Whenever I see a viral post about breastfeeding there's a backlash of comments from parents that haven't or can't breastfeed. I can't help but feel that if you talk positively about breastfeeding, you'll be offending someone and accused of riding a high horse. Why does how you choose to feed your child cause such a divide?
I see so many posts from parents explaining why they're choosing formula over breastfeeding, and claiming they come under judgement for doing so. Do they really though? Yes, you might feel pressure if you meet a pushy midwife but from the general public, I'm not sure. There is such a small percentage of women in the UK breastfeeding, I fail to see that the majority of those will judge you for feeding your baby formula, I know I don't.
I for one couldn't care less how another family choose to feed their children. I might think why wouldn't you want to at least try to breastfeed, but if you don't, I'm not going to put on my judgy pants and criticise you.
I've had a few negative comments about me breastfeeding, I can deal with those but there is something that bothers me even more... I can be having a conversation with another parent but as soon as I say I'm breastfeeding, I can almost tell the other person believes I'm judging them for not breastfeeding and that I belong to some formula bashing, perfect mum brigade. Almost instantly, the other person will get defensive and started justifying why they don't or can't breastfeed, why?!
If you saw the latest drama from Dr Christian you'll know he caused quite a stir on Twitter with his rather negative attitude towards breastfeeding. This then appeared on The Sun facebook page (not exactly a newspaper I'd adere to), but it's comments like these below that really grate me.
If you saw the facebook comments then you'd know there was not a single woman berating mothers who can't breastfeed. Yes, there are women out there who are passionate about breastfeeding, sometimes to the point of being extremely pushy but that doesn't mean they are deeming other parents useless. To me, the breastfeeding community is a group of ladies that support each other throughout the struggles, the night feeds and offer absolutely no judgement if you raid the fridge at 2AM. Facebook may cause a lot of trouble, but it's also my go to for groups that offer support, especially as there is next to no health care support for women struggling to breastfeed.
My good friend Claire struggled with breastfeeding once her little one began biting, rather than given support she was told to switch to formula and let her milk dry up. Is that the kind of attitude GPs should be forcing upon mothers? Claire was devastated that she was told to do this, and felt like she had no other choice. She isn't alone, 63% of mothers who stopped breastfeeding in the first six months would have liked to of breastfed for longer. So why isn't there more support available for mothers, and better education for GP's and others within the medical profession?
I just don't understand why their is such a lack of support for doing something that our bodies naturally allow us to do (aside from those that physically can't). Formula is everywhere and readily available in every supermarket. Recently, I saw that Boots had an offer for free formula but there was absolutely nothing that would of been of benefit to breastfeeding mothers. What about free vitamins, or free breastpads?
A few weeks ago I was watching Home & Away, and noticed that one of the characters was breastfeeding. I'll admit, I did a little woop but then it got me thinking; have I ever seen a character in a British soap breastfeeding? As far as I can remember, characters may talk about it or suggest they are but I've never seen a character actually doing it. Why? After researching a little, I found this article where Coronation Street faced backlash for promoting bottle feeding when a character was having difficulties breastfeeding. Their response;
"Coronation Street cannot always match the requirements of "accuracy and interested bodies.We do not want Coronation Street, which is a character-led drama serial, falling into the genre of drama-documentary. Notwithstanding, we have of course taken your comments on board over the issue of breastfeeding and it may well become the nub of a story on some future occasion."
In short: we don't want complaints and backlash from people who may find it offensive. This was also 2009, and I've since not seen anything about breastfeeding. But, they'll happily allow follow on formula adverts during the commerical breaks. So how are we ever meant to normalise breastfeeding if TV producers are too scared to be seen as promoting breastfeeding over formula?
I'll admit, it does piss me off. Promoting Breastfeeding ISN'T a criticsm of formula and being proud of being able to breastfeed isn't shaming anyone else's choice not to. I know I'm not alone in feeling like I can't say anything positive about breastfeeding, or at least have to censor what I'm saying in fear or upsetting someone else. Why can't we all support one another?