The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is now saying that how women feed their babies is their choice – one that should be respected, too. Woo!
Yep, the RCM is now telling midwives that, after giving the appropriate advice and support to help women breastfeed, they then need to ‘respect the mum’s choice’ if she decides to (or has no choice but to) use formula milk.
Now, the health benefits of breastfeeding are no big secret, right? Nor is the fact that the UK has one of the world’s lowest breastfeeding rates.
But it IS pretty hush hush that plenty of women struggle to breastfeed (some of us just can’t produce enough milk, for example) or actually don’t want to breastfeed – and that loads of us feel judged for even glancing at a bottle.
Which isn’t very helpful: it just serves to make mums feel inadequate, ashamed and pressured.
And a recent Liverpool University study of 1600 mums has proved it. Of the 890 formula-feeding mums they spoke to, 67% reported feeling guilty and 68% felt stigmatised, while 76% said they felt the need to defend why they were using formula.
Fortunately, RCM’s chief exec Gill Walton says that’ll be no more. At least, it won’t be coming from the UK’s midwives, anyway…
“The RCM believes that women should be at the centre of their own care,” says Gill, “and, as with other areas of maternity care, midwives and maternity support workers should promote informed choice.
“If, after being given appropriate information, advice and support on breastfeeding, a woman chooses not to do so, or to give formula as well as breastfeeding, her choice must be respected.
“We recognise that some women cannot or do not wish to breastfeed and rely on formula milk. They must be given all the advice and support they need on safe preparation of bottles and responsive feeding to develop a close and loving bond with their baby.”
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