MUCH has been written in recent weeks about the fate of Northampton’s Baby Cafe. Some of the reaction to the protest at cuts to the group’s funding has been bewilderingly unpleasant and misinformed.
I never used the baby cafe myself, despite breastfeeding all my children. By the time the group formed I think I’d already had at least two children. Thankfully I had a brilliant no-nonsense midwife and managed to master the technique and also get through the draining, often miserable and lonely first year as a mother.
Despite what some observers seem to think, the Baby Cafe isn’t some middle-class meeting place for wealthy stay-at-home mums to knock back premium lattes courtesy of the NHS.
It’s a support group, a haven, a place for often bewildered and embarrassed new mums to go and get good, honest advice from fellow mums, who have been there, seen it, done it and know just how demoralised and isolated you can get in the early months of parenthood.
It’s not even open as frequently as it should be, due to funding. And the protesters certainly aren’t sitting on their post-natal backsides waiting for taxpayer handouts – they already have several fundraising efforts on the go to try to keep it going.
While there seem to be some who think that all women who breastfeed think nothing of flopping out a boob for all and sundry to see while they’re eating their lunch, the truth is that most of us don’t. Discretion comes with practice and honest advice.
This isn’t about politics. Babies need feeding, and no one should judge anyone for the method they choose to do it, be it breast or bottle. The cafe probably does more to ward off post-natal depression and loneliness than anyone realises. That’s the real value of this service to the NHS, the babies, and all those taxpayers who think, wrongly, they are somehow being ripped off.