I run my own successful business and I’m expecting my second child. I cannot step away from my company to breastfeed exclusively for six months, and I refuse to apologise for that.
When I started my business in 2016, I had no idea that it would become a household name. Piccolo, my baby food brand, is now stocked nationwide and turns over £5m a year.
I’m 42 now, and about to have my second child. I’m bang on trend: more and more women are having children later in life. The average age for having your first child is now 31 and the birth rate for over-40s is rising faster than any other demographic.
This is significant because most of us are in an established career at this age. In your twenties, your earnings are likely to be much lower, and you have less to lose by stepping out of your job for a year or so. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that 76 per cent of all mums in the UK are now breadwinners.
The fact that the majority of British women go back to work after having children is great, but there is a trade off. Most families in the UK start introducing formula when their babies are around six weeks old.
This is a thorny issue. The pro-breastfeeding lobby is extremely noisy and women can be demonised for choosing formula over the breast. This stigma remains even though the UK has some of the poorest breastfeeding rates in the world. Just 1 per cent of British mums breastfeed their babies exclusively until they are a year old.
I was one of the 1 per cent. When my daughter, Juliet, was born, I was lucky enough to be working with the National Childbirth Trust, designing a baby food workshop and working with the NCT community groups teaching parents how to make their own baby food from scratch. I was also CEO of Slow Food UK, so I had the luxury of bringing my baby with me to work. She was two when I launched Piccolo.
When I found out I was pregnant again, I knew that exclusive breastfeeding was no longer realistic. I knew I’d need another option.