World Breastfeeding Week is about breastfeeding; it’s promotion, protection, and support – their importance cannot be overstated when you look at breastfeeding rates around the world, and the costs of not breastfeeding. Breastfeeding impacts families at one of their most vulnerable point, and definitely affects the well-being of the most fragile of us, and those involved in their care.
Promoting, protecting, and supporting breastfeeding means that breastfeeding and its ‘unique selling points’ need to be especially highlighted. I mean, this is what you do when you promote something that you believe deserves to be protected and supported, right?
Also, for something to not only be promoted, but also protected and supported, means that there is a problem. It implies that something about the issue is under threat, and the issue is of such importance that all that is possible must be done to secure its position.
In the case of breastfeeding, there is no doubt it is the biological norm. Pregnant women bear the marks of stretching boobs in preparation for breastfeeding post-birth, some even leak or harvest some of the nutrient rich colostrum pre-birth. And my, all things being equal at birth, infants feel and crawl to the boob to breastfeed and enjoy its fill, and the warmth and presence it gives them; amongst other things. Beyond birth, infants continue to root for the boob over and over again, for all it has to offer. By toddlerhood, rooting is replaced with asking to breastfeed for a range of reasons.
The survival of humans so far, is significantly connected to breastfeeding. When it comes to infant and toddler feeding, breastfeeding’s place is without doubt established.
Now, this isn’t to say that there are no hiccups; far from it. As with any other biological norms, nature doesn’t always work as intended; and even when it does, its workings can be negatively impacted by other factors. And of course, modern society allows us more than ever before, to bypass nature’s way if we choose for whatever reason, in a range of areas.
Breastfeeding is not excluded from the imperfect nature of nature. There are mothers who cannot produce enough milk for their infants, and in some cases none. Yes, these instances are far in between and they constitute a really tiny percentage of breastfeeding mums.
There are also mums that cannot breastfeed for medical reasons, don’t want to breastfeed for psychological reasons, or indeed no reason at all.
In addition, there are mums who want to breastfeed but unfortunately don’t get enough support to meeting their goals.
In all these instances, World Breastfeeding Week is about breastfeeding (#18).
Then there is artificial milk, first created to reduce the infant mortality rate caused by inadequate to no breastfeeding; especially when donor milk – expressed or directly – wasn’t available or accessible, and when homemade alternatives didn’t work. Great, right; if you can’t have the real McCoy for whatever reason, an adequate substitute is better than nothing.
O well, thanks to human greed, concern for the survival of our young (if this was ever the case) soon became a façade to make more profit, at the expense of our young and their families. Breastfeeding, the biological and cultural norm that generations of humans mostly thrived on, became vulnerable to the exploitative nature of capitalisation. So that, that which was meant to help address nature’s shortfall is now its brutal competitor. The infant feeding landscape is now so detrimental to the time-tested nature’s way of preserving our young, that it needs to be rescued for the good of humanity.
This is where World Breastfeeding Week and many other breastfeeding awareness efforts comes in; to contribute to the salvaging of the age-old art and science of breastfeeding, by empowering mothers and families to give their children the best start in life.
So, during WBW, I don’t want to see headlines about how to stop breastfeeding, a gravely endangered act in the UK with its world’s lowest breastfeeding rate, and shocking attitude to public and toddler breastfeeding.
I don’t want to see headlines about how breastfeeding isn’t beautiful; because not only is beauty in the eyes of the beholder, even its perceived ugliness serves a purpose if it’s closely explored. There is definitely nothing beautiful about the malnourished and dying innocent children in low-income countries, that breastfeeding could have prevented.
I don’t want to see headlines challenging the health claims of breastfeeding, with no reference to that of its substitutes; or the ‘cons’ of breastfeeding without mentioning the risks associated with artificial milk.
I don’t want to see headlines that disregards the importance of what and how we feed our children, whilst society stresses the importance of what and how we eat.
I don’t want to see headlines about why there shouldn’t be a World Breastfeeding Week because the evidence and arguments for one surpasses any views against it … because World Breastfeeding Week is not about an individual’s agenda or feelings but rather about the global agenda of securing the safest and best nutrition for infants and toddlers for generations to come … because no one is compelled to acknowledge and support the Week and what it is about …
I know we live in a free society, with freedom of expression; but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for us to spare a thought for the majority that breastfeeding is the difference between an early death and a chance at life. Yes, let’s spare a thought for mothers who are struggling to find their feet with breastfeeding, and need the support that this Week promotes. Let’s consider new parents who need objective information to make the best decision for their families about what and how to feed their infant. Let’s remember the environment, and back the greenest way to nourish our young.
And indeed, let’s spare a thought for mums who want to breastfeed but don’t manage to make it at all, or for as long as they would like; for a range of reasons. This Week is a reminder that we need to do more to support people in achieving their breastfeeding goals.
And also for mums who do not want to breastfeed for whatever reason. This Week is also about efforts that we need to continue making to ensure they have access to accurate information, as well as safe breastfeeding substitutes and their paraphernalia, which are marketed appropriately.
What helpful or disturbing breastfeeding related articles did you read during this World Breastfeeding Week?
Answer this question as one of your entries into one of my Breastfeeding Awareness Month’s giveaway – Win an Bravado Body Silk Seamless Yoga Nursing Bra (Wed 10 Aug 16 – Wed 24 Aug 16)
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