So there’s a scheme proposing that mothers who breastfeed should be rewarded with £200 worth of ‘shopping vouchers’ we heard on the news this week. I feel there’s so much wrong with this scheme, not least because it doesn’t tackle the underlying reasons why breastfeeding rates in this country are so low. Maybe we should look at how breasts are displayed prominently as sexy fun-bags everywhere we look, combined with the fact that breast-feeding is still frowned upon in public in too many places.
Looking around our culture as an alien, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the greatest value of a woman is being in possession of a large firm pair of mammaries as long as she’s displaying them provocatively or whipping ’em out for the lads. As long as she’s not using them to (hush, whisper this) feed her baby.
Plus, who would do anything for the reward of shopping vouchers?? Cash maybe, but shopping vouchers are what you get only if some company is trying to bribe you to do something you really don’t want to do. The whole image of shopping vouchers is slightly tainted.
And how can we discriminate against those mothers who genuinely want to breast-feed but for whatever reason can’t, or those mothers who cheerfully choose bottle-feeding because (for whatever reason) it’s the best option for them? Whatever makes you the least stressed is the best option I say, whatever makes you calmer and happier as a mother. Only individual mothers know what’s best for them and their family, and breast-feeding is not a competitive sport.
Given that this culture places so much value on ‘getting your pre-baby figure back’, a campaign which broadcast the fact that breastfeeding helps enormously with that would probably be more successful than any number of shopping vouchers. Realistically.
Or maybe we could just make it law that breastfeeding mothers are welcomed and catered for in every public place? That would be the best reward for mothers who choose to breastfeed – although obviously it shouldn’t be seen as a reward at all, but just normal, obvious courtesy.