Breastfeeding Medicine

Physicians blogging about breastfeeding

Two lies and a truth: Formula Feeding campaign is off base

with 34 comments

The ad starts by asking “do you ever feel judged?” and shows a woman on a bench outside of a playground, holding her baby in a sling and looking unsure of herself. She is progressively joined by different stereotyped groups of women, including the “breast police,” that start a playground “brawl” of sorts. They argue in shallow derogatory terms that one group has the better form of parenting: breast vs bottle, work vs stay at home, disposable vs cloth diapers, etc… When they finally charge each other, a baby carriage is left hurtling down a hill and all the families join together to chase it. They bond over their concern for saving the baby in the carriage, and the text reads: “Whatever your beliefs, we are all parents first.”…”Sisterhood of Motherhood,” cue to “Similac.”

First, let’s start with the two lies. This form of advertising, which appeals directly to emotion rather than to the product itself, can be traced to Edward Bernays, known as the “father of public relations”, the Austrian-American son of Anna Freud (and therefore nephew of Sigmund Freud). Through his consultancies to government and industry starting as early as World War I, Bernays is responsible for establishing the link between consumerism and a “feel good culture,” such as creating the links between pretty women and cars, cigarettes and the liberated woman. The first “lie” of Similac’s recent ad is in its appeal to the emotionally charged atmosphere of new parenthood, rather than presenting any benefits of the products themselves. Unfortunately, without being regulated as a medication (which would require a listing of harms as well as benefits in commercials) or signing on to the WHO code of international formula marketing (which would restrict direct-to-consumer advertising altogether), infant formula is in the unique position in health care of being able to market its product without any referent to fact. As such, this ad functions to convince women of the benignity of formula companies and their supportive mission, rather being understood as a company using extensive marketing strategies to make more money. The money they are making is in a direct negative relationship to the health of their consumers. It is well proven that formula marketing decreases breastfeeding rates and that lower breastfeeding rates mean more disease and death from causes as varied as breast cancer to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

The second lie is that the ad posits an equivalence between the choice to formula vs breastfeed and other parenting choices, like those to work or stay home, use paper or cloth diapers, or hold your baby in a sling or stroller. This equivalence is not supported in the medical literature, and while some of the other choices have personal or environmental impacts, there is no single decision that impacts infant and mother health more strongly than the decision to breastfeed a baby (or not). A subtle move the ad makes at the end, is in calling all of these choices, including infant feeding, “beliefs.” Establishing the primacy of these decisions as “beliefs” tells society, physicians and community organizations to back off, they are foundational and can’t be touched. These beliefs shouldn’t be judged or challenged, or you will intrude on sacred ground. However, unlike the other “beliefs” presented in the ads, breastfeeding is not a simple “choice”, it is best understood as a health behavior…that is, a decision one makes that has heavy health consequences and should be duly informed and supported by the medical community and public health infrastructure.

There is also a truth in the ad, which breastfeeding advocates should not ignore, and was likely carefully researched by Similac. This is that women feel judged in their parenting, and that, unfortunately, the “breast police” are linked in our cultural consciousness as judgmental of, and condescending to, other women. With the increase in pressure from the medical community to breastfeed, much of the resistance to recommending breastfeeding has been because no provider wants to make “women feel guilty.” Hospitals are increasing breastfeeding friendly practices, through worldwide initiatives such as the Baby Friendly Hospital InitiativeTM, and increasing support for WIC has helped that program increase its ability to provide breastfeeding education and support.

However, what this country has failed to do is as important as what we have done. We have not provided adequate resources for breastfeeding mothers after they leave the hospital, we have not ensured that labor laws provide for adequate paid maternity leave, or that women live in safe and supportive communities, and we have not ensured that our breast milk banks have adequate support and appropriate regulation to provide breast milk for those babies whose mothers cannot breastfeed. Further, we have failed to adequately train providers and staff in discussing breastfeeding in an open-ended and supportive manner, so that they feel that they may provide information without activating this very palpable cultural undercurrent of guilt, grief and anger around breastfeeding. When we as providers discuss the benefits of breastfeeding (and increasingly refer to the risks of formula feeding), how can we expect women to not feel guilty when their breastfeeding efforts fail if we, as a nation, do not also provide the essential conditions that can help women succeed? We will instead raise a generation of neurotics…Fortunately, when this happens, the formula companies will be there with Bernaysian advertising to pat them on the back and tell them it’s OK (and take their money while they’re at it).

View the commercial at:

Casey Rosen-Carole, MD, MPH is an Academic General Pediatrics Fellow and Breastfeeding Medicine Fellow at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Posts on this blog reflect the opinions of individual ABM members, not the organization as a whole.

Written by caseyrosencarole

June 16, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Posted in In the news

34 Responses

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  1. I completely agree that this country needs to provide adequate support for parents, especially mothers, in the form of good paid maternity leave and so forth.

    But literally everything else you wrote falls somewhere on the spectrum between “a little off base” and “horrifyingly wrong.” It is not even clear from the existing science whether breastfeeding provides ANY additional health benefits, beyond the benefits also provided by formula, to full-term babies other than two minor things: (1) slightly fewer gastrointestinal complaints in the first year of life and (2) a slight reduction in the already-low risk of getting asthma as a child.

    If you compare children of the same mothers, where one was formula-fed and the other was breastfed, THAT IS IT as far as the benefits of breastfeeding go (see links below). Sure, there are studies that credit breastfeeding with everything from lower diabetes risk to slightly higher IQ, but here’s the problem: ALL of those studies fail to correct for the fact that women who choose to breastfeed are, on average, wealthier, better educated and in better health than women who choose to formula feed. The reason why is obvious: women with adequate paid maternity leave, or husbands capable of supporting the family on his salary alone, are the only ones who can actually choose to breastfeed. If your job requires you to go straight back to work and put your kid in daycare–as the jobs of less-educated, less wealthy women often do–your baby is getting formula. Insurance has only been required to cover breast pumps for a couple of years, thanks to Obamacare, so there was literally no other option for less well-off women.

    So the factor that’s actually making many kids have lower risks of diabetes, better academic performance, etc. is NOT BREASTFEEDING, but just having richer, better-educated, healthier moms with better jobs.

    How about we focus on THAT… in other words, on increasing the equality in this society, increasing the pay and quality of jobs, improving education for women? How about we do WHAT MATTERS, instead of trying to shame every woman in America into breastfeeding, and relentlessly guilt-tripping moms who formula feed?

    Breast-feeding Benefits Appear to be Overstated, According to Study of Siblings

    New Study Confirms It: Breast-Feeding Benefits Have Been Drastically Overstated

    Is Breast-Feeding Really Better?


    June 16, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    • Asthma and gastrointestinal infections are extremely common and costly medical conditions. If they are prevented by breast feeding as you suggest, this would lead to huge cost savings within the American healthcare system. Even if I trusted your interpretation of the literature and ignored all of the other VERY SIGNIFICANT benefits of breastfeeding, I would still make the argument that all women should breastfeed for a minimum of 6 months based on those benefits alone.
      It is understandable that some women are not able to breastfeed for medical reasons. This should be acknowledged. The women that are not able to breastfeed should be offered the best available alternatives to help them and their baby achieve optimal health. This includes the options that were stated in the article.
      Lastly, I agree with your statements that the social determinants of health are just as important (if not more so) than the act of breastfeeding. The gap between the rich, and the lower socioeconomic class is rising from my last review of the literature. It is extremely important that the government protect women and children by offering affordable, high quality education, paid maternity leave that is possible to be shared by both parents, and overall stronger social services.

      Alex R

      January 26, 2017 at 10:01 am

  2. BREASTFEEDING ISN’T better it’s the physiological norm. Babies are born to breastfeed. If you look at large scale population studies across European countries the increase costs to Health Services is significant when babies are not breastfed. Unicef comissioned a cost benefit analysis on the doubling of UK rates a conservative estimate was that the NHS could save £40million from the reduction in hospital admissions for gastrointestinal disorders chest infections and ear infections in babies under 1 year of age, if the % of mums breastfeeding doubles. WHO LOSES IF THEY BREASTFEED the formula companies lose sales and profit.Comply with the WHO code.

    Lesley Backhouse

    June 16, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    • Who loses if breastfeeding advocates push the false agenda that breastfeeding is the One True and Only Good Way to feed babies? Here’s who (just a few examples):

      Babies whose moms don’t produce enough milk, or whose milk isn’t rich enough in nutrients (plenty of babies have gotten rickets from being exclusively breastfed by moms who are deficient in Vitamin D).

      Moms whose postpartum depression is triggered or worsened by breastfeeding, or by completely unnecessary guilt about not being able to or not wanting to breastfeed.

      Babies whose moms are so obsessed with breastfeeding that they spend hours shackled to a breastpump instead of holding, cuddling, and interacting with their babies.

      Babies whose moms find breastfeeding incredibly painful and/or triggering of traumatic memories, making it hard for them to bond with their breastfed babies.

      There is a BIG difference between a study (which you didn’t name or link to, I noticed) that says at a population level this country could save millions of bucks if X% of women breastfed, and people who make individual women feel like they are hurting their babies if they don’t breastfeed. They are NOT hurting their babies at all.


      June 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

      • pretty much everyone in the northern part of the states and Canada is vitamin D deficient. It is geographically impossible to get enough natural vitamin D, which is why vitamin D supplements are needed. that said, I don’t think a lot of children get rickets here. or any. Maybe that’s because most are formula fed, or it is supplemented into pretty much every food it can be. But that’s a piss poor excuse for not breastfeeding – to say moms milk may not be rich enough in nutrients. Women starving in third world countries provide adequate milk for their children. Studies show diet has almost no effect on breastmilk composition – be it chips and pop, fruit and veggies, or scraps from the garbage. breastfeeding is a population health initiative – saving money and lives. Yes, as long as they feed their babies they are not hurting them, but breastmilk is the only normal food for human infants, and formula does have health risks.


        June 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      • None of these babies would have to fed fed formula if this country invested in a system of milk banks that would make human milk available to those infants whose mothers cannot or choose not to breastfeed. Maybe it’s time to separate the product from the producer and allow babies to have the nutrition they need independently of whether their mothers are able/willing to produce it.

        And yes, I put my money where my mouth is, I have donated enough breastmillk to satisfy almost 50% of two infants’ nutritional needs (in addition to my own two).


        June 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      • VW, I personally would never feed donor milk to a baby of mine unless formula wasn’t available. Here’s why:

        – Unless it’s pasteurized, donor milk could give my baby hepatitis or whatever other BM-transmissible infection the donor may have, and even pasteurization doesn’t kill everything so doesn’t ensure safety;

        – Donor milk could contain whatever chemicals the donor has been exposed to in her life (here’s a link on that:, whereas organic formula contains far less; and

        – The only babies for whom breast milk vs. formula actually makes a significant difference is extremely premature babies, so I’d rather leave the donor milk for them.

        Long story short, breast milk is not magic (except for extremely premature babies). It does not have significant health benefits (again, except for extremely premature babies). So it’s just not worth the cost and effort to set up nationwide donor milk banks with enough supply to make nobody in this country need formula.


        July 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm

  3. As the commenter above points out, most recent research does not find that breastfeeding has all that much in the way of long term benefits. Along with the recent sibling study, almost all well done recent research does not find that breastfeeding can causally reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, or significantly increase IQ.

    I will agree that breastmilk is better tolerated and cuts down on some GI issues in infancy, and that it is associated with a reduction in SIDS and NEC (which are really quite rare), but really to say that “… the single decision that impacts infant and mother health more strongly than the decision to breastfeed a baby …..” seems a bit of an overstatement to me.

    Breastfeeding is great if it works well, but many women with plenty of support and help are unable to breastfeed exclusively. The lactation community estimates 5%, but I have seen studies that put that percentage much higher.

    Furthermore, a higher percentage have pain, latch, and supply–even with help and support—(the study was done at a baby friendly hospital with an award winning lactation program)

    As a nurse, I have seen mothers who have felt that their children would have, as the author states “heavy heath consequences” for their failure to succeed at breastfeeding for one reason or another.

    It is heartbreaking.

    Anne Risch

    June 16, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    • Melissa Bartik points out that the PROBIT study didn’t define “breastfed” well. “However, the study was problematic from inception because the definition of “breastfed” used was problematic — a breastfed child in the study may have breastfed for as little as one day, or may have breastfed for as long as several years. For purposes of the study, both were treated the same. We know, however, for most conditions, the duration and intensity of breastfeeding is very important to health outcomes.”

      BFMed has a response to the PROBIT sibling study here:

      This “sibling study” that actually defines terms DOES find a difference. (shows In sibling pairs with 1 breastfed, breastfed sibling was less likely to reach family BMI threshholds; Difference >13 lb at age 14 yr with average height)


      June 16, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      • TovaO, what I see in your post is confirmation bias (i.e. the tendency to exaggerate the evidence for what you already believe). Who here honestly thinks that a weight difference of thirteen pounds at age 14–when the average boy is 5’5″ and the average girl is 5’3″–is proof that formula feeding causes obesity? I’m about the size of the average 14-y-o American girl and I can gain and lose 13 pounds without even changing my clothing size.

        And I think it’s very telling that the Northwestern sibling study you mention didn’t say how tall the siblings were or what their relationships were to the family height. It’s quite possible that the formula-fed kids have a minuscule increase (like the 13 pounds it mentioned) because they are bigger and sturdier. My twins, who are formula fed, were the height of the average one-year-old, and just a little below the average one-year-old’s weight, when they were 9 months old.


        July 13, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      • Another study was done on the same set of data, (the ‘2002 Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics’), by two researchers out of Georgetown University.
        They came up with a different conclusion…..

        The Ohio sibling study and the sibling study below had larger samples that the Northwestern study..(488). The Ohio study had 655 pairs and this 2005 study had over 800:

        Anne Risch

        July 13, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    • SIDS is the highest most common cause of death in healthy full term babies. It is more common than death from a car accident yet the vast majority would agree that it is important to put your baby in a car seat.

      Jocelyn Lequier-Jobin

      June 17, 2015 at 9:51 pm

  4. Reblogged this on Birth In Joy and commented:
    As positive as the ad’s message seems, it’s only a marketing veneer laid over the substance. The substance being that breastfeeding advocates need to be quiet.


    June 17, 2015 at 8:35 am

    • If a breastfeeding advocate is offering unbiased, judgment-free help to a mom who wants to breastfeed, no one (the ad included) is saying she should be quiet.

      But what if the breastfeeding advocate is guilt-tripping moms who formula feed? What if she’s trying to scare them into breastfeeding, even though they are having a lot of trouble with it or don’t want to do it? What if she’s spouting fake “science” to try and convince them that if they don’t breastfeed they’re bad mothers? In that case, hell yes, she should be quiet.


      June 17, 2015 at 9:53 am

      • How many breastfeeding advocates actually do that, though? Thanks for your comment. 🙂


        June 17, 2015 at 9:58 am

      • How many breastfeeding advocates do that? Well, the author of this article does, for starters. And thirty seconds on google would get you another dozen articles like it.


        June 17, 2015 at 10:03 am

      • This is also a reason to help point women to the right resources, rather than pointing fingers at people/organizations we perceive as judgmental. That’s not particularly helpful. Put the flames out by referring women to supportive, evidence-based resources rather than pointing out how judgmental breastfeeding advocates are.


        June 17, 2015 at 11:04 am

      • “If a breastfeeding advocate is offering unbiased, judgment-free help”

        Why don’t we hold formula companies to the same standard?


        June 21, 2015 at 1:00 am

  5. The author does not do as you are saying. What in your mind did she say that would make one feel guilty? That breastfeeding IS the biological norm and that the ad is trying to make it equal to formula feeding? That’s not guilt inducing. It is just fact. It is what the ad is doing. Obviously you have some deep seated issues in your feeling about human milk.

    The studies that you stated are also poor studies. If you’re just going to look for articles and biased research that is trying to take away from the normal development that human milk feeding brings to a child then there is really no reason to try to help you to understand the thousands of research articles that do prove the risks of formula feeding. No matter how minute any one thing might appear to you. You have already made up your mind.


    June 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm

  6. I think the article makes a good point about the fact that we need to change so much in order for women to be successful. We have taken baby steps toward this and hopefully we will continue to take steps, maybe eventually bigger more substantial steps toward helping moms achieve their goals. I am a high school graduate with some college but no degree, I make $10.85/hr working full time, my insurance covered a breast pump, I am a single mother of 3 kids(a son and twin girls), I am a smoker(didn’t smoke when I breastfed my son but when I nursed my twin girls I started back up after 18 months), I breastfed all of my kids a total of 6 years. I used formula when my period returned with my girls at 9 months pp, do I feel guilty for it? No I don’t, I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time. I don’t believe people can make you feel guilty. Guilt comes from within, guilt can be accepted or rebuked based on how you feel about your choices. I do not fault any mother for formula feeding. I cherish the bond and pride I got from breastfeeding my kids, it was an amazing thing. I wish every mother that feeling, the fond memories and joy in your heart. I feel that women who feel guilty are really feeling grief, grief over the loss of the chance to meet their goals. We need to support these moms, we need to make change so that the 80% or more mothers who chose to breastfeed reach their full goals. Instead of telling them it’s okay and trying to push aside those feelings they have by telling them they feel that way because of someone else! Regardless of the reason, that feeling of grief needs to be addressed and not swept under a rug like it means nothing or these mothers will never be free of those negative feelings. It’s the same thing I see in childbirth, moms want things one way and it becomes a mess and everyone tells her well you and your baby are healthy so it doesn’t matter the “how you got there” but it really does, it’s shameful how these feelings are dealt with like they don’t matter. The experience matters, the “how” matters to each and every mother!


    June 18, 2015 at 7:02 am

  7. Good article about tactics of commercial interests. Well done. A big question for health professionals is that they self censor their advice because of worries that they will make a mother feel guilty. But of course this is very paternalistic…they should not filter their advice but give mothers the facts on which to make an informed decision. Health professional do not refrain from advising mothers of the benefits of vaccination, or of restraining babies in motor vehicles because of fear of making mothers feel guilty. Similarly they should not refrain from clearly setting out the facts of the harm of modified bovine milk formula, including the IQ depression similar to lead poisoning, 4 fold middle ear infections, later life obesity etc etc. I note that there have been a few comments from people who deny the harms of formula and who cite misleading and poor studies. It needs to be remembered that often these poor studies have been funded by commercial interests,frequently have poor research design (such as placing an infant that has had just one suck of their mother’s breast in the breastfed group) and quite often are so bad they find no statistical significant because they simply do not have the statistical power to detect a difference — not because there is no difference. And of course Big Formula promotes these crappy studies to the media because it is in their profit interests to do so.


    June 19, 2015 at 2:04 am

    • So, all of the studies Daleth and I provided are poorly done and funded by formula companies?

      What proof do you have about the funding of these studies?

      I would be interested in seeing a few studies with large samples that control for variables, that conclude that breastfeeding can causally reduce the risks of obesity, diabetes, and asthma.
      If you could provide a few links, that would be very helpful.

      I would be also be interested in seeing links to the research that shows that “bovine milk formula” can lead to “IQ depression similar to lead poisoning”.

      Anne Risch

      July 13, 2015 at 8:57 pm

  8. Breast is BEST. I have 4 children, the first two I didn’t exclusively breastfeed for more than a week or two. My eldest son constantly had ear infections, allergies–you name it. My second born son was taken by SIDS a couple of weeks before I switched to Similiac (yes, Similiac). I lost a child…and two years later found out I was pregnant again. I vowed to breastfeed, sore and cracked nipples, I am tougher than that; I wanted to do everything possible to keep my new little one from going through what my two first babies endured, I wanted my baby to LIVE. Breast is best. I did EXCLUSIVELY breastfeed my third child, she is still with us at three years old, and like her baby sister ( ;), they have never had one ear infection, sick baby visit, allergies, etc. etc.
    Formula companies LIE to us. Break it down, Similiac: simulating lactation, but that is NOT TRUE!! Momma’s milk is far better than any formula could EVER be. Nature intended it so.
    If you have never watched the documentary, “Fed UP”, it has some factual and poignant things to say about formula and the ever growing obesity epidemic, you know, that thing that is our nation’s BIGGEST public health care disparity of the 21st century, and predicted to only become worse and worse.
    In memory of Dane Jr.—– BREAST IS BEST. (Just a fact, I am not condemning mom’s who cannot breastfeed, I am not “judgy”… but, after 4 children and seeing the insane difference in health, breast. is. best!!!)


    June 21, 2015 at 1:36 am

    • Hm, can anyone point to a lie told by a formula company? I mean point, with a link to where the formula company said it or a photograph of a label or whatever that the lie is on.


      Yep. No takers there, because it is absolutely true that formula is the closest thing to breast milk on the face of the earth (can you name anything closer?), that it gives your child all the vitamins, minerals, calories, protein and fat that they need, and so on. Krissy, if Similac said that their formula “simulates lactation” (which I doubt they said–they probably said “simulates breastmilk” since that at least makes sense), that… again… IS TRUE. Formula does simulate breastmilk. That’s the POINT of formula.

      As for the documentary “Fed Up,” I look for scientific facts in scientific studies, not in biased documentaries on Netflix. Who typically makes documentaries about social and nutritional issues? Is it (A) unbiased people who are only interested in finding out the truth, whatever the truth may turn out to be? Or is it (B) people who already have an opinion about what the truth is and want to convince everyone who watches the documentary to agree with them? (B), folks, the answer is (B).

      Krissy, I’m so sorry you lost your dear son to SIDS. I can’t even imagine how heartbreaking that must have been. But please know that it is NOT YOUR FAULT and has nothing to do with you only breastfeeding him for a couple of weeks. The latest research indicates that SIDS is the result of a neurological disorder and is caused by abnormalities in the brain stem (here is a link: It is NOT AT ALL the parents’ fault or due to the parents’ choices.


      July 13, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      • SIDS is not caused by artificial feeding, there are many factors and it isn’t totally understood yet. However breastfeeding does have a protective effect that has been shown in many studies. In a review of research the reduction rate for exclusively breastfed babies was 73%. This is not a small effect.

        As I said above SIDS is the number one killer of full term healthy infants. We can save lots of babies by encouraging breastfeeding. I don’t think we need to bully or scare new moms, just give them the facts and the support they need to be successful.


        July 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm

  9. […] Read the full article here: Two lies and a truth: Formula Feeding campaign is off base […]

  10. […] Un excellent article sur la pub Similac d’il y a peu de temps, que vous avez tous vu : la guerre des mères dans un […]

  11. I am currently studying to recertify as an internationally certified lactation consultant. This is based on a standardized exam that tests evidence based knowledge and internationally agreed upon methods for protecting, supporting and promoting breastfeeding for the physical and psychological health of women and children. As a lactation consultant I am passionate about getting good information and support to women. It really worries me that these few recent studies are being quoted to try and trump decades of research. If you do a meta-analysis of all the research out there, there is no doubt that human milk is superior to anything else fed to human babies. What is important is the truth, when it comes to giving information to women. Now, that said, I know we mothers care deeply about doing our job the best we possibly can, and are prone to feelings of guilt if we think we have not done so. All women should have support to make the best choices they can, and to feel free from manipulation by anyone else. But we may still feel bad about the areas in our parenting that didn’t go the way we wanted. That is no one’s fault. We should not act like ‘breastfeeding police’. But we should not downplay the truth to try to spare people’s feelings. Even when women feel they have not done their best, they can be encouraged that no one is perfect! and loving, committed parenting can compensate for many areas in which our mothering is not perfect.

    claire kurdelak

    July 23, 2015 at 11:42 am

  12. First off, I have seen this commercial and it does play strongly on emotions. But not as much as many of the comments attached to this article do. Daleth, since when do “googled” articles hold any merrit in the eyes of evidenced based research. It is so ingnorant of you to belittle the science behind breastmilk and it’s value to human life. When you google, you can find articles that support anything. You want a direct lie from a formula company, besides the obvious of it’s equality to breast milk…….what about special properties that have been added to enhance brain and eye development, what about lying through elimination about that is a “formula” and by no way holds the same standard when comparing to human milk. I agree, you have guilt and shame around your feeding choices and for that I feel sorry for you. You clearly did not get the support you needed.

    Erin Dell

    August 6, 2015 at 4:33 pm

  13. “There is no single decision that impacts infant and mother health more strongly than the decision to breastfeed a baby (or not).”

    The choice to breastfeed certainly impacted my health. After weeks of relentless pumping (including through the night), gobbling up herbal supplements and Reglan, buying/preparing “miracle” foods such as lactation cookies and atole, heating and reheating warm compresses, frantically meeting with lactation consultants, sleeping never, and isolating myself from every realm of life except for breastfeeding — only to see no improvement — I ended up deeply depressed and fantasizing about suicide.

    Meanwhile, my baby developed jaundice, became dehydrated, and lost weeks of bonding because I was barely conscious and spent all of my time pumping or washing pump bits. And twice when I was “nursing” her, I fell asleep on her and almost killed her.

    So, yes, the decision to breastfeed certainly impacted mine and my infant’s health more strongly than any other decision. I mean, jeez, I decided not to smoke and *nothing* happened.


    October 7, 2015 at 8:42 pm

  14. […] decisions and achieve their feeding goals. Against elegantly engineered narratives about “the sisterhood of motherhood,” our painstakingly crafted PSAs appear amateur, and our voices become so hoarse that we sound […]

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