Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Bitter Taste of the Breast

"Exclusively breastfed": it's an expression that conjures up images of babies in small gold crowns and velour and ermine robes supping at a tender milky white mammary.
Now, says an "informal review" of scientific research into breastfeeding, the current NHS advice to do this for six months may not be right. It might "narrow the window" for introducing new tastes such as spinach. It might cause iron deficiency. It might just kill your baby. Well, ok, they didn't say that, but when a first time mum reads the report, that's how it reads.
The authors have stressed they are "not in any way anti-breastfeeding", but by publishing this, that's what they are effectively being.
The "findings," based on absolutely no new research, have the general effect of reducing women's faith in their ability to provide what their baby needs without so much as picking up a blender.
Most mums with a few years experience under their belt know that some babies start to snatch food from your plate at four months, others show no interest in unlatching their leech-like grasp from the teat until a year is passed. Babies ALWAYS get what they need. They are experts at it. Women need to be told to have faith, not the other way around.
And as for that baloney about children breastfed for half a year not having enough time to "experience bitter tastes" so they eat their broccoli later.... I was told if I ate broccoli myself this would ensure my baby's love of all the greens later in life because my milk would taste of broccoli.
Have you ever tasted breastmilk? I have. It tastes of breastmilk. Not Marmite, spinach or even cake. Just breastmilk. Which isn't half bad, actually.

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