A CRAZE for breastfeeding selfie-style pictures is fuelling an atmosphere which makes mothers who bottlefeed feel “judged at every turn”, campaigners have warned.
A survey has found seven in ten (69 per cent) bottlefeeding mothers say they have been judged negatively and four in ten (41 per cent) feel they have “failed as a mum and failed their child” as they do not breastfeed.
Four in ten (39 per cent) say they have received negative looks and comments from strangers when they bottlefeed their children , while a fifth have been attacked on social media and 16 per cent have endured cruel comments from other mothers.
Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of parenting website Netmums and the recently launched Channel Mum, which commissioned the research, warned mothers are facing mounting pressure to breastfeed – a phenomenon she dubs “bressure”. This comes after a craze for breastfeeding selfies, known as “brelfies”, and other pictures posted by nursing mothers swept the internet.
Celebrity mothers including model Miranda Kerr and pop star Gwen Stefani were among those posting shots of themselves breastfeeding.
The move was intended to break down stigma and encourage women to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public, but it has sparked a backlash.
New mums need support, not pressureSiobhan Freegard
Ms Freegard warned mothers who do not conform are being abused and risk being made to “feel second-class citizens”.
One mother told the survey: “I felt guilty and a failure that my body wouldn’t do what was seen as natural”, while another said: “I felt so ashamed I couldn’t do it.” Ms Freegard said: “Most mothers desperately want to breastfeed but not all can. Putting new mums under ‘bressure’ benefits no one and may even be causing many to fail.
“New mums need support, not pressure, to give them the best start in motherhood and babies the best start in life.
“What should be a personal choice is being turned into a political issue, with mums feeling judged at every turn.
“Those mums who do choose to bottlefeed, for whatever reason, must not be made to feel second-class citizens.”
The NHS recommends mothers breastfeed their baby for six months and thereafter mix the milk with other food. The poll of 2,075 mothers found more than half (55 per cent) agreed the campaign to promote breastfeeding had gone too far and “places too much stress on new mums”.
Mothers have launched a “brelfie backlash” campaign on social media. Instead of posing breastfeeding, they posted pictures with a one-word slogan on how feeding their child, and the judgment surrounding it, has made them feel.
Celebrities including TV presenter Myleene Klass have spoken out against pressure on mothers to breastfeed.
The campaign is due to culminate in a “national day of action” today.