of breastfeeding and my hubby and friends wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if I’d said that I didn’t want to try breastfeeding the second after what had happened with the first. It’s hard! Ultimately though it was my choice and my family and friends stood by me, holding my bags whilst I did it (literally in some cases). The Breast Feeding police didn’t help! They just made me feel bad when I failed.
This scheme won’t work. People will just lie to get the shopping vouchers! If the government are serious about this then they need to create a task force, a long term plan and a budget. There are plenty of people who will help them with that but they need to stop talking about it and get out their wallet!
PS Apparently the odds ratio for a child being breast fed and then not becoming obese is 0.78 with a CI of 95%. Not going to put the house on those odds are you!