Former House Rules contestant Maddi Wright has caused a stir with a controversial post telling a mum to stop feeding her newborn.
Maddi with her two children. Image: Facebook
Former Channel 7 House Rules contestant, Maddi Wright, has caused outrage amongst breastfeeding groups and mothers after writing a controversial post telling a friend to stop breastfeeding and detach from her baby.
Writing as Mrs Maddi Wright, she said she’d told a friend who had just had a traumatic birth to STOP breastfeeding in order to get some “detachment from bub” and “get a little bit of YOU back”.
Maddi's post. Image: Supplied
"Are you kidding me?"
The post was shared on the Breastfeeding Advocacy Australia Facebook group, sparking hundreds of comments and anger over Maddi’s perceived lack of understanding of breastfeeding and her ability to support her friend in more appropriate and practical ways. Followers on her page also strongly criticised her lack of support and understanding of the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and baby.
"Are you kidding me?" wrote one Facebook user, "How about instead of recommending 'stop breastfeeding' you recommend finding ways to support new mums more? Cook her dinners, clean her house, walk her baby while she has a nap, bring her tea, keep her company. The problem isn't breastfeeding, it's the lack of a supportive village."
Honey, it’s for the BABY!
Breastfeeding Advocacy Australia administrator, Janelle Maree, said: “The article was a trigger for members’ frustration at the lack of support to achieve goals from well-meaning friends and family. It is a representation of the lack of information and misguided help and they are alarmed that another mum may be robbed of her right to breastfeed.”
Maddi shared her experience in the hope of helping other mothers, but many took offense to her post. Image: Facebook
"There is no chance to feel unlike a mum"
Be a good role model. Teach and model kindness and good manners online. Because children are great mimics, limit your own media use. In fact, you'll be more available for and connected with your children if you're interacting, hugging and playing with them rather than simply staring at a screen.
She said breastfeeding assists with mother’s mental health by producing oxytocin, the love hormone, which helps women to bond and relax with their babies.
“Breastfeeding also provides nutrition (food) and medicine (antibodies) which help babies avoid illness or mitigate the worst of the illness. Who wants to have to cope with the stress of a newborn suffering pneumonia or diarrhoea?”
In the post Maddi explains that her friend had had a traumatic birth and was not coping.
She goes on to justify her reasoning for the advice to stop breastfeeding.
“After a long and enduring pregnancy where a mum shares her body with her bub, spending every waking moment taking care of her pouch ... mum then must take on the incredible and often traumatic task of birth. Post that, mum’s body turns into a food centre.
"There is no chance to feel unlike a mum. There is no chance to be what you were last year.”
The post has caused outrage in the breastfeeding community, with many commenters labelling her advice irresponsible. Image: Facebook
Misguided advice or 'bullying'?
She then states that a mum can regain who she was before becoming a mum and “feel ok in your own skin again” by finding “some detachment from bub. And one way to do this is to STOP BREASTFEEDING.”
Baby care author and lactation consultant Pinky McKay said no one had the right to tell a mum what’s best for her mental health.
“The advice is bordering on bullying a new mother. Mothers get so much advice. If you see them struggling how about giving them some practical help and checking in what other support they’ve got,” she said.
Pinky said mothers need to be looked after, but there is a transition into motherhood and sudden decisions, such as stopping breastfeeding shouldn’t be made when you are vulnerable.
Maddi says her own traumatic experience informed her advice to her friend. Image: Facebook
"There are other ways she could be supported"
“If you’ve had a traumatic birth there could be a huge grief process to cope with and breastfeeding could help her appreciate her body does work.
"There are other ways she could be supported. Perhaps let someone give the baby a bottle of expressed milk while mum sleeps.
Encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information. A simple rule for younger children should be that the child should not give out their name, phone number or photo without your approval. Older children using social networking sites like Facebook should be encouraged to be selective about what personal information and photos they post to online spaces. Regardless of privacy settings, once material is online you can no longer control who sees it or how it is used.
"If the baby is just a newborn that mum is going to be struggling whether she is breastfeeding or not. Taking that away from her may not make her feel magically better.
"If you are cuddling skin to skin, you are balancing out your hormones by increasing oxytocin which help mum,” Pinky explained.
She said recent research is showing breastfeeding can switch off the stress response.
“Physical and psychological stressors increase inflammation, an important part of the stress response and the most significant risk factor for depression. Breastfeeding is anti-inflammatory. So, as well as reducing the risk of depression in breastfeeding mothers, breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes in the mother for life.”
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As for Maddi’s comments about returning to the woman you were before having a child, Pinky said you don’t ever get you back.
“You’ve had a child. If that’s what you want to do get a puppy. Nature designed you to be a food centre,” she said.
Janelle said breastfeeding empowers and protects a woman’s mental and physical health.
“When women face breastfeeding hurdles, they can feel empowered and inspired to overcome them when they are surrounded by other women who are successfully breastfeeding their babies.”
"The birth of a child is also the birth of a mother"
Port Douglas mum of a breastfed 17-month-old daughter, Jessie Goetze, was astounded by Maddi’s post when she saw it on the Breastfeeding Advocacy Australia page.
“The birth of a child is also the birth of a mother. Why is she inferring to her friend that she will feel better if she stops being a mum? I think Maddi needs to take a lesson on how to be a friend that will encourage and support and not someone who gives unsolicited advice. I’m sure this is the last thing her poor friend wanted to hear,” Jessie said.
She said she faced huge barriers to breastfeed her baby in the beginning due to tongue ties and infections, and a lack of knowledge among health professionals, but said the perseverance was worth it.
Maddi said her friend didn’t take her advice to stop and has continued to feed her baby.
“It is about letting mums know it’s normal and okay to not breastfeed.
"What upsets me is the bullying. On a post that is directly about a woman’s wellbeing, some of the comments do not deserve a platform to be written. In this day and age where we have all seen the devastating consequences of nasty comments on social media, it still blows my mind that people can still do this. I am all for difference of opinion but I will not support straight up bullying. It is time to stop,” she said in response to the negative comments she had received.
Make your own family media use plan. Media should work for you and within your family values and parenting style. When used thoughtfully and appropriately, media can enhance daily life. But when used inappropriately or without thought, media can displace many important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, unplugged downtime and sleep.
Maddi struggled breastfeeding her two children and wrote one blog titled, ‘I wish I never breastfed my baby’, where she talks about how much she hated it and vowed never to give in to the pressure to breastfeed her second baby.
She said she breastfed her first son for ten days and her second for four months.
“Both were hell experiences that mentally and physically crippled me,” Maddi said.
She said her advice to her friend was impacted by her own experience of struggling with breastfeeding and having postnatal depression.