Why everyone’s talking about breastfeeding

It's been praised for reducing breast cancer and helping Hollywood actresses lose weight but this week nursing has also faced criticism...

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Breastfeeding has hit the headlines this week – for both good and bad reasons.

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Breast cancer fighter

First, there’s positive news that breastfeeding could cut the risk of breast cancer by up to 20%. The major US study looked at more than 750,000 women and found nursing is a “powerful strategy” to reduce the risk of cancer. Breastfeeding reduced the risk of invasive breast cancer by around 10% in the majority of women and, incredibly, by up to 20% for the most aggressive types of the disease.

Experts have now said thousands of cases of cancer could be prevented and lives saved if more women breastfed in Britain. We currently have one of the lowest rates in the western world of exclusive breastfeeding by 3 months (17%), although the vast majority of mums (81%) breastfeed their baby at birth. By 6 months, only 1% of mums are exclusively breastfeeding. 

Celeb mum ‘flab’ fighter

Cutting cancer isn’t the only incentive to breastfeed that’s been in the news this week. Hollywood stars have also credited breastfeeding with helping them lose weight after giving birth.

Scarlett Johansson revealed this week that she ‘loves’ breastfeeding her baby daughter Rose. “[I do] the whole bit,” the 30-year-old told the host of US TV’sThe 10 Most Fascinating People Of 2014. “I’m nursing and I love it. It’s the best way to get back in shape.”

Mila Kunis has also spoken about the benefits about breastfeeding on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Wednesday and credited breastfeeding with having the biggest impact on her slim post-baby figure.

Princess Michael – a “dreadful practice”

But not everyone has had a positive word to say about breastfeeding. Princess Michael of Kent publicly described it as a “dreadful practice”. The 69-year-old made the controversial comments when she was asked if mums should breastfeed in public. “My advice to women is don’t breastfeed – it’s a dreadful practice,” she said, according to the Daily Mail. “I didn’t breastfeed. My nanny said it was disgusting.”

However, in a statement issued by her spokesman Simon Astaire, the Czech-born princess has now added, “It’s not something I would do in public but everyone has a free choice.”

And over in Nigel Farage’s corner

Princess Michael isn’t the only one creating a stir. After Claridges asked a woman to cover up while breastfeeding on their restaurant, UKIP leader Nigel Farage admitted “particularly people of the older generation feel awkward and embarrassed by it”. He suggested that one solution would be for breastfeeding mums to “sit in a corner” when they wanted to feed. 

“I’m not particularly bothered about it, but I know a lot of people do feel very uncomfortable, and look, this is just a matter of common sense, isn’t it?” he said on LBC radio. “I think that, given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that’s not openly ostentatious.”

Join in our MFM conversation about Nigel’s comments…

But a spokesman for David Cameron disagreed. “It’s for Mr Farage to explain his views,” the No 10 spokesman said. “The Prime Minister shares the view of the NHS which is that breastfeeding is completely natural and it’s totally unacceptable for anybody to be made to feel uncomfortable while breastfeeding in public.”

So what do you think? Let us know in the comments below

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