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Monday, 28 June 2010

Kathryn Blundell

There are some things mothers are never supposed to say. That the idea of childbirth fills them with disgust and horror and they want to be either drugged off their tits or anaesthetised and c-sectioned. Odd because in every other area of medicine, the absence of pain is seen as a Good Thing. In childbirth though, it's generally seen as a cop out. My second labour was only eight hours long. I never felt in danger and the midwife was great. Unfortunately the epidural didn't work. I’d have taken a bullet the pain was so bad. No I didn’t feel empowered. You try splitting in half and feeling empowered about it.

Once the baby is born, the next taboo is mentioning that small babies are really really dull.
Anna Pasternak got it in the neck for saying just that. The debate ‘raged’ as women phoned radio stations to explain how rollercoasterly thrilling it was to have a small baby.

Kathryn Blundell deputy editor of Mother & Baby magazine is now in deep nappy doo after using the word ‘creepy’ in the context of breastfeeding. The deluge of rage in response centres entirely around the use of the word ‘creepy’. Oh and referring to her breasts as ‘funbags’ which is up there with Gok Wan’s ‘bangers’. But she says other things too – useful things like women should not be made to feel guilty if they can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. Her real crime was not prefacing her shameless formula feeding with lots of handwringing about how ‘guilty’ she felt, or that her nipples were cracked and bleeding after nights of desperate attempts to feed. If she had – then the comments would have been more of the saintly condescending variety. Oh what a shame. Poor thing. Maybe she should have tried just an itty bit harder? Needed more support etc etc. No, this rotten, evil mother decided she couldn’t be ‘fagged.’ The selfish, sociopathic, useless, vain monster. Yes, she’s been described as all those things.

The other comment that comes up again and again is the fear that ‘vulnerable’ new mothers might read her article and decide not to breastfeed! What a load of patronising crap. Like never using the word 'pain' in the context of childbirth in case it puts women off having babies. Oh hang on - the anti-drug birth bullies still do that. It's not pain - it's sensations. Or waves. Or an orgasm if you're Sheila Kitzinger.

It was probably ill advised to use the word ‘creepy’ about breastfeeding. But I don’t think one article is going to put new mothers off. And frankly, the utterly vitriolic, poisonous and self-righteous nastiness from the blogsphere is far far creepier.

There is a small section of militant mothers who seem more interested in policing other women's behaviour than trusting them to make the choice that's right for them and their child.


Leanne said...

"what if, like me, you really don’t fancy it?"

"even the convenience and supposed health benefits of breastmilk couldn’t induce me to stick my nipple into a bawling baby’s mouth."

"After nine months of denial, lardiness and bad shoes, as soon as the birth was out of the way I wanted my body back. (And some wine)"

"They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags."

"I often wonder whether many of these women, like me, just couldn’t be fagged or felt like getting tipsy once in awhile."

"The Milk Mafia can keep their guilt trips."

"You can keep your soggy breast pads"

"I also wanted to give my boobs at least a chance to stay on my chest rather than dangling around on my stomach"

... "creepy" is the least of it. Not being fagged to do something that could save 1.5 million babies every year is an abhorrent attitude for the deputy editor of a prominent BABY magazine to put forth without so much as a second thought for the women this tripe might influence.

It is a classic case of putting your own needs before the wellbeing of your child. That's not creepy, that's sick.

Mrs Stokes said...

I don't have kids so have never breastfed so those raging mums with attitude, devoid of sleep thanks to their darling children and on the warpath to make anyone who doesn't want to feel inadequate, will probably dismiss my opinion. But I have to say that I can imagine there are very many women out there who might not want to breastfeed because they do find the idea uncomfortable and that they might not be able to see their breasts in different lights for different purposes. Kathryn's tone might have seemed flippant, but I think she's shone a light on a far more important issue, that of the miliantcy of women pro-natural childrearding towards women who want to do it another way. Well done Kathryn for your honesty.

Jane said...

I think Kathryn Blundell was a bit flippant and saying that she found breastfeeding 'creepy' meant that all the comments and criticism have been based around that instead of, as you point out, Mrs S, the wider issue of Parenting as a Competition.

Anonymous said...

It is so nice to finally have someone stand up to the breastfeeding bullies. Sure, breastmilk is good for babies, but so is formula that has many benefits as well. This whole breastfeeding thing has gotten way out of control to the point that women are made to feel horrible about themselves if they choose to use bottles.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but with opinions like that Kathryn Blundell should not be a deputy editor of such a magazine. Unfortunately many, many women are brainwashed by our over-sexualised society and she should not be telling people that they shouldn't breast feed just because they don't fancy it. I don't fancy doing a lot of things in my life but I still do them because that's part of being a responsible and loving mum... and I'm not a militant, just a normal mother.
And to imply that in order to "get your body back" you shouldn't breast feed is a very dangerous thing to say. I breast fed both my children and I am still a size 10.
I am concerned that somebody so mis-informed is in the position to broadcast her rubbish to so many.

fiona said...

The last statement in your blog is the one that echoed the most:

"than trusting them to make the choice that's right for them and their child."

Especially the latter three words. I believe every woman should make the right choice for their child and them. But nothing in the article suggested she was making the choice for her baby.

The article disturbs me, just in the same way that little girls would rather strut about in high-heels and apply make-up than role-play being a Mummy. We have the worse psychological problems relating to body image than at any other time in this society. We seem to care more about our Sexual Attractiveness more than anything else, and we are only projecting this onto our children.

Not only that, her article had inaccuracies - including that breastfeeding causes your breasts to sag and that it ruins your body. So, this could cause Mother's to choose to opt out of breastfeeding. Never mind putting it into a woman's mind that people find it creepy and disturbing, when I breastfed my first child I didn't realise that people out there actually had these feelings about breastfeeding - imagine what it does to a woman's confidence that people might think she is creepy to breastfeed? - I don't think it's "patronizing-crap" at all. Pregnancy and bringing a baby into the world is a very fragile and confusing affair, even the most intelligent of women can be swayed by articles like this.

It's not about policing, but making sure that what is published is factual and has balance - especially by Deputy Editors. I'm not going to into why formula milk is so much more inferior to breastmilk because it is an age-old debate and we can all find the facts if need-be. But it is something we should take into serious account when reading this article too.

And as for your comments on child-birth, it isn't about that childbirth is not painful at all. That the expectation/fear of pain can actually make childbirth more excruciating - going into labour with that mindset is not at all helpful [it will make the Mother tense/stressed which could increase blood-pressure and baby's heart rate].