Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeLaura PerrinsLaura Perrins: Breast is best but class conflict obscures this simple truth

Laura Perrins: Breast is best but class conflict obscures this simple truth


One would think that supporting breastfeeding would be a no brainer for The Guardian. It is the ultimate evil corporation versus poor mother scenario, yet surprisingly this article in The Guardian comes out in favour of the evil corporations.

It is just astounding that The Guardian would not be on board with any pro-breastfeeding scheme, as when a mother formula feeds her child instead of breastfeeding, she is feeding it something more expensive but worse for her child, instead of giving her baby the free stuff.

The profits made by companies such as Nestle from pushing artificial feeding run into many millions. These are then poured back into insidious advertising that mother’s breasts cannot compete. This is particularly so if new mum does not have the support needed to breastfeed.

I have no doubt that breastfeeding is hindered by the many stories of breastfeeding mothers being tossed out of cafes, or swimming pools, or told to feed their infants in toilets (delicious). It seems that along with The Guardian many people in Britain have serious issues with lactating breasts and hungry infants. Not breasts on page 3 of The Sun, mind, they are fine as they are for male titillation. But hungry infants wanting to be fed how Mother Nature intended? Get ye under a ‘modesty cover’, I am just so offended by it all.

Anyway, in classic Guardian style, the writer reveals her hostility to breastfeeding because it is an ‘idealised version of motherhood that serves to stigmatise working-class women.’

Em, no it is not an idealised idea of motherhood – it is just motherhood. We all know The Guardian does not do motherhood – at least the type that requires mother to spend time with her baby, as this means she is not in the workplace and we cannot have that. The only thing that stigmatises working-class mothers is the idea that they cannot or will not breastfeed without the right support.

Breastfeeding, until very recently, was no big deal but then the big evil corporations realised they could make some serious cash by flogging cows milk, altered in an inadequate way for human infants, to new mums. Again one would expect the Guardianistas to be on the street with the placards proclaiming that women and their wonderful milk producing life-sustaining bodies are being undermined in this way – but no such luck. That, my friends, is the sound of silence.

It is true the breastfeeding has class implications, and it pains me greatly that it is currently labeled ‘middle-class.’ Only a few decades ago the middle-class mothers would not be caught dead breastfeeding and formula feeding was the way of the future – it was ‘modern, clean and easier.’ Only working-class mothers breastfed, no doubt in part because it was free. But after a painstaking campaign by La Leche League and others breastfeeding is now at least an aim for middle-class women. Sadly, however working-class mums are less likely to breastfeed for a substantial period of time. The answer is to increase support for these mums as much as possible.

The benefits of breastfeeding are substantial – even though many try to throw enough mud at the results to say it is all not worth it (this fits perfectly with the feminist war on effort). For many mums, including myself,  improved GCSE results in 15 years time is not the reason we breastfeed. We do it because once established it is easy and convenient and mostly a great way to be close to your baby.

I have tried to figure out the NHS instructions on formula feeding and sterilising bottles and I still cannot make head nor tail of them. I am pretty sure they are honoured more in the breach than the observance, especially for night feeding (this just demonstrates how inconvenient formula feeding can be).

The thoughts of hauling myself out of bed in the middle of the night to make up a bottle for my newborn when I could just feed her myself in my own warm bed is a major mark against formula. This would be in clear breach of Perrins household Rule Number 1: Mama does not get out of her bed at night. Ever. Children are more than welcome to come into my bed, but Mama does not get out of it.

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