Today (8th February 2018) in my home town of Maidstone, I attended a petition debate to try and protect the amazing breastfeeding services we have here in Kent. Little did I know that despite being able to attend, I could not take part!
The Councillors were so happy to see so many of us ‘strong empowered women’ attending with our gorgeous little babies, they just didn’t want to hear from us!
Our novelty definitely wore off after we denied them a photo opportunity. Yes – they honestly told us they didn’t have time to hear from us, but did have time to pose for a picture! The message was clear.
We should be seen, but not heard.
You know it isn’t going to go well when the age old line of “not everyone can breastfeed” gets rolled out. Yes it is true – not all women can breastfeed – but when only 1% of women breastfeed past 6 months I can say with confidence that we as a species haven’t lasted this long with 99% of mums unable to breastfeed.
In 2010 there was a high for the UK of 83% breastfeeding from birth, by 3 months that figure drops to 17%, and like I already said – it’s just 1% past 6 months. People are starting to breastfeed, why are they stopping? I can’t speak for everyone but I can tell you why I stopped with my first. I was failed by the ‘professionals’ around me.
I was told to top up with formula, and even given the milk by the hospital! I wasn’t told how to express milk, how often, or how important it is to do so to stimulate supply. I don’t blame these ‘professionals’ – because after today I have learnt that when it comes to KCC – qualifications don’t matter when it comes to breastfeeding.
The question was raised, repeatedly, of what training the health visitors replacing the current service would have. What training the people at all these clinics and drop ins would have. The question was repeatedly dodged and swerved.
I can tell you these specialists would have a 2 day course, basically the equivalent of what our peer supporters currently have. They will also have leads that are ‘passionate’ and have a ‘special interest’ in breastfeeding.
I have a passion and special interest in politics, it doesn’t make me a politician! It’s not going to let me have a say in what’s being discussed today! Because it’s not enough.
This is not enough. This will fail so many families all over our county.
It’s simply quantity over quality.
This proposal is being portrayed as an improvement, but it is just diluting the expertise available, and this will be make or break for a lot of breastfeeding families. This will affect babies with tongue tie and those who need specialist help. We are fighting for these people, that’s why we are asking the questions of what accreditation they will have and how often they can be accessed.
We were told to ‘trust them’, and that the ‘status quo’ just won’t do, and to not ‘stress out’ over change (yes it really was that patronising – you should watch the webcast!) I fear they are so set in their minds that they don’t realise we aren’t campaigning for things to stay the same, we aren’t scared of change. We are scared of losing access to this specialist help that is so vital to succeeding.
We want to KEEP KENT BREASTFEEDING.
We just want future parents to be able to not only choose how to feed their children, but to reach their goals. Whether that be with our current system, or with the new one, we just want them to at least be as qualified, and accessible, and anything extra is obviously a bonus! We are never going to object to more groups, but when are they? Where are they? Who is going to be there? We were given none of these answers today.
And that is why we will keep fighting. We are so lucky to have such an amazing family community here in Kent, as shown by the turn out at this debate, and the numbers who signed the petition.
We have until March 7th to keep persisting. Ask your local Councillor, and/or MP for these answers. Hold them accountable. It seems like this is the only way our voices will be heard! Find out more about the campaign at www.keepkentbreastfeeding.org