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Guest blog: 'Breast is Best' - has breastfeeding been oversold?

(327 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Feb-13 14:15:47

Prof Joan B Wolf is the author of 'Breast Is Best?', which argues that mothers are being pressured to breastfeed for reasons that aren't, in fact, based on good evidence.

In our guest blog debate, she explains why she thinks that the science behind the 'breast is best' health claims might be fundamentally flawed. On the same page Anna Burbidge, Chair of the La Leche League, responds to some of her arguments.

Do read both, and let us know what you think. Is breastfeeding being promoted as part of "an ideology of total motherhood that stipulates that a mother can and should eliminate any risk to her children, regardless of how small or likely the risk or what the cost is to her own wellbeing in the process"? Or do you feel that, far from breastfeeding being an orthodoxy, society still feels awkward and uncomfortable about it? If you blog, don't forget to post your URLs here.

We know the breastfeeding/formula feeding thing is a hugely emotive subject on MN, as in real life, so please do remember that Mumsnet supports parents' personal choices on this issue - we're all about making lives easier. Please be kind and respectful towards those whose views or experiences differ from your own.

psychologymum Wed 26-Jun-13 21:35:54

Breastfeeding has important health benefits but sometimes mothers who don't breastfeed for all sorts of reasons e.g. because their baby was premature or their baby has tongue-tie or they are in too much pain are made to feel that it will weaken the bond with their baby. Research shows that breastfeeding does not affect the mother-baby bond.

Layl77 Wed 26-Jun-13 21:52:45

It does need to be about support BUT also re-educating absolutely everyone who comes into contact with a mother and baby. You can have a lactation consultant or bf support but it's a midwife who delivers a baby and weighs them tells them things like "it's a hungry baby" or "top up" and a health visitor who then takes over, most of which do not have any certified breastfeeding training so very often do not notice things which affect breastfeeding. Babies shouldn't lose weight, fail to thrive etc as has been mentioned- there is a problem there and obviously nobody picked up on it. The alternative was to give formula so that would mask the breastfeeding issue and give the impression that then the baby is thriving so breastfeeding didn't work out.
Some countries have 90% breastfeeding rates - it can be done. The attention needs to move away from the mothers and guilt and focussed on education. Giving proper information as well. To the poster who's midwife couldn't point out the difference between breast and formula blush how embarrassing.

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