I don’t blog about breastfeeding as much as I used to, but I don’t want you to think that I’m not still doing it — I am still nursing Landon. He is slowly weaning himself and doing it less and less, as you would expect from an almost 4-year-old boy.
I guess I’m truly an “extended” breastfeeder, since a lot of people refer to extended breastfeeding if it goes past the first year or so. That’s actually not “extended” at all, one year should ideally be the minimum for any child according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization now recommends breastfeeding a child for two years for maximum benefits.
While on Twitter a few nights ago, I caught wind of a new problem brewing with formula companies advertising their ware — I saw a tweet by Annie (@phdinparenting) about Babble being in cahoots with the formula company who makes Similac.
Apparently, when you are looking for help with breastfeeding on Babble, the page is sponsored by Similac and they offer “feeding experts” you can call. As Annie points out, “I doubt they are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), since their Code of Ethics would prevent them from working for an infant formula company.”
I didn’t even read Annie’s whole article — Similac and Babble team up to dupe breastfeeding moms — right away but saw Annie’s next tweet that Babble’s CEO Rufus Griscom didn’t intend to change a thing about the campaign, even after reading Annie’s educational post.
That alone got me so fired up that I started writing a passionate comment on her blog. It got so detailed that I figure I might as well make my own blog post out of it. Here is what I wrote, and more:
As a mom who struggled with breastfeeding in the beginning like most most moms and as a lactivist who knows first-hard about all the wonderful (health) benefits of breastfeeding for child AND mom, finding out that Babble offers a breastfeeding guide that is sponsored by Similac’s feeding hotline is beyond outrageous.
It gets worse — WebMD is offering a breastfeeding guide that is sponsored by Nestle’s Gerber Good Start. Annie, the The Feminist Breeder, the Crunchy Domestic Goddess, others and I participate on the No Nestle boycott. You can read more about that in this article: Breastfeeding, the Nestle Boycott, and BlogHer 2010.
Why are big corporations and formula companies able and allowed to keep sabotaging moms’ desire to breastfeed? We have the WHO Code yet no one is holding these companies accountable. Most moms DO want to breastfeed but are misinformed and so tired and sometimes in pain (from giving birth and before learning to breastfeed correctly) or lack support from family and friends that this kind of misleading advertising makes formula appealing even if the mom had the best intentions to only breastfeed.
So many kids in the U.S are obese, we are totally losing that battle, and it will cost us ALL billions to take care of the health ramifications that result from poor nutrition, WHY is it so hard to get more support for moms who want to feed their baby’s the most nutritious, healthy, and free food there is — breast milk? By the way, according to Breastfeeding Fights Obesity, 15 to 20 percent of obesity could have been prevented by breastfeeding.
WHY is it considered odd that I am still breastfeeding my almost 4-year-old son? Katherine Dettwyler, PhD, writes: “In societies where children are allowed to nurse “as long as they want” they usually self-wean, with no arguments or emotional trauma, between 3 and 4 years of age” (A Natural Age of Weaning). Why is that not common knowledge? Doesn’t self-weaning sound like the healthiest thing to do for the child? Then WHY do I have to defend my choice to let my son decide when he’s ready to give up breastfeeding — even to educated family members?
He is the healthiest one in his preschool class, all of his little friends have had several rounds of pink eye, colds and worse in the last year and he hasn’t. Are we just lucky? I think not. And renown Jack Newman, MD, agrees with my observation — his article about breastfeeding a toddler points out the many health benefits for the child: Breastfeed a Toddler—Why on Earth?
I wish people, especially men who like to sexualize breasts, would finally get it through their heads that supporting breastfeeding will save us all so much money that we don’t have to pump into health care! It wouldn’t even cost that much (print brochures, make phone help lines available, have lactation specialist visit the home after birth)– and we would raise healthier kids and gain healthier moms (supporting research: Study Finds More Health Benefits for Breastfeeding Moms).
People give formula companies a pass because there is no money to be made with what is freely available — breast milk. And that somehow makes it okay for formula companies to mislead mothers? Sure, in this country you are free to make as much money as possible with your product — but I as the consumer have the power to say that enough is enough! You are not willing to take on big formula companies because they are so powerful that it doesn’t make sense to speak up against them? What a screwed-up logic is that? Formula has only been around for about 140 years, and look what power we give it when we think that way. Heavily-funded bullshit doesn’t make it right, it just makes it expensive bullshit!
We the consumer DO have the power to refuse to buy their crap — their advertising crap and their formula crap they pawn off as being just like or even better (insert laugh here) than breast milk. Don’t buy their advertising nonsense that adding DHA or something “found also in breast milk” makes formula any healthier for babies. From Concerns About Infant Formula Marketing and Additives: “The most disturbing direct advertising for these more expensive “new” formulas subtly undermines the obvious and proven superiority of breastfeeding by positioning formula as more and more equivalent to breast milk.” Don’t fall for this kind of misleading marketing, people!
There IS money to be made with breastfeeding — or rather, there is money to be saved with breastfeeding. Millions of dollars in health care costs can be saved if more moms would breastfeed, as documented just recently:
“Nearly 900 babies would be saved each year and many child illnesses could be avoided if 90% of U.S. mothers breast-fed their babies for the first six months, a study says.” (New York Times: Increase in breast-feeding could save lives and billions of dollars)
Can we please all lobby Oprah to have a show on breastfeeding before the show goes off the air so it finally becomes more accepted, to inform all of the world about how amazingly valuable it is and that it usually takes a few days or even weeks to learn to breastfeed?
I don’t want to hear “My milk didn’t come in” or “I stopped breastfeeding because, you know, the milk doesn’t have any benefits any more after one year” ever again! I am so passionate about advocating breastfeeding, but I’m also really tired about running into the same negative comments and misinformation over and over again. Boobs ARE for breastfeeding, people, see? > Whip ‘Em Out! video with many celebrity moms endorsing breastfeeding.
Yet, I also have to say that regardless of what kind of misinformation is out there, there is plenty of reliable information and free resources available about breastfeeding, and I’m a big believer in taking responsibility for your own health and decisions. If you want to breastfeed, then try to learn as much as possible about it so you can make informed decisions and can’t be duped with misleading information from formula companies.
Breast milk is best — formula is not — it’s that simple. Want to succeed with breastfeeding? Then know to refuse or toss out the formula samples that companies — and unfortunately health care professionals — are shoving at you even though they are not allowed to. According to the Who International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, this and more is not allowed:
- No advertising to the public of any product within the scope of the Code
- No free samples to mothers.
- No promotion of products through healthcare systems
If you have to use formula because of legitimate health reasons (baby allergic to milk, for example), then you don’t have a choice and I think in those cases formula companies should be made to give it to you at a huge discount (what are your thoughts on prescriptions for formula?)
If you are one of the few women who truly can’t produce milk or have body issues because of being sexually abused, then the best option is donor milk. I think donor milk should also be made available a lot cheaper (or by prescription) — especially since moms who donate the milk don’t get anything for their labor of love, actually need to go through some rigorous health screenings, and need to pump a lot of ounces to be allowed to donate their breast milk.
The price of formula has gone up like 100 percent or something like that in the last few years — that’s outrageous! If you want to use formula even after learning about what’s in it compared to your breast milk, or you feel you have to because your are going back to work, etc., go right ahead — that’s your decision, but then please own that decision. When I hear, “I’ve tried everything to breastfeed and it didn’t work” then feel satisfied that you tried everything — case closed. You don’t owe me any explanation why you started giving your child formula, and I’m not criticizing you for it. I just want you to know all the facts and your options.
I just recently wrote a lengthy article with many resources and links about breastfeeding versus formula that is a great starting point for moms who want to learn the facts about breastfeeding: Gisele Bundchen, We Don’t Need a Breastfeeding Law — Mothers Need Resources and Encouragement.
Moms, the key is educating yourself about breastfeeding BEFORE the baby arrives. Have the phone number of your local La Leche League leader ready on your fridge when you need free information and support at 3 a.m, read established blogs that write about breastfeeding (like PhD in Parenting and Kellymom), or talk to a lactation specialist beforehand. Nursing too painful? Maybe try pumping — I hear that more and more moms pump exclusively.
Babble’s CEO Rufus Griscom: if you are not willing to take the right steps that support instead of undermine moms who want to breastfeed, now that you are more informed, then you’ve shown your true colors and that’s all I need to know. Update: it seems the Similac helpline ads are gone — yay, one small victory!
WebMD: You weren’t a resource I used much before, but now I’ll be sure to never visit again. Your information can’t be trusted — if you are willing to take money from formula companies and to violate the WHO Code, who knows who else is writing your medical information?
I agree with Annie: breastfeeding support from a formula company is not okay. But then again, why would you contact a formula maker for breastfeeding help? Do you expect them to give you helpful and honest support in your desire to breastfeed your baby? Think, ladies, and be your child’s and your own best advocate!
As always, I encourage you to comment, weigh in, feel free to agree or disagree — let’s educate each others. Let’s get back to how things were in the past when seasoned moms help out new moms to succeed with breastfeeding. More educated knowledge and information about breastfeeding will make the demand for formula go down dramatically, and that would be a welcomed trend . Girl power!