Storm in a baby bottle
An innocent, proud dad comment from Labour leader Ed Miliband on the BBC news last week triggered alarm bells. I just knew he was going to get slated for casually pointing to shelves of formula milk and commenting on which one his baby Samuel has.
In the following days he’s been branded as ‘naive’ and his parenting decisions have been questioned.
Official advice, released under the Labour Government, does state that it is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months but has campaigning gone too far when people are criticised for not breastfeeding?
Gone are the days when mothers were nervous of breastfeeding in public. Now it’s practically taboo for a mum to whip out a baby bottle in their local coffee shop.
My sister was devastated that she couldn’t breastfeed. A nurse even told her that her son would have asthma and allergies if she gave him formula, both things that she (a breastfed baby) suffers from. My nephew’s now a happy, healthy six-year-old.
There’s enough stress and worry associated with having a new baby without the guilt of not breastfeeding being added to the heap. Just last week a friend nervously ‘admitted’ to me that she’d stopped breastfeeding after a month and another two are exhausted from battling with expressing and bottle feeding because they struggled to breastfeed and midwives aren’t empowered to tell them that enough’s enough.
Statistics do show that there is a greater chance of a child developing asthma, various allergies, heart disease and becoming obese if they are not exclusively breastfed but having fraught, tearful, guilt-ridden tussles at the start of a baby’s life can’t be good either.
There’s tonnes of support available to help mothers with breastfeeding, which is wonderful, but where is the support for those who ultimately are unable to do it for whatever reason? I know of one mother who was asked to leave a breastfeeding cafe because she was openly bottlefeeding her child and setting a bad example. She had gone there for help and, not surprisingly, never returned.
From now on will politicians be driven to shuffle out of supermarkets with tubs of formula guiltily stuffed into brown paper bags?