Rebecca Schil on the latest ‘must have’ toy for Christmas in every ‘right on’ Islington household:
The debate surrounding the “Breast Milk Baby”, a doll that allows children to pretend to breastfeed, highlights how confused we are about breastfeeding.
I’m guessing that’s the Royal ‘We’..?
Culturally we might be breastfeeding sceptics but at a policy level everyone is clear that improving the UK’s low breastfeeding rates is a major priority…
Well, yes, I’m sure it’s a hot topic for your tiny population of policy makers and single issue loons that Angry Exile dubbed ‘The Brealots’, but I’d hope it wasn’t considered a higher priority than, say, stopping people dying of hospital-acquired infections or preventing the Liverpool Care Pathway from being rolled out without safeguards?
The commentary to this compelling evidence is two opposing breastfeeding narratives. Most popular is a story of extreme and unfair pressure on new mothers to breastfeed, leading to guilt and depression. Whispered in lower tones are tales of understaffed postnatal wards where formula is a swift solution.
But Rebecca finds that too simplistic. Of course.
As a doula who navigates the system, and the cultural pot it stews in, on a regular basis, I find the reality more complex. Pregnant women are informed about the benefits of breastfeeding; often repeatedly and often inexpertly. However, the knowledge and support required to make their breastfeeding aspirations a reality is rarely in place and, as they are often the first in their family for a couple of generations to try to breastfeed, they have nowhere to turn for help.
So…we need more ‘doulas’? Who can then use their special powers to ‘navigate the system and it’s cultural pot’?
More people like….well, like Rebecca?
Right. Got it.
Many of us find it difficult to separate breasts as food from breasts as part of sex, and thus find the idea of a child pretending to have breasts, even for the benign purpose of feeding their doll, too close to sexualisation for comfort.
There’s that Royal ‘We’ again!
As Maddie McMahon, a breastfeeding counsellor from the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers says, “to get back to a status quo in which nursing is once again considered the normal way to feed a baby, children need to grow up seeing it, role-playing it and not picking up the taboos of the previous generation. Children learn to walk and talk by watching and copying. The more we expose growing humans to their biological norm, the less problems will result when it’s their turn to nurture the next generation.”
And I guess if enough people don’t buy this doll, the next step is…government-funded dolls for every Sure Start scheme?
The Breast Milk Baby may have a high price tag and an overdone concept, but in a world where people often hide behind Page 3 to avoid seeing public breastfeeding, anything that seeks to redresses the balance at an early age is to be welcomed, not scorned.
Who are these ‘people’ Rebecca keeps mentioning? Are they merely figments of her imagination?