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Time for Parenting...

...because raising children is a full-time job

October 2002 Newsletter

From the chair; From the Editor; The Name Change Debate; Make Mothers Matter; What the papers say; Parliament and Positive Parenting;; Parent Effectiveness Training; Breast is best

Breast is Best - so be a full time mother!

A news report in June announced that a major new research programme had discovered beyond reasonable doubt something that full-time mothers probably already know: breast is best.

According to a report in the Daily Mail on June 7th, 'Babies who are breast-fed are less likely to grow into obese children.' The results of research led by Dr John Reilly of Glasgow University Department of Human Nutrition and published in The Lancet, involved 32,000 youngsters from all social backgrounds of varying birthweights. The article reported that 'human milk is known to contain growth hormones which prevent fat cells from growing', and suggested that 'breast milk may also be responsible for changes at a cellular level which prevent the body from storing too much fat'.

Breast milk is known to provide a boost to a baby's immunity, and, as the researchers stressed, 'for mothers to pass on all the health benefits to their children, they should breast-feed for at least six months.'

It appears that here in the UK the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. The entitlement to maternity leave (18 weeks automatically, increased to 29 weeks if the employee has worked for the same employer for nine months before the baby is due, but including any time taken off before the birth) is hardly consistent with promoting breast-feeding for six months.

Campaigning on this issue focuses very much on the feminist agenda of maternity rights to longer leave and childcare, putting the responsibility onto employers, who after all can hardly be expected to be the main supporters of breast-feeding... Are we missing something, or would a truly enlightened and prudent government not do better to promote full-time mothering, with subsidised community support (such as playgroups, health visiting etc), as the best choice for under fives - not to mention for mothers themselves and for employers?

Most mothers say they would prefer to remain at home with their children in their early years. Why not put money into supporting them, with all the associated benefits to children and society, rather than into the bottomless pit of employment legislation and sub-standard childcare?