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When everyone else is slamming breastfeeding...

The whole world seems to be talking about breastfeeding, whether we are discussing where women should nurse in public, or demanding that facebook and instagram #freethenipple, there's plenty of controversy and stigma attached to something which in essence is really simple.

When I say simple, its simple as in pushing a boulder up hill is simple (to paraphrase Lauren Laverne). It can be draining both physically and more often mentally when first getting started. We lack any consistent network of support in the UK, and here, our rate of breastfeeding success is dropping.

Consequently, the biggest topic of discussion seems to be whether or not breastfeeding is actually beneficial at all. Since becoming a mum, I've seen so many articles in national papers discussing this (I've even been in one) 90% of the time these articles are written by mums who chose not to continue breastfeeding in the early days.

Many of these articles quote recent Harvard research undertaken on siblings ( one formula fed and one bottle fed) which indicates that there is not significant enough research to suggest there are any identifiable benefits to being the breastfed sibling.  Which is a problem, because as I discuss below the research paper and it's conclusion are inaccurate.
1.It’s pretty clear that the author of the quoted study has a limited understanding of breastfeeding as they state those who cannot breastfeed. There is no such thing as not being able to breastfed. All but a very small amount (1-2%) of women can physically  produce enough milk to solely breastfeed. It is very challenging however until week 7/8 when supply settles and the mum baby relationship is strengthened by the new social skills of baby such as smiling

2. The comparisons were based on long term benefits of children aged four and over- why are they excluding the early years from comparison? Did they find something against their hypothesis?

3.The research document is ridiculously vague on what they term “breastfeeding” for the comparison of siblings. It could be used to call breastfeeding as colostrum only feeding. Whilst colostrum only feeding has many kick start immunological benefits I wouldn’t expect it to have long turn benefits.

4 This is ONE piece of research. I can also show you countless pieces of research that contradict this study. Including two unicef manifestos on infant health.

5. Breastfeeding is as nature intended .Formula comes in a tin and needs to be boiled to kill off is bad bacterial contents .

6. Breastfeeding is beneficial to mum. This again is something your lovely post failed to mention. It’s proven to dramatically your risk of ovarian and breast cancer as well as reduce PND.

7. The way breastfeeding mums feed their babies fosters stronger infant/ mother bonds and improves early year emotional and cognitive development

8. Babies who are breastfed have lowered risk of SIDS , allergies and first year health problems. FACT

9. Parents of breastfed babies on average get 40 minutes more sleep an evening- you will want this.

10. Pretty much all women CAN breastfed with the right support. Although a small percentage don't produce enough to exclusively breastfeed (around 1-2%) 

I feel that using this study to underpin a feature that is 'intended to reassure mothers who couldn't breastfeed' actually has a dramatic impact on expectations of breastfeeding.

We need to stop getting so angry at the other side in the breast v bottle debate and instead get angry at the Government  for not dedicating enough resources to back women up. We also need to stop calling it a debate too. It’s a choice not a matter of right or wrong sides
The fact is breastfeeding is a skill.  It takes a while to get the hang of and good teachers to help us along the way.  Like any new skill its not advisable to attempt after a days worth of no sleep and extreme body trauma without having done some adequate research first

Don't put faith in sure start employees or  health visitors. They are woefully ill equipped to support you.
You can do it and if you crack it trust me it will have such an incredibly positive impact on both your and your child's life
Why not also check out

For more information put together on Breastfeeding by people with a far greater knowledge than me

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