Breastfeeding In Public; Yes or No? Could You Do More For Your Child's Fitness?Thursday 14th of February 2013 | Category: Baby News | Written by: Leoarna Mathias
Both sides of the 'breastfeeding in public' debate
On Sunday, political columnist Janan Ganesh, of the Financial Times, was on a plane. Nothing remarkable about that. The woman seated next to him began breastfeeding her child. He tweeted his outrage; 'The woman next to me on this plane is actually breastfeeding. Tyler Brule doesn't have to put up with this'. He then faced a tidal wave of criticism, just before, I'm guessing, the pilot fired up the engines and he had to switch his smart phone off. Most of the responses were aimed at his narrow world view, and many included the rhetorical question 'and your problem is...?'
Now I don't know who Tyler Brule is and I resisted the urge to Google him for the purposes of this blog. But I find it fascinating that a high profile writer such as Ganesh, who has over 12,000 followers, would think this appropriate content for his twitter stream. Sadly, a little bit of research did lead me to conclude that he is not alone in his views. There are others who are willing to commit their anti-public-breastfeeding views to print. Such is the prevalence of their views that other sites, such as http://www.nursinginpublic.com/ exist with the sole intention of fighting back. They cite examples from around the world where women have faced prejudice and criticism for nursing their babies in public. 'Nurse-ins' are held in major cities around the world. Academics have produced papers on the topic. In this country, the NHS feels compelled to give women advice on how to feed discreetly while out and about.
Here at www.babies.co.uk we've looked at why breastfeeding matters, and at managing visitors to your home, and outings with your new baby. But from the start it's important to recognise any barriers you have to feeding your baby the way you choose. From time to time, the pro-breastfeeding lobby can exert a very clear pressure on struggling new mums. As I internally wrestled with feeling that I wasn't meeting the needs of my second child, three months into his life, I found that pressure unhelpful and guilt-inducing. But should you be leaning towards not breastfeeding, recognising that it might simply be embarrassment at nursing in public that is preventing you from doing so, is important. Many women have very legitimate reasons for choosing not to breastfeed, and that is absolutely their choice to make. But we all need to be sure that we're not letting the views of others determine the choices we make for our children. Despite the treatment of breasts as purely sexual objects in most western societies, let's not forget that they do have a yet more fundamental use. In the context of a media that has acquisitioned the female form for the purposes of selling copy, cars, chocolate even, it's easy to lose sight of the remarkable feats a woman's body can perform!
Being your child's fitness role model
Earlier this week a piece in The Telegraph raised alarm bells for all parents and parents-to-be. Surveying recent research, it concluded that children are failing to develop their mobility as they spend too much time in stationary in buggies. In recent years the same publication has exposed the alarming impact of sedentary lifestyles on children's developing handwriting skills. The link between being physically active and the development of other, more precise skills in later childhood, is not immediately obvious. As we watch our baby reach out to grab items hanging on her play gym, we are, without realising, watching the beginning of her being able to hold a glue stick, a pencil, a book. As our toddler swishes his hand through paint, sand and water, his hands are made strong for feeding himself, completing puzzles, writing and more besides. If you're not walking, climbing and balancing, then other important life-skills will be harder to acquire.
These issues, while spread across the journey of British childhood, are, therefore, meaningful to us as parents of babies and very young children. The fear of letting our children play outside has had a significant impact on the development of essential skills in the space of one generation. Our busy lives squeeze the time we have available for walking to the park, or taking a trip to the swimming baths. But, we can set off on our own parenting journey as we mean to go on. We can resist, what is often the easiest course, of leaving our little ones too long in the car seat, pushchair or in front of the television. We can give our children positive role models, as adults who exercise, and take care of ourselves; and to help you along, we've given you some advice here on returning to exercise after the birth of your baby.
The Early Years Foundation Stage, which acts as a curriculum for all nurseries, pre-schools and childminders caring for children under five, has a sister publication called Development Matters. This document outlines the progression of skills, knowledge and understanding children can be expected to be making with the right support and input. Now, children vary significantly in their rates of progress; my little girl had a smattering of words at eleven months, my little boy is resisting the urge to utter anything truly coherent at fifteen months. Conversely, he walked at ten months, she at fourteen. Bearing that in mind, it's still an interesting exercise to familiarise yourself with the expectations of Development Matters. By doing so, you can make sure you are doing what you can to promote your child's skills, including those all-important physical ones.