I am going to start with an apology – this is a rant.
The breastfeeding statistics of the UK are horrendous, the Lancet study released in January 2016 showed that 81% of women started breastfeeding, 34% at 6 months and 0.5% at one year. The lowest in the world.
Previous statistics showed that half of the women who started breastfeeding were not exclusively feeding after one week.
I find these statistics really worrying, not because I am a lactivist or because breast is best, but because they shout to me that women are not getting enough support.
I have seen a lot of articles doing the rounds on social media, some truly upsetting stories about mothers and babies who have been failed with horrendous consequences. A lot of these articles have emotive, heart wrenching and often inflammatory headlines – that breastfeeding is to blame. Reading the stories it is actually that warning signs were missed at every check point by medical professionals. Breastfeeding is not the cause. BUT, stories like this do cause the feeding divide, they do cause people to be scared and they do create issues.
The “Fed is best” campaign is, in my opinion offensive. Feeding your child is surely a given, a new mum might not know a lot of things but they know they need to feed their child. I truly believe the slogan would be better “Support for your choice”. Maybe not as catchy, but more about what is needed.
Mothers should be able to make an informed decision based on facts and what is right for them. They should then be fully supported in that decision, as a new mum any choice comes with it’s own worries, concerns and struggles. Support should be clearly accessible and provided without judgement or conditions. From personal experience, I do think that there are some great forms of support out there. I was supported in both my decision to continue breastfeeding but I was also given great advice in how to introduce formula and the impact that would have on my body. Hearing other people’s experiences though, I know I was lucky. Lucky I was told where to go for support, I wish that everyone else had such a positive experience especially as it is all needed at a highly emotional time.
If the support was more readily or obviously available would:
Breastfeeding statistics be better
The breast V formula divide be reduced
I don’t know, but I do know that it is such a shame that one area that effects every new mother can be so divisive.
So, for me……#support4yourchoice is more important and I will do all I personally can to ensure that people have the support they need. Even if it is just one person.