presentation at the BFN conference

by Lisa Creagh, 2019

I was delighted to be invited to present a breakout session about the Holding Time Project at the Breastfeeding Network Conference in London this month. The conference brought together many of the influential thinkers in the UK breastfeeding ‘scene’ and it was a great opportunity to hear presentations on science, policy, psychology and racism amongst others…

Thoughts from onca

by Lisa Creagh, 2018

Over the past few weeks I have been at the gallery every day. Sometimes I just sat on the beanbags and enjoyed the quiet. Other days I had others to join me: Lucila came almost every day. Many mothers came with their children. But also quite a few fathers. And others who had never had children; young women interested in the subject with their boyfriends, mothers whose babies had grown, mothers who had not breastfed, mothers who were still breastfeeding their four year old, mothers with newborns still struggling with the adjustment to motherhood.

In every case we sat or stood and held the conversation open: this is not an exhibition about how to breastfeed, or why you should breastfeed, or condemning those who do not….read more

Taking Our Time

by Lucila Newell, 2018

Birth and breastfeeding are an invitation to enter into another domain of time. Or more accurately, to be intime, to be grounded in the cycle of life. 

The other day, I went for a walk and I came across a rabbit. He crossed my path, in not much of a hurry. I followed it, until I saw him hopping into his burrow. It reminded of Alice in Wonderland, and how she saw the rabbit, followed it, fell into the rabbit hole and entered a new dimension. She accepted the invitation. Motherhood at times felt like falling into a hole where there are different rules and things flow differently, and things that made sense before are not useful anymore. One of those things is clinging onto clock time….read more

Breastfeeding in Public: This Discomfort Matters

by Lucila Newell, 2018

Breastfeeding is not the norm in the UK, and breastfeeding in public can be especially daunting to a new mother. The anxiety that many women face shows that. In the last Infant Feeding Survey, 45% of mothers said they felt uncomfortable feeding in front of others, and most acutely so in public spaces*.

But considering that being out and about is our right, and part of women’s daily needs and practice, this makes it a big deal. If breastfeeding cannot be folded easily within women’s daily lives, then it is likely that it is a practice that will either not be taken up, or be carried out for very long by the majority of women, which is what we are seeing today…read more

The Ecology of Breastfeeding

by Lucila Newell, 2018

Breastfeeding is food. It is part of the wider network of food production and relations. The food of love, as it has been called. And it is. Breastfeeding provides sustenance and nourishment and love in one swift gesture.

That breastfeeding is food is a fact that it is often forgotten in debates about breastfeeding in public, for instance, where breastfeeding is likened to going to the toilet or to having sex in public. This is because breastfeeding touches on a number of taboos….read more

sharing through stories

by Lucila Newell, 2018

Connecting with others, sharing stories, finding a role model is crucial to breastfeeding. Because breastfeeding is in crisis. Because it is highly idealised, but devalued in practice. And that can make you feel lost, lonely and unsupported.

I felt like that. But myths, images and stories helped. They helped because they made me feel accompanied, made me feel valued and understood, gave me perspective, and also other ways to see myself and what I was doing. They made me feel part of something bigger….read more

Building Belonging

by Lisa Creagh, 2017

The arguments for breastfeeding in terms of health are already won, but breastfeeding statistics remain impossibly low in the UK. How can this be? Because the barriers to breastfeeding are cultural, not medical.

But the majority of information about breastfeeding comes from the medical community. This viewpoint says that women should breastfeed, without acknowledging the personal and emotional struggles involved in doing so….read more

Why Now?

by Lucila Newell, August 2017

In the UK, breastfeeding has been recognised as having a major role to play in public health and in reducing health inequalities, and has been translated into policy programmes such as the Baby Friendly Initiative that accredits health care facilities that adopt recognised best practice standards for breastfeeding. However, less than 1% of babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life (Bolling et al., 2007).

Not only that, a comprehensive review series on breastfeeding in The Lancet, published on 30 January this year, gave a clear signal of what is needed to be done and pointed at Britain as having “the worst breastfeeding rates in the world”. Even if this is maybe not a fair picture, as rates of starting breastfeeding are relatively high, they do point to a rapid drop-off rate, and most mothers state they stop breastfeeding earlier that they would have wanted to. As others have mentioned, and as this important open letter states, the breastfeeding crisis in the UK is a crisis of lack of support. This crisis comes at a time when the UK is going through a moment of profound cuts to breastfeeding support services…read more