Saturday, July 19, 2008


SHAME on the BBC six o’clock news journalist who said the BBC couldn’t show breastfeeding on the six o’clock news… when one of our protestors at yesterday’s rally was sitting down peacefully breastfeeding her baby.

Why couldn’t he show it? Because it is more offensive/violent/indecent than, say, a soldier returning from war with his legs blown off, a plane crash, a baby’s face bitten off by a dog? Because it is less suitable for the cultural mindset than say, seeing Myleene Klass in a skimpy bikini? Because it might permanently scar a five year old who was watching the news? Or was this his personal prejudice surfacing? I’ll bet if it was Myleene sitting there breastfeeding he wouldn’t have had a problem!!!!

Shame on the BBC for not educating its journalists that such attitudes are discriminatory, and only serve to perpetuate the cultural ignorance. That’s the second discriminatory and ignorant comment from a BBC journalist this week in regard to breastfeeding! Is it the Boycotting Breastfeeding Company????

One thing IS certain ~ if educated people are so darn ignorant about the necessity and beauty of breastfeeding, then what hope to do we have to get through to a culture which thinks breastfeeding is Unnatural? AKA, people like Katie Price/Jordan?

Gorgeous families travelled from far and wide to attend yesterday's breastfeeding rally in parliament square ~ amplifying the saying Actions speak louder than words. I was moved to see how many people turned up and were prepared to endure the ‘hell’ that is London.

The official line was that I could not use amplification to talk out as ‘parliament was sitting, and it would disturb them’. What? Above all that bloody traffic? What cobblers! And of course, they don’t WANT to hear what we’ve got to say, do they?

I was touched by the two kindly police officers on duty. We only had permission to gather on the concrete pavement, but they ‘allowed’ us to sit and picnic on the grass ~ clearly we weren’t a violent bunch. It’s a shame some MPs didn’t bother to come out and see that for themselves, or to even learn something from breastfeeding families. And they even allowed us to put up our placards (which you can’t do!!) There are all sorts of rules about what you can and can’t do near parliament…it’s ridiculous, to say the least.

One lady coming for the event was breastfeeding on a train that morning, only to have a woman say ‘aggh, breastfeeding. On a train.’ This is exactly the sort of attitude the government should be working to change. If they want women to feel confident breastfeeding in public, as they claim, then they need to get the messages out to everyone ~ have it right up there with “Coke, the real thing”, or Macdonalds or Weight Watchers adverts. There have to be breastfeeding billboards throughout the country. We need images everywhere so it seeps into the cultural mindset that feeding our babies, at the breast, is natural and normal. We need “Breastfeeding Welcome” signs everywhere we go in public. We need, in short, to start respecting our children’s needs.

Perhaps if the government was transparent about the short and longterm health costs (that is, in MONEY terms) of not breastfeeding, people might start to take notice. Perhaps if people had to cover their own health costs when choosing not to breastfeed, then we might see a seachange. Perhaps, if parents were adequately educated as to the RISKS of not breastfeeding (risks which might take years to surface or be considered noticeable enough to warrant attention), they might make better informed choices or seek out better support than is currently offered in many maternity centres.

I met another woman yesterday who said she was the only woman out of her 19 friends who breastfed. Indeed, when she gave birth all the staff in the maternity ward said ‘we don’t encourage breastfeeding any more’ WHAT? How can this be when a government spokesperson tells me that they’re doing everything they can to support breastfeeding?

If our government really wants to put OUR money to good use, then they should stop faffing with silly little laws which only serve to confuse the masses. Let’s face it, if most breastfeeding woman aren’t aware of their legal rights, then the average Joe Blow on the streets certainly won’t be. What came out of yesterday’s rally most strongly, for me, was the need to educate the MASSES. The government must create wall to wall advertising for television which gets through to even the lowest common denominator mind ~ information which tells every person in this country that breastfeeding is the only milk suitable for optimal infant nutrition, and that woman are free to breastfeed their child, of whatever age, anytime, anywhere.

How ironic to sit in the tube and on the 4.5 hour train ride home late last night (early this morning!) to see people totally absorbed in their newspapers dealing, once again, with knife crime. Why don’t we have articles in newspapers on full-term breastfeeding as a crime preventative? Oh, that’s right, we couldn’t promote breastfeeding positively or we wouldn’t get big bucks in from the fake milk companies.

This government, if it really does believe breast is best, should WALK THE TALK and ban all advertising of fake milk for infants and make it only available by prescription…and not one given by a standard doctor, because, let’s face it, how many of them even know the first thing about breastfeeding? They’re amongst the most likely of health care professionals to advise a woman onto the bottle.

Yesterday our families sang a breastfeeding song which will be available on YouTube shortly (written by Alison Blenkinsop), with a short commentary from me at the beginning. I’ll put a link on my blog as soon as Will, our cameraman, edits a piece down for us.

We presented the petition to Downing Street as well as the open letter to Harriet Harman. But let’s not stop there. Write to her, write to the Health Minister, write to your local MP (that’s what he/she is there for), write to the PM ~ make them earn the money you pay on taxes. Many of us limp from week to week juggling our bills and feeding our kids ~ these people live in very comfortable circumstances because of YOU. Your family contributes to their cushy lifestyle. They work in these jobs to work for YOU.

Ask them to explain the ‘sense’ of the breastfeeding aspect of the Equality Bill?

Ask them, why, if we’re already protected under the Sexual Discrimination Act 1975, they would
bring in something else which will confuse people? Ask them questions unique to your situation so they don’t send off some standard reply.

Ask them why, if maternity is nine months, they are using 6 months as their maternity cut off point in the Equality Bill.

Ask them why they don’t actively put money into advertising to the whole country about the necessity of breast milk and breastfeeding?

Ask them if they’re aware that fully breastfed children don’t grow up resorting to knife crime or depression? Ask them if they can find you a single criminal or someone suffering with major mental health diseases who had the benefit of full term breastfeeding.

Ask them why they say ‘breast is best for babies’ but refuse to come out and say ‘breast is best for children’? Why do they continue with the six month line?

Ask them who their lactation experts are in government? Who do they rely on for information?

Ask them why they didn’t speak up immediately a couple of months back when the papers ran articles about women being charged with indecency if they breastfed in public after the child was 6 months old? Ask them why not one single person from government bothered to stand up and publicly declare that this would NEVER happen?

Ask them why a bunch of cross party MPs would bother tabling an Early Day Motion against this 6 month mark in the Equality Bill, if it wasn't something to be concerned about?

And, finally, be sure to ask them why it should fall upon a woman to have to take legal action against someone for discriminating against her breastfeeding in public? As we all know, the law is a very messy arena with holes left, right and centre. The best answer we could get out of the government’s legal team regarding a woman’s protection under the Sexual Discrimination Act 1975 (which apparently provides FULL protection), is that, in such a case the judge *should* rule in her favour. Should? SHOULD????? Seems like building a house on sand, to my mind. Would you go to court on a 'should'?

You families have been incredibly proactive these past few weeks. Let’s not stop raising awareness now ~ keep talking, write letters to newspapers, to MPs, to friends. Don’t let our minority status (that is, being less than 1 in 5 who breastfeed after 6 months) get us pushed under the sand; hidden away in the government’s ‘pain in the arse’ basket. Get yourself, and all breastfed children, put into the ‘URGENT basket’.

The bottom line is, regardless of the lack of support from government, your baby has essential and fundamental human rights which NO ONE can deny. Our government might not deal in absolutes, but the European Court of Human Rights WOULD rule in the favour of a breastfeeding mother and child.

On a very positive note, I was thrilled to meet so many new faces yesterday, and to finally put faces to names. And again, I’m honoured, especially in these uncertain economic times, that so many of you bought expensive train tickets to come to the meeting. Some of you travelled a very long way.

It was lovely to sit and chat with lovely, like-minded families, and how ironic, I felt, that afterwards when some of us gathered by the River Thames, it was in a little park by the government's defence dept. At least they didn't rush out and get all defensive about our singing breastfeeding songs! The way some people have responded to us, you'd think we were a threat to the country. Hmmm, maybe we are? We're a threat to the status quo which thinks it's fine to raise babies on counterfeit milk.



BaronessBlack said...

Just a quick note-I have a friend who lives in Witney who was in a shop which sells children’s clothes. When she had made her purchases, she asked if she could use the changing room to breast feed her son. This request was refused and she was directed to McDonalds!
She was understandably upset by this; feeling that if she explained to anyone in authority that she didn’t feed her hungry child because it was inconvenient to someone else, they would assume she was an unfit parent! She took her story to the local newspaper who ran the story and wrote to her MP, David Cameron, who was very helpful and managed to at least re-word the shop’s policy on breast feeding.
Personally, I have never received any negative comments while I’ve been breast feeding in public. And I do feel that as we persistently and joyfully breast feed in public we will raise awareness and return breast feeding to a normal, unremarkable daily occurrence.
A quote you might like:-
"If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito"
- Anita Roddick OBE

Anonymous said...

Well done everyone, sorry I couldn't go.. I truly believe there is a force of evil at work in this world, and he loves to hurt and destroy all that is pure and good. He especially loves to harm children, and lies and half-truths about healthy natural living (unmedicated pregnancy and birth, full-term breastfeeding etc) begin the process of destruction. This leads to farming kids out to nannies/ relatives/ schools asap, so parents (esp mums) can 'get their lives back'.
You can spend money and have other people artificially feed, educate and supervise a child, but no one and nothing will replace a parent's love. NOTHING. NO ONE. When a baby is born, all they want or need is love. It's only later that they begin to demand material things, to get their priorities skewed..
Anyway, every time someone promotes the truth, or performs an act of love and sacrifice by going against the current madness, we light a spark in the dark. We must rage against the dying of the light. Our actions impact our children, and their children,
for untold lifetimes and generations. We are the only mammals to wean our young prematurely, and some humans call this evolutionary progress! If there are life forms on other planets, they must think we're mad.
When I am on my deathbed, I will NOT be wishing I had spent less time loving and nurturing my children.
Peace to all.

Amanda said...

Hi Veronika,
I will write to my MP etc. as you suggest. We just need to keep up the pressure until they give in!

Just a thought, but as people seem to have a problem with breasts for feeding (but not for gawping on page 3) how about calling it 'naturally fed'? Subliminally gets over the message that anything else is unnatural. One in the eye for Nestle and Jordan (fake boobs, fake nourishment).

Huge respect to everyone that went. What you're doing is beautiful.

funkyhan said...

Brilliant post! I wish we could have been there!!

You have spurred me into action to write to our new MP. I hope he is as on the ball as our last chap.

I didn't realise you had this blog as well, I just found it while looking for some contact details... good stuff :)