Advanced search

We've spent weeks researching and testing breast pumps and bottles in real homes with real families. Read our baby feeding bottle and breast pump reviews to find out which ones were awarded Mumsnet Best.

Breastfeeding discussion on Woman's Hour NOW!

(22 Posts)
Caligula Mon 09-May-05 10:08:31

Because it's BF awareness week, apparantly.

handlemecarefully Mon 09-May-05 10:34:11

Can't listen to the radio, am at work. Please fill us in afterwards...

Caligula Mon 09-May-05 10:44:42

There was Belinda Phipps from the NCT talking sense and then there was somebody else talking rubbish. She suggested that the message ought to be that as bf is so difficult and leads to lack of sleep, why not try mixed feeding and also said that bottle-feeding women are made to feel guilty about it.

Here's a link breastfeeding on woman's hour

yoyo Mon 09-May-05 10:51:05

Could only just hear it above DS's noise. There were many areas that were touched on but obviously not enough time to expand on fully. There was a woman from the NCT and someone who has written books which seemed to be about the woman's right to choice, ie that women should be supported whatever way they choose to feed their babies and not be made to feel guilty. She said that the message was always "best is best" and that those who chose to do otherwise were made to feel guilty. She also entered the feeding in public debate by saying that women who bottlefed often felt guilty about doing so. She also said that there wasn't enough information about mixed feeding.

Perhaps you could use the "play again" feature as I'm sure I've missed out loads. It was interesting and could have been a really feisty debate. Sorry this isn't more comprehensive - DS is running riot and my concentration seems to have left me.

handlemecarefully Mon 09-May-05 10:52:14

Oh thanks for that.

At least Belinda Phipps gave it a good go from what you say

Caligula Mon 09-May-05 11:05:51

Yoyo's summary of her arguments are less biased than mine!

I just have no patience with the argument that women are made to feel guilty about bottlefeeding, because I think that if they do, that's generally because of their own expectations and feelings and not something imposed from outside. There may well be crap HV's around who make women feel guilty about bottlefeeding, but it seems to me that there a whole lot more HV's who make breastfeeding women feel agitated about their children's weight and almost bully them into bottlefeeding; that seems to be a far worse problem and one that needs addressing far more urgently. When we have a 90% rate of breastfeeding until 6 months with mothers feeling resentful that they're forced into it when they really secretly want to bottle-feed, then I'll worry about that issue - but the context of the argument in this country is that most mothers start off wanting to breast feed and just simply aren't given the support and advice they need to do it. And that woman's arguments simply ignored the reality of that context, imo.

yoyo Mon 09-May-05 11:40:32

Caligula - didn't have the time to express bias. I agree with the points in your post by the way . There is a short piece in the main section of The Times today about the benefits of even just one breast feed. The NCT seem to be doing a "one day at a time" campaign. Also, don't know if you saw the piece in The Times last week about extended BF but Deborah Jackson has a letter on the letters page today. Thought I might write to her and direct her to MUMSNET for informed discussion and debate.

Prufrock Mon 09-May-05 12:11:22

I alo thought her arguments about feeling guilty were crap -especially in light of teh first womans comments about feeling guilty because she perservered with bf for 6 weeks because she wanted to do it, when her baby was not putting on weight and she was "starving" her. (I was shouting Domperidone at the radio when she was saying she just couldn't produce milk). I think women just have the capacity to feel guilty whatever their choice, if that choice is not afully informed and supported one.

hunkermunker Mon 09-May-05 12:18:49

Totally agree Caligula.

Also found these letters from today in The TImes:

May 09, 2005

From Dr John Doherty

Sir, Dorothy Rowe and Deborah Jackson (T2, May 5) debate at length the pros and cons of extended breast-feeding, yet fail to mention the greatest benefit for the mother — prevention of breast cancer. The longer women breast-feed the more they are protected. Short duration of breast-feeding is a major contributor to high rates of breast cancer.

Yours faithfully,
Rittersporngasse 61,
Vienna 1220, Austria.
May 5.

From Ms Deborah Jackson

Sir, I am disappointed that my article on prejudice against long-term breast-feeding appeared under the cover-line “Why breast is not best: the mothers who don’t know when to stop”. The piece was commissioned to coincide with National Breast-feeding Awareness Week, yet your headline hardly encouraged readers to judge for themselves.

Bizarrely, you have reinforced what breast-feeding mothers know already: that their heroic efforts to do their best by their babies are too often unsupported.

Yours faithfully,
75 Kineton Green Road,
Solihull, West Midlands B92 7DX.
May 5.

hunkermunker Mon 09-May-05 12:19:19

And this was the article:

The Times
May 05, 2005

. . . or just go with the flow?
Deborah Jackson
This author says that breast-feeding up to the age of 7 is perfectly natural

POLITE NOTICE: this article contains facts about infant nurture which some readers may find distasteful or even offensive. As someone who breast-fed three children on and off over eight years, I know how touchy people can be. Simply by breast-feeding my babies as often as they needed and for as long as we both liked, I managed to cause offence to health visitors, female friends, distant relatives and the occasional stranger.

Before nursing my toddler, Alice, I used to check first if people were OK with it, rather as if I were about to light a cigarette. Passive breast-feeding is clearly a menace to modern society.

Alice stopped feeding at 2½, but some children take it further. Of course, the farther they go, the more society is offended. American and Canadian divorce custody cases have even classed long-term nursing of five-year-olds as a sexual aberration. As Madonna famously remarked when an eight-year-old child was seen to nurse on daytime American TV, “That’s incest.” Yet, believe it or not, throughout history and across the globe, there have always been eight-year-old nurslings. And while their acts of conspicuous consumption may seem to many like defiance or perversion, the truth is that it’s all perfectly within nature’s plan.

Lactation experts agree that human milk is designed to be delivered over years, not months: that it’s not merely food but a source of comfort and wellbeing long after the baby starts to taste solids. “Some children nurse less than two and a half years, and some nurse longer than seven years,” says Katherine Dettwyler, a biocultural anthropologist who since 1981 has researched the question of long-term breast-feeding. Seven seems to be the usual cut-off point. “There is no research,” she adds, “to support a claim that breast-feeding a child at any age is in any way harmful to a child.”

One obvious clue is the comparison between different species. Some animals, such as the guinea pig, are “short-lactating”, ie, their babies are born mature and weaned within a few days. Primates are long-lactating: they wean their babies between one and seven years, depending on their body size. Macaque monkeys, for instance, which are slightly bigger than the domestic cat, nurse for a year or two. Chimpanzees suckle their young for between four and six years. Needless to say, we humans must count ourselves biologically among the primates.

Never mind the government recommendation of six months’ breastfeeding, or that only 21 per cent of British babies actually reach this nursing milestone. Human milk is very low in protein and designed for slow release. Less protein is not a nutritional deficiency, but nature’s way of keeping the human baby as small and portable for as long as possible. (By contrast, cow’s milk is high in protein, enabling calves to double their weight in 50 days.) The point of being carried around is that the big-brained baby has everything to learn and must do so by observing. He drinks in his culture, its people and their language along with his mother’s milk. This milk changes daily — it even goes from low-fat to high-fat mid-feed — and it changes as the years progress. Human milk provides the nutrients for rapid brain growth and hormones for optimum health, with advantages reaching far into adulthood. Although every culture introduces solids by the end of the first year of life (and some start in the first few weeks), breast-feeding provides a long overlap from infancy to independence and many societies are in no wish to hurry the process.

In the early 1900s, Chinese and Japanese children were routinely breast-fed until they reached four or five. Ancient Egyptians nursed for three years and the Inuit people traditionally suckled their children for seven years. In our own history, 19th-century mothers in East Lincolnshire (for instance) nursed their children for seven or eight years each. Today, Asia is the place where babies are most likely to be nursed long-term. In Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest countries,

90 per cent of two-year-olds are still nursing; the figure in Nepal is 88 per cent. Our own Infant Feeding Survey stops counting at nine months, when it records that just 13 per cent of babies are still breast-fed, but even this implies about 70,000 nursing mums. I know of mothers who have quietly continued with night-time feeds after their children have started school, but it’s not something many of them would advertise.

Breast-feeding is usually a discreet experience. A new baby suckles quietly, his head swathed in a baggy jumper or shawl, and it’s rare to sight a nipple, let alone bare skin. But nursing toddlers is more messy. Their heads turn this way and that in eager curiosity. They talk about “num num” or “mummy juice” and pull at your T-shirt when you’re shaking hands with the head teacher. At 17 months, my third child, Joe, would wriggle around like a jumping bean, suddenly leaping off my lap mid-feed and leaving me exposed to view. Seconds later, he would jump back on again. Not surprising, perhaps, that one friend said: “I’m not against breast-feeding, I just can’t bear to see it.” Not surprising, either, that 17 months was all the nursing Joe received.

Despite social prejudice and fretful headlines, most long-term breast-feeding mothers are not sexual deviants, exhibitionists, militants or even overbearing. Not one of them started out with a plan to breast-feed right up to the school gates. The ones who do are usually just those who, prepared to go with the flow, found that the flow lasted longer than expected. They carry on to the uncomfortable point where biology is crushed by cultural prejudice.

And on that subject, a special mention must go to Richard Page, the Conservative MP for Hertfordshire South West, who, when approached recently for his support by breast-feeding mothers, remarked: “I do not believe that breast-feeding in public is acceptable or indeed necessary. There were one or two Labour MPs who tried to argue that breast-feeding should be allowed in the chamber of the House of Commons, and thank heavens that was promptly squashed.”

This sort of bigotry is perhaps the greatest obstacle to improving breast-feeding rates in our country. When society finds the nurturing act itself revolting, a mother’s primary emotions are guilt and embarrassment and she is more likely to retreat underground if she continues at all. It is not necessary to promote long-term breast-feeding as an end in itself. But as long as we remain squeamish about the breast’s real function, confusing childcare and babycare with sex, mothers will find it hard to be accepted for doing their best. In such a climate, it becomes almost impossible to accept the mother who wants to continue breast-feeding for as long as she likes.

handlemecarefully Mon 09-May-05 12:30:57

Ok, I have to be honest...I would think it odd for a child to be breastfed up to the age of 7. Wouldn't be offended - just uncomprehending.

handlemecarefully Mon 09-May-05 12:34:29

I'm prepared to admit though that this is probably because it is something I am not used to

handlemecarefully Mon 09-May-05 12:34:30

I'm prepared to admit though that this is probably because it is something I am not used to

maretta Mon 09-May-05 12:55:23

That's such a good article although that MP makes my blood boil.

Think it's sad that most discussions about breast feeding - like that on loose women - have to focus on whether its acceptable to show your boobies in public. It's so childish.
Surely the important issue is why do so many women feel they didn't receive enough support and advice to continue or even start breast feeding.

emkana Mon 09-May-05 13:12:35

There was also another article in the Times on the same day as the Deborah Jackson one, and it makes my blood boil...

Here it is:

Know when to stop . . .
Dorothy Rowe
As a woman flies 3,500 miles to breast-feed her one-year-old, a clinical psychologist argues that lengthy nursing may satisfy the mother more than the child

IN AN extraordinary story, Rosie Stamp, a 32-year-old video producer, this week told how she flew home 3,500 miles to breast-feed her one-year-old who was refusing to take the bottled breast milk she had left behind. It’s not her decision to cut short her trip that some may find odd, but the age of her daughter.
If one report is to be believed, however, there are apparently thousands of extended breast-feeders (ie, those who breast-feed their children beyond the age of 12 months) in the UK, some of whom feed their children even until school age.

The question we must ask is whether extended breast-feeding is more about the mother than it is the needs of the child. Certainly, in physical terms, once a child is eating an ordinary, varied diet (ie, well after weaning on to first solid foods), they don’t need their mother’s milk. While it’s been argued that prolonged breast-feeding boosts immunity, the immune system is extremely complex, and it’s difficult to say scientifically that any one thing categorically improves it.

Psychologically, there is little evidence to support long-term breast-feeding. In the first couple of months it is important to the bonding relationship, but you can still have this with mothers who can’t breast-feed. It is not exclusive to breast-feeding. It’s very easy to become a martyr to breast-feeding — and it’s not necessary to do this to yourself.

Children bond with their mothers in a multitude of ways: often when the mother is not aware of it, but is simply meeting the child’s needs. One of my own early memories is of being ill with measles as a small child, and my mother bringing in a jug of lukewarm water to give me a bed bath. It was a rare kindness and I remember lying there, loving her the most I ever had. But as far as she was concerned she was giving me a wash.

Over the years so many mothers have talked to me about not being the perfect mother, and I always quote a friend of mine: a mother’s place is in the role. In other words, if you are the perfect mother to your children, always anticipating their needs and meeting these perfectly, they never grow up — there’s no incentive for them to change. It’s because the mother isn’t perfect that the child evolves and grows to meet his own needs.

It’s essential that the mother’s relationship with her child changes in this way. When you bring up children, you want to look forward to a future when your 40-year-old son is not living in the spare room, with you still doing his washing: the only way you can go from being mother and baby to two adults on the same footing is to let your child go.

For a lot of women it is a great relief when their children don’t need constant looking after — at last they can get back to work, or just go to the loo by themselves — but other mothers feel so empty that they can’t tolerate their own loneliness, and perhaps their partner is unable to meet their needs, that they see their baby as a kind of extension of their childhood dolls, and they can’t let their children grow.

According to Jean Piaget, the pioneer of child development, until the age of 7 or 8, children don’t have any understanding that other people have thoughts and see things differently. But Professor Judy Dunn, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, has shown that children as young as 18 months can be keenly and accurately aware of what their siblings and parents feel.

They are able to pick up on whether their mother is upset, and will try to make her better. And if the mother shows that breast-feeding is important to her then the child, who may not want to breast-feed but doesn’t want to hurt his mother, does what she wants. Using their children’s sympathy is something many mothers do — one of the more blatant ways is to say: “If you don’t do this, Mummy will be really upset.”

Then there’s this question of being a “good” child — children learn from their mothers that “good” is how the mother (and father) defines it: and if that is to breast-feed, then the child will acquiesce. Not to do so would be to invite punishment.

But this has implications for a child’s independence in the long term. Learning to look after yourself — which includes, from a young age, feeding yourself — is about learning to rely on yourself, and making your own decisions. A child who is breast-fed for too long may not even know when it is hungry. Children need to start trying to do things for themselves, and they won’t if it is easier to just ask Mummy (you see this extended dependence on their parents even in adults, who have never moved on from being a little girl or boy).

To function in the adult world, you have to feel you are competent and able to look after yourself, and to be able to rely on your own judgment — your mother has to give you the confidence to believe this, and this comes from all those encouragements she offered — “Aren’t you clever?”, “You did that really well” — when you tried things yourself. Lots of mothers love to see that independence, but there are others who don’t believe their children can function without them, and that may include extended breast-feeders.

The more tricky question about extended breast-feeding is what is appropriate in physical terms. All parents have to start thinking quite early about what kind of physical closeness they have with their children — what is “inappropriate” is very difficult to define; it can only be defined from a child’s point of view as anything that makes the child feel disturbed and uncomfortable, or intrudes on their privacy.

Of course breast-feeding is to be encouraged because it does confer long-term health benefits. But breastfeeding in the long term may not be best for the child.

CarolinaMoon Mon 09-May-05 13:18:22

was a bit to hear the woman at the start of the Woman's Hour piece whose baby hadn't regained its birth weight after 6 weeks of bf - how did she get discharged from community MW care? a bit worrying that her HV thought it was all going fine when in fact her baby was starvingly hungry...

I also think its so, so sad that so many women are put off by the thought of bfing their baby in public, but of course its because there really aren't that many of us doing it (mums generally i mean, not MNers...) so it doesn't looks like a normal, everyday thing to do - I read recently that 50% of bfers never bf in public.

maretta Mon 09-May-05 13:18:42

Yep that makes my blood boil too. I think the WHO say breast feeding to two years in beneficial.

So, to summarise, if you breastfeed your son for more than 12 months he'll be living in the spare room when he's 40 and the reason you're doing it is because you're not getting it from your husband.!!

hunkermunker Mon 09-May-05 13:20:04

I heard Dorothy Rowe on LBC the other day (I think it was her - surely there aren't two people with such ridiculous views?!!). She said that breastfeeding interferes with the relationship between husband and wife as it sends a clear signal that the mother loves the child more than the partner. Totally ludicrous - if that's the case, there are underlying problems with the relationship anyway.

I asked DH if he minded me still breastfeeding DS (13mo) and if he thought it affected our relationship. He looked at me as if I was mad... DS is the child, I'm the mum, DH is the dad. SImple

Caligula Mon 09-May-05 13:20:26

God what a load of crap. As if breastfeeding is the one and only symptom of a mother who can't let go.

What always amazes me, is that people are so interested in whether a woman is b-feeding her child at one, 18 months, 2 years or whatever. What on earth has it got to do with them? People who have absolutely no knowledge, interest or even passing familiarity with the subject of breastfeeding, have incredibly strong opinions about it, based on absolutely no information. (I'm not counting Dorothy Rowe in that of course.)

giraffeski Mon 09-May-05 13:22:06

Message withdrawn

giraffeski Mon 09-May-05 13:23:24

Message withdrawn

yoyo Mon 09-May-05 13:40:47

The article "One day of breastfeeding boosts babies" is in today's Independent not The Times as I said earlier.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: