Back in 2016, Holly Leppard wrote a post called Breast Brigade. Little did she know what was about to unfold.
It wasn’t a dig, it wasn’t an act of jealously. It was simply a personal story and a message to bottle feeding mums that they are not alone, they shouldn’t feel guilty for their method of feeding and they shouldn’t be judged. I listed potential reasons mums may physically not be able to breastfeed. I was told that I shouldn’t focus on the minority and that messages like mine could ruin a breastfeeders journey.
How on earth could I do that? I didn’t write anything that would convince mothers to stop breastfeeding. I simply acknowledged that’s it’s ok if they do, no matter their reason. In response to focusing on the ‘minority’ of women who can’t breastfeed, I wrote about it because I’m one of them! It was therefore completely relevant to me and women like me!!
Some of the responses have been so personally insulting that I was going to let this topic drop, brush it under the carpet and move on… then I re-read some of the heartfelt messages thanking me for speaking out. So this is when I decided to kick-start bottle feeding positivity & support online, alongside a hashtag that was inclusive.
My idea was to encourage women to share their fantastically beautiful bottlefeeding photos. Everyone should be proud that they have chosen a method of providing nutrition in a way that suits them and their baby. I wanted a space for parents to connect and creating this account and the hashtag #dontjudgejustfeed allows mothers to easily find each other. Whether it’s to heal, celebrate or reach out for support.
Since then, the network and campaign have been growing and Holly’s role has become more involved than she ever believed possible. Holly is now invited to participate in the APPG on Infant Feeding and Inequalities with her main purpose being to connect with organisations and policy makers, urging them create more inclusive campaigns and use mindful language.
There appears to be a large correlation between maternal mental well-being and her feeding journey. The campaigns and current way of communication are creating huge pressures and bottle-feeding stigma, both of which result in many mothers feeling like ‘failures’ when breastfeeding isn’t an option or doesn’t work out. We need to change the approach. Breastfeeding is not the pinnacle of parenting.
Holly has connected with infant feeding professionals worldwide and has developed a close relationship with The Fed Is Best Foundation. She also writes and collaborates with a variety of parenting and opinion sites and is currently writing a book on Breastfeeding Grief.
I’ve experienced the “why can’t you breastfeed?” questions. I’ve experienced the looks off other women when I got my bottle out in a restaurant, not my breast. I’ve experienced the “it’s such a shame you couldn’t pass on your antibodies” comments. There is judgement out there.
My sole purpose of the post ‘Breast Brigade’ was to try and comfort others who have been in my shoes. I certainly didn’t write it for sympathy, for an anti-breast agenda or to be mocked by other mums online.
In a strange way, I should be thanking the ‘lactivists’. They were so cruel. I felt I had to do something in retaliation to these vile and damaging opinions. I just wish they would realise their extreme actions and exaggerations towards breastfeeding actually weakens their position. One day they will have to acknowledge the truth. The fact we have thriving breast-fed and formula-fed adults proves both are good food sources. Breastfeeding is perfect nutrition for breastfed babies. Formula feeding is perfect nutrition for formula fed babies. Please wake up and realise that we are on the same side. A side that provides the best nutrition we can give our babies.
Ultimately, we are all just doing our best, breast or bottle.
Let’s not misinterpret this website as an attack on breastfeeding.
It’s written all over the website, but for the sake of fresh eyes stumbling upon this page…
- Breast Milk is perfect nutrition for your baby (unless they are allergic/intolerant)
- Breastfeeders should feel empowered to feed their baby whenever and wherever they choose.
- Support for breastfeeding mums is so very important and should be encouraged.
- Education, information and guidance is also vital for any struggling breastfeeder.
- We acknowledge that successful breastfeeders can have a torrid time too and they should be celebrated in their achievement.