I wish to raise a complaint with regard to the choice of Clare Byam-Cook, who was represented as a “breastfeeding expert,” a “breastfeeding counsellor,” and a “lactation consultant” on Woman’s Hour on Monday morning. With respect, she is none of these things, and I am deeply unimpressed that BBC researchers were unaware of this, despite complaints every single time she appears.
The information given out by Byam-Cook about tongue tie, milk supply, and the baby’s latch at the breast were fundamentally incorrect. Since the purpose of this piece was to explore the reasons why women feel unsupported and do not breastfeed for long in the UK, I am surprised that this misinformation was perpetuated without comment. This is negligent of the BBC.
Byam-Cook was also allowed to talk about her video and book, and mention that she is available for private consultations. I understood that the BBC was required to adhere to certain standards about allowing advertising. If this had been advertised on ITV I would be making a complaint to the ASA, since her book contains many factual errors that would undermine the breastfeeding experience of most women.
Please do not bother to send me your standard response, as I have read it. I take issue with the statement that ” Unlike other breast feeding counsellors, she doesn’t believe that breastfeeding is the be all and end all.” As a Breastfeeding Counsellor, I am very well aware that breastfeeding is one part of the complex experience of becoming a parent, and I have supported parents in many different situations, making many different decisions. The word “counsellor” should convey to you that we listen and support individual mothers, without an agenda. Nonetheless, breastfeeding is an important public health issue, as shown in last week’s article in the Lancet; and the BBC has a responsibility to give out correct factual information, as well as the helpline numbers from the four reputable organisations whose counsellors are trained to support women in an evidence-based, parent-centred way.