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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  1. It's a difficult one, I totally understand and agree that 'breast is best' suggests it is the exception and might make it seem like an unattainable perfection, but what do we replace it with? 'Breast is normal' doesn't have the same ring to it. ;)

  2. Thanks for your comment. I absolutely agree with you :-) But if this being in the news gets people thinking about breastfeeding in normal terms then I'm all for it! Personally though I don't think "Breast is Best" is going anywhere!


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