Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Ultimate Designer Food for Your Baby; as X Factor Star Rebecca Ferguson Becomes the Latest Showbiz Mum to Open Up about Breastfeeding Her Daughter in Public, KATE WHITING Looks at How Our Attitudes to It Have Changed

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Ultimate Designer Food for Your Baby; as X Factor Star Rebecca Ferguson Becomes the Latest Showbiz Mum to Open Up about Breastfeeding Her Daughter in Public, KATE WHITING Looks at How Our Attitudes to It Have Changed

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE WHITING

EVERY week, it seems, there's a new headline about breastfeeding and last week was no different.

It's been the turn of X Factor runner-up Rebecca Ferguson to wade into the ongoing 'breastfeeding in public' debate, saying she refuses to feel ashamed for breastfeeding her baby daughter Arabella in public.

"I think it's quite hard as a breastfeeding mum because I feel like there's a lot of shame involved which is so odd because it's so natural," she says. "It's just weird, I'm not bothered. I cover myself a scarf but I think if someone's got problem with it, that's their mind."

Back in 1999, the slogan 'Breast is best' opened a can of worms - and made it a divisive issue.

The government had launched a campaign to encourage more mums to breastfeed, backed by the health messages that breast milk would protect babies against disease and lower the risk of cancer in mothers.

But as well as promoting breastfeeding, the slogan also unleashed feelings of pressure and guilt among women who couldn't, or chose not to, breastfeed - and arguably started a public backlash at the 'shameless' women who began breastfeeding more openly, 'exposing their assets' for all to see.

Recently, BBC DJ Alex Dyke was suspended for his comments about breastfeeding in public, including saying: "Breastfeeding is unnatural.

|Ferguson refuses be of what natural "It's the kind of thing that should be done in a quiet, private nursery."

MUM KNOWS BEST THE situation in the UK 16 years ago was that only two-thirds of mums chose to breastfeed after birth, compared to nearly 100% in Scandinavian countries.

As a result, Tessa Jowell, as public health minister, launched a PS1 million campaign to promote breast over bottle, with the words: "A mother's breast milk is the ultimate designer food for babies."

Rosemary Dodds, senior policy adviser at parenting charity NCT, which runs a free helpline, one-to-one support, drop-in groups and Baby Cafes, says of the controversial campaign message: "The benefits of breastfeeding are now widely known, and constantly repeating the 'breast is best' message isn't helpful, as it can add to feelings of guilt for women who decide not to breastfeed.

"We want parents to have evidence-based, independent information, so they can make their own decisions, and we support them in the choices they make, whether it's breast or bottle-feeding or a mixture of both.

"NCT also supports mums who want to breastfeed but are struggling. We know that 80% of mothers who stopped in the first six weeks would have liked more help to continue."

FORMULA TAKES OVER WE'LL have to go further back to understand why the 'breast is best' message came about. Over to Anna Burbidge from breastfeeding support charity La Leche League GB for a history lesson: "For thousands of years, women gave birth and nursed their babies, supported by a close-knit group of family and friends. …

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