We’re talking about breastfeeding of course. The debate has stirred once again – apparently there’s an article in the Sun, but I refuse to read that tripe so I will take people’s word for it that it’s there. I’ve no idea what it says, to be honest I’m not really sure I care. I happened to spot the debate on the Loose Women facebook page (I don’t know why I’ve liked the page either, it’s only ever on as background noise and I only pay attention to anything that makes me angry, I should just unlike it and turn it off) and couldn’t help looking – which of course meant I had to comment. There was one ‘lady’ on there who seems to think that if you breastfeed past 9 months you need your head checking. Well, I best get myself down to the Doctor and let them know they need to lock me in a padded cell, for I, ‘Unexpectant Mother’, am still breastfeeding Oliver at 16 months old.
Before I had a baby I hadn’t really given it much thought, I never really wanted the baby to take over my life 100%, and if I’m honest, he hasn’t. I still go oop North to see my friends from university, I still drink if I want to drink and so on. Obviously he has changed my life, he gives me a reason to get my sorry backside out of bed every day, I’ve given up work and I’m actually quite happy about it and feeling fulfilled and I have this small person who needs me. The ways he needs me are very simple – he needs comfort, love, nourishment, hygiene and amusement. As parents we all give these things in different ways. For me, he gets almost all of that from breastfeeding – comfort if he has hurt himself, is tired or generally just not very happy, he feels my love as he snuggles in to me and strokes my hair, hygiene – well, my milk doesn’t go off does it? Nourishment – well I just answered that, my milk doesn’t go off, it’s still good at 16 months post partum, it’s still providing him lots of what he needs. And amusement – he seems to think it’s hilarious to blow raspberries on my tummy when I’m about the breastfeed him, he can go from a very sleepy, grumpy boy to a giggling boy in seconds (I’m yet to decide if this is a good thing!)
The thing is, the UK has really poor rates of breastfeeding, and it is the bad attitudes towards extended breastfeeding that play on people’s minds when they think about when to wean. They don’t want it to be ‘weird’ and most people before babies, or even as a first time clueless mother, have no idea how long a baby should be breastfed for because of all of this media hype and advertising of follow on milk. I remember thinking that babies didn’t need breastfeeding after 6 months, I don’t know why, but it must be the message that formula companies send out. There’s no other real explanation.
I read an article today too that showed if you breastfeed ‘for 3 months’ then a child is less likely to have a heart attack in later life. Yayy for breastfeeding right? Good press? Well, is it really? It just sets another example of why people think that breastfeeding after 6 months has little to no value to a baby. Where are the studies that tell us WHY we should be breastfeeding after 6 months, and WHY we shouldn’t be giving in to the snazzy formula advertising – remember mums, “you’re doing great” – and WHY breastfeeding after 6 months-1 year is certainly not for the mother’s benefit? I want to see these things discussed in the mainstream media rather than only on biased, pro breastfeeding websites. We should be trying to knock down all of the ignorance surrounding breastfeeding and telling people ‘it’s ok to breastfeed longer – look at these wonderful benefits’ and getting rid of the silly comments of ‘bitty’ (FYI I never thought Little Britain was funny) and the myth that you will still be breastfeeding when they are doing their A levels, or that you’ll have to put your boob through a school gate to breastfeed a child.
By the way – in case anybody thinks I am formula bashing, I defended a friend of mine who chose to formula feed when her husband mocked her for not doing it when I was. I am pro choice – so please respect mine and please respect my son’s.