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Does Breast Feeding have an Image Problem?

(24 Posts)
earplugs Fri 07-Aug-09 12:37:22

Just a thought...

If women (in particular young woman) can be strongly influenced by what the see/read in magazines & media, then could they be put off by what is often portrayed as the 'norm' for a breastfeeding mum?

Having just gathered all the leaflets and booklets I have on bf in one place I notice the majority show pictures of very mumsy looking, mid 30's women with vast, vast bosom which I never had! envy Although I know breast size has nothing to do with ability to bf, it did give me some cause for concern in the early days if my newly aquired B cup was enough!

So, I know bf shouldn't have to be marketed and the health benefits alone should be enough to make anyone who can, give it a go but it obviously isn't.

Would using younger mums in bf literature & vids perhaps be a more postive role model for younger women and help change the view that bf is only for the oldies smile
(I am certainly an oldie by the way, but like to think of myself as a young 20 of mind!)

MrsBadger Fri 07-Aug-09 12:41:09

I think it's worked the other way round - if all 'how-to' type BF literature had pics of glam young things bfing in boob tubes normal (ie fat mumsy just-given-birth) new mothers (who are after all the people in the photos) would think it wasn't for them

have you seen the Be A Star site?
some very good young role models on there

earplugs Fri 07-Aug-09 12:53:04

Oooh excellent site MrsBadger, no I hadn't seen that before but thats just the sort of thing I was thinking. I would be great if positive images such as those were also used in the routine handouts.

I'm not saying that all literature should be about the youngsters but it needs to be somthing that all ages can relate to and at the moment I really don't think it is.

BakewellTarts Fri 07-Aug-09 12:54:41

Local NHS posters all feature very young mums (oldest is 21 I think)...

tiktok Fri 07-Aug-09 13:07:48

All the stuff produced by DH/NHS in the last few years has had v. young mothers, lots of ethnicities and situations, too.

If anyone is still handing out leaflets which are solely mid 30s vast bosomed then they're behind the times...glad to say most places have moved on.

Though there is a place for the mid-30s vast bosomed mum - she exists, too

trellism Fri 07-Aug-09 13:17:07

The leaflets I got were mid-30s with vast veiny bosoms too. The photos were dreadfully lit, the women had ghastly hair and looked like they'd just been shipped in from Greenham Common in 1983.

There are some nicer posters up in the antenatal unit at the hospital though.

If breastfeeding is to be aspirational, then the images should be too. I don't think it would put many off - after all, we buy products advertised by attractive models.

My DH suggested that they use unappealling women so that less chivalrous men than he won't nick the leaflets and, um, "use" them.

MrsBadger Fri 07-Aug-09 13:40:41

I see the point of making bf look attractive
but am torn by 'but the photos should be of real mums really bfing'

I was given a very accurate informative NHS bfing mag at my 10wk booking-in appt covering all sorts of things inc expressing and weaning, and I did think the photos didn't live up to the well-designed and presented info and layout.

They were quite obviously real snaps from delivery rooms and antenatal wards, showing c-section dressign peeking over pjs, epidural tubes over shoulders, sweaty hair, ghaslty hospital gowns etc

but that is what it is like for the first few feeds

if all the pics were of coiffed radiant collected mothers in stylish loungewear people who have just delivered may think 'I'm not coping as well as those ladies in the bf book, I'm not like them, bf is not for me'

admittedly there were lovely pics of a lady bfing in a wedding dress etc as well, but even these weren't as well-lit and composed as even local newpaper shots

tbh I think a bigger picture library to draw on would be a help - wasn't there some talk of a bfing photo shoot? I'd donate that one of me in Morocco with dd for free [rummages] here

peppapighastakenovermylife Fri 07-Aug-09 13:47:40

What a gorgeous photo MrsBadger!!

staylucky Fri 07-Aug-09 13:48:25

From my own experience the biggest barrier for young mums now taking up bf is the prev generation who listened to the formula marketing and didn't bf. At every stage of pregnancy bf is promoted to mums to be but once your back nome with your new baby it's family you rely on.

I really wish there was something on the tv a documentary or something. I think that's the only way my mum would understand it.

staylucky Fri 07-Aug-09 13:51:33

Your photo is beautiful mrs badger x

MiniMarmite Fri 07-Aug-09 13:52:31

Gorgeous photo!

A MN bf picture library you mean?

I'd be happy to donate a picture too.

I think aspirational/realistic images are part of what is needed.

earplugs Fri 07-Aug-09 13:53:25

Trellism grin Ha ha, sounds like you got the same leaflets that I did!

Must admit that mine are 2.5 years old now and it sounds as though things have moved on since then which is brilliant (although maybe they already had and they just gave me the 'Greenham Common' ones as they thought they may have suited me best shock )

I wonder if the newer images have had a positive effect on younger women and bf rates or is it too early to tell?

earplugs Fri 07-Aug-09 14:01:12

STUNNING photo MrsBadger and that is EXACTLY the sort of positive image I mean.

Unlurked Fri 07-Aug-09 14:04:15

I'm bf-ing my 15 mnth old and I'm 23 so fairly young in the grand scheme of things I s'pose. I can't say any bf images have had much of an effect on me although I'm always pleased to see bf campaigns when out and about. I think people are more influenced by what people around them (family, friends) do or have done than images of strangers.

Having said all that, I have seen some beautiful photos of babies and toddlers being bf which should most definitely be shared with the world

ChairmumMiaow Fri 07-Aug-09 14:05:08

We did have a photo shoot in Birmingham with 3 of us and our little ones, meant to be used in adverts for the breastfeeding picnic but we never got that far. We're not glamorous but we are relaxed and I love the photos. I don't have originals though so I'll have to see if I can gett hem all on a non-facebook site!

trellism Fri 07-Aug-09 14:06:41

MrsB, you do have a perfectly good point.

I was just thinking that we buy all sorts of things advertised by glamorous or unrealistic images: Tampax, for instance, or nappy adverts.

Perhaps a little glamour, or even just some good lighting, might sway the opinions of some (particularly younger) women into thinking that bf is for them. A common attitude I've noticed amongst younger friends who have children is that bf is a bit icky, for hippy women who handknit their own lentils and not "nice" - decent marketing might change that.

MrsBadger Fri 07-Aug-09 14:08:50


The silly thing is I am in my 30s and at that stage did have huge veiny boobs... it's all in the photography!

MrsBadger Fri 07-Aug-09 14:12:19

I was just thinking about the similarity to nappy ads, trellism

Decent lighting and colour balance (which let's face are is piss easy to adjust afterwards in Photoshop if you take in RAW) would have made a HUGE difference to the pics in the NHS mag

trellism Fri 07-Aug-09 14:12:35

Also, adverts for formula milk always show happy, chubby, bouncing toddlers being fed by their beaming parents.

They never show the reality of a bleary eyed parent trying to measure out formula powder at 3am, one handed, with a squalling infant in the other.

oneopinionatedmother Fri 07-Aug-09 14:19:55

yes. ban formula ads.

blueshoes Fri 07-Aug-09 14:20:17

I find promotional bf-ing images tend to be of women bf-ing in such a way as to expose their breast from the baby right up, so as to show the top of the breasts.

That might be romantic (?) but there are loads of ways of bf-ing discreetly that don't involve exposing acres of flesh eg just lifting up a baggy jumper with a vest underneath.

Lots of people won't even know the mother was bf-ing.

If women knew it was possible to bf without attracting unwanted attention, I think that would persuade more women to bf, since it would be easier when out and about.

Meglet Fri 07-Aug-09 14:21:44

mrsbadger the be a star website is fab smile. I work with some older teenage girls so if any of them get pregnant I will mention it to them. I must admit I spent £££££ on clothes when I was bf as I was hell bent on not feeling grotty and scruffy.

Unlurked Fri 07-Aug-09 14:22:55

Maybe glamour bf shots would have more of an impact if used in everyday life? Not necessarily being marketed at pg women. The NHS stuff kind of has to be a clear picture doesn't it? so you can see the baby's position? And the NHS stuff is aimed at women who are about to or have just given birth so more realistic photos of bf at that stage would be helpful I think.

I put a photo of me feeding dd on my profile (at least I tried!) you can't actually tell I'm bfing though... and I'm not exactly glamorous... but I am young!

earplugs Fri 07-Aug-09 14:27:39

I think there is a balance to be struck somewhere. We most certainly do need good, informative and realistic images so that we all don't go away and develop inferiority compex (for those who haven't already that is). So it would be crap to have photos of glam size 10 models with a full face of makeup whilst the midwife is finishing the last stitch, but the images do (or did) just look really dated and terribly frumpy.

A mixture of the 'functional' photos and the 'aspirational' would be lovely.

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