It's truly worrying to see breastfeeding rates plummeting around the world.
If we treated our country's breastfeeding rates like we do with low water storage levels, there would be serious restrictions in place. It'd be all over the news too.
The fact is, our breastfeeding rates are at crisis levels. Currently, many countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates (to 6 months of age) between 10-20%.
At two months of age, 50% of Australian babies are partially or fully formula fed. Only 15% are exclusively breastfed at five months of age.
However, the good news is that we know what works turning it around: education.
Countries have proven they can significantly increase breastfeeding rates this way.
Recently, we wrote about how one country turned things around in a big way, from 11% exclusively breastfed at 6 months of age, to a huge 74%.
They didn't achieve this huge success by avoiding educating people about the facts of breastfeeding. In fact, the education campaign was very much in their face — especially on TV. Their government decided desperate measures were required and it worked.
Turns out it wasn't a problem with women's bodies, but rather, a lack of education — and not just the public but healthcare providers too.
Most healthcare providers receive 0-3 hours of breastfeeding education in their undergraduate course. So, where does that leave new mothers (all 96% who initiate breastfeeding) who are struggling and in need of good information?
We need to accept that there will always be more breastfeeding articles on our screens. Why?
Firstly, let's take a look at what information is generally needed for both breastfeeding and formula feeding:
- How to breastfeed / How to formula feed
- How to get support breastfeeding / How to get support bottle feeding
- Can you mix breastmilk and formula together?
- Reflux in a breastfed baby / reflux in a formula fed baby
- Constipation in a breastfed baby (uncommon) / constipation in a formula fed baby
- How do I sterilise baby bottles (expressed milk and formula)
- What supplies do I need to bottle feed (expressed milk and formula)
- How do I warm up a bottle of milk (expressed and formula)
- When should you wean your baby from breastmilk or formula
Now, let's take a look at what information may be needed for formula feeding (this list is generally speaking and not exhaustive):
- What formula should I choose?
- How do I make up formula?
- What should I avoid with formula?
- Tips for formula use
- Which is the best formula to buy?
BellyBelly does have more than 5 articles on formula use and support. We also have a formula feeding support forum.
Finally, let's take a look and see what information may be needed for breastfeeding mothers:
- Blocked ducts
- Only one breast working
- Can I breastfeed with antibiotics?
- How do you wean a baby?
- How do I store breastmilk?
- Breast refusal
- Returning to work and breastfeeding
- How do I increase milk supply?
- What (if any) foods should I avoid when breastfeeding?
- Can I take anti-depressants while breastfeeding?
- Breastfeeding a toddler
- Choosing a breast pump
- What causes low milk supply
- Biting and breastfeeding
- When does breastmilk come in?
- Blood in breastmilk
- Oversupply of breastmilk
- Breastfeeding after a c-section
- Can you diet while breastfeeding?
- What impacts breast milk quality?
- Caffeine and breastfeeding
- Alcohol and breastfeeding
- How breastfeeding is impacted by retained placenta and how to fix it
- Comfort feeding – good or bad?
- How do you hand express breastmilk?
- Does a poor diet impact my breastmilk?
- Breastfeeding a premature baby
- Breastfeeding myths debunked
- When breastfeeding doesn't work out / emotions around breastfeeding
- Depression after weaning
- What you need to know before you breastfeed / breastfeeding preparation
- Sore nipples / cracked nipples
- Overactive let down
- Understanding foremilk and hindmilk / imbalances
- Breastfeeding twins
- Nipple thrush
- Breastfeeding positioning and attachment
- Breastfeeding after surgery/anaesthetic
- Should I keep breastfeeding during an illness
- Pain killers and breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery
- Breastfeeding after sexual assault…
I could go on — currently BellyBelly has around 136 breastfeeding articles that have helped many mothers and babies out of a spot of bother over the last 12 years. And there are still many articles to write to answer questions about breastfeeding.
But hopefully, you're able to understand the sheer volume of breastfeeding articles needed to support breastfeeding women. Women breastfeed in a range of personal circumstances and with varying challenges. Of course, not all women will have all of these problems. But many of the 96% of women who initiate breastfeeding will have problems and questions while breastfeeding. We want to help.
This is not about saying formula is not important.
Nor is this information judging formula feeding parents. There is just so much information that is needed, and not being provided elsewhere. So when we share information, it's very hard to have an equal balance of formula articles and breastfeeding articles. We're not biased, there's just not as much content we can share. Recycling such a small amount of articles would drive everyone batty.
So when you see another breastfeeding article flick across your screen, don't see it as something that's there to annoy you or because we think you're less of a mother. It's there to save future and current mothers from the stress, frustration and heartache (that you may have felt too) when breastfeeding went off the rails. Or when conflicting information did their head in. Or when they felt like a failure for not being able to get it right.
At BellyBelly, we're committed and dedicated to helping more women succeed with their feeding goals. We know well over 90% of women initiate breastfeeding, so the desire is there… it just all falls apart quickly as each month passes. This is a huge problem, and while there's women getting the wrong information, we'll keep working away at providing the best, evidence based information that we can. We cite our studies and sources, and have educated people writing our content, not journalists.
If you find breastfeeding articles challenging, think of it this way:
Imagine you were in a relationship that was so terrible, you broke up. Your heart is utterly broken. You tried your best and gave him everything, yet you're left feeling really hurt, used, angry and frustrated. In fact, you swear you'll never get into another relationship again, because it's all the same and you'll just get hurt again. Scrolling social media, you come across an article titled “10 Reasons Why All Men Are Drop Kicks.” Firstly, it's factually not true. Secondly, you're just going to piss yourself off even more, by feeding your erroneous belief based on your current situation.
What should you do instead?
Surround yourself with your cheer squad. Read to feed your mind, and trust that everything that's in your path is there to grow you as a person, not shame you or make your life miserable.
Sharing breastfeeding information is not offensive. However, we do understand that some people can be offensive with their scathing, uneducated comments. It's in our best interest to walk away from these people and not take their comments personally.
If you'd like to suggest a formula article to be written and included on BellyBelly, we're all ears. Please email us and let us know.
Remember: there's no such thing as a perfect parent. But there are plenty of ways to be a great one.