Belinda Brown: Teaching little girls about breastfeeding robs them of their childhood

The Government is proposing that breastfeeding should now be taught as part of the PSHE curriculum. Another item to add onto the long list of social problems that teachers are supposed to solve.

This is a nonsense. I am, as my readers will know, no feminist, but to start talking to little girls about breastfeeding is to put pressure on them to assume that they will become mothers, just at the point when they are starting to grow out of their obsession with dolls and babies and start thinking about all the other exciting things there are to do. Even worse, teaching them about breastfeeding at such a tender age could make motherhood repellent to them and put them off it, depriving them of the happiness which it brings.

What this focus on teaching girls about breastfeeding really does is avoid tackling the root cause of the problem. It is the hopeless sticking plaster approach which usually backfires in some unpredictable way. Like the way in which we are now realising that giving children sex education, far from discouraging teenage pregnancy may have encouraged their interest in sex.

We are all being increasingly alienated from processes of reproduction. Caring for children is no longer something which we learn from our extended family as children because our relatives are no longer living near us. And if they were, they would all be out at work.

As we approach the age of having children the offspring of our friends are siphoned off to childminders, nurseries and grandparents –  we just don’t get used to being in the company of children. With each successive generation parenting skills are gradually being lost as nobody actually parents. Breastfeeding becomes something odd and exotic because we have just not grown up with seeing it all around.

When we want to find someone to care for our children we import them from other cultures – not so much because au pairs from Eastern Europe are cheaper but because they are more likely to know what to do with children – they grew up at home with little ones around.

Deciding to add yet another item to the PSHE curriculum seems to be what the authorities do when they want to avoid  joined up thinking and connecting the dots. Those few women who would love to be able to breastfeed their children are under huge pressure to return to work. And in the meantime there is pressure on to increase paternity leave so that fathers rather than mothers are the ones to stay at home.

A study of transferable parental leave in Canada found that fathers didn’t take the leave not because they didn’t want to, nor because they weren’t willing to reduce their amount of employment (although we should not underestimate the impact of paternity leave on places of work). Fathers didn’t take parental leave because the mothers refused to give it up. And this was often because they wanted to go on breastfeeding their child.

Apparently an obsession with the appearance of breasts may discourage women from breastfeeding, although I don’t believe there is any evidence to show that breastfeeding has a damaging effect. Perhaps it would encourage mothers to breastfeed if it was pointed out that milk can achieve the same effect as silicone without costs or surgery involved.

One of the solutions I read to encourage breastfeeding was to pump milk from one’s breasts and then get someone else to feed it to the baby because apparently it is so much easier to go on doing whatever you are doing with a breast pump rather than having a baby around.

Now while many of us mothers recognise that the period in our lives when we have babies and small children is perhaps the most memorable and in some sense indulgent, motherhood is not motherhood without significant sacrifice being involved.

Not being prepared to give your time over to your child is treating motherhood as just another string to your bow, and your child as some kind of accessory. Don’t bother becoming a mother if you aren’t prepared to go the extra mile. The pleasures of motherhood do not come for free, merely from the possession of a baby. They come from being happy about giving a whole lot up.

I don’t actually find that my children particularly want my company (well one is 24 so that is probably just as well!) but I think they benefit from knowing that I am there. Depriving children of our time pushes them into adulthood early. The gift of time creates childhood. And for little girls who are still bathing in childhood, breastfeeding classes will only function to take that childhood away.

Belinda Brown

  • Bik Byro

    It would be more value if schools could teach both boys and girls that having a baby is not all about having something cute to dress up and accessorise and coo over, but is a lifelong responsibility that starts with being woken up in the middle of the night, continues with endless filled nappies, makes even a simple trip to the supermarket a living nightmare, days out are punctuated with “look at that funny looking lady over there” in a loud voice and your freezer is filled with chicken nuggets when healthier foods are met with “this tastes bisgustin”

    • Dominic Stockford

      Things that puke out of one end, poo out of the other, and then when they get past that stage other toxicity comes out of the mouth. You have to be prepared to love and care for them beyond thick and thin, and into mind-bending agony. “Do you promise to love and cherish this child, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until you are parted from them by death?”

      • Bugle

        Then they get the bungalow.

  • Johannes Factotum

    Sorry, but that concern is but a gnat compared to the elephant that is the Internet and a good deal of the visual media, which is not only robbing them of their childhoods, but debasing and corrupting many.

    • Shaunr19

      The rise of the ipad babysitter,.

  • Tricia

    These dictats become farcical. What is the point of teaching breast feeding, when women are expected to return to the workforce and abandon their children as soon as possible? I passed a nursery in an affluent town last Wednesday and saw one child looking wistfully out if the window. A friend of mine refers to them as orphanages and she is not far wrong!
    And how is it PC to push breastfeeding when you will fall foul of the Equality Police because 2 Daddies can’t achieve this.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Nurseries across the UK are filled with children being bereft of their parents for most of the waking day. Then, at weekends, mummy and daddy go off to do whatever they want to do, leaving kiddies with grandparents or au pairs. We are sowing a seed that will provide a terrifying harvest, and soon.

      • Tricia

        Yes I understand that in Sweden it has been found that children who have spent long hours in child care have social problems by about 10 years of age, due to lack if one to early care.

        • Belinda Brown

          I’m collecting material on this at the moment. References welcome if you have any handy.

          • Tricia

            Sorry I can’t quite remember. I have read quite a lot of Dr Judith Reismann stuff. Might be in there.

  • John Thomas

    Giving children sex education “far from discouraging teenage pregnancy may have encouraged their interest in sex.” MAY have? HAS done so, was intended to do so! Sexualisation of children is in the interests of the state (and certainly of the abortion industry).

  • JabbaPapa

    Teaching little girls about breastfeeding robs them of their childhood

    good grief, really ??!!??!?

    In a less PC health & safety nanny age, to witness your mother breastfeeding your younger sibling, or etc, and to learn about it from direct experience with perhaps aunts and cousins was just straightforward stodge-worthy normal

    To claim that ordinary events in ordinary life (ooooh shock !!! sob !!!!! weep !!!!!!! ) “robs” “little girls” of their “childhood” is rather disturbingly paranoid.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Seeing it happen (sort of) is somewhat different from sitting down and teaching them about it. They do not need the sitting down and teaching, they do need a more natural form of life where when someone does it, it is not something weird.

    • Belinda Brown

      The whole point of what I was saying is that just seeing it happen all around you is the natural and normal way to learn, my 11 year old daughter has seen her nephews and nieces breastfed and my son saw his little sister breastfed – that is the normal way to learn but being told about it in a class would be seriously off putting for child.

  • Bugle

    The push for breastfeeding comes from WHO guidelines which apply to the whole world. The advice is no doubt welcome in poor hot countries, where issues of hygiene make formula feeding hazardous. It is less appropriate in affluent countries where sterilising bottles is no big deal.

    In France, hardly any women breastfeed and as far as I am aware no one can document any bad outcomes. My wife and I have five children, none of whom were breastfed. They are all bright, highly educated and gainfully employed.

    Our recent experience of maternity units would suggest that breastfeeding bullying by NHS staff is not uncommon. Just another thing for the nanny state to get bossy about, you might think, but it’s based on a one-size-fits-all dogma that emanates from the UN. If ‘experts’ now wish to condition 11 year olds into ‘right thinking’, it’s probably because they’re being funded to do so.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if state-sponsored experts would butt out of our lives and stop trying to annex the upbringing of our children.

    • JabbaPapa

      sterilising bottles is no big deal

      This particularly English aversion for natural biology is examplar of the consequences of bad sexual education in the UK, as is of course the whole bloody LGBTQWERTY+ fantasy “identity” mythology …

    • Dominic Stockford

      Significant numbers of women who wish to breastfeed simply cannot do so, to their sadness. However, they hadn’t been taught as children about it, and would have been ‘grossed out’ had anyone done so. Let kids be kids, and let women worry about breastfeeding when they are about to have babies.

  • My two daughters knew all about it without the school getting involved. My eldest certainly knew from watching her younger sister being breast fed and the younger from listening to her mother as well as from other children.
    These days, with all the fuss about breast feeding in public, I find it hard to believe that children of both sexes are unaware of that it happens. Even my seven year old grandson knows, he said to grandma that he saw a lady feeding her baby on a bus the other day, and when a bottle was mentioned, he replied that she was feeding the baby from herself!
    Children are not as stupid as many would believe and are often more observant than adults.

    • Uusikaupunki

      Absolutely. I would say the same thing myself. it seems that children these days are sheltered too much from reality. it doesn’t stop children from being children to know things such as their mother breast-feeding a sibling. Surely girls learn from their mothers and young mothers were always grateful (well usually) for advice from their mother or MIL. I don’t think it necessary for the state to interfere. What I think does rob children of their childhood is the ridiculously early age to teach s*x-education.

  • paul parmenter

    According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which is pushing this policy, boys should also be included in the lessons. Presumably the next step is to show schoolgirls how to shave their beards and moustaches safely. I guess this has to be linked to the great transgender experiment, where there will be no such things as girls and boys any more, and every sexual characteristic will be available for every child to claim as its own.

  • Timmy
    • Belinda Brown

      oh my gosh that is a real shocker. I just can’t believe it. Probably promoted by the LGBT lobby to help normalise the mechanics of gay sex.

      • Timmy
        • Belinda Brown

          Porn seems to be at the route of an awful lot of evils.

      • Phil R

        If you normalise gay sex, then you will get more of it.

        Growing up in Wales there were at least 5 boys who showed an interest in other boys at our school. All were regularly beaten up for showing girlish behaviours, a reluctance to get muddy etc in a rugby match was one of them.

        One boy was exceptionally feminine and he had the nicname “Doris” (Given by the Head of Boys PE).

        To cut a long story short, this guy has been married for many years and has a lovely wife and for children. He has a successful small business and nobody calls him Doris any more because the name no longer fits.

    • David

      Sick ! Our anatomy is clearly designed for sex of the potentially procreative type – the other being a perversion of the sex drive.

  • Pretty Polly

    Democratic mandates delivered under a rights without responsibilities universal suffrage system are leading to the collapse of Western civilisation and our traditional way of life.

    • Phil R

      100% agree. It is the root of our problem.

  • Carbonari1848

    Why in god’s name is my tax being spent on teaching girls to do something that every other female mammal manages to do without being taught?

    What next, eating lessons? Breathing lessons?