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TOPIC: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous?

Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 1 month ago #1

NHS Choices state “Any amount of breastfeeding has a positive effect. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits” but at the same time we hear virus’s can be transferred in breast milk...What’s the truth?
Members of the public often make it difficult to impossible to breast feed, like the woman in Scotland who asked to breastfeed her baby in an NHS hospital and was shown to a hospital store cupboard.
Is it simply inappropriate to breast feed in public?

Re: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 1 month ago #2

Is it even dangerous?" Are we really having this conversation in 2012?! EVEN when it comes to HIV transmission the latest research may surprise you. Previously HIV+ women in UK were told not to breastfeed but now with the current availability of drug therapy for those with HIV, depriving those babies of breastmilk is no longer considered to be the safest option. Babies who are not breastfed are significantly more likely to die from cot death and be hospitalised in the first year of life from infections like gastroenteritis. As adults, they are more likely to suffer from obesity and diabetes. Girls not breastfed are more likely to develop breast cancer as adults. The risks to not breastfeeding are endless. We were designed to breastfeed as a species. Human brains need human fats and proteins to maximise its extraordinary development and potential in the first few years of life. In the UK, we are lucky that if breastfeeding doesn't work out we have clean water and access to formula. But you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who considers that equal to breastfeeding - anyone with any knowledge of peer-reviewed scientific research or knowledge of human development.

Despite all that, breastfeeding doesn't feel right for everyone and it's important to be honest about that. We live in a society where breasts are primarily about sexual attraction and making the switch to using them for their true primary purpose doesn't feel comfortable for everyone. And tragically, many people who want to breastfeed are let down by a lack of information and support. That's the true scandal - not breastfeeding in public (which incidentally is going to happen unless we're asking new mothers to be prisoners in their own homes. Babies don't feed by the clock). The latest government infant feeding survey reveals initiation rates have increased yet again. 81% of mothers start breastfeeding. Those who don't continue as long as they want to feel let down by an overstretched health system - that's the bit that's dangerous.

Members of the public who feel uncomfortable about feeding in public are breaking the law if they prevent a mother from doing so. She is now protected across the UK by a law that recognises supporting mums to breastfeed ultimately supports everyone.

We can no more 'debate' breastfeeding than debate walking or breathing. It's just what humans do. Doesn't work out for everyone so alternatives exist but it's the default position for most of us.

Re: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 4 weeks, 1 day ago #3

There should be no reason why someone should not be able to feed wherever they and their baby are. In fact, Scotland was the first place in the UK to produce specific legislation enshrining this as a principle, so your story is particularly disappointing.
Speaking personally I have fed in all sorts of places; it is nearly always possible to do so very discreetly if necessary and even if it's not discreet, people who object need to get over themselves. If you wear stretchy tops over skirts or trousers, very little bare skin can be seen when a baby feeds, often far less than would be seen on someone wearing a low-cut top and a great deal less than people see every day on Page 3 or in old master paintings.
It is rarely dangerous as well; viruses may be passed but then so are antibodies which protect against many viruses. There is increasing evidence that even HIV infected mothers are less likely to infect their babies via their breast milk so long as they only breast feed; the danger from their breast milk increases if they give some formula milk as well as breast milk as the formula milk damages the digestive tract making it more likely for the virus to be able to transfer into the baby's blood stream.

Re: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 3 weeks, 3 days ago #4

Breast feeding is the best start in life for any baby as research has shown that complementary feeding from birth could increase the risk of non-communicable diseases and have negative implications on adult life. For the majority of women breastfeeding is safe, however there are a few cases (such as HIV infection) when breastfeeding is not recommended. Nevertheless, new mothers who are healthy should not be discouraged from breastfeeding as it is every woman’s fundamental right to feeding their infant and the public needs to be educated how to respond to situations involving women that want to exercise this right.

Re: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 3 weeks, 2 days ago #5

Breastfeeding is encouraged by the World Health Organisation for all newborns till six months of age and in the UK too except where mothers have infections like HIV, that can be passed on to babies. There is a high level of knowledge among mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby and the mother too. However the practise of actually breastfeeding is limited due to several reasons for different groups of mothers. One of these reasons is the lack of breast feeding facilities for working mothers, after they return to work. Working mothers usually have limited access to their babies and storage facilities for expressed milk resulting in giving up on breastfeeding their babies. The lack of supportive facilities could be attributed to societal attitudes about exposure of the one’s breasts in public.

Re: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 3 weeks, 2 days ago #6

It is sad that women don't feel comfortable enough to breast feed in public - and although I don't have children yet myself, I hope to breastfeed when I do but I can't help feeling that I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it just anywhere. A friend of mine used to take herself and her child off to the toilet if she was needing a feed when out and about - the mother should not feel embarrassed - it's other people's reactions which make it that way and I guess the only way to change that is by creating more public awareness & education.
As for it being dangerous - that's certainly not a word I would have associated with breast feeding. Maybe some viruses can be passed on this way, and I know some medications are not appropriate for breastfeeding mothers, but as all the labels state - seeking advice from a medical professional (preferrably the prescribing Doctor) is the way forward.
I do feel that breast is best, at least at the start, but as someone else has mentioned - some people are just not comfortable with it from the beginning, which is down to personal choice and mothers should not feel pressurised into doing it in this case. Again, good education and support for mothers is needed from the start to at least try to get around any issues that may arise. In today's climate - this may be easier said than done!

Re: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 3 weeks, 1 day ago #7

Given how much we know about the benefits of breastfeeding, I think it’s really sad that some people still question the value of it. Some of the other comments have made the point about transmission of viruses far better than I could, so suffice to say that for almost every baby, the more a mother can breastfeed the better. I say this as someone who went back to work after 3 months and still breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months.

It is scary at first and frankly it is a bit embarrassing to breastfeed in public, but I found that I was worrying about it far more than I needed to. It’s amazing how quickly it becomes second nature and how easy it becomes to be completely discreet. I’m not much of a one for flashing in public, but it’s easy enough to cover it all up so often no-one even notices what you’re doing. Many of my friends also breastfed and none of us had problems with comments or people being difficult – but I think the fear of it puts many people off.

My final comment would be that breastfeeding needs support. When I first started feeding, I found it difficult and painful, but there was a huge amount of support in Cardiff with daily drop-in sessions run by midwives, so I had all the help I needed and I’m so glad I stuck with it. The trouble of the first few weeks, the difficulties of expressing when back at work, all faded away very quickly and I really valued the time I spent feeding my baby, and knowing that I was giving him the best start in life that I could.

Re: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 2 weeks, 2 days ago #8

I never like the term 'Breast is best'. I prefer to see it that formula feeding has risks whereas breastfeeding is normal.

When something is 'best' - many people feel it is something that they cannot achieve - whereas something that is 'normal' is much more achievable.

I absolutely believe that mothers should breastfed whereever they want to. If anyone has a problem with it, it is their problem not the mothers. Unfortunately some mothers do feel embarressed about breastfeeding in front of other people. Often, if they do so, they find that no one takes any notice and the thought of it was much worse than the action. I encourage mums who feel they might be embarressed to wear clothes that make it easier not to reveal too much flesh e.g. layers (so that one top can go up and one top can go down - thus covering up the tummy area as well), scarves etc. I personally don't like the commercial cover ups that are available but it's mums choice if she wants to use one. Also to come to breastfeeding groups where they can practice feeding in front of others. to go to Breastfeeding Welcome venues and to start off going out with other people rather than on their own. Also, to just think that their baby is the most important thing in the world and does it really matter what complete strangers think. Of course, if mothers are comfortable breastfeeding whereever they are then they can wear their normal clothes (no need for special clothes unless mother's choice).

As to whether breastfeeding is dangerous....Well, maybe in certain circumstances to a small minority of babies but the morbidity from formula feeding is much higher and therefore more dangerous to many babies than the very low risk to a very small minority of babies of breastfeeding. All the latest information on HIV is showing that breastfeeding is now a safe option for the majority.

Re: Is breast feeding best or a simply an embarrassing act which is sometimes even dangerous? 1 week, 2 days ago #9

Breast feeding is best because it was manufactered naturally for the nutrition of the new born baby. There are certain compononts in breast milk that cannot be produced by artificial means. There is nothing embarrassing about breast milk. In a world where pornography is considered normal, this comment is therefore contradictory. Breast milk is only dangerous if contaminated. There are arguments around the HIV virus and other virus's but in the scheme of things it does not carry any weight in my thinking. The world we live in is full of risks and I think it is riskier to deprive a baby of what has been produced naturally for its well being and health.

We have become a nation of being Politically correct. Very often we are trying to please a small section of the community for religious grounds etc. We have only just cottoned on to making our buildings assessible to those in a wheel chair or any challenges that life has thrown to them. We should have a designated area in every store or public building to cater for the needs of mothers wanting to breast feed. We see people kissing and displaying their emotions in public yet breast feeding the most natural thing in the world is frowned on.
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