Support or Preach?
A shocking headline isn’t it? I used the tag ‘£100 a boob’ to get your attention however I am sure many of you have probably already read the news today so already have an idea of what this is about. But for those that haven’t what were your first thoughts? I bet they weren’t what this is truly about because as like me I am sure once you read the headline you will not believe this could possibly be true!
So the governments new initiative in collaboration with the medical research sector is to pay women to breastfeed their babies! Yes you read that correctly, I must admit I had to read it a few times to just get my head round it let alone fully understand it. The pilot scheme will be rolled out in Derbyshire with a view to introduce it nationwide next year.
Now I don’t want to get into dispute with people about ‘breast is best’ as I firmly believe women have fought long and hard for many years to be able to have an opinion, a voice, a choice to do what they wish. I am not for or against breast feeding myself, I like to take the middle ground and say that whatever works for mum and baby and what is possible at the time. I breast fed my first, my second I breast fed for a couple of weeks until I got mastitis and had to stop. Anyone who has had this will understand how utterly painful this is and how the idea of having anything near your boobs let alone someone sucking on them is a living nightmare. My third I couldn’t breastfeed due to being on medication which would have been unsafe for my little one. So does it make me a good mum to my eldest because I did feed her and a bad mum to the other two because I stopped or didn’t bother at all? Or with my third because I couldn’t does it not matter than because the choice was taken away from me?
What defines a good mum? Are good mums now going to be defined by whether they breastfeed or not? Is this fair? Surely the added pressure of bribery from the government isn’t going to help new mums who are already stressed up and emotional after going through a life changing experience relax enough to make breastfeeding a viable option?
Like I said I believe in choice for everyone. If a woman wants to breastfeed then she should be allowed to and not felt embarrassed in public or forced into a tiny room out the way, equally a woman that doesn’t should have her decision respected. It really is no one else’s business if you do or do not breast feed or the reasons why and no one should feel obliged to justify themselves either way or feel put down by their decision. Why can’t people mind their own business? Why can’t people leave others alone? And why do people feel the incessant need to stand in judgement to others? My mother always said ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’. My grandmother, a very religious lady, quoted a part of the bible where a lady was to be stone for infidelity, Jesus spoke ‘those without sin cast the first stone’. After which everyone dropped their stones. I know these are extreme examples and infidelity is in no way related to breast feeding but the point I am making is that no one is perfect, no one makes the right decisions all the time, no one knows what the right decisions are. We do what is right for us and what works.
Bribery is in no way a sensible solution to increasing breast feeding awareness and encouraging mothers to breastfeed their babies. Support, assistance, empathy and kindness from peers, midwives, health visitors is the way to inform and aid a new mum with her new baby in whichever decision she is making for that life she has created, carried and brought into the world.
Furthermore the article states a mum would need to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months to qualify for the £200, how does this accommodate mums returning to work? Yes I know we can have 9 months off but some mothers don’t have that support at home to be able to stay away from work for 9 months, 12 months or for the period they would like. Some mothers have to return to work as soon as they feel able because they have bills to pay, therefore these mums are going to be torn between putting food on the table, a roof over their child’s head or being ‘seen’ to be a good mum and staying at home breastfeeding.
Have they considered domestic violence situations? A young mum being beaten throughout her pregnancy, trying to stay on the right side of their partner to escape the daily beating just to be faced with the added pressure of breastfeeding so hubby can secure his £200 for whatever tat he would like to buy? Say she can’t do it, how will hubby react? Will he be understanding and supportive, cuddle his partner, make a fuss of her, and make her feel fantastic even when she is losing fluid from all orifices, not had a shower in days, dark circles, baby blues, hungry, tired, fed up and the added stress of not being able to breastfeed? All she wants is someone to give her a hug and tell her it doesn’t matter, its ok. Instead she is faced with a beating for losing the £200 he had already spent in his head?
How will this be policed? Will health visitors make daily visitors to make sure babies are on the boob? It kind of creeps me out as to what will be expected to prove you are breastfeeding? Will one have to video themselves ready for the next visit? Will the health visitor come round and have a good squeeze on your boob to make sure you are still producing? Will you have to provide ‘specimen’ breast milk for each visit to be tested? Or will they chain women to cattle sheds for 6 months? Yes I know that sounds ridiculous but this idea is ridiculous.
Breast maybe best in many people’s eyes but should you starve your baby instead of giving formula milk?