The Bull(shit) That Wouldn’t Die: The 2003 DHHS Breastfeeding Ad Rears its Ugly Head

I had fully intended on coming on here tonight to post for the first time in months; easing back into  things with an innocuous little piece about how my first four months with my daughter had been… It would be a lighthearted foray back into the blogging world, and then I’d go clean my kitchen.

But now my dishes are going to have to stay dirty.

See, back in ’03, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women’s Health, put out this piece of drivel. It basically compares not breastfeeding to riding a mechanical bull while pregnant.

I have an entire chapter about this in my book, but I think you’ll get the point I spent 32 double-spaced pages making by watching the ad. So go do it, and then come back here.

 Back already? Did you throw up in your mouth a little? Sorry about that.

A lot of people got angry about the ad,  not only because it was misleading, but also because it was degrading and insulting and wrong on so many levels that it needs a freaking elevator. The Executive Committee of the AAP spoke out against the campaign, which of course they only did because they were in the pockets of big formula, and not because they had compassion for parents or the ability to understand the faulty science behind the claims stated in the ad. Or so the Breastfeeding Section of that same organization loves to tell us. Anyway, in the end, the ads got pulled; a lot of breastfeeding advocates were pissed; and the whole thing went down in the lactivist history books as a colossal FAIL. I’ve seen the destruction of this ad campagin referenced as one of the prime examples of how the formula companies have duped women. If we’d only been so privileged to see this ad, then maybe we would have breastfed. Or at least we would’ve known that we were horrible, unfit parents if we’d decided not to.

A few people had mentioned that they thought they’d seen the ad recently, to which I’d replied, assuredly,  “No flipping way. That thing has been good and dead for eight years!” But then I got this email today, from my friend  Kristine (she doesn’t have kids yet, but she’s a smart cookie and works as a high-end baby nurse, where she’s seen the breast-vs-bottle craziness firsthand, so I think we can consider her an honorary FFF) who wrote while she was watching Southern California’s K-CAL 9:

Um.. I’m so annoyed – they just showed a tv commercial with a woman who was supposed to be pregnant riding a mechanical bull and then she falls off. Next, there is a caption that says, “You wouldn’t take risks before your baby is born, why start after? Breastfeed exclusively for 6 months.” And then, a voiceover states that recent studies show breastfed babies are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory infections and diarrhea. Babies were born to be breastfed.”  You probably already know about this from writing your book, but I wish there was a way to sue the pants off of them for putting that on the air. That commercial probably just made some poor woman, that’s sitting there trying to breastfeed, no milk coming out, her nipples bleeding, and her starving child screaming, cry her eyes out. Assholes. 

I immediately emailed her back to confirm she’d seen this on live TV, and hadn’t accidentally stepped into a Delorean. But the Bull(shit) is apparently back.

I think it is particularly insidious that this thing got resurrected with so little fanfare. Considering the brouhaha that went down when DHHS and the Ad Council tried to run the ad last time, it strikes me as odd that they would suddenly start running it again, especially in a manner so under the radar. The first time the ads came out, there was a media blitz; the folks responsible were bragging about their advertising genius to anyone who would listen. (Obviously, whoever taught them Advertising 101 neglected to mention that guilt and fear appeals can have a rebound effect; if you scare or induce guilt to enough of an extent, you piss off your audience.) But this go-around, the ads are popping up innocently during reruns of Scrubs, and no one has bothered to explain what has changed in eight years that makes it okay for these insulting, ridiculous PSAs to be inflicted on the public.

I would like to start a grassroots campaign to run these ads back into the hole from whence they came. I’m not sure how to go about doing this; PSA’s are tricky, both in the way they are made and the way that they get distributed. Who do we protest to? The stations running the ads? The Ad Council? DHHS? (I’m thinking of writing a letter to Obama, since DHHS is a government thing, but considering Michelle’s stance on breastfeeding I assume it would fall on deaf ears. Plus he’s probably a bit distracted at the moment, what with finally killing Bin Laden and all….) If anyone has any thoughts, please share. I know we are just a tiny, mostly disliked corner of the mommy blogosphere, but someone has to speak up for that woman Kristine referenced.

And speaking of which… Guilt-Ridden Woman with the Bleeding Nipples, if you’re reading this, listen up. Not breastfeeding is NOTHING like bull riding while pregnant. The people who created this ad fully intended on scaring you, making you feel like only a craptastic mother would feed her child formula. The ads completely ignore the myriad reasons that women do not breastfeed. They do not address the societal factors that impede breastfeeding, nor the physical problems that can happen, nor the emotional/professional/personal reasons that women have for performing their own risk assessment and deciding whether breastfeeding is right for their families. They ignore the father completely, making it seem like this is only a mother’s decision; only a mother’s fault. They over-simplify the science. The kind of woman who would risk riding a mechanical bull – in a bar, no less – has nothing to do with you or your decision to use your breasts to feed your child. Turn off your television, and take a deep breath. If I could hug you, I would.

For the rest of you… I guess this is the closest we’ve come to a Fearless Formula Feeder Call to Arms. I am going to investigate the best way to counteract these ads, but in the meantime, keep an eye out for them and let me know the station/location/time/show that they appear on.

I’m a lifelong vegetarian, so I never thought I’d say this, but… let’s slaughter the bull.

About the Author:

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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86 thoughts on “The Bull(shit) That Wouldn’t Die: The 2003 DHHS Breastfeeding Ad Rears its Ugly Head

  1. ARGH, that was literally the most offensive thing I had ever seen on TV. I was SO PISSED OFF. I can't believe they show that crud UGH UGH UGH.

  2. I am so mad I could spit. Can we get communities of adoptive moms involved as well? How about cancer victims, especially breast cancer victims? Auto-immune disease victims? How about those who have struggled greatly to concieve, like those with PCOS, whose condition also makes it difficult to breastfeed? We should also get associations that help sexual assault victims in on it. Fathers' rights communities too, and maybe any support groups for foster families as well. The only way we're going to make a big enough stink to overcome the screeching harpies that make up the BFing bullies is to muster the biggest army we can find.

  3. omg. what bullshit. And for the record, my dd was only breastfed for 3 months and has never had an ear infection, respitory infections or diarrhea. In fact, in the last 18 months (aka her whole life) she has only been sick once, and she caught it from a breastfed baby at our playgroup. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it breastfeeding America!

  4. Ugh… This ad makes me cringe. I think it's diabolical.

    I'm a huge proponent of breastfeeding, i've been a voluntary breastfeeding peer supporter for almost 3 years and i breastfed both of my kids (#1 for 26 months, although he was combo-fed from 4mo. #2 was ebf for 6m, and is 7mo now and still going strong). This ad is an ineffective waste of money at best, and highly offensive at worst.

    If there's anything I can do to help you get this ad stopped again, please let me know. As a lactivist, I am highly ashamed that this ad is coming from “our side”, as it were. I think that any lactivist worth their salt would agree that this ad is disgusting.

    I would very much like to read your book. Has it been published yet?

  5. Terrorism: intimidation or coercion or instilling fear in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature.

    Seems like Bin Laden isn't the only one that needs to be bought to justice?

  6. I didn't watch the ad, as just the description alone has made the bile rise up my throat. I'm not in the USA, but if there's anything this UK-based FFF can do, I'm on board!

  7. When I went back to the US for a visit this year (I'm a US citizen living abroad) I was appalled at how fear based the advertising had become. I guess this is par for the course. When sex isn't working or appropriate to sell something fear is the cheap shot resort.

  8. I agree–this is very low and obnoxious. I really hate how not breastfeeding is portrayed as taking a risk. I'd rather see it as “the baby might be missing out on a minor benefit.” (assuming we are talking first world countries here.)

  9. Um wow… just… WOW.

    I am so glad I don't have cable now. SO so glad. If I had seen that, slipped in so innocuously, while I was in the midst of my PPD induced guilt over my failure to breastfeed, before the medication stepped up and made me feel stable I think I would have lost my mind!!!

    Bad enough that I already felt horrible at all the things that went wrong during the first few months, primarily the breastfeeding issue, but had I seen this it would have been like a horse kick to the gut.

    From the place I'm in now, I can see it for what it is, absolutely awful and needs to be deleted. They should have been forced to burn the reels and never be allowed to air such a horrible sentiment again.

    *fuming*

  10. I think you are my new hero. Seriously. Thank you for sharing (though really annoyed to hear the ads are back) and saying everything (and more) I could have on the topic. Off to share a link to this article on Facebook! xo

  11. This ad reminds me of PETA ads and campaigns…drum up support and convert folks at all costs. It very much reminds me of their recent jab an infertiles. The whole thing stinks.

    And FWIW, my SIL who breastfed exclusively for the first year of her child's life went SNOW SKIING and ROCK CLIMBING while pregnant. So…yeah.

  12. I saw that ad somewhere, I can't remember if it was on Youtube or actual tv, but it pissed me off! I was that mama crying my eyes out with a starving baby and pumping until I bled.

  13. I understand that there are circumstances where children need to be formula fed. But as a mom who suffered through 9months of cracked, bleeding nipples and weird elimination diets before it got any better because I feel like it is that important, I understand this ad. I am sure that you and many others on here made an educated decision about switching to formula and so I am sorry that you watching this commerical bring up painful wounds, but I think the point of this commercial is to get the attention of selfish mothers who chose formula without even trying because it was inconvenient or “gross”. We all know Mom's like this who turn a blind eye and assume since formula is available it will be good enough, but when breastmilk is an opition, formila is NOT good enough bottom line.

  14. well as a huge supporter of breastfeeding and someone who whole heartedly agrees that breast feeding is the best choice for our babies… however I do understand that 1% of women out there are physically unable to breastfeed and should not be made to feel bad for that. Nor do I think for the “other” women that choose to formula feed for whatever reason should be made to feel guilty either. Its our choice as a parent what we want to do. I want to do whatever I can to give my children the best I can. So I exclusively breastfeed. That is my choice. I would not want anyone to make me feel guilty for that choice nor would I want any other mom to feel bad for their choice. Why can't we as mom's just support one another and help each other out? I am actually donating 200 oz of breastmilk to a mom at my church who is adopting a baby and he is having a heck of time on formula. She is desperate for breastmilk.. and being my son won't take a bottle why not give it to her?

  15. As a mother with 2 children who were BOTH formula fed (I had no breastmilk), I find his HORRIBLY OFFENSIVE!!!!! I too tried pumping until I bled and cried the whole time thinking that I was an unfit mother because I couldn't give my children what they needed! These people NEED TO BE STOPPED!!!!!

  16. “the point of this commercial is to get the attention of selfish mothers who chose formula without even trying [...] when breastmilk is an opition, formila is NOT good enough bottom line.”

    Liza, your logic is faulty. You can't have it both ways, ie if you are unable to breastfeed due to medical reasons, then formula is good enough, but if you choose to formula-feed, than formula isn't good enough. The point is, that formula IS good enough. Just because breastmilk offers some minor benefits doesn't mean formula is crap or risky.

  17. I just think people often settle for formula because they don't realize how important breastmilk/breastfeeding is. If you have problems with your milk you can look for a sweet donor like the woman who posted above (before you decide on formula) and if thats the case or you adopt, your child can still benefit from the act of breastfeeding even if they aren't getting milk. And I truely believe giving your child a product that can be contaminated by beetle larvae (like the recent similac recall) is settling.

  18. The risks they show are disproportionate to the actual risks of formula feeding. I also hate reading articles that compare formula feeding to smoking: it's not the same thing!!!

    Perhaps the focus of future ads could be towards good feeding tips (both formula and bf), not smoking around your infant/children, the importance of good nutrition, nutrition tips aimed at lower income families, literacy starting young (ie. Reading to kids), importance of good exerciseand suggestions to get your family active etc (things that have a stronger influence on a child's health). Shaming ads that overstate risks and in the end doesn't really help anyone are awful…

  19. Liza – you understand why things like the larvae situation makes news?? Asides from the safety implications it's *extremely* rare.

    Anyhoo, so if I were to get a donor, could I assure she could get her breastmilk to me in a timely fashion? Is her milk safe? What happens if the fedex truck is late?

    Formula is not poison. It contains the nutrition to help a child grow and thrive. Supplementing was hard enough with people spouting off ideology that is overstated. For me personally having a child almost a pound under her birth weight and losing, was enough for me to realize my daughter needed food. It sucked to know my hypoplastic breasts didn't offer enough milk for her and took me down emotionally making me feel like I was the worst mom ever. That said, formula helped her gain weight. I continued to bf her as well through this though we had chronic thrush. In the end we only bfed for three months, but oh well she grew and thrived regardless. Formula provided me peace of mind. I still held her lots and we bonded great and she's an awesome kid. Personally the anxiety I would have over the quality, safety and contined access to donor milk wouldn't work fir me so for any future kid, they will be supplemented with formula.

  20. @Liza A Martin: Your concern should be is the baby getting fed not how the baby is getting fed. It is not your business or anyone elses business HOW a baby gets fed. No one deserves to be judged for feeding their baby if the feeding needs of the baby are being met!

    I'm sorry, but how do you know donor milk is coming from a person who is eating healty and taking care of themselves? ANd if Mothers milk is perfect for each baby, then donor milk is NOT perfect milk because it was not produced by the actual mother of the baby.

    But wait a minute, if mothers milk is designed perfect for each baby, then mothers of babies with allergies would not need elimination diets because it is designed perfect. SO does that also mean that if mothers do not produce milk or enough milk to sustain a baby does that mean that that baby should not survive? Mothers milk is after all akin to “unicorn tears” in it's magical elixir-ness.

    BAH!!! I have 2 very healthy, very well attached beautiful exclusively formula fed boys and compaired to my neices and nephew's who were exclusively breastfed, they have had way less ear infections, colds, and other child hood illnesses than their cousins!

  21. Liza, I really don't think you should comment before you educate yourself about the research done about breastfeeding. You will find that the studies are poorly designed and influenced by a sort of political correctness/groupthink that leads researchers who have found no benefits to breastmilk to say there are some anyway, just to avoid being demonized by your side. Those studies that have been better designed, such as the Kramer study in the Journal of Nutrition, (http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2008/12/23/jn.108.097675.abstract?ct=ct) note the lack of causation between breastfeeding and the benefits you are touting.

    Further, EBF for 6 months, as this ad advocates, has been linked to obesity and babies being put off good foods like bitter greens:
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/3351004/Breast-milk-can-put-babies-off-food-cause-allergy-says-study.html If you're going to advocate for something, honesty is necessary. You are not being honest in your assertions about the supposed benefits of breastfeeding, especially your ridiculous claims that the baby benefits even if s/he is not getting milk.

    As far as beetle parts, breastmilk is frequently contaminated with flame-retardant chemicals such as Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, pesticides, ketones, and epoxides, as shown here: http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Environ/Human%20Breast%20Milk%20is%20Contaminated.htm . The author of that article points out that if human breastmilk were bottled and sold, the FDA would never approve it because of the amount of harmful chemicals in it. Not to say breastfeeding is bad, but it's far from the picture of purity you paint it as.

    The fact is, breastfeeding is not as important as having a healthy mother who can care for her child. Breastfeeding is a medical decision, yet folks like you promote substandard, one-size-fits-all medicine for women for the sake of a cause, rather than out of a desire to do what's best for each individual family. Breast is NOT best for many women, and you are not judge, jury, and executioner who has the right to determine who has tried hard enough, who has done enough, who chose to vs. being forced to, and whether someone's reasons are good enough.

    A woman who has a special needs child may CHOOSE not to breastfeed her second because of the demands made by her first. A woman who was a victim of sexual assault may CHOOSE not to breastfeed because of the horrors wrought upon her. A woman who experienced severe post-partum depression as a result of breastfeeding may CHOOSE not to do it again because of the numerous, and by contrast, well-documented risks of raising a baby while clinically depressed. In each case, the women involved were grown up enough to weigh the pros and cons and figure out what's best for her. They didn't (and don't) need busybody do-gooders who don't trust women to have enough brains to make medical decisions for themselves.

    I suggest you examine your reasons for trolling on this site, for trying to guilt trip women who have shared their stories as to why they were unable to breastfeed, for feeling that somehow, you have to cause other people pain in order to make yourself feel better about your decision to breastfeed. I am of the opinion that any woman who does this should consider professional help for their enjoyment of others' pain.

  22. I'm not saying that this commercial is right, but the TV is filled with things that I believe are wrong and often times offensive. That is part of freedom of speech right? I am not trying to battle who is right or wrong, I was just posting my opinion to show that there are two point of views. Obviously, like I previously said I don't think that the commercial is targeting educated, well researched mothers like the ones on this site. It just trying to get people who don't normally think that what you feed your child is important to stop for a minute and think.

  23. I had to say something.

    I have been blessed enough to be able to breast feed with relatively no problems. My heart seriously goes out to you ladies on this blog/forum who have had horrific struggles and then are later made to feel crappy about parenting choices they've had to make in the best interests of their children.

    This commercial… at its best its alienating mothers who have no choice but to supplement due to a low supply, or health issues. At its worst, its… well, just awful.

    Is it any wonder with commercials like this that lead women to feel horrible about the choices that they've had to make, that there's strife between the groups of women who make 2 different choices? Its basically creating an “us against them” mentality and culture which I REALLY do not agree with at all.

  24. Liza said: “If you have problems with your milk you can look for a sweet donor like the woman who posted above (before you decide on formula) and if thats the case or you adopt, your child can still benefit from the act of breastfeeding even if they aren't getting milk. And I truely believe giving your child a product that can be contaminated by beetle larvae (like the recent similac recall) is settling.”

    Yes, because donor milk that can be contaminated with God knows what (including human pathogens and drugs) is so much better than formula. //sarcasm

    Honestly, this whole unscreened donor milk thing drives me batty. People wouldn't let strangers open-mouth kiss their infants, or use unscreened blood if your infant needed a transfusion. Why then is unscreened milk okay? What am I missing?

  25. Well said Teri. What especially fascinates me is how in the same breath, lactivists advocate informal milk sharing while pointing to the Similac recall as proof of the dangers of formula. How ignorant, not to mention ironic! At least formula is regulated by the FDA and subject to regular inspections. Informal milk sharing is regulated by no one, and in addition to the pollutants as Teri mentioned above, breastmilk can also be contaminated by diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis, and others, plus whatever drugs the woman is taking (prescription or recreational). I've heard many woman online scoff at physician's advice to pump & dump or cease breastfeeding altogether when they are on certain medications because “breastmilk is best” and “doctors don't know what they are talking about.” So personally I would never consider taking breastmilk from a stranger, and I am much more confident in the contents of formula.

    And yeah, I am sick of this utterly disgusting attitude that all women who feed formula need to prove to some lactivist jury that they suffered enough/tried hard enough to breastfeed. I shouldn't have to hand all bystanders the novel of my life for them to judge every time I pull out a bottle. I am a good mother. Formula is good enough. Millions of babies thrive on it. Get the fuck over it.

  26. As someone who has donated (my kid refuses to take a bottle) I will say, I volunteered blood tests and my donees never wanted them.

    If it were me getting donor milk? I'd want blood tests. But that's just me. On milkshare, there's frequently requests for donated milk, and they'll require you to get tested on their dime.

    Some folks who donate donate to people they know. I was originally going donate to a friend who was adopting a baby and wanted to feed the kid breast milk, but the adoption fell through. So I ended up posting on some milk donation sites because I knew somebody would want it. The lady I initially donated to was unable to formula feed as her baby had an allergic reaction to EVERY formula she tried. :-( She had even said to me that it was too bad that her kid reacted badly to formula because running around and getting donor milk was getting to be a huge pain in the butt.

  27. you can find a local donor or someone you know and you pay to get them tested for diseases, you can be responsible for picking it up so you don't rely on shipping. i really wasn't looking for a fight here, someone that i read linked to this page and i read it and gave my opinion, just like you did.

  28. If the goal of this ad campaign is to encourage women, who would otherwise not think twice about going with formula from the start, to breastfeed, then the commercials should 1) target common misconceptions about breastfeedng; 2) normalize images of breastfeedng; 3) point out (and address) societal and cultural barriers to breastfeeding (such as lack of support from friends or family, barriers in the workplace, barriers for single moms, etc.)

    The best I can think of would be an image of a newborn baby resting on daddy's hands (think the Similac ads). Then as the camera pans out to show dad and baby in the hospital room, there's a voice saying “She's so tiny. So helpless. You want to do everything for her. Her stomach is also tiny…at birth, it's the size of a marble.” Then dad hands her to mom, who is sitting in a chair by the window, and she starts nursing. “Right after birth, her mom's body makes colostrum — packed with antibodies, this first food is perfect for her tiny stomach. And as she grows, her mom's body will begin to make mature milk — usually within 3-5 days after birth — to nourish her during her first year and beyond.” Then cut to the “breastfeed exclusively for six months/babies were born to be breastfed” in just about any color scheme OTHER than white on black.

    There you have information to counteract some common misinformation; you have daddy getting involved (yay family support); you have a play on the ads of a major formula retailer (ba-zing, Similac); and you have an image of mom breastfeeding on TV (but that's indecent) — and all without overtly making moms who don't breastfeed exclusively for 6 months feel guilty and crappy.

    The problem I see with this ad is that it does nothing to address any of the “booby traps” and barriers that many women face to breastfeeding. It doesn't promote breastfeeding. Its purpose is to scare mothers into breastfeeding — and then when they face barriers, where will the Ad Council be then? Where will they be when mom goes back to work and her supply drops because she can't take enough breaks to pump? Where will they be when grandma keeps suggesting that a bottle of formula will help the baby sleep through the night? Where will they be when mom's insurance doesn't pay for her to see a lactation consultant when baby isn't gaining weight or she's having pain from a bad latch?

  29. I exclusively breastfed my son for 4 months, until his weight was so low that he was no longer on the growth percentile charts & our pediatrician recommended that we supplement. I took herbal supplements & pumped around the clock with a hospital grade pump– I did everything I could to try to increase my milk production before finally giing him formula. It was a horribly difficult decision to make, filled with tons of tears and anxiety.

    He gained almost 4 lbs in a month (over 1/3 of his body weight at the time!) and became a completely happy & satisfied baby. I don't regret my choice to forgo donor milk & give him formula for a second.

    As for the ad, totally appalling.

  30. In the interest of full disclosure, I mentioned Similac twice in my post, and that might have been taken to be unfavorable. I have nothing against them that I don't have against every formula manufacturer (advertising, hospital giveaways). My son drinks Similac. My brother and I were raised on Isomil. I think their product is excellent. I'm not trying to be mean to them.

  31. Jennifer–while I think the ad you describe would be much more tolerable and to the point, I don't see the connection to taking offense at formula companies' ads/samples. Formula is a product and all products are advertised–why should advertising for this particular product be banned? And the sample thing—it's not hard to refuse a sample or chuck it if you don't want it. I don't believe there are women out there who were/are considering breastfeeding, and then decide against it as soon as they get a free sample.

    The hospital I had my babies in simplified this a bit: they asked if you intended to breastfeed. If so, they set you up as best they could—if your baby needs supplements for example, they'll finger feed instead of giving a bottle and teach you to use SNS. They put a little sign on the bassinet so no one accidentally gives a bottle. They send LCs to your room for instruction. I don't remember getting a free sample of formula in the diaper bag I got, though there were coupons for it in there. (I also got coupons for Huggies, which didn't make me rush out and buy Huggies, because even with the coupon, they were still more expensive than the generic.) I did get a free sample of formula from the hospital directly, because my boys needed the supplementation, but if they didn't, certainly it would not have been given.

    I realize that not all hospitals do things that way, but if they did, would that be more satisfying to you, as far as free samples are concerned?

  32. According to the BFing bullies, women are too stupid to realize that “breast is best” without being demonized like this ad demonizes us. We're too stupid to make medical decisions that weigh the pros and cons–the way that men do, the way that doctors and other health professionals do, the way that is the golden standard of medicine. We're also, apparently, so stupid and shallow that the second we receive a free sample of something, we have to rush out and buy that product with no thought or regard for what we “should” be doing.

    Should we not give coupons or free samples of baby food in the jar? Cause after all, homemade is BEST. Should we not have ads for baby food, animal crackers, toddler meals, and whatnot, because they're not “best?” Should we all embark on a campaign against Gerber and Beechnut and Earth's Best because they might–horror of horrors–encourage women to start giving solids when the BFing bullies want us to exclusively breastfeed–despite some evidence that EBF until 6 months, as this ad advocates, actually HARMS babies?

    For that matter, Medela pumps are supposed to be the cadillac of breastpumps. Yet they're $300 easily. I see ads and coupons for breast pump accessories all over the place. Forget nursing tops and nursing bras, they easily run you $100 a pop and I see those ads all over the place. For all that breastfeeding is free, it's insanely expensive, unless you have the privilige of being a SAHM. Granted, many of those BFing SAHMs seem to have the attitude that if you can't stay at home and BF, you have no business having children, but that's besides the point. I am of the opinion that until LLL condemns Medela for selling what is essentially a glorified suction pump system for the ludicrous prices they do, or companies like Anita and Bravado for their insanely overpriced nursing bras they have no. effing. business condemning the formula companies.

  33. It's fully possible to have breastfeeding commercials that aren't hostile, fearmongering and hateful. The ones here in NZ are so positive, informative and low key that they never caused me to shed an extra tear during the 7 months I cried every day over my breastfeeding issues. I still cry sometimes, but not every day. ;)

    On an angry note I can't believe someone is trotting out that FF is selfish, it's the mother's fault for not trying hard enough and 'I suffered and overcame why shouldn't you?' claptrap. Seriously? One thing I got from my months of suffering is sympathy and a drive to help others in similar circumstances. No one should have to go through what I did. It's not a badge of pride.
    I suppose it's not really any surprise as even after giving my daughter formula through a tube taped to my breast for 7 months until she was on enough solids that my supply could cope with her breastfeeding needs I still get people asking why I didn't try harder and why I didn't give donor milk.

  34. @Liza,

    It seems like you mean well. Thanks for posting your opinion. It sounded like you are new to this site. If you go back a read from previous posts, you will get a better idea of why the FFF blog exists and maybe it will help you understand why this commercial is so offensive to many of us “regulars” here. Read the posts by the FFF herself especially, as she goes into great detail about the studies of breastfeeding and shows how they are being manipulated to push an agenda. The common talking points that lactivists through out (like 1% not being able to bf, contaminated formula, etc.) are not what they seem.
    Women like myself have been bullied and mislead about breastfeeding for so long it's hard not to bite back when we see something as atrocious as this commercial!

  35. Amy, I was trying to make the point that I don't have anything against Similac (or any other formula manufacturer). I also did not mean in any way that I'm against formula companies advertising or giving out samples to moms who want it. I do, however, think that for a breastfeeding mom who really wants to do it but has a weak support system, having that formula sample around can be an “easy solution” if she has some of the common breastfeeding problems that can maybe be solved by help from a lactation consultant or good advice or better support from family and friends. So I think hospitals should either give the samples only to the moms who are already FFing or, better yet, should ask whether the moms want formula samples (because some BFing moms will want them). And as for the advertising, I have the same complaint about a lot of products, but I have seen a few formula ads that seem to really dumb things down (what the heck is a “comfort protein”?). I realize that's not limited to formula companies (it does seem to be pretty common among companies that advertise to women, though…) but it seems that considering the product they are selling is intended to be a complete source of nutrition for the first year of a baby's life a little more informing and a little less overt selling might be warranted.

  36. I have been reading the comments here and Liza I must hold back to say what I really want to say. I didnt BF my son.I am a sexual assault survivor. I tried BF in the hospital all the time the LC holding my breasts, insisting she needed to ensure my son properly latched on. Despite my protests and cries for her to stop, she refused. I felt like I had been raped all over again.. but people like you would insist I BF or else. I was on medication for depression as well that was contraindicated for BF.. you would insist that I either quit my meds or pump my son full of toxins. Because it is better than formula right? Lets add on top of this that I had a difficult delivery complete with an episotomy that it hurt to take a piss, sit or walk? The last thing I wanted or needed was mastisis or bleeding/cracked nipples. I got told by WIC that I didnt love my son because I didnt want to BF, even though I was an SA survivor and it could trigger a flashback. My husband told them to fuck off when they said they knew”lots of women who had been raped” and BF. If I could have sex surely I could BF they insisted. My husbands rant and a call from my OB about my meds finally got them to back off. When my son was about 6 or 7 monthes old he and I were ejected from a playgroup that was “for BF only” although the flyer never said that. I walked home in humiliation with my head down. Not to mention the various nazis on mom forums. If I had to do over again I FF again. I dont feel guilty and I dont have to answer to anyone about why I did what I did. You need to learn some compassion lady. As for donor milk? Milk banks should exist and be subject to the same regulations as blood banks. It should only be given with a script for premies, sick babies and babies who cannot tolerate formula. It is selfish to take this donor milk if a baby can use formula from a baby who needs it desperately. Thats the only way I support use of donor milk. I would never allow some stranger to give her milk to my son. I dont know what diseases she has and her lifestyle. Sorry I will stick with formula. My son is almost 8 years old and if you walked into his 2nd grade class you wouldnt be able to tell by looking who was FF or BF. If you say you can then I call BS.

  37. Ads like this almost killed me. For real, no joke. I didn't take medicine I needed to stay alive because I'd have to stop breastfeeding. I'm not the only one – I know a mother who didn't take higher-level antidepressants and attempted suicide.

    Breastfeeding is awesome. I support breastfeeding. BUT, like all things in life, it's about weighing risks and benefits. For me, the benefits of breastfeeding were not enough to outweigh the risk of DYING.

    This ad is not only offensive, it is DANGEROUS.

  38. Big Mama – 1%?? You're kidding right? The numbers are actually 4-5%, which might not seem much, but it actually is a LOT of mothers, and even more babies. Formula saves those babies' lives.

  39. ErinKate – You're absolutely right to say it's dangerous. Not only for mothers who will neglect themselves, but as we saw in recent posts on this blog, not considering formula as an option at all can be dangerous for some babies as well, if the mothers don't produce enough milk…

  40. It's like I always say. If these individuals/folks from the Ad Council felt so confident about breastfeeding and breast milk than there would be no need to put down formula feeding mothers.

  41. This really got to me- I thought I was over being emotional and sensitive about failing at breastfeeding, but when I saw that commercial I burst into tears. Once again, I am so grateful for this blog and the support it offers.

  42. I still have lingering guilt. I still fumble and worry and wish that I hadn't failed. But those feelings are fading. Slowly but surely. It is so much more important for me to be healthy and medicated and stable, than it was for me to keep trying to breastfeed when it was tearing me apart. I envy breastfeeding women. I envy those who never had a problem and were able to BF with ease. I envy FFing mothers who chose to do it without a stitch of guilt and all the better for it.

    In the end, my daughter is fed. And beautiful. And hasn't been sick once, when her EBF playmate has been sick at least 3 times… It's all about who is around your babies and when in regards to them getting sick (as well as their natural immune systems.) Not about what you feed them.

    Liza I'm glad you overcame and were able to accomplish your BF mission, but not everyone has that option.

    What everyone has the option of doing is supporting each other, no matter their decision.

  43. Amanda there is no need to have lingering guilt I know easier said than done. I suppressed mine for years until last year when my cousin had a baby and is passionate about BF. Very passionate.. even stated on a page during the Similac recall that she was glad her kids were never fed that “artificial crap”. Even though she never said directly I felt like she thought she was superior to me because shes BF 3 kids. I know her middle child has severe allergies the poor guy, while my FF son is healthy save for the occassional cold that kids are prone too. But his immune system is strong enough to knock them in 2-3 days. I no longer feel guilty.. I think in many ways my guilt has turned to anger at the BF lobby especially LLL and online mom blogs.

  44. Ugh. That ad is horrifying. Please update us on where to direct letters of complaint.

    My 3.5 month old has been exclusively FF with Alimentum for almost 2 weeks now. Before that, he had blood and mucus in his diapers and his weight gain completely stalled for 3 weeks. I tried no milk, then no milk, no soy, no nuts and his diapers got distinctly worse. I simply was not willing to eliminate anything else while I waited and hoped for my child to gain weight again.

    The change since the formula has been miraculous–he is sleeping double the hours he was sleeping before, his diapers are pretty much normal and he is so much happier. It is clearly working for him. I am going to tell his doctor next week that I want to stop the pumping I have been doing to keep up my supply. I feel sad about it–this is our third and last kid, but he is clearly better on formula.

    But I have already gotten a few looks when I feed him in public–and an older woman shook her head sadly when she saw me unload all the formula boxes onto the checkout belt. I have been able to blow it off, but it makes me furious that total strangers feel the right to openly judge my choices and my parenting. I don't want to get into the trap of explaining why my baby has to have formula to anyone who questions–it's none of their damn business. But the first person who suggest an elimination diet will get a piece of my mind.

    Stephanie–I am so sorry that you had the horrible experience with the LC. I was manhandled by and LC as well after the birth of my first and it was awful–and I have nothing like your history. Take care.

  45. OK, folks, I have some information. I called HHS and was directed to the Ad Council; as far as HHS is concerned, the ad campaign is done. The mechanical bull ad has a companion, by the way, that compares formula feeding to pregnant women in a logrolling competition. The person I spoke to at HHS said that they did some market research and found the tone of those ads to be the most “effective” but I politely informed her that the road to hell is paved in good intentions.

    I called the Ad Council (212-922-1500; it's a Washington D.C. number) and left a message in their PR department; I didn't get a call back. I called again today and spoke with Ellen Fisher. She was very abrupt and informed me that the ad campaign was considered finished years ago. I told her that the ads were still running.

    Ellen said that Ad Council airtime is donated airtime, and that local stations sometimes retain old ads from old ad campaigns. She said they're not supposed to do that for expired campaigns, and that if I got her the information on what station aired it, she would have her people contact them to stop airing the ad.

    So I called her back after reading FFF's blog post with the station listed, and let her know. She said she would get her people to call K-CAL 9 to tell them to stop running the ad.

    However, this shows that unfortunately, we must be vigilant, and that the problem of this ad campaign is a difficult one. These ads still exist online. They apparently can also be aired by any station at any time, and even if they hurt people, all they'll say is “oops” and put the onus on us to report each incident in each area. Obviously, we can't be in every market area, and if they're willing to create ads like this in the first place, who's to say they won't make more?

    For now, I'd say if you see these ads, call the number above with the station name and, if possible, the time or program in which the ad aired. But I think we're going to have to take greater steps to ensure that every station in the US knows that these ads are verboten.

  46. The problem is much less that “OH NOES!! There's something on TV that offends me!” and more that the Federal government is funding a campaign which is undermining women's wellbeing on the basis of some shabby studies.

  47. I have yet to see this garbage on TV in Atlanta but if I do, I'll be glad to call the Ad Council and complain. These ads are ridiculous, inflamatory and misleading. What do they say to adoptive parents or women who are breast cancer survivors? I don't care what some poorly designed study (with weak associations at best) says… Formula feeding in the developed world IS NOT A RISK and should not be presented as such by a government agency.

    @ Teri: sorry to be anal, but you list the # as (212-922-1500) and mentioned it's a Washington DC number. The 212 area code is actually for NYC. Did you mean 202-922-1500? Thanks for following up on that by the way, I was curious if this sh&t was making a comeback (and of course hoping it wasn't).

  48. I too think I have seen this commercial air locally. I will pay more attention and report if I do.

    I'm glad that I'm not the only one leery of donor milk. It's amazing the trust that people have in our ability to find all infectious diseases. There was a time in our not so distant past when the medical community didn't know about or test for HIV. There are emerging infectious agents everyday. (I know I keep harping on this issue, but it's important IMO.)

  49. @stephanie I hear ya! It's only occasional now… but yes. I feel bad that your cousin made those remarks. It is no fair that someone would say that formula is artificial crap. It's real, and it's not crap. It has saved so many children. I was 100% FF from the era where many women never even attempted BFing and I turned out fantastic, if I do say ;) LOL And on top of that, formula has been vastly improved since those days so I'm happy for that :)

    In general: In regards to donor milk. I can understand where it is coming from. Back in the day there were wet nurses would could be called upon to BF the baby if needed. Similar idea. But I agree it needs to be much more regulated and controlled and screened. The things going on health wise and world wise are so much different than “back then” when wet nurses were a norm. Though I appreciate the heart behind it.

    ALSO education education education. I have a friend who is about to have her baby after years of infertility struggles and failed attempts and two IVF rounds. She has PCOS. She had never heard of or been told or mentioned to that she may have a problem breastfeeding as a result of this condition… After reading the above comment from Teri I sought her out and told her as quick as I could. Forewarned is forearmed. She now is armed with the possibility and knows to seek help BFing ASAP for a greater chance of success.

    Education over fear. Period.

  50. Ack, you're right, Kristin, it is a NYC number. Mah bad!

    Amanda makes a great point–the tendency of militant lactivists to say that all women can breastfeed actually lowers breastfeeding rates. How many women are told they can (and must) breastfeed when they actually can't–and if bonding is so important to BFing bullies, how come we berate these women to the point where they feel they must sacrifice their bond with their babies to BF?

    How many women are told they must EBF (because any supplementation kills their supply) when they can only produce a little milk (as is the case for many women with insufficient glandular tissue, hormonal issues, PCOS, etc.) and would be much more “successful” if they were told of the possibility of the need to combo feed? Some BM is better than none, if you believe BM is the elixir of life, right? BFing bullies cut their noses off to spite their faces.

    I'm thinking of how to approach this to get the word out to all TV stations that these ads are not acceptable anymore–if nothing else because the research behind them is incorrect; EBF for a strict 6 months may put babies off bitter greens. I want these ads GONE, not that we are chasing after every rinkydink station for the next decade, and not that the Ad Council gets it into their heads that they can try this ever again.

  51. “Just because breastmilk offers some minor benefits doesn't mean formula is crap or risky.”

    Breastfeeding is the biological norm, therefore to say it has benefits is technically incorrect because it assumes breastmilk is the alternative. Formula is the alternative, and therefore, while it's not crap, it DOES carry risks. They are not huge risks, but they are risks all the same. That's life – pretending it ain't so doesn't make them go away.

    But if we are talking in terms of benefits of breastfeeding compared to formula, I don't think they're small and nor do I think studies are being manipulated to push an agenda. Why do governments need an agenda? If formula was really best, governments would push it because, unlike breastmilk, formula makes money which provides taxes.

    The study commented on by the Sun was funded by researchers with links to the formula and baby food industry. They had a vested interest in discovering that breast is not best. So sorry if I'm going to ignore that crap piece of pseudoscience for the time being – I place more faith in the numerous organisations who recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months and sometimes longer: http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids/delay-solids.html (the same page links to studies which show breastfeeding for longer helps *prevent*, not cause, obesity).

    In terms of donor milk – there is a lot of misinformed talk around it. Donor milk through organisations like Eats on Feets/HM4HB asks that mothers organise their own screening tests before accepting donor milk. Milk changes with the age of a baby so the best matches are between mothers who both have babies of a similar age. However, breastmilk from any mother is a closer match for a baby than formula. Milk banks are also few and far between and getting milk from them can be prohibitively expensive – milk donation makes breastmilk so much more accessible to a wider group of babies.

    Before I get jumped upon (as I'm sure I will be) I'm *not* asking anyone to justify to me why you are FF – I assume you have your reasons. I also understand formula has its place. But that doesn't mean it's fair to indiscriminately attack breastfeeders or lactivists (those who don't abuse the term), or that claiming things about breastmilk or formula that aren't true is any more ok here than it is anywhere else on the internet.

    As for the ad – yeah, it sucks.

  52. Meryl – You obviously have not read any other posts here. You won't be “jumped” on; but rather, we have a different perspective and do believe there is a bit of misinformation about the health benefits of breast milk. Having a difference of opinion is not an attack.

    As for donor milk, I will say it again, our medical system is not flawless, and it's naive to believe we have all the info necessary to properly screen for all infectious agents. I would think it's far worse to expose your child to unnecessary potential infections than formula feed. I'll take bug larvae any day.

  53. Meryl-
    I don’t think anyone here would argue that breast milk is the biological norm and formula is the alternative. Nor is anyone saying that formula is BEST. That said, if someone chooses to not breastfeed or cannot breastfeed the “risks” they are willing to take, may not outweigh any real or perceived benefit that is their decision to make.

    Just like you believe the positives to breastfeeding outweigh the negatives there are women who believe the risks of formula feeding are less than the risks of donor milk…Either way it’s each person’s right to make that decision because, if done properly, neither will harm children.

    What we are discussing is making sure those risks are properly contextualized without being spun or exaggerated for an agenda. Much of the information readily available is not put into context and is exaggerated to elicit fear in mothers to make the perceived “right” choice by those with an agenda. This is where we get upset.

    Government agencies get lobbied by people/organizations with agendas and in turn influence public policy all the time! Just because the current wave of public policy is to promote breastfeeding doesn’t inherently mean formula is bad or we would all be better off if everyone breastfed.

    When you take the time to really research the studies that are used to advocate the health benefits of BF or the risks of FF, however you choose to frame it, a lot of these studies are poorly designed studies and list their weaknesses right in the text. These weaknesses and flaws are VERY rarely, one might say purposely, discussed. Why would that be?

    I think what is important is that everyone is properly supported in their choice and data isn’t misrepresented.

  54. Brooke – actually, I've read quite a few posts on here and the accompanying comments. Regarding donor milk: no, our medical technology is not flawless. Neither is the technology that is used to produce formula – only around 60 of the 300+ components in breastmilk have so far been able to be replicated in formula. I am not trying to tell you (or anyone) to choose formula over breastmilk. That's a very person choice and I respect a mother's choice to prefer formula for their child. However, I think donor milk is an equally valid and equally safe option.

    Darcie – I have really researched breastfeeding studies. Breastfeeding and formula feeding are a part of my study programme, as well as being something I am personally interested in. I am genuinely curious to know why you think anyone would want to have a pro-breastfeeding agenda? What would the benefit to the government be?

    And thankyou both for responding fairly.

  55. Meryl, the problem with milk banks and donor milk is that as of right now its a self policing industry. Yes I call it an industry as donor milk can cost as much as 5.00 an ounce. There is no real government regulation and oversight like with blood banks. Some may get on to me for comparing it to blood banks, but milk banks just IMHO should be reserved for sick babies, premies and those who cannot otherwise tolerate formula, those who truly need it. If a mom cannot BF or is having issues and her baby can tolerate formula I find it selfish to take milk from a milk bank. Its taking away precious resources from the most vulnerable. Yet I still am leary of them as they set their own standards of testing etc. Informal milk sharing scares me, as one poster on here said most of us wouldnt let our baby recieve unscreened blood or let strangers kiss them with an open mouth. Why are some willing to risk their babies health just to get BM? Yes you can pay to have a donor tested, but unless you keep testing and testing them you dont know if they are disease free. I would rather stick with formula as its regulated by the FDA, yes I think we need even stricter standards, but stil safer than unregulated milk banks and informal milk sharing.

  56. I agree that milk from milk banks should be reserved for sick infants. That there are so few milk banks around is partly why it costs so much (as well as expensive transportation, screening and storage).

    Which is why I hope that informal, free milksharing will become a viable option for many in the future. Aside from regular screening of your donor, and possibly establishing a relationship with them personally, there are also other methods such as flash pasteurisation which kill disease. Pasteurisation is not without its drawbacks but can provide extra reassurance. I wouldn't let my child receive unscreened blood (or milk) either – but blood has totally different properties to milk and transfers disease much more easily than milk does. But yes, both donor milk and FF carry risks which every parent needs to weigh up for themselves.

    As for why some parents might choose donated breastmilk? Because a) they have access to it, b) they can choose to have it screened, c) they've most likely carefully researched it and d) they think the benefits of human milk are worth it.

    In the end I think we might as well agree to disagree over the merits of donated milk as, much as I'm happy to debate it, it's getting a little off topic. I hope something comes of all the letter-writing and the crappy, guilt-inducing advert that was originally posted about gets pulled (again).

  57. Dammit, my long, well thought out post was eaten.
    So in a nutshell:
    Meryl – What exactly do you mean by “risks” when you say that FFing is risky? Not being snarky here, just genuinely curious—we may be defining “risk” in this context differently.

    Thanks.

  58. Meryl-
    IMHO the government shouldn’t be spending money on promoting BF the way it does. The evidence they are using to promote it is weak. Knowing how lobbying and influencing public policy works (that’s what I do for a living) just because the government supports it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for the greater good or the evidence is solid.

    In the US, the Office of Women’s Health a division of HHS, partnered with LLL to promote breastfeeding. Do you see any bias there? The OWH were the ones who sponsored these advertisements we’re discussing. What does the OWH cite as their data for promoting their campaigns? AHRQ’s analysis of breastfeeding research.

    Within the analysis it states, “A history of breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of many diseases in infants and mothers from developed countries. Because almost all the data in this review were gathered from observational studies, one should not infer causality based on these findings. Also, there is a wide range of quality of the body of evidence across different health outcomes.

    So, when you read through the analysis you find statements like;
    But a summary adjusted estimate taking into account potential confounders could not be determined because the studies did not provide usable quantitative data.

    The studies on asthma were equivocal.

    The studies found little or no evidence for an association between breastfeeding in infancy and cognitive performance in childhood.

    However, these results must be interpreted with caution because of the possibility of recall biases and suboptimal adjustments for potential confounders in the studies.

    Though the crude and adjusted estimates did not differ in these three studies, the lack of adjustments for potential confounders such as birth weight and maternal factors by all studies could exaggerate the magnitude of an association.

    This isn’t overwhelmingly solid evidence. So why did our Surgeon General recently use the same data in her Call to Action? Good question. It is hard to deny that there is a strong social pressure to breastfeed and that very vocal, organized groups are very intelligently swaying public opinion and certain people in government are predisposed to hear this message (the first lady) – perhaps biased from their personal experiences and opinions as well.

    Speaking of the SG call to action on supporting BF; there was a piece that discussed possible savings attributed to BF. If you go to http://www.mommadata.blogspot.com, there is a piece about the evidence in the report w/r/t the death and cost savings. The comments to the blog post contain a discussion on how the 900 deaths were estimated and how the researchers estimated the 900 using overall death rates for certain diseases.

    So if the government wants to promote support for breastfeeding because it’s every mother’s right to do so – fine, but don’t use crappy research and make claims that in turn, uneducated laypersons use to promote their agenda.

  59. @Darcie – Um, you just summed up one of the most “shocking” chapters of my book. Thanks a lot, lady!! All kidding aside though, I think you illustrated the point beautifully, and far more succinctly than my overly-wordy ass did. ;)

    @Meryl – First of all, I am glad that you visited the site and (while I realize it “didn't do much for you”) have been able to debate some of these points so respectfully. I appreciate your feedback and willingness to engage.

    The only point I'd like to address personally (as I like to let these comment threads take on a life of their own and butt out) is your assertion that I am claiming formula is BETTER than breastmilk. I don't believe I've ever said that, considering I do not believe it to be true. I think breastmilk is indeed the most appropriate food for most babies. That said, breastfeeding is not only about food, and it takes 2 to tango – a mom and a baby. I think the “risks” of formula need to be properly contextualized (see above comments from Darcie, Brooke, and others who have obviously heard me drone on and on about this over the past few years) so that women can perform their own risk/benefit assessment.

    That said, you made me think about this a little, and upon reflection, I will go out on a limb and say that in rare cases, even the actual substance of breastmilk may indeed NOT be the best option. My son had a severe allergy to milk protein, from all mammals, including human. I know this is a source of contention in the breastfeeding advocacy camp, but there have actually only been a handful of studies examining the reality of human milk allergy and the ones that exist have found strong evidence that it not some mythological construct invented by women trying to assuage their guilt about not wanting to go on elimination diets. And it happens in other species too – cows, for instance, can be allergic to cow's milk. In nature, my son would have died or been pretty sickly and miserable. But thankfully, he could tolerate special hypoallergenic formula… so in his case, formula WAS the healthier option.

    Still, that is not really the point of this blog, so its neither here nor there. The thing I want to focus on is that just like the lactivist camp will tell you, breastfeeding is not only about food. So we can't only compare formula to breastmilk; we need to assess what breastfeeding is going to mean for an individual woman and her family. And for some women, the act of breastfeeding is going to render the benefits of breastMILK null.

    Thanks again for participating in the discussion and I hope that you do not feel attacked, as we really do try and engage as peacefully as possible unless someone is being personally attacked.

  60. “So we can't only compare formula to breastmilk; we need to assess what breastfeeding is going to mean for an individual woman and her family. And for some women, the act of breastfeeding is going to render the benefits of breastMILK null.”

    Thanks FFF! Those are words I've been searching for for a while now.

  61. One of the issues that is rarely broached in the FF versus BF debates is classism. As soon as actual research comes into play, showing that the benefits of EBF are overstated, someone usually resorts to the “some women are ignorant/selfish/gullible enough that only fear will keep them from FF without at least giving BF a go.” Let's be honest here. What they are really saying is that they are trying to protect poorer women, those not privileged with higher incomes and higher education and better jobs and higher access to childcare and/or stay at home status, from themselves. How patronizing. I have met some stupid and some selfish people in my life, some of whom were EBF's, but none of whom got to their sorry moral and mental state by way of not having holier than thou rich women fail to intervene. We are still dealing with the idiotic thought that the poor (or just non-upper middle class, really) are poor due to bad habits, rather than systemic causes. Thus the need for [upper] middle class women to defend their choices to formula feed, lest they [we] be thought poor and stupid and full of vices.

    The ad works off of lower socioeconomic stereotypes, and it's not a coincidence that the rider is black as well. “White trash and black people are the only ones who would put their babies at risk” the ad insinuates. So basically, it's a racist and classist jab that plays on prejudices in order to guilt women who don't do what the ad suggests. Deplorable.

  62. Ooh, quite a few points to address here! ;)

    FFF: I guess I should really retract that first statement, that coming here didn't do much for me. I was pissy that a bunch of women who make a whole lot of complaints about being judged, then go and make insulting blanket statements about others. That doesn't go for everyone on this site but there are rather a lot of hypocritical “don't you dare judge me for formula feeding, you nasty bully breastfeeder!” type comments. Contempt breeds contempt, and I stand by the essence of that comment, that if you want an atmosphere of mutual respect between mothers (and who doesn't?!) that we all have to stop being prejudiced. I get that a lot of FF mothers have had mean things said to them – but hey, it's not all sunshine and light just because I BF either. Being likened to a milk cow, having sexual comments made when you are trying to feed your child, being told you're a pervert for still breastfeeding a one year old and other such gems are not nice either. Nor do I like the comments about lactivists all being evil FF haters. I am a lactivist: I fight in my country (not the states) for better breastfeeding support for women. More free care. More resources. More access to donated breastmilk if they want it. That's it. True lactivism is NOT about demonising formula, or mothers who want or need it.

    Secondly, where did I assert that you said formula was better than breastmilk? I have re-read my comments a few times and can't find it. Third, I completely agree with you that breastmilk is not best for babies who are allergic to it, and that breastfeeding is not always best for mothers (or their babies if it is compromising the mother's health). In those cases, thank goodness for formula.

    Amy: risks of formula – the fact that an exclusively FF baby is receiving 240 less compounds than breastmilk contains. What is the effect of this? We still don't even know what all the constituents in breastmilk are there to do, let alone what happens without them. FF babies are also at an increased risk of diarrhoea, respiratory problems, and SIDS among other things. Regarding the STATS article about the AAP's conclusions about respiratory problems, I agree with this: http://goodenoughmummy.typepad.com/good_enough_mum/2006/07/statsorg_breast.html. The virgin gut of an EBF baby also provides immune protection which an even partially FF baby does not have: that, to me, is a risk. Given your circumstances it may be a risk worth taking, but it is worth bearing in mind.

    Darcy: Sorry… I can't really follow your paragraph about bias as I am not from the States and don't know the abbreviations aside from LLL. It is still not clear to me WHY the US would have an agenda to promote breastfeeding if they knew there was no benefit to it. I just can't get my head around this conspiracy theory. Formula makes money, breastfeeding doesn't (although it does save money). But if there were no health benefits, it wouldn't save money, making formula the smarter choice for a government to promote.

    I accept that there are always going to be flaws in studies of breastfeeding, because accounting for someone's overall lifestyle is difficult. But that doesn't mean that research can't still be revealing, and relevant, and important.

    I can't really take the Mommadata blog seriously. The writer clearly has an extreme bias towards FF from the outset (despite having BF for three months). She sounds like a petulant child and I don't trust anyone with such a big bee in their bonnet to write a balanced report.

  63. When it boils right down to it, in the most basic of terms. Everyone has an agenda. Well meaning or not. Everyone has a reason behind something. The “lactivists” (using this very loosely) have an agenda to ensure everyone BFs. There is often little to no proper support for this. It seems IMO that they just want everyone to do it, no matter the consequences of that decision.

    I was thinking of Little House on the Prairie the other day, and realized “back then” they sure would have been breastfeeding! But there were A) no real other options, perhaps a wet nurse B) everyone else BF so there was an amazing support system in family and close friends and C) there was TIME to do it because (let's face it) the woman stayed home and took care of the house and the kids and that's just the way it was.

    So what's so different? Our bodies for one. As we have worked through the industrial revolution we have added, changed and quite literally modified the world we live in and our opinions of it. It has deeply affected our bodies and the way they work and behave. Infertility is on the rise, c-sections are on the rise, allergies are on the rise. I believe this all directly affects the way we live in the world and how our body functions in many aspects, including BFing. Alas, as our culture changed so fast, we fell away from BFing over time. Through new “conveniences” as well as the sudden shift to a culture where BFing women were separated, even in their own homes, away from everyone else.

    Today many moms have to work right away after baby is born. Lots of places don't have BF/pump friendly environments. Mat leave in the US is 6-12 weeks at most. 6 paid and 6 unpaid (this may not be the case everywhere.) That wouldn't have been so “back then”.

    At week 6 for me I was in a complete BFing nightmare!! Had I needed to go back to work, it would have only added to the trauma and the BF relationship would have ended shortly thereafter.

    If LLL and other organizations want mothers to BF, especially for 6 months exclusively than they need to lobby for TIME. Make mat leave 6 months then! Get out there and LOBBY, protest, and fight for change for the right for women to stay home with their babies for the recommended length of time that they should BF and that will help. Give them the ability to get that BFing established and have half a chance of it being successful.

    Give FREE support to any and all BFing mothers for whatever troubles they need. Don't be judgemental. Be supportive. Work with them through their problems for greater success, no matter the outcome.

    I know if I had had to pay for all the different lactation consultants I visited in my BF journey it would have ended a whole lot sooner. Not everyone can afford that kind of help.

    Ensure that the woman has all the proper foods available to her to eat so she can nourish herself and then baby in turn. If the mom can't afford to feed herself, the milk she gives to the baby will only take away from her and then it is a self perpetuating cycle because the baby isn't getting “good” milk and the mom gets further exhausted because she can't get good food and is feeding the baby at the same time.

    In Canada there is no program to provide formula, we have to pay out of pocket, however in the States the WIC program could fully provide food for a baby and it would be healthy and doing well no matter what was going on for the mother's body/food life. Or fully provide for the mother while she was attempting to BF her baby in equivalent methods (food for mom etc) to help it succeed.

    This was way off topic and totally ramble-y. The point I'm trying to make is everyone wants something and has some kind of agenda, but in order to make it WORK other things need to change.

    Whew :)

  64. @Meryl- Wow. Mommy Brain at its best. I have no idea what I was referring to either. For some reason I thought I'd read that in one of your posts – it must've been someone else, someWHERE else. Please excuse my mistake. Ugg. :(

    Just to clarify some of the abbreviations for you since I think Darcie's point was really good – she is referring to a large meta-study done by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, looking at a wide variety of breastfeeding studies. This is what most of our recent American breastfeeding advocacy is based on. HHS is the Dept of Health & Human Services. But mostly, I think the main part of her argument should withstand any cultural discrepancies… the sections she quotes from this metastudy (which I believe did examine studies from many different countries) prove that the evidence was nowhere as infallible as much of the breastfeeding literature would have us believe.

  65. Long rebuttal; @FFF: pls tell me if I'm getting too wordy, I'll shut up. It's your blog.

    I don't call a few upset FF parents griping about how they're sick of being told they're lazy bums who want to inflict wheezing moron children on the world “contemptuous.” I do think it's contemptuous when self-described “lactivists” claim formula is poison, push for formula by prescription only, and lobby to force people to pay 10x more to discourage FF. Not to mention trying to take away all right to tell people about formula in hospitals, classes, or ads. I'm also concerned about BFing bullies following up on their assertions and calling child services on good parents who use formula.

    There are good reasons why lactivists are painted with a broad brush by people who have been subjected to intense hatred, ridicule, and poor medical advice because of the “breastfeed or bust” attitude. Even well-meaning lactivists have caused babies who had no business BFing to suffer, usually by temporarily starving them. They've exacerbated severe post-partum depression, placing new moms at risk of self-harm, including suicide. They've failed to recognize legitimate medical reasons not to breastfeed, causing untold damage to women and their children. That kind of thing gets your back up real quick, and that's not contempt on our part.

    Yes, we want mutual respect. But the lactivist community has shown no interest in policing its own. Outrageous sentiments like the mechanical bull commercial, like those I described in the first paragraph, are routinely cheered. I don't see BFing activists clamoring to stand up to the BFing bullies in their midst, trying to inject common sense into the debate, or readily admitting that there are many times when breast is truly not best. I don't see BFing activists encouraging women to get informed and then make their own decisions. I see them ordering women to get informed and then make the same decisions they did. I can't respect a movement that only gives the pretense of choice.

    You ask what is in it for lactivists to promote BFing, claiming it's free. You must be very priviliged because that is laughably false for most of us. I spent hundreds of dollars in lactation consultant visits, breast pump and breast pump accessories, pillows, nursing bras and clothes for nursing. The lactivist community refuses to admit how breast size challenges breastfeeding, in an attempt to not give people an excuse to give up. Those who run big cannot just get by with a regular bra they doctor up, or whatever clothes they have on hand, nor can they use the breast pump parts that come standard, they have to get larger ones. That's not to mention tools to sterilize bottle/pump components–things that again, self-described “lactivists” want to make impossible to buy by upping the cost or killing supply. And that doesn't even touch the human costs, to both baby and baby's family, when it isn't going well.

  66. If formula costs $1500 per year USD, for a working mom, breastfeeding costs about that much, and thanks to many militant lactivists, it could cost 10x as much. To say no one has a financial interest in promoting breastfeeding is ridiculous. We already know that already, even well-meaning lactivists whitewash the truth about breastfeeding with regard to how many women cannot; the notion that breastfeeding is free is more whitewash. No one here is against BFing advocacy but we demand honesty, something the BFing community doesn't seem to want to push for.

    Many BFing activists are stay-at-home-moms. I see the classism that Summer mentioned in spades. I see a lot of self-proclaimed lactivists putting down moms who have to work on mommy blogs and elsewhere. A certified doula and LC I had a run-in with not too long ago basically said if you're not going to stay at home and breastfeed, why have children? Again, I have a hard time respecting a movement that doesn't come down on folks like this like a box of hammers, demanding more responsibility of someone whose job it is to promote breastfeeding.

    You say there is no financial reason to promote breastfeeding because it's free. If that's the case, then why this? http://store.llli.org/public . These folks have no financial stake in promoting breastfeeding? $60 for a sling? $35 for a nursing pillow and cover? $7.50 for a pin? I could rest my case here, but there's more.

    Let's talk government funding–as in, what relationship do tangible benefits have with promoting a cause? For years, the U.S. government had public service announcements about the benefits of eggs. Then, suddenly, those ads disappeared because people became terrified of cholesterol. Now we're finding that eggs aren't actually so bad; for at least some people, eggs are very good for them. What changed? The dairy lobby and all its money didn't go away. Bad science inflamed a bunch of do-gooders and public policy shifted. You still don't see the old egg PSAs, though, because even though the science shifts, the fanatics don't.

    The supposed absence of a financial reason does not mean there aren't people who get something out of promoting BFing. Try instead looking at it more as a religion. I'm religious myself; I know plenty of people who go to great lengths to promote faith when they get nothing tangible for it, just the belief that they're doing good. People will sacrifice money, time, energy, and even their lives to promote it. But I see a lot of people promote BFing and then turn around and become lactation consultants. Great–they're working with their passions–but you can't tell me no one has a financial stake in promoting BFing.

  67. As far as your assertation that even though the data is flawed, it's revealing…this is an example of the misplaced moral superiority of the lactivist movement. Even though something may be false, it's revealing? What would you say if I said the gay community represents 60% of people with syphilis–and call that revealing, even though it's completely false? Militant lactvists' willingness to play fast and loose with data, accepting low quality science, just to promote a cause, is exactly the kind of thing that those who follow FFF rail against because it is immoral and dangerous, and many of us are direct victims.

    Do you understand how peer-reviewed studies get to be that way, and the tremendous pressure among scientists to conform to certain ideas otherwise they will never get published (and therefore, funded)? The idea that the science is unimpeachable betrays a very poor understanding of the corruption that exists in academia. Just one article that discusses it is here: http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2009/09/academic-freedom-isnt-free/ . Anyone can set up a “peer-reviewed” journal that claims anything you want. Another article discusses it here: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/rethinking-peer-review . One of their points is that a common criticism of the peer review process is that it stifles unorthodox thinking. Right now, the status quo is that “breast is best” even though researchers themselves admit their studies don't prove it. How do you know there isn't some good research showing no difference that isn't getting out there because of bias?

    Put another way: lactivists, bully and well-meaning alike, frequently complain about the influence of the formula companies. If that were so, how come the science you love to cite paints breastfeeding in such a great light? How come they haven't overcome “breast is best” in the first place? Couldn't they just buy all the science they want? Either the formula companies are so powerful or they're not. If you can accept that so many people are so unduly influenced by the formula companies, can you not also accept that so many people are unduly influenced by the breastfeeding activists and those who stand to make money off it–lactation consultants, pump companies, LLL?

    And getting back to the whole notion of risk…Meryl, if you put your baby in a car and drive even for short distances, you are already putting your baby at tremendous risk of dying. Yet we think nothing of driving our kids around, sometimes purposely to get them to sleep! Lactivists in general, and particularly the bullies, seem to have a very selective concern about risk.

    Far too long a rebuttal, I'm sure, but there were a lot of points to rebut. I don't know if I fall in Meryl's category of “contempt” but I do stand by my assertation that militant lactivism contains many risks (starving babies, driving PPD-inflicted moms to self-harm, exacerbating medical conditions of women and/or their babies, etc.). If lactivists want to be risk-averse, great, but they need to recognize the risks created by their own community and start policing their blogs/forums/etc. better.

  68. In regards to formula companies… in what way are they pushy? I've never been pushed by anyone to make the choices I made… I never felt pushed by formula to choose formula I was never made to feel like I HAD to chose breastfeeding (my own guilt did that quite well).

    Just because I got a sample of formula in the mail, did not make me automatically inclined to use formula… in fact I threw that one away in the end.

    Confused.

  69. Teri-very well put. You say things that I want to say but in a nice way..:)

    Amanda-WIC in the USA doesnt supply all the cans of formula or food a child under 5 or pregnant woman will need. The intent is to supplement the diet. I got 9 cans of powdered formula a month (yes I used powereded poison lactavist! oh my) and had to buy at least that many more a month on my own dime. As for formula samples.. I find it distressing that some BF women would rather toss them in the trash to make a point rather than donating them to local food banks of for victims of disasters.This is a general POV, not directed at anyone personally. The tornado disasters in the South where I live have been weighing heavily on my mind as I think of people who have nothing and how those with babies could use that formula. I just hate waste of any kind. Sure I understand some moms want to EBF, so why not donate the formula samples instead of tossing them., unless they are expired.?

  70. Stephanie–excellent idea about donating the formula samples! Remember the misguided drive to send breastmilk to Haiti? It sounded great, but how was all that milk going to get there? How would it stay fresh? How would it be distributed? There were a lot of logistics no one thought of. (I understand the intention was good).
    However, sending a package of formula pouches or cans, or bottles of pre-made if the water supply is sketchy—that would help a lot of people.

  71. Stephanie I think you misunderstood me….

    I FF and have since the end of month 2. I failed at BFing, quite spectacularly. At least for me it felt that way. I was heavy into PPD land and at nearly 7 months old now my daughter is doing fantastic and I am doing amazing as well now that my depression is managed and the sun has come out.

    I thought WIC supplied all the formula a mom may need, but being in Canada I don't know much about it, thank you for the info. Here no formula is supplied at all, which when I think about it, really sucks, because it's expensive darn it, and even just some covered by something would help a great deal. (I use liquid concentrate and powder when I need to.)

    What I'm curious about is I never ever felt “pushed” by any formula company to use their products. I never felt that formula had an agenda in feeding my baby. What I did feel was incredibly grateful that there was something I could feed my child that was predictable, would provide proper calories for her and didn't have my anti-depressant in it.

    But then again, I'm in Canada… perhaps that perspective is unique in that I am not exposed to the advertising sources that Americans are.

    The formula sample that I ended up tossing had been sent to me, I'd opened it up and used a portion but it did not agree with her system so I had to switch to a different kind. What I was meaning was that sample did not inspire me to buy their products, or to even buy formula in general. My needing to buy formula resulted in a failure to BF, not because I got a can of formula before I gave birth…

    Oh so complicated all these things. :)

  72. I never, ever, felt pressured to FF. I expected to BF exclusively. However, I am grateful for the pre-made formula the hospital gave me while I was pumping, dealing with a babe with latching issues, a kidney infection, etc. and waiting for my milk to come in. Without it my baby would have starved! When I was in the ER at 4 am 3 days after my baby's birth, I was so blessed to have my Mother able to care for her at home with formula! I am also grateful for the wonderful lactation consultants I saw so many times and from whom I never once heard an unkind or judgmental word. There is very little in Motherhood that should be all-or-nothing. Hurray for feeding babies!

  73. FFF – no worries, I have had more than a few moments like that lately.

    Teri: – “I don't call a few upset FF parents griping about how they're sick of being told they're lazy bums who want to inflict wheezing moron children on the world “contemptuous.” I do think it's contemptuous when self-described “lactivists” claim formula is poison, push for formula by prescription only, and lobby to force people to pay 10x more to discourage FF. Not to mention trying to take away all right to tell people about formula in hospitals, classes, or ads. I'm also concerned about BFing bullies following up on their assertions and calling child services on good parents who use formula.”

    I agree with the majority of this… though complaining about being insulted for FF is one thing (and fair enough), biting back at BF mothers as a group is another. The other part I am not in favour of is formula advertising. This is basically because formula companies have such vile ethics and repeatedly try to find loopholes in the existing advertising laws, and to undermine breastfeeding.

    Believe it or not I am lobbying for the main parent education organisation in my country (NZ) to bring back education on formula feeding in antenatal classes: the current policy is that formula can only be discussed if every single mother in the class has said they intend to formula feed. Not only is this patently ridiculous in terms of the number of parents who end up FF but intend to BF, but it goes against their charter of informed choice.

    “I don't see BFing activists clamoring to stand up to the BFing bullies in their midst, trying to inject common sense into the debate, or readily admitting that there are many times when breast is truly not best.”

    Maybe you do not see it, but it exists. It depends what circles you travel in, but I and other non-militant lactivists are regularly embroiled in battles over the attitudes of some who call themselves lactivists. Don't hate the word: at its essence, a lactivist is an advocate for breastfeeding, not anti-formula. Those who are anti-formula but who use the term are, in my opinion at least, mistaken.

    “You ask what is in it for lactivists to promote BFing, claiming it's free. You must be very priviliged because that is laughably false for most of us. I spent hundreds of dollars in lactation consultant visits, breast pump and breast pump accessories, pillows, nursing bras and clothes for nursing.”

    Firstly, I didn't ask what was in it for lactivists, I asked what was in it for governments. Secondly, I am definitely not financially privileged (if only!). I AM privileged in that the free breastfeeding support available to me is much more comprehensive than it is in either the States or the UK. The breastfeeding related products I've bought so far are: 3 nursing bras, 2 breast pumps (one manual, one electric, both cheap secondhand from Ebay and sterilised), and breastmilk storage bags. I don't use nursing clothes, I just wear a boob tube under my tshirt so my tummy stays covered when I pull my top up. I use a normal pillow, not a nursing pillow. My government pays for free independent midwives from pregnancy through to 6 weeks post-natally; they also pay for free IBCLC home visits and in-hospital LCs and 6 month's paid maternity leave (which did not apply to me as I was studying, not working). Hospitals provide free bits and pieces like breast pads, nipple shields, nipple creams and nipple shells.

    Yes, there are superficial costs to breastfeeding here, although the milk itself is free. But they are not equal to the cost of formula milk or the health repercussions at a population level and my government would have a huge financial incentive to promote formula if it were truly just as good. So why don't they?

  74. As for the LLL: they are non-profit. Anything they sell is simply part of a fundraiser for their efforts in breastfeeding education and advocacy. So no, they don't have a financial incentive to encourage breastfeeding. And as for slings? Not just for BF mothers – I know plenty of FF mothers who babywear too.

    “As far as your assertion that even though the data is flawed, it's revealing…this is an example of the misplaced moral superiority of the lactivist movement.”

    I am not morally superior, and I resent being called that. Believing that breastmilk is a superior substance to formula is not the same thing as believing a BF mother is superior to a FF mother.

    “Put another way: lactivists, bully and well-meaning alike, frequently complain about the influence of the formula companies. If that were so, how come the science you love to cite paints breastfeeding in such a great light? How come they haven't overcome “breast is best” in the first place? Couldn't they just buy all the science they want? Either the formula companies are so powerful or they're not. If you can accept that so many people are so unduly influenced by the formula companies, can you not also accept that so many people are unduly influenced by the breastfeeding activists and those who stand to make money off it–lactation consultants, pump companies, LLL?”

    Putting aside the fact that LLL is non-profit and LC's and pump companies make a tiny fraction of the profits of formula companies… Formula companies DO try to influence science. The recent EAT study which found that breastfed babies should be weaned earlier than six months was part-funded by Nestle and Nutricia. What interest do these companies have in breastfeeding studies? For a start, anything that undermines breastfeeding is a boon for a company which sells the alternative. I can accept that some people are probably irresponsibly advised to breastfeed by those who should know better. That's a huge shame. But it's also a tiny minority in comparison to the influence of formula companies. You only have to look at the low uptake of breastfeeding in correlation with the pervasiveness of formula advertising and presence to see the influence of formula companies.

    “And getting back to the whole notion of risk…Meryl, if you put your baby in a car and drive even for short distances, you are already putting your baby at tremendous risk of dying. Yet we think nothing of driving our kids around, sometimes purposely to get them to sleep! Lactivists in general, and particularly the bullies, seem to have a very selective concern about risk.”

    I'm not keen on comparing FF to driving with a baby in a car. For one thing, the risks are difficult and pointless to compare. If it was me that had tried to compare cars crashing to FF, you'd probably have been offended. But since you brought it up, I would suggest that once you take your child out of the car, the risk is over. Negative health impacts on a population level from formula are lifelong.

    I can't reply to all the posts as I have work to do and a kid who's about to wake up, and I have spent far too much time on this reply already…!

  75. One last thing… regarding pressure by formula companies. Formula companies do not push formula directly, as that would risk alienating their biggest customers. Instead, they undermine breastfeeding. If you are unsuccessful breastfeeding, you will naturally turn to the alternative source of infant nutrition, provided by companies who have already attempted to be a pervasive presence in early motherhood and who pretend to be supportive of new mothers (by offering samples, breastfeeding helplines etc).

    Free formula samples impact the length of time women breastfeed for: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/98/2/290. Formula companies give out breastfeeding information which implies breastfeeding women must have perfect diets in order to breastfeed (they don't); they also run breastfeeding helplines. What interest does a formula company have in trying to help a breastfeeding woman? It's most certainly not altruistic, but an attempt to gain another customer. A company that sells formula does not really want women to be successful breastfeeding.

    A forum thread about formula companies:

    http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/276859/how-formula-companies-undermine-breastfeeding

  76. It’s not so much a conspiracy theory- it’s just logic. What I am saying is the woman in the position to make the directives believes there is great benefit to BF over FF (just like you do) and then proceeds to use weak data to back up this belief. The government has many motivations for doing things not just tax revenue. What I was trying to explain is that, just like public officials have certain priorities when they get elected and try and change policy there are the same influences at play here. Yes there are always going to be flaws in BF/FF studies. To what extent and how much contradictory information, is the issue. You are personally pre-disposed to take that leap to say the weak data is relevant and revealing. I am not.

    The government shouldn’t use weak data or leave out other pertinent information because it doesn’t support their argument- that is misleading the public. You may not have a problem with that because you take that same “leap of faith.” I have a problem with that.

    Just because an organization is not-for-profit doesn’t mean it doesn’t make money, or motivated by other priorities. I work for multi-million dollar not-for profit. Of course LLL is biased. Just as you may read a study funded by a formula company and write it off as crap; what about a study backed by LLL or similar organization? Why are people who support BF reading these BF studies, but not discussing the data flaws yet when a formula company funds a study it’s immediately written off as a crap study?
    BF supporters preach they want mothers to be fully informed so they can make and educated decision, but how is this being transparent and honest?
    As for Mommadata, whether you like her writing style or not, the point I was bringing up was in that particular post’s comments the researchers dialog with her and it’s revealed that the death rates and cost data is very much overstated – something you will never glean from any of the reporting. FYI the writer does think there are benefits to BF she just doesn’t support the overstating of facts on any kind of research, not just BF/FF.

    I don’t know what your goal of coming on this blog was, I hope it was to become more open to the other points of view on the topic, not just preach your beliefs.

  77. @ Darcie- I was going to comment as well about not-for-profit not meaning not financially motivated. Anyone who knows my story, knows that I think there are numerous non-profits trying to make money, just trying to make themselves on the side of those struggling to do it. Just because LLL is a non-profit doesn't mean it doesn't have financial motives to encourage breastfeeding at all costs.

  78. First of all, that add is awful! Definitely worth complaining to the Ad Council and Department of Health about.

    @ Stephanie, I am so sorry you've had so many bad experiences– sexual abuse, bad LC, nasty WIC rep AND getting kicked out of a play group for not BFing. I almost put a frownie face at the end of that last sentence, but it just seems too inadequate. Whether to breast or formula feed is always a personal decision. Health care professionals really should know better than to continue when the patient says stop–especially when providing intimate care– and to a sexual abuse survivor at that. Talk about giving LCs a bad name. Child birth can heal or deepen the wounds of SA. Uber sorry it was the latter for you. Feed your baby in the way that's most therapeutic for you. Don't let anybody tell you how you “should” feel.

    @ Teri, I've been waiting for someone else to make that point. Sure, formula companies sell the stuff and therefore have a vested interest in its widespread use. There are however, people who stand to gain if you breastfeed. There's lots of expensive BFing gear on the market. LCs do make their living teaching people to BF. Some doctors and nurses face pressure from their pro-BFing employers. We all have our biases.

    I wish there were more resources that would calmly list the pros and cons of BF and FF (and combo feeding) and let parents make up their own minds. I think it would be great if hospitals offered info sessions like that– complete with a Q&A portion as long as needed– for parents on the fence. No judgment. No criticism. No trying to sway parents either way. Just the facts.

  79. Just gotta put a few more cents on the pile.

    My failure to breastfeed wasn't inspired, caused or any way related to the fact that I happened to have a sample can of formula in the house.

    My failure to breastfeed, like many others I would imagine, had zero to do with the availability of formula.

    However, I will be honest in saying I am so very grateful for the fact that formula exists because without it, what else would I have fed my daughter?

    Because truly there was a breaking point, and I was at it and it was all going to go south in a hurry.

    Not everyone can breastfeed. Period. Education is a absolute must. No more opinions one way or another. Everyone should know all their options and the potential risks of everything at the outset so that breastfeeding can be more successful.

    And by everything, I mean the risks of each mother's individual health and situation. Oh, you have PCOS? This may happen. Oh, you have insufficient glandular tissue? This may happen. Oh, you have (fill in the blank)? This may happen. Because if they don't know then when they suddenly fail at something they've been told they should just be able to do is when all the bad stuff happens.

    And really, if more mom's could get more support and less bad stuff the world would be just that much better IMHO.

  80. Again, I think more research into the way things work is needed. As others have pointed out, just because something is a not-for-profit doesn't mean it doesn't make money, or make people rich. LLLI pays out over $600k a year in salaries, according to their 12/29/10 Form 990 (mandatory NFP report for U.S. tax purposes). Nothing wrong with that, but at the same time, it's disingenuous to say people don't make a living off of promoting breastfeeding.

  81. @Amanda you didnt fail at anything.. parenting isnt a pass/fail thing. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and we just do the best we can.

    That being said.. I know Im going to offend many people, but tonight I was doing some research to post on my facebook page about HIV and BF. I came across LLL official statement on the issue and they take the stance that its ok to BF while being HIV postive along with UNICEF and the WHO. That in conjunction with advice that tell moms to BF no matter how what including if the results are a starving baby, LLL and these so called BF advocacy groups IMHO are a bunch of crazy people who need serious help. I dont care how effect antiviral drugs can be in possibly preventing HIV transmission via BF, the risk is too damn high and a little life is at stake. I know that AVT has worked well with preventing transmission in pregnancy, but not in BF. The difference is the absence of the placenta which acts as a barrier during pregnancy. BF offers no such barrier. For women who want to BF and maybe having trouble would be better off consulting her doctor and a LC who isnt affiliated with LLL and will take into account the individual not the agenda. But as of this moment LLL has 0 crediability with me.

  82. “I don’t know what your goal of coming on this blog was, I hope it was to become more open to the other points of view on the topic, not just preach your beliefs.”

    I was debating my point of view, not preaching my beliefs; Just the same as you have been doing.

  83. They actually showed us that ad in our antenatal classes, as well as one of a pregnant woman balancing on a rolling log in the water. And I'm in the UK!
    At the time, I fully intended to breastfeed, but life never goes to plan, and in hindsight, those adverts were EXTREME pressure and stress to put on already hormonal pregnant women!

  84. I *love* how their attitude is like a Nike Commercial, all “just DO it”. It must have been created by men. Men with no mammory glands. Anyone who has breastfed, even successfully would know that its not like that. You can't just SAY “DO IT FOR 6 MONTHS!” that's like saying “JUST DO A BACKFLIP 6 TIMES WITHOUT PRACTICING BEFOREHAND AND WITH NO INSTRUCTION” Uh, yeah. I tried for 3 weeks in excruciating pain to bfeed. It was my dream. But it didn't, and it wasn't because I didn't try. That commercial is not only insulting but sooooo far away from moms real experiences. Who makes those things?? and where did they come up with 6 months anyway? If I breastfeed for 7 am I a weirdo???? ugh. this is why I don't watch TV!

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