If you don’t breast-feed you’re a bad person, right? That seems to be the hard-line for mothers everywhere. The benefits of breast milk far outweigh those of formula, leading to a universal guilt trip for those who can’t or won’t breast-feed. Cherry Healey (of Cherry Gets Married and Cherry Has A Baby fame) didn’t breast-feed, and this candid documentary examines whether it’s right that mothers should always disregard any problems they have – difficulty, infection, pain – in favour of the boob.
It also features a five-year-old boy rolling around on the floor and shouting “Boobie! Boobie!” before latching on to his mother’s colossal breast (..yeah, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally switched to Little Britain..) but we’ll get to that in a minute.
The genial and eternally chic Cherry didn’t get off the ground with breast-feeding after having baby Coco. She experienced terrible pain and contracted such bad mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue, that she was hospitalised. Her story is then one of redemption, as she had to resort to the bottle, fearing she was failing her child. She explores the issue with everyone from breastfeeding activists (or ‘lactavists’ ha ha.. snore), who wander the streets in a herd with babies popping out of every pocket, to teenage mothers slathered in fake tan and refusing to donate their “just for sex” boobs to their baby.
She discovers that yes, breast is best, from almost every corner. A nineteen-year-old struggling as Cherry did with intense pain while breast-feeding musters the ability to carry on with the help of a support group. An intensive care ward sells breast-milk at £100 a pop, so precious is it to the premature babies born there. And yes, a woman with tits like torpedos still feeds her five-year-old and three-year-old, and, despite Cherry’s deliberations that it’s not, it is VERY creepy. If the kid can walk, talk and has a full set of gnashers then it might be time to start them on the Dairylea Lunchables. There’s a lot of talk about bonding with the baby and equipping their immune system, backed with some scientific evidence.
Cherry finally sums up that yes, she does have regrets – she wishes she’d sought help before using the formula – but you can’t beat yourself up about your decisions, or brand yourself a bad mother. Airing on BBC3, hopefully this warts-n-all portrayal of child rearing will educate its young audience on the complex difficulties of parenthood.