The Parlour


The Parlour website has now gone live, with a test podcast on the subject of the magic of motherhood by Reena Bondada. This short interview looks at the wider benefits of breastfeeding: not only for nutritional, but also emotional and mental well being for a child.


With the launch of Holding Time in September 2017, podcasts will regularly appear on the Parlour site, along with portraits of breastfeeding mothers, written interviews and a blog. The Parlour is an experimental collaboration designed to permanently break the cultural stigma surrounding breastfeeding. Growing out of ideas formed in the inception of my photography project,  Holding Time, it is a space for women to comfortably discuss breastfeeding. By combining a broad program of documentation and discussion through web streamed talks, social media and a body of shared images it is a political intervention, both real and virtual.


Bethania and Luna, 2016

Working together with Sociologist, Lucila Newell I hope The Parlour will open up debate around breastfeeding from the rather polarised discussions around nutrition and public displays of breastfeeding into the deeper ideas of motherhood and time, breastfeeding as a social practice, motherhood as conscious activism. Ultimately our aim is to produce a large body of observation, photography, video discussion and conversation online. This is a project designed to experiment and study outcomes for a long-term solution. 

There are approximately sixty newborn babies born at Sussex County hospital each week. Of these, a high proportion will be new mothers with no experience or understanding of breastfeeding. Much funding for Health Visitor run baby groups and drop ins throughout the city has been cut in the past two years due to budget constraints. This has lead to increasing social isolation of new mothers. There is a wide disparity between the emphasis on breastfeeding in culture and the support for mothers attempting to breastfeed for the first time. Young mothers in particular may not have ever encountered another breastfeeding mother, given that the last generation was largely encouraged to bottle-feed.



Addressing Inequality


The arguments in favour of breastfeeding for mental and physical health are overwhelming. Again and again studies prove that human milk not only protects babies from infections, viruses and builds a healthy immune system, with claims that it can lower the risk of autism, and childhood obesity. But many mothers don’t realise the benefits of breastfeeding to their own health; protecting her from post natal depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and perhaps even breast cancer. Breast milk is also free, it helps mothers lose baby weight and therefore supports health and wellbeing on a reduced budget. The Parlour is a project designed to address inequality and lack of opportunity. We know from a huge body of evidence that breastfed babies have better short and long term physical and emotional health outcomes. But drop out rates in breastfeeding are still perilously high. Currently young women from disadvantaged backgrounds have breastfeeding rates of less than 29% in some areas of Brighton. But until cultural attitudes towards breastfeeding change, it is unlikely that this will be improved. There are approximately sixty newborn babies born at Sussex County hospital each week. Of these, a high proportion will be new mothers with no experience or understanding of breastfeeding. Much funding for Health Visitor run baby groups and drop ins has been cut in the past two years due to budget constraints. This has lead to increasing social isolation of new mothers. There is a wide disparity between the emphasis on breastfeeding in culture and the support for mothers attempting to breastfeed for the first time. Young mothers in particular may not have ever encountered another breastfeeding mother, given that the last generation was largely encouraged to bottle-feed. Breaking through the cultural barriers to breastfeeding One of the greatest challenges new mothers face is overcoming the dominant negative attitude towards breastfeeding in public. The Infant Feeding Survey 2010 shows that In Brighton, breastfeeding rates are higher than the national average, but these statistics hide inequalities. Findings from a recent Social Marketing study of breastfeeding in public in Brighton, recommends the creation of more mixed-aged facilities for feeding, and more local and accessible non-commercial breastfeeding facilities particularly in commercial areas. We plan media interventions including a set of portraits of breastfeeding mothers, interventions in the city, a dedicated website with lists of breastfeeding friendly places, awards for positive attitudes to breastfeeding in companies and campaigns to bring breastfeeding into the cultural realm by increasing visibility in advertising, film and television. Ultimately we plan to inspire a dedicated breastfeeding space in the city where we can run positive breastfeeding classes, offer facilities for research, a café and a programme of steamed talks on issues surrounding breastfeeding. Join us The-Parlour.org

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© Lisa Creagh 2017