Is the ‘breast is best’ campaign actually having a negative impact on the number of women breastfeeding? Some schools of thought indicate that the pressure on new mothers to perform their ultimate ‘duty’ for their child is so great, that they simply cannot breastfeed.
In Australia, breastfeeding rates fall short of the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for babies up to six months of age. While 96 per cent of mums start breastfeeding, the rates then drop steadily, with less than a quarter of those mums continuing until their baby is six months old.
In the UK, the story is much the same, with only one in 100 women breastfeeding to the six month mark. It’s prompted some research into why, and all indications are that ‘bressure’ is to blame. That’s a new term coined for ‘breastfeeding pressure’.
In an article for The Independant, Channel Mum and Netmums Founder Siobhan Freegard says, “It seems to be a direct result of the ‘breast is best’ campaign dictating what mothers should do rather than supporting them.”
Channel Mum conducted a survey of close to 2000 new mums, with more than a third saying they’d been on the receiving end of negative comments for bottle-feeding their child. Half of these women said the comments had come from other mothers they know.
“The study showed 55 per cent of mums – whether they breast or bottle feed – have felt ‘bressure’ and believe the campaign has placed too big a burden of expectation placed on mothers to breastfeed”, says Ms Freegard.
Incredibly, Ms Freegard reports that mums are now more likely to be abused in public for bottle-feeding than breastfeeding. The survey indicating that 41 per cent of bottle-feeding mums have been made to feel that they’ve ‘failed as a mum and failed their child’.
“This is wrong and it needs to stop – now. We need a lot more mothering and a lot less judging,” she says.
What are your thoughts, Babyologists? Is it time to stop the feeding war?