Every single mum faces challenges, unfortunately that’s just how it goes. However breastfeeding mums seem to take first place in being judged and attacked.
Take Louise Burns for example, who was told to cover up her breastfeeding baby at Claridge’s hotel in 2014. This made the headlines and national news however this happens every single day for many breastfeeding women. Some women prefer to cover up at first, whilst they establish breastfeeding and get more confident with latching their baby on. This is absolutely fine as they have chosen to cover up for their own comfort. But asking someone to cover up is not only illegal but it’s rude, disrespectful, ignorant and unhelpful. Asking someone to cover up is instantly shaming their body and sexualising their breasts, which *shock horror* are made to feed babies. How else has the human race survived this long? Formula only became widely available less than 100 years ago and that was for the tiny percentage of mums who couldn’t breastfeed and didn’t want a wet nurse and to be used as a life saving medicine for babies who had been abandoned.
The people who ask these mums to cover up don’t stop to think about the baby, how would you feel if you had to sit with a tablecloth over your head whilst eating your tea? I know it sounds utterly ridiculous but this is how it sounds when the same words fall out of your mouth.
Another thing most breastfeeding mums are faced with at one point or another are well-meaning friends and family members who come out with phrases such as ‘when are you putting him on a bottle?’ or ‘he’s hungry again?! You’re obviously not making enough milk for him.’ I say well-meaning as most of the time they are, but they do not realise the detrimental affects of their comments. These are the comments that perpetrate myths and make mums second guess themselves. These are the comments that fail breastfeeding mums and make them turn to formula instead. So I say enough is enough. Instead of coming out with unhelpful comments, why not offer some help? Why not sit and listen to the breastfeeding mum who is trying her best? Why not do some research and understand that cluster feeding is perfectly normal and healthy?
Moreover, most breastfeeding women go through plenty of hardships throughout their journey and only a fair few come out the other side, as understandably so many women quit due to unhelpful friends and family members, people perpetrating myths and it even comes down to the fact that formula feeding is advertised every where we go. It’s on the TV (see pictures below), its in our favourite magazine, its in the films, its even on Facebook ads. Cow & Gate, SMA and Aptimil have appeared on my newsfeed so many times I have lost count. Where are the breastfeeding adverts? Oh wait, there isn’t any as apparently that would be pushing breastfeeding down mother’s throats and making the formula feeder feel bad. Facebook is clever and only advertises things that are relevant or things that you have searched on Google. For example, if you have searched for baby clothes then Facebook will usually start advertising brands such as Mothercare on your newsfeed. However apparently this rule of related searches seems to go out the window when formula adverts start appearing on your newsfeed. It’s a very common topic in Breastfeeding groups online, so many mums are bombarded with these unhelpful and annoying ads that serve no purpose in their lives. Now to some people this isn’t a big deal, ‘what’s the issue?’ I hear you say… Well there are many. As I said above, many women go through so many hardships throughout their breastfeeding journey and these adverts are incredibly tempting to some mums going through these challenges when they really just need a push in the right direction and positive support. Another issue is that these adverts undermine breastfeeding and make formula feeding the norm instead of breastfeeding. They automatically appear on mums and mums-to-be’s newsfeeds as if they are assuming that every single mum is going to formula feed. Breastfeeding is the norm and should be treated as such, the least they could do is back off and only appear on the right newsfeeds.
Here are a few pictures captured of bottle feeding on TV. For every 10 bottle feeding scenes/adverts/ what-have-you there were maybe 1 or 2 references to breastfeeding. It’s utterly ridiculous and quite frankly we are all fed up of having to keep quiet about it. We can’t even utter our disappointment and anger without being told to ‘hush’ in case we offend a formula feeder. We are faced with this every single day and it’s tiring. Credit of the slideshow above goes to members of Breastfeeding Activism and Positive Support.
**Thank you to those from these Facebook groups who shared their opinions with me in order to help me with this article. **
Breastfeeding Activism and Positive Support
Can I Breastfeed In It? Off Topic Discussion
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