Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Just Semantics? Breastfeeding is normality at its Best

There has been a call from Lesley Backhouse, chair of The Breastfeeding Network to scrap the slogan. No its not a backtrack on policy, its an attempt to shift the balance towards breastfeeding being the normal and usual way to feed a baby, rather than formula being the norm and breastfeeding being something slightly out of reach and unusually exceptional.

"We've got to knock breastfeeding off this pedestal," said Lesley Backhouse.
"It implies something special, whereas breastfeeding is the physiological norm, and suggests that formula is the standard way to feed babies.
"Breastfeeding is the only case where the biological norm is expressed as the exception rather than the rule,".

Of course breastfeeding IS exceptional, ie its amazing properties, its extraordinary ability to sustain and improve life, to improve life prospects even in terms of surviving childhood, reducing obesity and common childhood illnesses, right up to reducing pre-menopausal breast cancer in women who do breastfeed.

All of that is exceptional but from the beginning of time it was meant to be normal. Those 'benefits' were meant to be the normal experiences of life. We were meant to be healthier. Breastfeeding is not meant to be the luxury of those fortunate enough to be able to access support. Somewhere along the line, and in some cases very clearly, breastfeeding has been seriously undermined. It's reputation systemayically damaged to the point now where most mothers think "Ill give it a go" because its 'nice' if you can do it but ok if you can't.

The human race has been robbed of the normality of breastfeeding. So yes, it is time to claim that back.

Some might think that the Breastfeeding Networks stand on this is just a case of semantics but as a promotion campaign, I think it is a brilliant starting place.
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Monday, 13 June 2011

Whose responsibility is it?

According to government statistics, 96% of women drink less alcohol once they get pregnant.

So why is there this 'tar with the same brush' mentality to making recommendations about alcohol consumption?

I'm certainly not negating the seriousness of fetal alcohol syndrome but I do think that the women who are going to drink to excess whilst pregnant will do so regardless of the governments well meaning guidelines. The vast majority, yes, safe to say, almost all women take a sensible view to alcohol drinking when pregnant if the figures are to be believed. In fact a third of that 96% actually give up alcohol entirely.

There's a part of me that thinks that the whole thing smacks of a nanny state, driven to reactive government styles. Women are more than capable of making these decisions. We are not defenseless, ill-educated dolls hanging about waiting for someone, anyone to please tell us how to look after our bodies and children because really we have no idea.

And what about drinks companies getting involved with the campaign? My feelings about the campaign itself aside (and which you are by now familiar with having read this far) I can't help but be confused by the British Medical Associations response to their involvement. They think its a bad idea owing to a conflict of interests.

I think its a great idea. In parenting I subscribe to the school of 'take responsibility and learn the consequences' in terms of behavior etc. In the main I find it works for me. If my kids chuck their toys all round the floor, they need to tidy them up again before they can play with another toy. If you save your pocket money you can buy something bigger... that sort of stuff, so yes, definitely. The drinks companies have contributed to the alcohol related ill health in this country so yes they should make a contribution in order to take some responsibility for that.

It's actually a great step forward. By making the contribution they are admitting some liability. For selling alcohol cheaply, for targeting young people etc etc.

There are however more vulnerable groups than pregnant women when it comes to alcohol abuse. It's time the government recognized the fact and directed its resources more constructively. To reduce under age drinking perhaps. How about banning alcohol adverts? It's just as damaging as smoking, so why the distinction?

If the government really cared about the health of unborn children, it would invest more money in excellent antenatal care, in funding routine Group Strep B screening, training more Midwives, providing some sort of insurance and infrastructure that allows the independent midwifery services to continue. These are the important things.

If Mr Cameron is looking to make cuts, he needs to be looking a bit more creatively than public services. Taking away the fundamental services that are used by the public who voted you in (oh help) is possibly not the way to guarantee a second term?
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Friday, 3 June 2011

Quickest Year Ever

So its happy 1st birthday to my beautiful little girl. Where on earth has that year gone? From what seemed like the longest pregnancy in history, to the fastest 365 days of my life to date...

We took the 3 of them out for a meal and she polished off a whole childrens menu meal for herself, gone apparently are the days of snaffling a few bits and pieces from Mummys plate. A big girl no less. The boys were definitely more excited about her birthday than the birthday girl herself who was distinctly underwhelmed by the whole experience. She sailed through the day as if to say "well of course all this attention directed my way is normal".

The way she just takes it all in with a beautific, if not a little cheeky, smile, is so telling of her character though so far. Perhaps its something to do with being a third child, perhaps not, but either way she is so easy and happy. The boys adore her and she charms everyone she encounters.

So *cheers* Here's to another year of cuteness, may the road rise before us and the toddler tantrums be brief. Amen.
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