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Woman's Hour Breast and Bottle Feeding

(21 Posts)
ChampooPapi Tue 29-Jan-19 11:14:04

I was interested to know peoples thoughts on the last few programs.

It seemed to be really pro bottle but that is just my opinion and there is nothing wrong with bottle feeding and having a choice.

They seemed to kind of brush over the fact that 1 in three white woman choose to exclusively bottle feed and that only 1 in ten black and Asian woman bottle feed. I'd have liked this explored more.

Also no mention of the unethical practices/advertising that formula companies have used over the years ect.

It made me a bit annoyed it wasn't more balanced and although I agree woman should not be pressured into either method, if arguing that breast milk is the best thing for a baby (scientifically) makes woman feel more pressured then that's just they way it is.

Without those facts putting a certain amount of pressure on myself personally I think I would have given up with my first daughter.

The way some midwives make woman feel like they are starving their babies though when they could just give them formula was shocking, and I agree attitudes need to change.

Just wondering about others thoughts on the last two programs really

MikeUniformMike Tue 29-Jan-19 12:07:21

I switched off a few minutes in, sorry. I enjoyed the program earlier this morning about the high-flying banker and her childcare arrangements even though I didn't think I would.

ChampooPapi Tue 29-Jan-19 13:05:06

@MikeUniformMike I nearly turned off to be honest but saw it through. Everyone on was annoying me, bottle & breast feeding experts a like!

Everyone seemed scared of offending anyone else

ChampooPapi Tue 29-Jan-19 13:08:13

And summing up the whole 45 minutes with Jane reading out a listeners view that breast feeding was pretty much awful and the hardest thing ever....I was stunned that's how they finished the show

Bobfossil2 Tue 29-Jan-19 13:12:39

Yesterday though I thought the message was that breastfeeding is amazing. But yes, I thought today the focus was ‘don’t feel guilty’ which becomes ‘it’s ok to ff’ (it IS ok, I ff, but breast is best).
I’m interested to hear the phone in tomorrow.

MikeUniformMike Tue 29-Jan-19 13:13:05

It did seem that way.
It seems we're not allowed to offend anyone these days.
I am a compulsive R4 listener and have been for most of my life and these days I find I am reaching for the off button quite a lot.
Woman's Hour is usually avoided especially Jenni Murray and I hate the Power List things they do.

Celebelly Tue 29-Jan-19 13:15:35

I wonder if demographic of audience plays a part. There's a fairly substantial chunk of women (mums and grandmothers) who were around when formula was advertised as being some sort of miracle substance and was even pushed in hospitals etc. My own mum, who is in her mid 60s now, was telling me the other day that when I was born the midwives took me away so she could 'rest' and gave me formula, which she was furious about. I think for a lot of women who were around during that time, formula is the default solution and they still think of it as being 'best' because that's how it was sold to them (and in turn that leads to them being less able to support their daughters - we see it a lot on here and elsewhere, the comments about 'oh baby is feeding a lot, maybe you don't have enough milk' or 'why not give a bottle' etc.)

What I find interesting is that breastfeeding rates in the US are quite a bit higher than UK, despite the fact women get basically zero maternity leave and benefits compared to here and often have to put their children in childcare and go back to work when they are just a few weeks old.

herethereandeverywhere Tue 29-Jan-19 13:29:02

I absolutely fell for the 'breast it best' advertising. I fell for the pressure to give my daughter the 'best' start in life, to stick with it because it would be worth it for me and her, etc. etc. My DD was readmitted and tube fed formula via gastro-nasal tube because 'breastmilk is the only thing she needs' 'there is not need to top up' didn't work for us. (Milk eventually came in on day 6 but low supply for days following). I then endured 8 weeks of seeing a bf consultant several times a week at a time when I felt barely alive with the damage childbirth had done to me.

With hindsight I really wish those midwives, health visitors and bf consultants had just told me it was ok to stop. That the benefits were so marginal it wasn't worth fighting for. I have zero happy memories of the first 3 months of dd1's life and this played a significant part.

I look back now and think why did I bother? I gave myself another struggle that I didn't need, it contributed to long term damage to my mental health.

I'm really glad that honest opinions of how hard it is and how it's ok to choose to ff have been aired on the radio today.

ChampooPapi Tue 29-Jan-19 13:49:26

@Celebelly and @herethereandeverywhere thank you so much for sharing your stories and opinions.

@Celebelly I really think your points about the history of formula should have been on the program, it is such an important part of the formula story.

@herethereandeverywhere i can see why you would have related to the last few programs, many of the stories of FF babies were in a similar vein to your own. I feel that to have gone through that for months must have been so horrific. I just can't understand why a midwife wouldn't say after a couple of weeks, go for formula! So awful.

But my issues were kind of on that theme that they are only telling these extreme stories. If one in 3 white woman and 1 in ten Black and Asian women are formula feeding then many of these woman have made their minds up pre as well as post birth.

I just don't think the middle ground has been explored if it's an examination of both methods, as well as mixed feeding.

It seemed almost like a public service announcement to formula feed a lot of the time, really felt wrong to hear

Bobfossil2 Tue 29-Jan-19 13:51:08

Listening to it yesterday made me feel really emotional because of all the women who had had similar stories to mine. The comment they read from someone off twitter today riled me - something like ‘what’s the big deal, breastfeeding is natural and it’s easy’.
What annoys me about this is the fact that some people can’t see that there are things outside of their own experiences.

I do think it’s clear that the support that’s available is really lacking. Actually the fact the midwife said today ‘we don’t judge or tell you what to do’ was helpful and unhelpful all at once for me. I think if the midwives had said to me, no, look, you CAN breastfeed and we will help you- maybe it would have worked out better. I don’t think we should be so reliant on peer supporters and volunteers giving up their time. It should also be about accessing help in hospital, not being sent home before feeding is established etc etc.

ChampooPapi Tue 29-Jan-19 13:59:44

@Bobfossil2 agree with everything you've written here. I really think the voices for pretty much the whole program in discussions were towing the party line so to speak as well as being tentative about upsetting anyone, this from both sides.

They also kept repeating stuff they had already said but in a different way.

On Mumsnet we often get lots of information on why people choose to bottle or breast feed, or who haven't chosen and just can't one way or another.

I feel like about 5% of these reasons have come up so far.

I mean what about mental health and/or abuse resulting in feeling unable to breast feed?

But also the outrageous claims previously made by formula companies that although now have been curtailed, have shaped our society?

I have low hopes for these topics even coming up

SisterOfDonFrancisco Tue 29-Jan-19 14:12:37

I didn't listen to the show but thought I'd comment anyway. I feel like a lot of women choose to mix feed and eventually formula feed for a whole host of reasons, it would be difficult to pinpoint any one thing that would improve bf rates. For myself it was the constantness of it that I found difficult. Mixed feeding meant that baby wasn't just relying on me and I could share the load with others. I think mums do know bf is the ideal but nobody should be made feel guilty for choosing to ff.

HatingTheBigShow Tue 29-Jan-19 23:52:43

I think Jane Garvey is on Cow & Gate's payroll - every time she talk about breastfeeding on WH, she says how awful and painful it is. That is not everyone's experience and fortunately I found it very easy. I always think how many women must be put off breastfeeding, either if pregnant at the time or at some point in the future, by listening to her putting it down at every possible opportunity.

MargueritaPink Wed 30-Jan-19 00:57:27

But my issues were kind of on that theme that they are only telling these extreme stories. If one in 3 white woman and 1 in ten Black and Asian women are formula feeding then many of these woman have made their minds up pre as well as post birth

I'm not sure that 1 in 10 statistic is wholly accurate.

MargueritaPink Wed 30-Jan-19 01:05:34

This has details about ethnicity but not presented in a particularly meaningful way.

ChampooPapi Wed 30-Jan-19 09:53:31

@HatingTheBigShow she really got my back up. Her whole attitude was really odd

ChampooPapi Wed 30-Jan-19 09:55:25

@MargueritaPink it was strange that they included these statistics, whether that accurate!, And then proceeded to skin the surface regarding them. Surely that one in three statistic is shocking?!

ChampooPapi Wed 30-Jan-19 09:55:47


MikeUniformMike Wed 30-Jan-19 12:10:53

I listened today and it seemed more balanced. I was a bit irritated by the 'needing more help' comments (probably because BIL told me and Mum that sister needed more help when she had DC2 - er, yes BIL, your baby not mine ).
I get annoyed by Woman's Hour in general, I always feel bad after listening. They seem to go on and on about things. They did a menopause thing and it made me feel like I would be a confused ball of sweat once I hit 50. Dreading it.
I think the message I got from WH today was it is ok to EBF, do BF&FF, or FF. Bit late for me now.

Stinkytoe Wed 30-Jan-19 12:17:38

I didn’t hear the broadcast but I’m actually really pleased if the media has started to relax it’s breastfeeding message.

As a population it would be better for us all to breastfeed but for individual women that message is becoming increasingly harmful. I drove myself to the point of attempting suicide after I couldn’t breastfeed my first born. The sense of failure was so strong. I know I am not alone in that. Failure to feed in the way you had intended is one of the biggest factors in PND.

It took me several years to feel strong enough to try for another baby but the general message around breastfeeding had not changed. I was lucky that I was able to feed my twins as I had planned too but I think my mental health would’ve taken another dive if I hadn’t.

The message should be that breastfeeding a baby is the best solution but that there is nothing wrong with choosing to formula feed.

Mathbat Wed 30-Jan-19 18:55:15

As someone who failed to breastfeed (due to medical reasons, not because I didn’t try or didn’t want to or didn’t have the right support) and has felt guilty about it ever since, I found it very refreshing to hear experiences close to my own aired on R4. The only bit that annoyed me was the twitter comment from a listener saying how easy and natural breastfeeding was. Well, not for everyone it isn’t.

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