Breast is always best!
Infant Formula Milks should carr y a health warning, according to the Save the Children charity. The leading charity declared that a cigarette-style health warning declaring that breast is best should cover at least a third of the packaging. Critics say that this would only pile extra guilt on new mothers who want to breastfeed but are unable to do so.
The report, ‘Superfood for babies’, is quite clear on its findings: they point out that Colostrum - the rich milk that is produced in the first few hours of life, has huge benefits for newborn babies and can help with lifelong immunity. They also point out that some formula milk companies use marketing practices that could seem to persuade the mother that formula milk is best.
What a tragic state of affairs when something so natural as breastfeeding has got mixed up with marketing and PR spin. As patron of the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) I am passionate about encouraging new mums to breastfeed but also well aware that this is such an emotive topic and hardly likely to be solved by some capital letters plastered across packaging.
Surely we need to go back to basics and look at all the practices around prenatal care, birth and beyond to ensure that the natural approach is taken throughout. Women have been having babies for millions of years and what was a perfectly natural event has been turned into a medical condition, requiring the infinite wisdom of scientists and doctors. In fact mothers know best, pregnancy is not an illness but it can throw up some miserable symptoms. Over the years intervention and medicalisation of the birthing process has become the norm. In some cases an unsatisfactory birth experience can have an adverse knock on effect in the very natural process of breastfeeding.
It’s also documented that the increasing popularity of Caesarean births is contributing to a dramatic rise in cases of diabetes in young children. Of course I’m thrilled that Caesarean births have saved lives but I’m unsure that they should be a lifestyle choice.
Back on the breastfeeding, breast milk must be one of the most amazing foodstuffs known to man: not only is it top in the nutrition charts but it’s a living food designed to match exactly the individual requirements of your baby at each and every stage of his early development. What is more, it constantly changes its chemical nature, not only over days and weeks but on an hourly basis, tai- loring itself to your baby’s rhythms and needs throughout each day and it’s delivered at exactly the right temperature. You can’t buy anything to rival it. Its free, requires no additives, preservatives, bottles or wasteful packaging – and no health warning needed!
Of course not everyone can breastfeed but I do believe that if the medical profession as a whole took a more natural approach to pregnancy, birth and beyond, women might feel supported to at least give breastfeeding a try. There are excellent trained counsellors on hand 24/7 to offer support.