Presenter and mother of one, Cherry Healey, is working with Philips AVENT to raise awareness of breastfeeding and how important it is to make it more acceptable.
She spoke to us about the partnership as well as her favourite parts of being a mum and why she thinks Kate Middleton has got the pregnancy look down to a point!
FemaleFirst - You’re working with Philips AVENT to launch the Breast Place Awards, why do you think these awards are so important?
Cherry Healey - Because it's kind of bonkers that so many breastfeeding mother's don't feel welcome in public spaces! There is nothing wrong or unpleasant about breastfeeding - it's gorgeous, it's natural, it's great for the mum and baby. But sadly it's not that easy for many mothers (I found it incredibly hard) and the last thing a new mum needs is the sense that people are judging her. Becoming a new mum can be quite isolating as suddenly you're at the beck and call of this little thing - and because they need feeding every three hours (this came as quite a shock to me) if you're not welcome in cafes and restaurants then you are essentially under house arrest! This isn't good enough and our society needs to change, not Mother Nature. She definitely trumps our strange perception of boobies.
FF - Breastfeeding in public can often get quite negative reactions, why do you think that is and how can new mothers combat this?
CH - I think society feels an ownership over how children are brought up, perhaps fairly, and this also extends to whether the mother is behaving 'appropriately'. Our society has made boobs such an overtly sexual part of the body that we often struggle to see it in any other light. But boobs can be both things! I can understand that, if you've never seen breastfeeding, that it might be an uncomfortable sight but the more we see it the more acclimatised we will become. This takes real bravery from the first wave of women who don't hide the process of feeding away but the outcome will be a happier place for new parents. In terms of negative comments, I think going out with a friend or a few friends (or a whole pack!) really helps to distract from any annoying huffing or puffing from disapproving people.
FF - Is breast really best, or should new mothers be doing whatever they feel comfortable with?
CH - I personally think that mums and dads should be given as much information as possible and then left to make up their own mind. And anyway, I seriously doubt that any amount of disapproval and finger-wagging ever changed a mother's mind about how she's feeding her baby! If that woman has sore nipples then pain management is going to take precedence. Most commonly breastfeeding doesn't happen because the mother hasn't had enough support, doesn't know enough about it or has tried and just can't do it. Bashing them over the head with the breastfeeding bible will not help in any of those cases.
FF - With Kate Middleton looking so glamorous in the late stages of her pregnancy, do you think expecting mothers are put under a lot of pressure to look good?
CH - Yes, but no more than at any other time! And I personally think that it's fine for a mummy to look after herself during pregnancy. One of the biggest myths with pregnancy is that you are eating for two. Oh how I WISH this were true! But sadly you only really need a banana and apple (or 200/300 cals) extra every day! So mums that stay fit and healthy during pregnancy, whether motivated by looking good, staying strong or being healthy, aren't doing a bad thing. However, of course everything in moderation - it's so important to listen to your body and know yourself - if you're tired then slow down and rest more, if you're extra hungry then have more (healthy) food. And I can't live without the occasional dirty slap-up meal (my favourite is burger and chips).
FF - A lot of mothers find having a child lonely and stressful, what can they do to minimise this?
CH - Get a gang! Whether it's mums you already know, or finding new mums in cafes or clubs or playgroups - most mum's find it a tricky time so, although it might feel like being back at primary school, be brave and, if you meet someone you like, ask to meet up again! God, it's like dating all over again!
FF - You’re a mother yourself, what were the biggest challenges you faced during and after pregnancy?
CH - During pregnancy I struggled to accept that my life was about to change so dramatically. I'd only ever heard negative things about being a parent - the expense, the lack of free time, the lack of sleep! It all sounded pretty miserable and I was having a really good time! I was also terrified that it meant the end of my career. Thankfully, being a freelancer meant that I have been able to juggle being a mum and working in television - there have been some sacrifices and sometimes it's such a pull either saying no to a project or missing out on time with Coco, but it's definitely worth all the logistical gymnastics!
FF - What’s your favourite part of being a mum?
CH - Without a doubt it’s when in the morning when she comes into our bed and cuddles me. It's amazing.
FF - What do you think should be done in the future to help mothers both during their pregnancy and through their child’s early years?
CH - Well, in a perfect world all mums would get an independent, personal midwife so that they could be seen in their own home! That would be amazing. And again, in a perfect world, parents would have access to local, excellent parenting classes where they would not only meet other new parents but also be able to ask questions about bringing up their baby - it's crazy that so many of us go to the NCT classes but then, when we actually have this living, breathing, sometimes complicated person, we don't seek out advice!
FF - Finally, what’s next for you Cherry?
CH - I've got a few programmes coming out in July and August that I'm excited about. One looking at the science of food (Britain's Favourite Supermarket Foods, BBC1) and another investigating the difficulties of being a first time buyer which will be on BBC3.
Cherry Healey is working with Philips AVENT to launch the Philips AVENT Breast Place Awards, celebrating the people and places that make it easier for mums to breastfeed and express milk. To register your vote visit: www.duedateclub.co.uk/news_views/breast_place_awards