Although many, many fascinating issues have been raised, I’d like to pick up on a couple which resonate particularly with my own research in the Philosophy of Pregnancy and Early Motherhood.
Early in the day, Sally Dowling tweeted a slide from Sally Etheridge’s talk asking if feeding babies is personal or societal. The slide points to reasons to see it as a societal issue (majority want to breastfeed; Breastfeeding as a public Health priority) but also reasons to see it as person, including worries about making women feel guilty.
Emma Pickett (@makesmilk) tweeted that on Thursday UNICEF’s BabyFriendly campaign will launch a Call to Action arguing that government action is needed and that feeding choice is not about pressure on women
Infant feeding is an emotive subject. Many people do make the mistake of assuming that because breastfeeding is so beneficial, women should breastfeed and are bad mothers if they don’t do so without a good enough excuse.. (Just take a look on social media if you want some examples!) At other times, someone who just wants to inform and support may be perceived as pressuring or condemning. That’s because this mistake between reasons and duties, the mistaken assumption that if something would benefit her child, a mother has a duty to do it and can be blamed if she doesn’t, is so common in thinking about maternal behaviour. So we need to be aware of this when promoting and supporting breastfeeding. We need to know that women are surrounded by guilt. But we need to find a way to convey that when we talk about the benefits of breastfeeding, we aren’t implying there is a duty to breastfeed.