Confession: I’m not quite on board with World Breastfeeding Week.
You would think, wouldn’t you, that a Parenting Editor, a feminist, a mother, and someone generally interested in making sure every child has access to the care and opportunities they need for their future, that I’d be first in line to support World Breastfeeding Week.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in the line to do it. Breastfeeding should be promoted, and breastfeeding mothers and their children should be celebrated and protected.
But I feel a sense of internal conflict about the whole thing.
I suspect that sense is due, in part, to my own personal story. Breastfeeding never quite worked for me; a combination of circumstance, psychology, a physiology that made it difficult and at least with my second child, a complete lack of desire to push myself into something I mentally recoiled from.
Alys, with the two children she never quite managed to breastfeed. Images supplied.
But having been upfront about my personal bias, here's what I want to say.
Are we sure breastfeeding advocates in Australia are being completely honest?
Breastfeeding advocates consistently claim that breastfeeding will help prevent SIDS, infections in the gut and respiratory system and obesity as well as promoting a higher IQ and better mother/child bonding.
They also claim that breastfeeding will save the lives of 800,000 a year, and that breastfeeding in the first hour of a baby's life will decrease the likelihood of a baby dying in the first month by 40 per cent.
There's research that backs those claims up.
But there's also research that questions those claims.
A study completed by researchers at Kings College in London found that claims about the relationship between breastfeeding and a child's IQ are entirely without basis.
Meanwhile a study conducted by researchers in the US found that when you control for socio-economic, cultural and ethnic factors, there is no difference between children who were breastfed and children who were bottle fed.