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Bottlefeeding mothers 'feel judged'

Published 28/05/2015

Mothers who bottlefeed their babies say they are feeling under pressure because of the rise in breastfeeding selfies
Mothers who bottlefeed their babies say they are feeling under pressure because of the rise in breastfeeding selfies

A craze for breastfeeding selfies is fuelling an atmosphere which makes mothers who bottlefeed feel "judged at every turn", campaigners have warned.

A survey has revealed that seven in 10 (69%) bottlefeeding mothers say they have been judged negatively, while four in 10 (41%) feel they have "failed as a mum and failed their child" because they do not breastfeed.

Four in 10 (39%) say they have received negative looks and comments from strangers when they bottlefeed their offspring, while a fifth have been attacked on social media and 16% 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".

It comes after a craze for breastfeeding selfies, known as "brelfies", swept the internet, with many celebrity mothers including model Miranda Kerr and pop star Gwen Stefani 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.

Ms Freegard warned that 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: "Putting new mums under 'bressure' benefits no one and swapping abusing mums who breastfeed in public for mums who bottlefeed isn't progress.

"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."

She added: "Feeding a newborn is one of the most overwhelming tasks a woman will ever face so society needs to accept mums make the choice which is best for them and their family."

The NHS recommends mothers breastfeed their baby for six months and thereafter mix it with other food.

The poll of 2,075 mothers found that more than half (55%) agreed the campaign to promote breastfeeding has gone too far and "places too much stress on new mums".

Mothers have launched a 'brelfie backlash' campaign on social media to encourage more tolerance of how parents choose to feed their babies.

Instead of posing breastfeeding their baby, they will post pictures with a one-word slogan on how feeding their child, and the judgment surrounding it, has made them feel.

It comes after celebrities including TV presenter Myleene Klass and singers Una Foden and Kimberley Walsh have spoken out against pressure on mums to breastfeed.

The campaign will culminate in a national day of action today with thousand of mothers taking part online using the hashtag #Bressure.

Ms Freegard left Netmums to launch Channel Mum in January.

Channel Mum is the UK's first online video community for mothers, bringing together YouTube mother vloggers who video blog about parenting.

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