A new website has been launched in Parliament aimed at resolving the difficulties many families encounter when it comes to talking about how they feed their babies.
Feelings About Feeding Babies is an interactive website for parents and family members, friends, health professionals and others who provide support with feeding.
Professor Fiona Woollard of the University of Southampton, who led on the design of the website, said: “Feeding babies can often be a joyful and satisfying experience. But things don’t always feel so good. Many women suffer from shame, guilt and embarrassment surrounding decisions about how they feed their babies, whether they are breastfeeding directly or feeding expressed breastmilk or infant formula in a bottle or tube. Many women feel unsupported. Sometimes we feel like we have to justify our decisions to others. This can have serious effects on the wellbeing of vulnerable mothers and their babies.”
The website provides a platform for parents to read about other people’s experiences and to help them to have supportive conversations about the decisions they take. It combines this with access to the latest research by Professor Woollard and Dr Heather Trickey from Cardiff University on why so many parents and professionals find it hard to talk about this subject.
Dr Trickey said: “We need to stop talking about what mothers must do when it comes to feeding babies. Even if we were able to choose freely how to feed, we do not have to justify these very personal decisions to others. But many women do not get a free choice. There are lots of barriers to women feeding their babies the way they want. For example, huge numbers of women stop breastfeeding before they want to. So, we need to stop blaming mothers. But just getting rid of blame isn’t enough. We need to get rid of the barriers. We need to start feeling good about how we feed our babies.”
The website has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and was produced by researchers at the Universities of Southampton and Cardiff and parent support organisations, National Childbirth Trust and the Breastfeeding Network. It drew on extensive consultation and feedback from parents and those involved in supporting parents in feeding.