A Child’s Right

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

A recent debate has raised the question over whether breastfeeding is the right of a child, and if it is whether breastfeeding should be law.

I breastfed or ten months and I truly believe that breast is best. Breast milk improves immune systems, has all the correct nutrients and vitamins with no downsides. Breast feeding is good for both mother and child. All in all, boobs rock. However…

Breastfeeding is not essential. Children thrive on formula. Yes it’s not perfect, and yes if it’s made wrongly and given incorrectly it can be dangerous, but assuming it’s all done properly bottle fed babies are fine! Not just fine, brilliant. Why outlaw a safe and healthy way of feeding children?

Not everyone can breastfeed. I was fortunate that I could, and despite being fairly relaxed about the whole concept, I found that I was super grateful to be able to. I would have been gutted if I couldn’t and that was going in without thinking I was that bothered. I have seen the utter heartache mothers who can’t feed go through. The guilt and the shame and the utter misery. I’ve heard confession from bottle feeders admitting with pained eyes they managed only for days or weeks or not at all. Don’t add criminality to these women’s lives.

Women have a right to choose. Forcing a woman to do things with her body that she does not want to do is not acceptable. Yes it may be better in a lot of ways but if breastfeeding makes a woman recoil in horror then you can be damn sure that forcing her to will destroy the mother/baby bond, build up feelings of resentment, and lead to an increase in cases of post natal depression. Feeding your baby should be a happy, relaxed and comfortable experience. Don’t destroy that.

Some children are adopted. My husband and I hope to adopt a child in the next few years. I will not be able to breastfeed. I believe that my future child has a greater right to a safe, loving family than it does to breastfeeding. Are we suggesting that unfit or unwilling mothers are forced to care for their child for the duration of the mandatory breastfeeding period? Or perhaps we are bringing back wet nurses who care for infant after infant before they’re settled with their adoptive family? So build up the bond of a mother through breastfeeding then rip them away. Just no.

My conclusion from this is that compulsory breastfeeding is both idiotic and dangerous.

One argument in favour of such a law is that child seats in cars are law and that they are of equal importance to a child’s well being so if one is law so must the other be.

No. Children do not die from formula. They do die from not being in a car seat during an accident. I don’t think anymore needs to be said… Please comment with an argument if I’m wrong.

What we do need to do is improve education for women so they can understand exactly how and why we breastfeed. Increase access to support so in difficult times determined mothers can get help to carry on. We need to get rid of the idea that a woman breastfeeding in public is doing something shameful or inappropriate so more mothers feel confident enough to do it whenever is convenient. But we do not need to treat those who can’t or won’t like criminals. Other than a few we are all just trying to be the best mothers we can. We are trying to love and raise our children and do the best by them. That is the kind of mother every child should have the right to.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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4 responses to “A Child’s Right

  1. Thank you for writing such a well balanced article about a very emotional subject. I have 2 children. I successfully breastfed my oldest child for almost a year and tried desperately to breastfeed number two but it was just not to be. I persevered for 3 months. During that time I spent more time crying when I should have been enjoying and bonding with my little bundle of joy. Unfortunately my little man failed to put on any weight for almost 6 weeks to the point that my Paediatrician convinced me I needed to start bottle feeding straight him straight away as breastfeeding was working for neither of us.

    Almost from the moment I put him onto formula he started to thrive. For whatever reason, despite my best intentions, further breastfeeding was just not possible for the health of my child and my mental health. I felt extremely guilty that I was unable to feed him, but as time went on, he went from a miserable scrawny baby to a very healthy thriving baby once on formula.

    My children are now nearly 11 and 9. They are very healthy but I would have to say the younger one is probably more robust and resilient than my first born breast fed child. If Breast is Best – then why is my non breastfed child more healthy???

    Maybe Breast is Best if it only works for mum and baby.

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    • Absolutely. In an ideal world all babies would be breastfed by their mothers but life doesn’t work like that and we are lucky an alternative is available when needed! Glad to know your babies are doing so well x

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  2. Should the child have the right to the most adequate and of highest standard of food and nourishment, YES , is breastfeeding more adequate and of higher standard than other options ( for able mothers) YES, is then breastfeeding a child right? well I leave that to you, but for the second part of wether should mothers be forced to breastfeed their children , it depends partially on your answer above and also on the relationship between mother’s right to choose vs child right, “The main task is not to prescribe to women what they should do, but to remove all the obstacles to feeding their children in accordance with their own well informed choices.” George Kent

    I would personally says that I support a mutual benefit approach where mother can make a well informed decision and be supported in her decision by outside influences, to force a mother to feed doesn’t seem right to me even though breastfeeding is unquestionably good for the child, but there are a counter forcing issue too, where in fact mothers who could have wanted / want to breastfeed are forced NOT to by the lack of adequate information and support , especially when it comes to working mothers where they are more accommodated by Labour law than Child right approach. and to lack for adequate BF support at hospital such as lactation nurses, consultants..etc,
    it is interesting that in your Adoption scenario that you have ruled the possibility of attaining breast milk and bottle feeding it to your baby as opposed to formula ( if you have access to such resources), there are alot of mothers out there who still pump milk even though the bonding part of the breastfeeding is missed for the inherited believe in the advantages of the milk itself.

    Each country has its own understanding of law enforcement, but in reference to the ill written article about forcing mothers to breast feed ( which by the way is highly suspicious as I checked the official AFA site and there was no mention there for it) , It is equally disturbing to me as harassing / forcing mothers to make an ill informed decisions to not to.

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    • As I said, the education and support should be made the priority for all women who have babies. All women should make an informed choice and to be helped as much as possible with those choices. But no mother should be made to feel guilty if it isn’t for them.

      With regards to obtaining breast milk with which to feed an adoptive child I suppose it would depend on the age of the child. If it were a newborn then it is something I would definitely be looking into but I wouldn’t panic if it were unavailable.

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