Saturday, 16 March 2013

Dear Health Visitor

When you came over I probably seemed chatty, happy and cooperative.  I agreed with everything you said and took on board all the advice you gave me.

However, I was just being polite.  There were some...points you made that were in error.  Here is what I probably should have said to you:

1.  Breastfeeding is recommended by the WHO for two years, not one.  Is this geographical area in some way special in not being under the jurisdiction of the World Health Organisation?  If you are going to spout figures then get them right.

2.  Yet again I am being hassled for a baby that is not gaining weight at the pace that they 'should' as deemed by the 'little red book'. You acknowledged that there is often a decline in weight gain in breastfed babies around this time.  So surely this does not necessarily mean that my baby needs monthly weigh-ins as an imperative?  Lucky that I am secure in my breastfeeding or I may be questioning whether my baby is getting enough... oh wait, that's how you made me feel with my last baby. All babies are different and they may not conform to the average patterns.  My baby is healthy and sated.  I guess she's just not average, same as my son.

3.  Your claim that the last time you saw me was 'because you were called in to provide breastfeeding support with your last baby and because there were concerns you were maybe developing PND'.  That may be true, although I think you may be misremembering.  However, doing a questionnaire that is easily cheated does not act as a good diagnosis of PND.  Also, asking 'how is breastfeeding going?' does not constitute breastfeeding support.  Women lie.  I lied.  I did not have PND, but I did have breastfeeding issues and I struggled with them on my own.  Never once did you see me breastfeed, I used to avoid breastfeeding around health professionals as it made me nervous.  So please don't call it breastfeeding support.  It wasn't. 

4.  Many statements you made involved comparisons between breast and formula fed babies.  For example 'breastfed babies have stronger jaws so you can feed them on thicker foods quicker.'  This may be true.  I suspect it probably is.  However, lets tone down the breast vs formula talk for a bit.  For starters, I am already converted to breastfeeding so you don't need to talk it up.  I even told you that I breastfed my first for 15 months.  Secondly, overdoing the comparisons just creates the 'them and us' culture that I am coming to loathe.  I don't need all these reasons to feel superior to other mums because I'm not.  We all do our best.  Only compare the two forms of feeding when necessary

5.  You gave me a lecture on weaning onto solids at 6 months.  I told you that I weaned my eldest at 5 and a half months.  You proceeded to tell me that its best to wait.  As far as I am aware, the recommendation for 6 months has been in debate (since Mary Fewtrell questioned it in 2011) with many suggesting that any time between 4-6 months is suitable, depending on the baby.  There are suggestions however that after 6 months is hazardous.  So, what do you want from me?  Should weaning occur on my baby's 6 month birthday? How is that day so special?  No, each baby is different.  I will wean when my baby is ready, at some point around 6 months.

I couldn't be bothered to have these discussions at the time.  It seemed easier to smile and nod.  Please be better informed and less judgemental next time. 

Thank you

P.S. You know that everybody just pays you lip service, right?


  1. I read it, in detail. It clearly demonstrates that a visit from the health worker is creating more stress than guidance and comfort. It also indicates that any advice they offer is likely to go unfheeded simply because its basis in common sense seems to be missing. A bit like a visit from OFSTED.
    I am not a woman or a mum but I am a human being with a mind. It seems fairly obvious really. Equipment we are evolved with as a species is far superior to any synthetic replacement. Replacement is useful when nature cannot provide, but only then, surely.

  2. Thanks Woodsmith, I like your Ofsted analogy :D