Breastfeeding Uncovered was born out of the research and engagement experiences of myself, Dr Amy Brown, now Associate Professor in Child Public Health at Swansea University.
Back in 2005 I was embarking on a Phd in psychology, exploring something to do with the eating behaviour and weight of older children. This all went swimmingly for about a month until I became pregnant with my first baby and after that things were never quite the same again! I was plunged head first into the world of babies and how they were fed and what was at first a passing thought (Babies are just breast or bottle fed, right? It’s just about how they’re fed), soon turned itself into my future career (although not before I had another couples of babies myself for good measure)!
How?! Well I realised just how complex the world of feeding babies was. There was so much going on. So many barriers put in the way of breastfeeding. So many emotions from those who wanted to and couldn’t, or were prevented from doing so by people or events around them. It wasn’t just a simple case of deciding how you wanted to feed a baby and getting on with it, it was a huge, lasting piece of people’s lives.
But why was it so complicated? And what could we do about that? This is what I decided to devote my PhD to and as it turned out, eleven years of breastfeeding research and counting!
I realised breastfeeding had been made overly difficult by society. After years of formula being promoted, and a belief that babies should behave in a certain way, we didn’t understand how breast-feeding worked any more. We didn’t understand frequent feeding and the idea of babies waking up at night. We didn’t accept breastfeeding in public. We thought babies should be ‘good’ and passive and sleep through the night and formula would help this. We hadn’t even considered how birth experience and those early days in hospital might damage breastfeeding. We put pressure on new mums to get their figure back, keep their relationship passionate and get on with life. We didn’t understand how to mother our news mothers to allow them to mother their baby. We were sold lies by formula companies, intent on selling their product and believed machines, devices and apps made to measure our breastmilk output were helpful.
Ok, so some academics knew all about this. Some well informed midwives and health professionals. A small but passionate group of breastfeeding supporters. But the general population? Didn’t know much about breastfeeding at all. And certainly didn’t think it was anything to do with them. Some might have been able to trot out the awful ‘breast is best’ line but many would have added a ‘but…’
So I thought as an academic, I could do something to change this. Rather slowly maybe. And certainly not on my own. I owe a lot to a wonderful group of like minded academics, breastfeeding supporters, lactation consultants, breastfeeding organisations and brilliant mothers themselves.
And so Breastfeeding Uncovered was born. Ultimately, Breastfeeding Uncovered seeks to improve our breast-feeding rates by helping to create an environment with is accepting, informed and encouraging of breastfeeding. Simply, it seeks to do two things:
- Undertake research into what normal breastfeeding is really like, the psychological, social and cultural barriers that are placed in its way and what support and changes mothers would really like to see with breastfeeding.
- Communicate these findings, not only to mothers, but to those who support them: partners, family, health professionals, policy makers and the general public, in order to improve knowledge and support for breastfeeding mothers
Eleven years later the result is this website. You will find:
- Overviews about the research undertaken and where possible copies of those papers
- Media articles and discussion about the research
- Event information listing upcoming events where I will talk about the research underpinning Breastfeeding Uncovered and links to previous events and copies of the presentations.
- Copies of our research animations, designed to bring key research messages to the public!
- Information all about the Breastfeeding Uncovered book (which discusses how breastfeeding is a societal issue and how we can all improve breastfeeding)
- Policy and organisation links emphasising why breastfeeding is so important
- Guest blogs from experts in academia and breastfeeding support
- Discussion of other breastfeeding research in the media
- Links to take part in current research
Overall it is hoped that Breastfeeding Uncovered will be a source of information and support about what breastfeeding is really like and the barriers that get in its way. I hope this information can be used by mums and those who support them to help educate anyone who can affect the experience and therefore success of a breastfeeding mother – in other words, all of us!