Friday, November 25, 2005

Ignorance is Hell

Clare at Playing it by Ear rightfully gets on the case of the Norfolk policeman who intervened between mother and breastfeeding child.

The outpouring of irrational disgust at breastfeeding and in support of the officer's actions that can be found at Police demonstrates a complete ignorance of the needs of breastfeeding mums and children on the part of substantial sections of the police. What would these officers rather have? A contented child and relaxed mum who are able to go about their business as normal citizens, or someone who forever stays indoors or runs furtively from backroom to backroom, forever terrified of being caught off-guard with a screaming child?

The comparison with urination is spurious. Just in case there are any uninformed PCs out there who happen to pass by: Humans normally get some notice that they need to wee. It only takes about a minute. They can probably go easily for about five hours without a wee. Wee would be left lying around if they didn't find a loo and would be a very good agent for bacterial growth if left untreated outside the body. Wee is a waste product that is not very valuable to anyone. There is never any suggestion that we should spend a considerable amount of time and effort storing it in little sterilised jars for later use.

In contrast: Despite the best ministrations of mums, infants are often highly unpredictable as to when they want to feed. They may want to feed at any time. Bfing can take some time. Some infants marathon feed. This can take up to four to five hours at a time. (Sitting alone in a backroom on our own for four hours? Really, thanks but no thanks). Breast milk doesn't get left lying around causing health risks for others. Breast milk, as a general rule, is very good for baby and shouldn't be with-held or wasted. Expressing milk is actually very hard. Many even experienced breast feeders cannot do it because the body responds to a suckling child, not suction from a vacuum machine. Producing enough milk for bottle feeding later all in one sitting is also very difficult since many women don't produce gallons all at once, but produce milk slowly at the pace an infant would take it.

The need to be able to breastfeed in public is not a trivial or unreasoned claim. It really is about women and children having freedom of movement.


Anonymous said...

Well what a load of poor ignorant and intolerant uneducated half wits..

I thought to join the specials you had to be grown up and mature!!!

Good job they are not "proper" police and only part-time volunteers ;-)


Clare said...

Very good argument about wee - it's very easy to tell your profession! I'm also very impressed by how you've managed to contain yourself and stop yourself using rude-word-acronyms - I'm too short-tempered to write such well thought-out blog posts as yours!


ps. Hi JFT :-)

Carlotta said...


I think I only managed it through a cathartic sense that you had done the thanks and please don't stop with the fury. It was necessary and justified

Carlotta said...


On the basis of all of three specials I have known, (only very vaguely, you understand!), I'd formed the impression that most them go on to be full-blown you know if this is not the case?


Anonymous said...

Well Carlotta, the "special" I know is actually a mortuary technician by trade, but he seems to like his extra curricular stomping after his proper job.
And I knew him very well ;-))))