They’ll Probably Still Spend Longer Playing With The Box It Came In…

Rebecca Schil on the latest ‘must have’ toy for Christmas in every ‘right on’ Islington household:

The debate surrounding the “Breast Milk Baby”, a doll that allows children to pretend to breastfeed, highlights how confused we are about breastfeeding.

I’m guessing that’s the Royal ‘We’..?

Culturally we might be breastfeeding sceptics but at a policy level everyone is clear that improving the UK’s low breastfeeding rates is a major priority

Well, yes, I’m sure it’s a hot topic for your tiny population of policy makers and single issue loons that Angry Exile dubbed ‘The Brealots’, but I’d hope it wasn’t considered a higher priority than, say, stopping people dying of hospital-acquired infections or preventing the Liverpool Care Pathway from being rolled out without safeguards?

The commentary to this compelling evidence is two opposing breastfeeding narratives. Most popular is a story of extreme and unfair pressure on new mothers to breastfeed, leading to guilt and depression. Whispered in lower tones are tales of understaffed postnatal wards where formula is a swift solution.

But Rebecca finds that too simplistic. Of course.

As a doula who navigates the system, and the cultural pot it stews in, on a regular basis, I find the reality more complex. Pregnant women are informed about the benefits of breastfeeding; often repeatedly and often inexpertly. However, the knowledge and support required to make their breastfeeding aspirations a reality is rarely in place and, as they are often the first in their family for a couple of generations to try to breastfeed, they have nowhere to turn for help.

So…we need more ‘doulas’? Who can then use their special powers to ‘navigate the system and it’s cultural pot’?

More people like….well, like Rebecca?

Right. Got it.

Many of us find it difficult to separate breasts as food from breasts as part of sex, and thus find the idea of a child pretending to have breasts, even for the benign purpose of feeding their doll, too close to sexualisation for comfort.

There’s that Royal ‘We’ again!

As Maddie McMahon, a breastfeeding counsellor from the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers says, “to get back to a status quo in which nursing is once again considered the normal way to feed a baby, children need to grow up seeing it, role-playing it and not picking up the taboos of the previous generation. Children learn to walk and talk by watching and copying. The more we expose growing humans to their biological norm, the less problems will result when it’s their turn to nurture the next generation.”

And I guess if enough people don’t buy this doll, the next step is…government-funded dolls for every Sure Start scheme?

The Breast Milk Baby may have a high price tag and an overdone concept, but in a world where people often hide behind Page 3 to avoid seeing public breastfeeding, anything that seeks to redresses the balance at an early age is to be welcomed, not scorned.

Who are these ‘people’ Rebecca keeps mentioning? Are they merely figments of her imagination?

8 comments for “They’ll Probably Still Spend Longer Playing With The Box It Came In…

  1. November 22, 2012 at 9:17 am

    To ask – or instruct – a woman who is determined to bottle feed not to do so stands roughly the same chance of success as asking people to leave their cars at home and walk for any distance below three miles.

    You can cite the health and financial advantages until the cows come home but you’re not going to convince them as long as there is a car available – and if you do achieve a measure of success, it’s a fair bet that the first rainy day will see them getting behind the wheel.

    If the fact that breast milk is free, sterile and always at the right temperature doesn’t convince them, then it’s unlikely in the extreme that they will allow themselves to be persuaded, however many state-funded doulas you throw at them.

    Meanwhile, it’s interesting to see Ms Schil perpetuating the notion that mothers need constant nurturing and advice from their cosy coterie on how to breast-feed properly. The baby knows exactly what to do; you just have to put it in the right place.

    Most telling quote? “anything that seeks to redresses the balance at an early age is to be welcomed”; this is the thinking that gives us positive discrimination and all-women shortlists.

  2. Tatty
    November 22, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Yes well, kids like to play-act at just about everything that adults do and pretending is all well and good. Sooner or later though they grow up and reality hits, thankfully.

    To “redress the balance” will this doll come complete with a disclaimer leaflet warning of the negative…and sometime deadly…aspects of breastfeeding ?

    ‘Course not. 😐

  3. November 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    As long as they’re not breast feeding their pretend babies in public I’m not bothered 😉

  4. David A. Evans
    November 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I had to look doula up, so did my spell checker. 😉



    • November 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Well, there goes your chance of being invited to a placenta-cooking party in the muesli belt.

      Doulas are a jolly good idea in third-world backwaters where the nearest qualified medical help is a day’s walk away and the new mother needs plenty of practical help and moral support, but, whatever the shortcomings of NHS maternity wards (bloody awful in my experience), I can’t quite see how they fit in here – unless our inner cities are even more uncivilized than I thought.

      • Tatty
        November 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm

        Well, there goes your chance of being invited to a placenta-cooking party in the muesli belt.

        *retches with a long wet burp*

        Never EVER understood why anyone would want to do that. I thought it’d be just like cannabilism until I realised that…actually…it IS cannabilism.

        *retches again.

      • David A. Evans
        November 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm

        We used to have honest to goodness midwives in our neck of the woods.


  5. Furor Teutonicus
    November 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Ach lassie, put your tits away and give the bastard a bottle!

Comments are closed.