Breastfeeding at home and abroad
Despite all the evidence that breastfeeding is best for babies, many people still hold negative opinions about it. For example, Kathryn Blundell—then deputy editor of parenting magazine Mother & Baby—wrote of breastfeeding that ‘seeing your teeny, tiny innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy’ (Rock, 2010). Meanwhile, BBC radio DJ Alex Dyke condemned ‘earth mothers…with moustaches' who breastfed in public—a practice, he said, that ‘has to be stopped’ (Shepherd, 2015).
On the one hand, there is an evidence base confirming the multiple health benefits conferred by breastfeeding, plus the World Health Organization (WHO, 2016) recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months, with continued breastfeeding alongside foods up to 2 years or more. But on the other hand there are individuals who view breastfeeding in a negative light. Such attitudes may have prompted the rise of lactation advocacy, so-called ‘lactivism’, in the UK (Boyer, 2011). Yet despite this, Brown (2015: 57) states: ‘In the UK, although 81% of mothers breastfeed at birth, by 6 weeks only 55% breastfeed at all.’ In Scotland, meanwhile, only 36% breastfeed exclusively for 6 weeks or more (Bradshaw et al, 2013).
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