One of the big issues I see being pro-breastfeeding is the gulf between the hard theory and the reality of women’s actual lives.
You see, taken in isolation, taken away from the realities of life, and looking purely at hard science, there is a very strong argument that every child should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life and that breastfeeding should then continue until age two or when the child self weans.
There is a weight of evidence to suggest that doing this is best for the baby, best for the mother and best for society.
The hard fact of reality is that the overwhelming majority of people just aren’t going to manage to do this.
Real life, real emotions, real misinformation get in the way.
These cold, hard facts obscure the reality of insufficient support, conflicting information and society where bottle feeding is the norm and expected outcome.
The role of breastfeeding supporters has to be to inform, to support and to understand. Judging, criticising, attacking just widen the imagined divide. Has continued to suggest that there is a difference between breastfeeding and bottle feeding mothers when really there isn’t.
We are lucky that there is another option for mothers who can’t, who won’t, who have had to give up breastfeeding. We are lucky that we live in a society with clean water to make formula preparation safe.
We are lucky that our infant mortality rates are so low.
Where we are unlucky is that some mothers are making decisions based on incorrect information, some healthcare professionals seem determined to undermine breastfeeding, society has grown away from the breastfeeding mother as the norm.
You see, I could, if I was inclined towards the militant end of the breastfeeding spectrum, say that breastfeeding and supplementing with a bottle of formula is wrong.
Yes, I know that with biological nurturing, babymooning, changes in diet, possible supplements it is possible to avoid topping up.
But you know what, every drop of breastmilk delivers benefits, every single one.
And if you’re a busy mum, or a stressed mum and your baby does need more calories than your body is easily able to produce, especially if you’ve other children, or have other pressing demands on your life, the reality is you do what you need to.
You supplement but you continue to be committed to breastfeeding.
And the bottom line is that that is a good thing.
Not something for people to take pop shots at you about.