A few months ago breastfeeding advocates were whooping with joy when gorgeous superstar Beyonce Knowles announced to the world she was breastfeeding and not only that, she was doing it in public!
Breastfeeding in public is hard for the average new Mum but imagine if there were dozens of paparazzi long lenses and millions sitting at home all waiting to catch a glimpse. Ok, so some of the outfits Beyonce has worn in public could hardly be described as modest but I doubt she wanted close ups of her feeding Blue plastered across the world’s media.
Today, Beyonce has announced that she breastfed Blue for 10 weeks.
Now, initially I was a little disappointed that she didn’t go longer. She is priveleged in so many areas you might think it easy for her to take time out to continue feeding.
BUT on reflection…
Every day counts when it comes to breastfeeding. Ok, the longer you feed, the greater the benefits for you and baby but at least Blue had 10 weeks of lovely breast milk and importantly, she received her Mum’s colostrum.
Research has shown that women are influenced by friends, family and celebrities on no end of subjects and breastfeeding is no exception. The fact that Beyonce was loud and proud about breastfeeding WILL have influenced future Mums to give it a go. Some of those Mums WILL go on to feed their babies for longer (WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months then continued for at LEAST two years after that).
A reason given by Beyonce’s team for her breastfeeding was to help with post-pregnancy weight loss. Perhaps they could have left that snippet of information out and highlighted one of the more preferable benefits such as reduced risks of breast cancer (for Mums and baby girls), diabetes, gasteroenteritis, constipation, ear infections etc etc – too many to list here but have a look at La Leche League and my earlier post on the benefits.
But does it really matter in this vain society if the only reason you choose to breastfeed is because Beyonce did it and it helps with weight loss? If it means more babies and Mums reaping the benefits then perhaps the reasons for it are unimportant.
I don’t think that by stopping before the recommended six months (two years after weaning) Beyonce has damaged the cause in any way. She certainly has the whole world talking about it. Until we stop failing women and babies with inadequate or non-existant education and support, we need all the help we can get.