You may have seen that ridiculous campaign the other week. The one with a baby breastfeeding on a burger. It made me feel a bit cross. And then want to go out and get a burger. Jokes aside though, this is just another thing for vulnerable new mums to worry about. Why can't we stop scaremongering new mums and focus on supporting them instead?
Breast vs. bottle vs. coke?
So apparently the debate is no longer just breast vs. bottle. It's now breast vs. bottle vs. coke.
This campaign to get mums to eat healthily may only be in Brazil. For now. But the wonders of social networking mean that far more have seen it. And a high proportion of these are vulnerable new mums. Sat at home on their sofa. Nursing their babies. Having trouble nursing their babies. Wondering when the endless days of having a baby attached to their boob are ever going to end.
How is it helpful to then be told that what they are giving their baby from their own body might be harming their baby? That what they are giving them is the equivalent of a burger or a can of coke.
I mean, come on. Really?
Preying on the vulnerable.
As a (semi) rational human being of a now 14 month old, I can see that this campaign is silly.
But the problem is new mums are not rational. I know this first hand. Three times over. They're sleep deprived. They're hormonal and emotional. They're already questioning so much and thinking that they're doing EVERYTHING wrong. Then they see a picture like this and are wracked with yet more guilt. 'Am I really harming my baby?' they think. 'When on earth am I going to find time to make myself something healthy? Arggghhhhhh!'
Cue more pressure and angst that new mums just don't need.
The reality is a galaxy far, far away from your five-a-day.
Breastfeeding is time consuming.
In the early weeks you literally do nothing but nurse your baby. Beyond this, some babies are fussy and might struggle to get into a feeding routine. They seem to nurse ALL DAY LONG.
So when, exactly, are new mums expected to look after their own nutrition? When are they supposed to make a healthy meal or think about eating their five-a-day? The reality is, it's often far easier to reach for a slab of cake or a couple of chocolate digestives.
Just to tied the hunger over.
Have your cake and eat it.
With my first baby, I tried to get into good habits.
When Daddy Pig was on paternity leave, I would have a two litre bottle of water by my side at all times. And a bowl of unsalted cashew nuts and dried apricots.
This lasted for about as long as his paternity leave. Two weeks.
Then he went back to work. And I hit the cake. HARD.
Three kids in and I haven't looked back.
Ditch the guilt. Now.
So, forget it, new mums. Forget it.
You are NOT giving your baby Coca Cola. (And if you are, then I've given my kids a lot worse. Believe me. Which, actually, might explain a lot.)
Plus I have it on good advice (from a midwife who oversaw my friend's triplet pregnancy) that if the only thing you can eat is a burger, there is nutrition and, more importantly, calories in this. Breastfeeding mums need calories. FACT.
I'm not advocating you don't try and eat some of your five-a-day (bananas or an apple are easy to grab on the run). I'm just saying NOW is not the time to overhaul your diet or become neurotic about consuming pomegranate seeds and seaweed. You've got enough going on. Cut yourself some slack.
And, whilst you're at it, a big piece of cake.
A less bitter pill to swallow.
If you are concerned about what you're eating (or what you're not eating), there are other ways, simpler ways to help yourself along a bit during this challenging period (because it does get easier, it does).
Like taking a multivitamin. Under the Healthy Start scheme, pregnant women, women with babies under a year and children aged six months to four years are eligible for free vitamins. Take-up is being encouraged (this is not the same as getting free Calpol on the NHS). Just pop into your local pharmacy and ask if they're participating (many are and can register you there and then).
Quick and easy. Just what new mums need, right?
New mum superfood salad.
If you do, by some miracle, find yourself with a moment or, better still, a helpful friend or relative, get some of this down you.
An easy, peasy, tasty salad packed full of good stuff, that I pretty much live on (when I'm not gorging on burgers, obviously).
Because unlike lots of salads, it isn't bland. It tastes blooming good. And it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare (once you've roasted the potato. But if you buy a biggish sweet potato and a couple of avocados, this will easily last you four lunches). Serve it with a pitta bread for a bit more bulk.
Why not alternate it with the burgers and coke? Ha ha.
Also? It's the perfect entree to a BIG slab of cake.
(Which you totally, totally deserve. Because you're doing great.)