Dr Vicky Fallon: Words and Power

Breastfeeding has profound and long-lasting health advantages, but the risks of poor maternal well-being run just as deep. The “breast is best” message has, in many cases, done more harm than good for both breastfeeding and formula feeding women. Words carry a lot of power and we need to be very careful of their use in future breastfeeding promotion campaigns.

For many, the current WHO recommendation of six months of exclusive breastfeeding is simply not realistic and can discourage mothers from even initiating breastfeeding. Instead we should follow a woman-centred approach where mothers are empowered to set their own realistic targets.

Coventry Daze

In this year of years, mothers have experienced the most challenging circumstances: solo scans, solo births, isolation and a loss of family support. All the more reason to press ahead with Coventry City of Breastfeeding, my project for Coventry City of Culture 2021. It was an experience with massive highs and lows against a backdrop of restrictions, fear and uncertainty, I tried to create something worthy of the wise women of Coventry…

Bonding

A baby’s brain is constantly making new pathways. 250,000 neurons are formed per minute in a fetal brain throughout pregnancy and that proliferation, migration, differentiation, synaptogenesis continue into the toddler years and pruning of these until puberty. Each baby’s personality, body, brain and trans generational inheritance is of course unique and dependent upon their DNA, yet their experiences and exposure to the world around them throughout pregnancy and in early life also all have an effect on them.

Building Belonging

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.