Headlines I don’t want to see during World Breastfeeding Week

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.

World Breastfeeding Week, a Week about breastfeeding awareness, doesn't seem to be appropriate for some headlines, for a number of reasons. | @aNoviceMum

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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45 thoughts on “Headlines I don’t want to see during World Breastfeeding Week

    • 🙂 It usually is the case during World Breastfeeding Week; sad really, because it shows how little people know about what World Breastfeeding Week is and isn’t about.

      I appreciate the ‘fed is best’ idea, but I don’t agree with it for reasons I’ll be writing about soon. Whatever the case maybe, if our children are thriving, we don’t need to justify our feeding choices to others. And for the judging of others in this area, I wonder where folks get the time from; and my. Our imperfect lives ought to inspire more compassion in our interactions with others … I think.

  1. I read a few articles with typically negative reader comments in the daily tabloids…

    A random one about a mother spraying someone with breastmilk!

    I think that’s it. A few lovely bloggers and my own personal status this week – my boy turned two on Saturday which marked two years breastfeeding AND recently starting tandem with the arrival of my teeny one 🙂 happy and positive stuff x

    • The spraying one was actually made up by some bloke, who posted it on Facebook to show how unreliable tabloid media report can be – shame that breastfeeding was picked on for his little project though.

      How exciting for you! Enjoy tandem nursing 🙂

  2. I read a disturbing article in the Mirror about a baby boy who almost died after his after breastfeeding mum was put on raw food diet by a naturopath.

    • That article was so sad, I saw it last week. Unfortunately, from all the reports I read, the role that breastfeeding played in the situation is not clear. I suspect the term, ‘breastfeeding’ was just used to get people reading. 🙁

  3. i read this article on the things we should stop thinking about breastfeeding

    very helpful to read with little one on the way and friends that have both breastfed and bottle fed

    • Congratulations with your little one on the way; what an exciting (and sometimes challenging) journey ahead. 🙂

      Interesting article; though the quoted ‘expert’ is one whose views are considered questionable by many breastfeeding supporters. It has points that I agree with, and points that I don’t.

      I’m actually working on a post about breastfeeding support … feel free to check it out when I publish it. There are lots of reputable sources of good quality information and support about breastfeeding out there. I wish I knew about them before I started my breastfeeding journey; all the very best with your feeding journey ahead.

  4. I was unaware that there are mums that cannot breast feed at all what a terrible tragedy! I know it can be difficult and I know you might not be able to produce enough, but to not be physically able must be hard to accept. Its nice to be able to make a choice to breast feed or not breast feed but sad to not be given the choice.

    • For those who want to and can’t, I must say I can’t imagine how difficult that must be. Unfortunately, life happens that way sometimes; another reason to be super thankful when you want something and can have it. 🙂

  5. I read a good article saying that babies that are breastfeed are less likely to die, that’s a good reason for any mum to feel at ease and and to want to breastfeed their newborn.

    • Breastfeeding is a life saver in so many ways, and even more so in some parts of the world. I agree, there’s something definitely reassuring about this.

  6. I was so glad that I was able to breast feed, even if my son did like to chomp down occasionally!

  7. I breastfed all three of my daughters and think people who don’t breastfeed make far too much of a fuss of something that is entirely natural. Just as they choose to bottle feed, we choose to breastfeed. There is not and never has been anything perverse or dirty where we should hide ourselves away. If people don’t like it look away, it’s that simple there is no need for harsh comments and media publications from people that are not happy with natures way to feed our children.

    • Good on you …. you did it 3 times over! I think what sometimes seems like a fuss is probably underlined by our human instinct to justify ourselves. It’s a shame really, because I don’t think we owe others justification for our feeding choices, except if our children are not thriving, then we have medical professionals and social services to definitely answer to.

      I suppose it’s also worth noting that bottle-feeding is not exclusive of breastfeeding; infact, it’s part of many breastfeeding journeys. The whole bottle feeding and breastfeeding divide is so silly, isn’t it.

      I agree with you, we’ve got necks to turn away and eyes to look away when we see what we don’t like; and we do this a lot anyway. I sure don’t understand the ‘need’ for harsh comments and the negative role the media plays in this issue. I mean, you would think our time is more valuable.

  8. This is a great post, people always try to bring others down but youre right, its support that mums need!

    • We all need support, don’t we; we all just need to remember this in our interaction with others, and treat people how we like to be treated.

  9. I’m currently pregnant with my first child and know that I want to breastfeed, so what I’ve been reading has mainly been the practical stuff – how it’s done, why it should be done, where to get support with it, etc. I’m finding that, sadly, when I talk about breastfeeding in real life to friends or colleagues, they’re really unsupportive so I’m glad that there’s a world breastfeeding week and plenty of information out there.

    http://kellymom.com/pregnancy/bf-prep/how_breastmilk_protects_newborns/ < this blew my mind, how amazing is the human body?!

    • Good for you Emma; congratulations, and best wishes on your breastfeeding journey ahead. It’s fab that you’re educating yourself about breastfeeding and what to expect; I so wish I had made time to learn about breastfeeding before I started my journey, it would have saved me lots of pain, time, and tears.

      KellyMom is such a fab source of top quality breastfeeding information, isn’t it. And oh yes, breast milk is mind blowing, I wrote a post about 10 things I love about breastmilk, a while ago.

  10. I saw the article about someone getting sprayed in a park. I didn’t really believe the article. It kind of made me laugh though

    • So silly, isn’t it. It was made up by some dude, to show how gullible tabloid newspapers are. Even then, I wonder why breastfeeding was picked on as the subject of his experiment, especially during World Breastfeeding Week. Hmmmmm … I think it made a whole lot of us laugh.

  11. I am on of those mums who couldn’t feed. I fed my first for 12 weeks, but was very sore. I cant remember how long I tried with baby number 2 and 3. so when it came to my 4th, I tried and failed again, but did try and express to no avail. I did much better with my 5th and 6th, I was able to express for 6 months. it was hard work as it was like doing the job twice. I also decided before baby 5 and 6, I would not even try and feed them myself as its very stressful and hurting when it doesn’t work, so wanted to save myself from that.

    • So sorry you found breastfeeding challenging for so long; good on you for trying as much as you did, and glad you had better experiences the last 2 times. You know what? You didn’t fail, you tried!

    • Oh, what a shame; and my, what an irrational taboo too. Imagine where humanity, and indeed a good chunk of animals, will be without breastfeeding.

  12. I’m not yet a mum, but I read this post with interest – it’s the only article I’ve read this World Breastfeeding Week and it’s a really good read! I’ll be breastfeeding (if I can) when I have little ones…but completely understand that it’s a personal choice. I don’t agree with the mums who don’t do it purely because they don’t like it, though – it’s by far the best way for a baby to bond with its mother and to get the natural nutrients it needs. Really do feel for those who are unable to, though.

    • I’m glad you find this to be a good read, Emily. 🙂 It must be really difficult if one wants to breastfeed and can’t for whatever reason. Lovely that you’d like to breastfeed when that time comes for you; best wishes on your journey, whenever it starts. We’re definitely fortunate that breastfeeding is now a personal choice for many woman, and I suppose this gives room for infants to survive and thrive if one chooses not to breastfeed if they don’t like it, despite the value of breastfeeding for mum, baby, family, society, and the environment. I understand why you disagree though; I really wish everyone saw the value of breastfeeding.

  13. I read one about a mother squirting someone in a park with milk after showing their disapproval of her breastfeeding

    • The story was made up by some dude to show how gullible tabloid papers can be; not sure why he picked on breastfeeding, during World Breastfeeding Week, for his experiment.

  14. I didn’t read a lot this year. I’m coming to the end of my breastfeeding journey (3.5 years) and although I try to help others with advice I find I start reading comments on articles and it makes me angry and sad that people can’t get along on the issue. I actually blame the media though who always use sensationalist headlines or stories (such as a grown man still having breastmilk) and this riles people up and then they get upset over articles which just want to help and inform.

    • 3.5 years … wow! I can understand your anger, and I agree with you that the media plays a role in a lot of the misinformation and confusion about breastfeeding and breast milk. Hopefully breastfeeding awareness will continue to inform and educate people, so that more educated discussions can be had about this very important human issue.

  15. I read two negative articles- one about a woman being shamed and another about a child who died after their mother was put on a strict diet of raw food was it?

    • So sad. I read one about a strict diet mother too, but the baby survived, thankfully. In the one I read, breastfeeding seemed to have just been used as a click bait.

  16. I know some woman who couldn’t due to the baby not getting enough milk, they felt as if they are a failure as a mum, we do our best to reassure them but they still feel bad. xxx

    • So sad. I hope she feels better now … a failure is definitely one that she isn’t. So good we live in society where there are adequate substitutes, and indeed information to help understand why enough milk isn’t produced by some. Unfortunately, a lot more still needs to be done in the medical profession to support mums in this situation, so that more mothers can achieve their breastfeeding goals. And perhaps one day, donor milk will be more widely available.

  17. My grandson was born 10 weeks early and my daughter struggled to breastfeed him and when he began to lose weight she was advised to bottle feed. So anything that raises awareness is fantastic

    • What a challenging start and good on your daughter for trying. Breast milk is so vital for children that young; and milk banks tend to provide donor milk to help out for a while. I bottle-fed for some months as well, and I so wish I knew much more at the start of my journey. Regards to your daughter, and I definitely agree that breastfeeding awareness is fantastic.

  18. Bad one – The American guy (I think in Walmart) complaining, but luckily the staff defended her.
    Nice one – I think it was a post on facebook where an older lady came over to a mum who was breastfeeding and she cut up her breakfast for her. How lovely!
    Helpful one – My local breastfeeding support group on nighttime feeds. I didn’t realise we produce more at night! No wonder my little one keeps me awake so much! I took part in the Big Latch on too, just surprised by the terrible turnout.

    • Oh, that target one, it happened a while ago … shocking, isn’t it.
      I saw the nice one too; it happened a while ago; how lovely and encouraging.
      Yeah, more milk is produced at night; brilliant isn’t it.
      You took back in the Big Latch! Fantastic, I would like to take part sometime. I’m sure the turnout will continue to increase over the coming years.

  19. I loved reading about mums who breastfeed they own children and also express and give their milk to babies who need it when their mummies aren’t able to breastfeed.

  20. I read a post on facebook, posted by my friend that started off “I was sat in a public toilet eating a cheese sandwich” I though Ewwwww why would you do that? And went on to read that obviously that was gross so why would anyone expect you to feed your baby in a toilet. I thought it was a very thought provoking way to get the message across, so much so I reposted it on my timeline.

    I have to say I am lucky enough to have only received on negative comment whilst feeding my current baby (saying it was disgusting), if I had been a first time mother then I would’ve found it really unsettling and upsetting, as it is my third I felt sorry for them that they found a baby getting food in the most natural way possible disgusting and carried on feeding regardless.

    • It’s crazy how so much more obvious folks have to try and make obvious common sense points about the normality of breastfeeding a child when out and about. Shame you had a negative comment, I haven’t had one; so lovely that it didn’t get to you. I hope there will be more sharing of positive stories of public breastfeeding, to reduce any worries that new mums might have about it.

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