This post was most recently updated on June 18th, 2018
So the Department of Health have, at the eleventh hour decided we WILL be having a Breastfeeding Week this year. Apparently, in the 4th week of June, there will be a series of blogs by Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse and Director of Maternity and Early Years, and…well, that’s it.
So that appears to be the sum total of government commitment to protecting breastfeeding in the UK.
Here’s what they’re planning in their own words:
“The week will include a number of blogs and we’ll be tweeting links to existing resources and information. We hope you will be able to join us in celebrating breastfeeding, reinforcing the message on the benefits, promoting our blogs, sharing resources and building towards a social movement for health.
Whilst services are cut left, right and centre, funding slashed, staff stretched more and more thinly, training skipped or ‘forgotten’, pockets of innovative and positive provision ignored and volunteers increasingly propping up a failing service, the government expects us to get all excited over a series of blogs. Er, ok then.
This isn’t just insulting, it’s downright dangerous. Whilst society pays no heed to breastfeeding or actively undermines it, and whilst the services providing skilled help are patchy at best, promoting breastfeeding can actually be detrimental.
It is saying this to women:
You must breastfeed. GOOD mothers breastfeed. You baby will be healthier and more intelligent if you breastfeed…
Oh, having trouble? Sorry can’t help. Just keep trying, even if your nipples are hanging off. Your latch looks great.
No wonder we have millions of women who feel betrayed, confused, traumatised and guilty. I’m sorry, but if we were running a business here, the logic would be clear:
Don’t sell a product until you have the capacity to deliver.
So, no, I won’t be celebrating Breastfeeding Week or giving the Government any excuse to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Instead I’ll be publishing a series of short blog posts focusing on areas where breastfeeding support services have been cut.
My suggestion for an alternative hashtags are #ProtectNotPromote and #EndBFCuts
If you’d like me to write about your struggle to save breastfeeding support provision in your area or would like to publish a guest post here during the week of 25th-29th June, just comment below.