Monday, 29 November 2010
A seasonal tale of Baring Gifts!
My father- God rest his soul was very old fashioned, indeed I would even say he embodied the Victorian model of the Patriarch presiding over his family, especially his daughters, and he had five of them! He never cooked a meal in his life- boiling an egg was as far as he got to using the cooker, and it wasn’t until he was quite old that I ever saw him using a vacuum cleaner or duster- he definitely was not a New Man, but then again he was born in 1910!
But, there was one area that he was very modern about in his outlook, and that was breastfeeding. As each new infant made their entrance into the world he would wonder at the miracle of birth and life, and he took great delight in watching these new babies feeding at the breast, he certainly had no misunderstandings of what breasts were for and felt no embarrassment at seeing them being used for that purpose.
My mother had breastfed all her babies and I was fortunate enough to remember her feeding my baby brother Mark and showing me how the milk came out, my older sisters breastfed their babies, and so when it was my turn there was no question about how I was going to feed my infants. By the time I had my first baby I was also a qualified midwife and understood the rudiments of breastfeeding and how to latch a baby on to the breast, although it was still very different doing it yourself to showing someone else how to do it!
I know that there are studies to show that women who have observed breast feeding by their mothers, aunts and family friends are far more likely to breastfeed themselves, and it is sad that in this modern age, breasts are still seen as sexual objects to be hidden away or fully exposed on page three- there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. Breast feeding is the most natural thing in the world to do- I don’t really need to highlight the reasons why it is the best feed you can give your baby- suffice to say it is 100% natural, it has not gone through a mechanised process in its manufacture, it arrives at the correct temperature, at the right time when it is needed, it has an unlimited supply, it gives all the right amount of fats, proteins, antibodies, - the list is endless.
So the question is: why if it is so good are there still so few continuing to breastfeed past 6 – 8 weeks post birth? Recent statistics from the Department of Health show that there are huge regional variations; the North East Strategic Health Authority shows that 56.9% of new mothers initiate breast feeding compared to 72.7% in London’s Strategic Health Authority. Some six to eight weeks later the overall figure of mothers continuing to breastfeed has dropped to 46.2%! So what happens to them in those 6-8 weeks?
I suppose that many women are under pressure to return to work and it maybe seen as simpler to change over their method of feeding to formula, but I suspect there are also a group of women who have really tried to breastfeed and for whatever reasons can’t manage it for any longer, probably due to lack of support and information, and then I suspect that there are also many women out there who still feel uncomfortable about baring their breasts in public places and they really want to get back into some sort of routine and normality.
There are many fantastic organisations who give one to one support on breastfeeding, and there are others who continue to campaign for better understanding and acceptance of breastfeeding- the list is below,
So, in trying to get the message across that breastfeeding is normal, and women can still be attractive (see link below) we are planning on producing a seasonal music video and we’re looking for volunteers- Any offers?
And maybe we could have more of these?