This is not an article to shame the non-breastfeeding mums out there. This is not an article to say breast is always best as I know this isn’t always true but patience, I’ll get here. This is an article about people with a certain reputation and a fair amount of parenting experience who are using it for a noble cause and we all must see beyond grievances and regrets of our own experience.
First, I’m doubtless that Jamie Oliver’s comments didn’t come as a blitzkrieg on women who can’t or couldn’t breastfeed. I’m also convinced he wouldn’t use such a hot sensitive topic for his own publicity (as many have presupposed) but to encourage the journey itself that many of us feel overwhelmed with or sometimes don’t pay enough attention to. And I would certainly not name his call a man slapping but good advice for the British new mums community, especially for our future women generations who may face the same challenges we did yet hopefully, they will be more informed and motivated to extend the breastfeeding experience for longer.
There’s only one conclusion I got to after 2 full years of breastfeeding (now going through toddlerhood which never thought it could happen): breastfeeding is the healthiest option, but the sad truth is that many women fail to do it for various reasons. I personally know women who struggled a lot and wished to be able to breastfeed (I am excluding here the ones who coudn’t do it for any health related reasons and my heart goes to them). I know new mums who pumped day and night, read all the books they could find on this subject, went to all lactation consultants and doulas, I know women who went to church to pray hoping they will find answers. They all did everything by the book but it simply didn’t work for them. Can’t express how much respect I have for you, amazing ones! I know the process itself has ups and downs, good days, blue days, sore nipples, horrendous eye circles, terrible lack of sleep and more often, a biting teething baby attached to these all.
So you go, Jamie! They say you don’t have boobs so you shouldn’t speak but really, even though you don’t own a pair of the sore nipples to give to a hungry tiny mouth, I say you do. Because you have a wife you’re co-parenting with and you both have learnt valuable lessons sometimes the easy way, sometimes the hard way just like the rest of us. And I’m sure breastfeeding was one of them. You go, Jamie, teaching families about the goodness of cooked meals, supporting the tax on sugar, teachings children about sustainable sources, working hard on food revolution projects all over the world and now talking about breastfeeding. You were brave enough to open up on such an emotional subject and I’m overjoyed that powerful voices like yours are used to do good, your breastfeeding comments being related to a better children’s diet understanding which goes even further, towards making childhood obesity risks known. Not because you’re a chef and you’re supposed to know food like a doctor knows how to read a scan, but because you’re a parent too.If this is just the scary surface, underneath it all our genuine efforts of promoting and supporting breastfeeding will make it all worth. I thought I should add some of my favourite photos I have while breastfeeding which I already shared on a previous breastfeeding post, simply because they captured the essence of a glorious journey, despite also being a roller coaster adventure with lots of mixed feelings, white nights and a fair amount of disbelief, full of people asking or suggesting I should stop at some point. Also full of amazing supporters of its extended or public versions too (I could easily add some of the poor pixeled ones taken by my better half at 3am when nursing and complaining about having to wake up every 2 hours, yet I wouldn’t want to scare away any of the future mums, believe me, darlings, it’s not always as bad as it look…breastfeeding can be one of the best bonding moments between you and your child).
This was an article for our future mothers who should not give up breastfeeding because it may be more convenient or less stressful or simply because they don’t fully understand its benefits.
So you go, Jamie…If you need more pairs of breasts to make a better point, you can have mine. And so many other mothers’ I know.
I can’t find any better words than yours! It’s true, all this negativity that comes across should be analysed and changed into understanding rather than judging. Thank you so much for sharing your own experience, I do know mums just like you who struggled but didn’t give up and who were a great supporter of the experience itself. Best wishes, cool mum from Brum 🙂 and I hope that together we can achieve more and make our future generations of women stronger. xxx
It’s lovely to hear this; there seems to be a lot of upset from different quarters over what was basically a bad choice of words. I’m one of those mums who, despite desperately wanting to, didn’t succeed with breastfeeding. I was screaming out for the right support but not finding any. If all this ho-ha leads to more people talking about their need for better support for struggling mums then it’s done some good. I understand “defensive formula mums” because I genuinely know the heartache and grief that comes from not achieving something you were dead-set on and that sometimes being defensive first is a means of protecting yourself, and I understand why people are upset. But I also understand he was commenting on something I feel strongly about, and I support his sentiment 100%. My greatest wish is that all the strongly pro-breastfeeding mum who DO feel the need to bash formula mums (and I am well aware that this is a tiny, minuscule minority) would offer kindness and understanding, and push their energies into support rather than negativity, so that the “defensive formula mums” don’t feel the need to put emotional barriers up as soon as the topic is brought up. Parents should be able to talk about all areas of breastfeeding, the good the bad and the ugly of it, without being shot down.