Emotional (!) responses to breastfeeding promotion and formula marketing
Is anyone besides me endlessly fascinated by how emotional we all become about infant feeding? It’s such a big part of mothering, & I would submit that we get emotional about our kids because they are so precious to us. (As my 10-year-old would say, well, duh.)
In response to my rant about the formula company putting my name on their advertising rag last week, a friend I hadn’t heard from in years sent me a lovely private message saying that the “tangle over breastfeeding” left adoptive moms feeling ignored and left out. “(W)hen (my kids) were babies, I often felt badgered and belittled by the insistence that breast milk was best… We were, after all, feeding our kids.”
I tried to apologize for leaving adoptive moms out of the discussion.
I tried to sum up the public health perspective: that human babies do best with human milk, and that, in the US at least, we feel we are still working to overcome decades of cultural “belittling” of breastfeeding — summed up by Jayne’s comment that “(t)he only reason breastfeeding is seen as so much harder is because our culture and often our medical professionals totally undermine it.”.
And (rhetorically, perhaps) I asked whether there is a way for the public health community to avoid hurting feelings while still counteracting the cultural forces of formula marketing, back-to-work pressures, and just plain undervaluing women in general.
Perhaps there is some explanation, if not an actual answer, in the State of the World’s Mothers 2011 report. (For those who haven’t already heard, the US comes in at #31 among 43 developed countries surveyed.)
And I think the US Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding (full statement here) is an important start toward improving our situation in this country, beyond the simple repetitive “breast is best” message that seems to have so hurt and angered my friend.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of us! Love your kids, nurture them … feed them. It’s what we do.
Kimberly Lee is a neonatologist and member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
Posts on this blog reflect the opinions of individual ABM members, not the organization as a whole.