First Jamie Oliver, now Adele, my social media feeds are ablaze with angry mums and dads and once again breastfeeding is at the heart of the upset. Jamie Oliver gave a really brief interview in which he mentioned that women who want to breastfeed need more support and information. But one word in his whole statement which was otherwise so spot on has left so many people feeling furious, Adele included.
I love Adele. She's fabulous, funny and so down-to-earth. At a recent gig she launched into a tirade about Jamie, and mentioned that a certain brand of formula milk was just as good. Taglines like that have gotten that brand into trouble with the Advertising Standards Agency in the past. I'm sure all she was trying to do was support fellow mums and that is brilliant. But... A mum who wants to breastfeed needs support, not misinformation. We can't just stop talking about breastfeeding.
JAMIE IS RIGHT
Take the word "easy" out of Jamie's statement and he is right. Women in Britain are being let down by society because there simply isn't adequate support available when it is really needed. There isn't enough information available. That's what he said. He didn't say anything negative about mums who choose not to breastfeed nor did he say anything about mums who can't breastfeed. He didn't attack or vilify parents who don't breastfeed and he didn't label anyone a bad mother. He didn't try to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't be doing. He quite simply said that women who want to breastfeed deserve more help, more support and more information. Because it's true that women who want to breastfeed aren't always getting the help, support and information they need. So those women who want to breastfeed are being let down and that isn't right.
I'm seeing people arguing literally every single day on my Facebook feed about breastfeeding and one thing that pops up a lot is that "everyone knows breast is best". Do you know that breastfeeding is the best start for your baby? How did you know that? Because someone told you, right? So, if we stop talking about breastfeeding, then what? How will anyone know?
NOT EVERYONE KNOWS
People will end up like me. Before becoming a mother I thought babies were simply formula fed nowadays, and that breastfeeding was something women did in ye olden days before the marvelous invention of formula milk. Why? Because no-one told me otherwise. We didn't learn about breastfeeding in school, I didn't have my mum around to tell me and I didn't hear much about breastfeeding while I was pregnant other than horror stories from people. No-one told me that breastfeeding reduces the chances of ear infections, diabetes and obesity for the child, no-one told me that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer for mum. And I know from speaking to other mums that I'm not the only one that was in the dark about this.
We have to keep talking about breastfeeding, and we have to keep spreading a positive message about it. We can't stop just because some people are "sick of hearing about it." Future parents deserve the chance to make an informed decision about how they plan to feed their babies. Future mums deserve support, help and information when they need it. And not just to think that it's something that women used to do.