Friday, June 01, 2012

Booby trap

Am really thoroughly perplexed by the whole breastfeeding debate. Why on earth do we women allow ourselves to beat one another up so avidly?

Having never had a baby, I suppose my perspective on the issue would be more detached. But please God may I remain level headed about it if I ever do pop a sprog.

I don't really have an opinion on whether Breast is Best. It seems there are clear advantages in the early weeks. And then there are guidelines from the NHS that encourage you to carry on for as long as possible, feeding exclusively breast milk for 6 months. The World Health Organisation suggests breast milk as all or part of the diet until age 2.

On the other hand, I have seen several good friends lose their grip on their own needs and identity due to a desperation to breastfeed right. And this tends to go hand in hand with an uber-condescending attitude to mothers who aren't so dogmatic about it and give up early.

Let's face it, you are as important as your child. And breastfeeding can be a degrading, painful experience wherein you are stuck at home, capable of being little more than a feeding machine. I read an article in the Guardian Magazine last weekend that referenced various recent studies that discredit the science behind Breast is Best. (One of the main points - breastfeeding does go hand in hand with benefits for the child, but nobody has ruled out the fact that maybe because breastfeeding mothers tend to be middle class, healthier, more affluent etc so the child is actually being helped by other factors.)

The article's suggestion that one should breastfeed for longer if one enjoys it but not strive to, if not (surely a happy, content mother is of utmost importance to a small child?) appealed to me.

But I don't really want to make a call on the science. My main source of confusion is why people get so irate about this. Why do women brand each other overbearing or irresponsible as a result of how this very intimate matter is handled?

Come on girls. Stand up for the sisterhood! (As somebody once said.......)

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