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Colchester mother Holly Leppard pushes bottle feeding fairness message on Victoria Derbyshire show

PUBLISHED: 13:06 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:11 14 December 2017

Holly Leppard speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire show. Picture: HOLLY LEPPARD

Holly Leppard speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire show. Picture: HOLLY LEPPARD

Archant

A Colchester mother campaigning for fairer treatment of women who bottle feed their babies has featured on a television show to deliver her message to the masses.

Holly Leppard with husband Shaun and children Rupert and Amadea. Picture: HOLLY LEPPARDHolly Leppard with husband Shaun and children Rupert and Amadea. Picture: HOLLY LEPPARD

Holly Leppard has a condition called Poland syndrome, which left her physically unable to breast feed her children, Rupert, three, six-month-old Amadea.

After suffering discrimination from health care professionals and members of the public, Mrs Leppard launched Don’t Judge Just Feed.

She said: “It’s a bit a minefield but I decided to talk about it about one year ago online as a therapeutic measure because I was fed up of all these campaigns and drives that seem to solely focus on breast feeding and stuff any other method of providing nutrition to your children.

“I just had an overwhelming response of people saying thank you so much for talking about it.

Holly and Shaun Leppard's children, Rupert and Amadea. Picture: HOLLY LEPPARDHolly and Shaun Leppard's children, Rupert and Amadea. Picture: HOLLY LEPPARD

“I also had the flip side of quite heavy handed people saying my child should be dead. I remember bursting into tears and my husband said you either give it up now of you do something about this and try and change these blinkered attitudes.”

It was through this work that Mrs Leppard was scouted by BBC producers on the Victoria Derbyshire show to contribute to a debate this week on whether mothers should be rewarded with shopping vouchers for breast feeding. Mrs Leppard said this idea was “extremely unethical” and the money would be better spent on support services.

Poland syndrome is a rare birth defect that affected Mrs Leppard’s breast development.

The 34-year-old gave her children formula milk.

“I’m trying to raise awareness of being mindful towards all women and trying to be inclusive and respectful of all feeding methods,” Mrs Leppard said.

“The bottom line is if formula hadn’t been invented my babies wouldn’t be around and that is the case when you think about allergies too.

“Formula is a life-saving product but it seems to be so stigmatised in the breast feeding world.”

There are a range of reasons why some women cannot or choose not to breast feed, but Mrs Leppard said many of these mothers would develop mental health problems due to the judgement they faced.

Mrs Leppard, who is married to Shaun, stressed her campaign was not about pushing an anti-breast feeding agenda.

She added: “It’s all about sharing our stories, coming together and appreciating you can have these lovely bottle bonding moments with your baby.

“When you start seeing your children thriving and turning into these wonderful humans it makes you realise all the fuss of infant feeding in the early stages is such a small part of motherhood.”

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