So there has been some furore over the weekend after ‘That’s Life’ magazine published a story titled “My warning to mums: Breastfeeding left me infertile”. Not only was this article printed in the magazine, its headline was also splashed right across the front cover in its glaringly inaccurate and misleading state. Irresponsible much? Read on…
So the story goes like this; Nina, 25 gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Isaac, and knowing that breastfeeding would give him the best start in life, she settled right into it. She was also aware that breastfeeding can help mums shed their baby weight faster and thought that was a bonus.
Indeed, she did start to notice the weight dropping off pretty quickly, and to cut a long story short, became addicted to this weight loss and started on a strict diet. Nina developed anorexia. She became very ill and her body suffered the classic effects of starvation, including infertility.
So please enlighten me ‘That’s Life’- what compelled you to twist this young mothers story into an anti-breastfeeding piece of propoganda? Clearly breastfeeding does NOT cause infertility.
So I hear, Nina is infact ashamed at how this magazine has twisted her story (however having not spoken to her personally I do not know this for sure). It is also a well known symptom of anorexia to place a focus on something in your life as a root cause of ones anorexia disease, and while Nina may well attribute her disease to her breastfeeding regime, that does not, in any way shape or form, mean that breastfeeding can cause infertility.
What gets me more than anything is the young women who will read only the headline of this story, even subliminally while strolling through the supermarket, and the influence that one sentence may have on their future parenting decisions.
We all know that breastfeeding rates in the UK are shamefully low, and while there are many people working tirelessly to improve these rates for the health of our future generations, low-life pieces of media just love to knock that hard work down a peg or three at every opportunity it seems.
‘That’s Life’ if you are reading this- I will eagerly await your retraction of this headline, and NOT in a little paragraph on the inside cover. I want a headline the size of the one you just published. For once just do the decent thing.
In case you missed it, here is the article:
As far as new mum Nina was concerned, breast was best for her baby boy. But her feeding regime had a terrible side-effect …
My cheeks were plump, my hair was glossy and my rounded belly was peeping over the top of my trousers. At 5 months pregnant, I was truly glowing.
“I’ve never felt happier,” I sighed, cuddlying my finance Mike.
As a teenager, I’d suffered body-image issues and had swung between dieting and bingeing. But since meeting Mike, my self-confidence had soared and I saw our relationship as a new chapter in my life.
After two previous miscarriages, I wanted to be as healthy as possible during this pregnancy. So I’d started taking daily pregnancy vitamins and had switched to organic fruit and veg. As the months sped by and my clothes strained over my growing tummy, I cleared out my wardrobe and gave my size-6 jeans and tops to charity.
“I won’t fit into these again,” I told Mike. I didn’t really mind. I was going to be a mummy. Who cared if I didn’t look like Kate Moss in a pair of skinny jeans?
In due time, I went into labour and our son Issac was born. The midwife smiled as she placed him my arms. Issac weighed 7lob 8oz and was robustly healthy. I’d already read parenting books, so I knew breastfeeding would give him the best start in life. So each day, I’d sit with Issac snuggled to my breast for hours. He was thriving. I had also read breastfeeding was beneficial for mums too, because it was a good way to loose baby weight.
Sure enough, I noticed the difference in my body after a few days of intensive breastfeeding. My stomach was almost flat again and my pyjamas were hanging off of me. ”this breastfeeding’s obviously working,” I smiled with a rush of satisfaction. I also started hopping on our scales once a day and saw I was steadily loosing weight. Some days the scales showed I’d lost four pounds. In contrast, little Issac was gaining weight fast.
“You’re doing really well with the breastfeeding.” the nurse told me. ”Keep it up.” I smiled and nodded, thinking to my self: Don’t worry, I won’t be giving up any time soon! And to give myself a little extra boost, I also went on a diet. I avoided meals and nibbled on biscuits instead. Two months after giving birth, I’d snapped back to my pre-baby weight of 8 1/2 stone.
I was adjusting to life as a mum. Mike worked in the evenings, so I was often on my own with Issac. When he developed colic, I found the only way to placate him was to feed him on demand – every two hours. As a result his weight rocketed, while mine dropped further.
One day I was putting him down for a nap when I noticed my reflection. Running my hands over my belly, I was sure I caught the outline of a bump. I’m still too fat, I thought furiously. Leaving Issac in his cot, I spent two hours running up and down the stairs, desperately trying to burn off more calories. I only stopped when he began crying for his next feed. Feeling exhausted, I fed him them immediately stepped on the scales, eagerly watching the dial swing. I’ve lost another pound, I thought triumphantly. The weight loss was like a drug. And from then on I was in self-destruct mode. Despite being a new mum to a beautiful baby, all I cared about was losing weight.
Soon I was existing on 500 calories a day. A cup of watery porridge and two rice cakes were just enough to fuel my breastmilk, but there was no energy left for me.
Mike had no idea what I was doing, but he noticed how exhausted I looked. ”You’re making yourself ill,” he said. ”Maybe you should cut down the breastfeeding.” Horrified, I shook my head. ”No way, it’s the best thing for Issac,” I replied. I didn’t mention it was better for my diet too.
As weeks passed and my weight went into free fall, we argued more and more. My parents were also concerned. ”You’re too thin, love,” mum said. But I wouldn’t listen.
When I wasn’t breastfeeding, I was running up and down the stairs, or taking Issac for long walks in his pram to burn off more calories. I was obsessed.
By the time Issac was five months old, he seemed to be getting hungrier and would cry as soon as I finshed a feed. I realised my breast milk was no longer giving him the nutriction he needed, because of whay I was doing to myself. But I was too scared to stop breastfeeding, so I clung on for another couple of weeks. When I finally weaned him onto formula milk, I made a decision – if he no longer needed my breast milk, what was the point of eating at all?
Days went by and all that passed my lips was diet cola, coffee and hot chocolate. My body was in a terrible state.
I hadn’t had periods while I’d been breastfeeding. But despite me stopping feeding, they still hadn’t started again. I’d also become so thin, my energy levels had plummeted and I could barely walk. Mike was frantic and one day he snapped. ”What am I going to tell Issac when he’s older?” he yelled at me. ”How am I going to explain why he hasn’t got a mummy?” ”What do you mean?” I gulped. ”Can’t you see?” he said. ”You’re starving yourself to death. I’m dreading the day I have to tell our son I couldn’t save you.”
Stunned, I looked from Mike to Issac, sleeping in his cot. For the first time in weeks, the fog of my illness cleared and I could finally see what I was doing.
Issac’s first birthday was in a few months yet here I was, risking my family’s future. How could I have been so reckless? At 5ft 7 in and just over 6 sotne, I was dangerously thin. I was killing myself. ”I’m so sorry,” I sobbed to Mike. ”Please help me get better.” With his support, I visited the doctor, who referred me ti an eating disorders specialist. The specialist diagnosed me with with anorexia nervosa and suggested hospital treatment. ”I’m not leaving my son,” I said firmly. So instead, the doctor arranged for me to have regular check-ups with a nutritionist and nurse. And thanks to counselling sessions, I slowly began to understand my illness. I realised my breastfeeding combined with anxiety and pressure of being a new mum, had sparked the eating disorder.
Now it was time to get better. I put away my scales and, week by week, increased my calorie intake. It was tough, and at first, I hated seeing myself gaining weight. But whenever I looked at Issac, chubby and happy, I knew I had to get better for him. And not only for my son, Mike and I had talked about having a huge family, but I was worried about my fertility. Had being so thin damaged my chances of conceiving a little brother or sister for Issac? I had to pusht hat thought to the back of my mind and concentrate on getting better.
Mike attended workshops run by an eating disorder charity, SEED, which helped him come to terms with my illness. And I was making a good recovery.
On Issac’s first birthday, I ate a huge slice of the cake I’d baked for him. It felt so good. From then on I went from strength to strength, gaining one and half stone. All my energy went into gettin better and looking after Issac. But in my heart, I knew the brutal truth. My over-the-top breastfeeding had made me so emaciated, I’d almost certainly made myself infertile. How would I be able to give Issac a little brother or sister now?
Mike was optomistic. ”Let nature take its course,” he kept telling me. ”You’ll fall pregnant before you know it.”
Today, I pray he’s proved right. But there’s been no change – and I fear that’s the way it will stay.
I’d love to have more children yet I fear we’ll be forced to go down the IVF route. But if that’s what it takes, I’m determined.
I’ve been so foolish, I let my breastfeeding and weight loss get so out of hand and it’s affected my fertility. But I refuse to let it affect Mike and I completeting our dream family.
Ready to make your complaint?
1) Here is their facebook page
They have deleted all previous posts it seems and edited their page structure to only display posts by themselves, but you can still air your frustrations as comments on their posts. And also on your own profiles of course!
2) Register your decision to never buy ‘That’s Life’ by ‘liking’ this facebook page
Numbers are being collected as to the people concerned enough about this article that they are happy to boycott this magazine.
3) Complain to the Press Complaints Commission
Newspaper/Magazine – That’s Life!
Publication date – 01/09/2011
Headline used – “My warning to mums. Breastfeeding left me infertile”
Clause of the code which you are complaining under –
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.
4) Sign this petition
to ask the Press Complains Commission to implement special guidelines to cover all aspects of breastfeeding related journalism. This is the health of infants at stake here, and irresonsible and misleading journalism needs to be paid particularly close attention to.
5) Dont buy it, and recommend that your friends and family do the same!
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