There’s no denying that breastfeeding is an emotive topic. Whenever there is coverage in the press, it seems to polarise opinion, often seeming to invite strong opinions one way or the other with little room for interpretation of individual circumstances.
A particularly aggressively written article in The Telegraph earlier this week made me think over what exactly has motivated me to be so pro-breastfeeding. Sadly, the article at one point defines breastfeeding as “sore boobs and a whining baby never quite satisfied”. It was this statement which led me to my answer. My motivation is simply all about something that has made me and others (including our babies) feel fulfilled and happy.
Over the months since I fed my firstborn, I have chatted to many mums about their experiences, I have attended support groups to solve my own feeding problems and help others with theirs, and I have become involved with breastfeeding-related projects to encourage women to feed their babies while out and about and to encourage cafes and shops to welcome mums who are feeding. In all these activities, I have failed to find anyone who doesn’t have their own story of an emotional journey during which they experienced highs and lows, battled with physical and emotional obstacles and, ultimately, found their way until their baby was weaned. In many, many cases they emerged fulfilled, with a deep maternal bond and a strong sense of personal achievement and pride that they had nourished their precious new addition.
No one said it was meant to be easy; often the most rewarding things in life take work to achieve. These stories make me immensely proud of these women and are the reason why I want other mums to read my blog and share the journey.
The argument in The Telegraph is, in my opinion, far from strong. Ultimately, I can’t get past the fact that breastfeeding is a completely natural phenomenon, one of the few most basic human habits that has survived evolution. We therefore do not need ‘proof’ of its effectiveness. As I have said before, aggressive and judgmental comments have no place when it comes to parenting styles or decisions. However, in my mind, if more women can find their way through the initial bumpy ride that is breastfeeding and gain the happy memories and stories of fulfilment that I so frequently hear, then this alone is proof of an effective approach to feeding.
The Telegraph article can be found at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/9879525/The-witches-of-breast-milk-need-to-back-off.html
For more information on Paul Carter’s ‘We Do It In Public’ breastfeeding out and about photography project visit http://www.breastfeedinginpublic.co.uk