"Formula does not fully meet the nutritional and immunity needs of infants. It leaves their immune systems flailing."I wonder how many pregnant mums were given those figures at their antenatal classes?
Only a couple of months later (during National Breastfeeding Awareness Week) Mother & Baby magazine (who claim to be staunch breastfeeding supporters), feel it's the perfect time for the Deputy Editor to tells readers she "couldn't be fagged breastfeeding" describing it as "creepy".
Ya gotta wonder how many of the one thousand US mums just couldn't be fagged? I wonder whether Kathryn Blundell would have been as quick to advertise her stance, had she been unlucky enough to have been one of the mums who buried her baby?
Some might have been shocked at Kathryn's outpouring of anti breastfeeding comments, but I suspect most of us working in the field of lactation have heard similar many times before. As a breastfeeding counsellor, when you meet a non breastfeeding mum (who knows you are a counsellor) you often get the full explanation of why they are holding a bottle. I've never commented, I would never ask a mum how she was feeding or why, but that doesn't matter really - because a mother judges herself far more harshly than anyone.
My experience of mothers who are so anti-breastfeeding, is that they actually really wanted to breastfeed or really felt they should - and for whatever reason it didn't work out. Mums who actually believe formula is as good, tend to be very laid back about the whole breast/formula issue - because they're happy with their own choice. The most vocal "pro formula feeders", shout loudly they made " a choice"; Insidiously attacking those who are breastfeeding, because they are the sort of parent who wants the best for their child.
No, it's only politically OK to advertise you couldn't be fagged when it comes to feeding. Why? because the majority don't do it. Even if a huge percentage wanted to - trying to succeed in a place where only 1 in 100 mums manage to meet the recommendations is an incredibly difficult task.
Imagine you had grown up only ever witnessing and tasting your local cuisine. Someone hands you a Chinese menu and instructs you to cook a dish, giving you no recipe and only a vague description of what it is. You've never heard of half the ingredients and what's more everyone around you seems to be doing "fine" on the local food anyway. You seek help but unfortunately whilst you can hunt out some trained and qualified chefs in your area, the vast majority themselves made do with local cooking - so they are not really sure when you ask trickier questions. Where do you start? This is often the position a new breastfeeding mum finds herself in.
Now you could almost be fooled into thinking Western Women are "broken". Whilst entire tribes breastfeed in some parts of the world, seemingly only a tiny percentage of UK mothers can do so - despite all the amazing technology we supposedly have.
The trouble is breastfeeding involves two thing, breasts and money. The first apparently nowadays so bad a lot can't even bring themselves to say the word in public; "Are you feeding her yourself" is the most common avoidance tactic. I always long for someone to reply that no, they haul a neighbour over to do it. Mothers buy swathes of cloth to ensure not a fleck of flesh is displayed should they get as far as having to do it in public, and debate ensues over whether feeding a child milk of it's own species in a public place is actually socially acceptable. I wouldn't care but the vast majority of formula feeders also state they have "felt judged" bottle feeding in public, so it seems to me nobody is happy!
And this is where it comes back to the supposed "choice", the one that never was.
This multi million pound industry requires women to fail at breastfeeding for them to profit, and in order to do that, they need to convince mums their product is "nearly as good". In fact they spend hundreds of thousands of pounds per year ensuring mums receive this message, you only have to pick up a copy of "the politics of breastfeeding" to be terrified at just how this impacts on society.
So can we really blame the likes of Kathryn Blundell for her stance? As Deputy Editor of a magazine, wouldn't releasing such a controversial piece during National Breastfeeding Awareness week be quite a lucrative move? It has resulted in media coverage galore, radio interviews and how much free advertising for Mother & Baby? What's the old saying, "there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary".
The sad thing is the huge cost to their readers. The pregnant mums who rely on the magazine for advice and information, perhaps the mum with a new baby, struggling with the early days of breastfeeding - confused as her midwife spent nine months telling her "breast was best".
Ultimately breastfeeding is down to a whole society and at the moment it's simply for the most part, a lucky few scraping through on a wing and a prayer. Most breastfeeders will readily admit, that in different circumstances, with their first child - they could easily have ended up not breastfeeding, because that's the lottery as things stand. The Department of Health might be talking the talk, but until the rest of the UK gets in step and walks the walk, nothing will change.