Happy Boobie news for World Breastfeeding Week:
The Ban the Bags campaign had an awesome victory in NYC’s banning of free formula distribution. The buzz about the new regulations had lactivists, pissed off working moms, and my office* chattering. A coworker is annoyed- “What’s next, she wondered, not allowed to feed kids junk food?” I’m (of course) thrilled, because, as I told her, it’s a step toward normalizing breastfeeding. I think it’s a great step in taking information control about infant feeding away from the formula corporations and placing it in the hands of doctors, nurses, and lactation consultants. I’m not even lying when I tell you that I had a pamphlet on getting started breastfeeding that was produced by Enfamil. Do you think that was accurate supportive educational material? Um, doubt it very much.
Now, I realize that by far most women are intelligent and capable of making informed decisions, and aren’t just pod people following commands from Evil Nestle. But it definitely sends a message for a hospital or birth center to distribute these materials. It’s a tacit affirmation of the message of the formula companies. My take on that message is this: “Formula feeding is normal and healthy, just not quite as healthy as breastmilk, but totally OK. And you might have trouble! A lot of moms can’t nurse; so when you find you can’t we got your back, girl.” This doesn’t seem too insidious and the low rates of nursing after the first few months seem to suggest that problems are pretty common. The truth is that there is evidence supporting the fact that these free samples do correlate with lower rates of breastfeeding. And the real statistics are fairly low for women who truly can’t nurse; quick google search shows up with the number 5% but it’s not attributed to a good source. To me, the more important issue is that having the samples around helps create the normalcy of artificial feeding. It tells a mom that everyone assumes you’ll bottle feed, which means that it must be the norm.
And I’m not an idealistic crunchy cornflake who doesn’t know what troubles can exist. Remember Boue has formula for two weeks while we got my milk built up with pumping and medication. I had no trouble getting formula (free) when I asked for it. (By the way, they aren’t banning formula in hospitals or telling you you can’t bottle feed your child. You just have to ask for it.)
So, w00t NYC.
*A local breastfeeding support group asked for nominations for supportive employers, so I wrote in and my clinic’s being honored. They’re incredible**. Pumping breaks? Cool. Uh-oh, Emsy zha Boue won’t drink EBM- long lunches to go nurse? Groovy. Papaw brings her for a visit & she wants to nurse while I answer phones? No problem.
**My enthusiastic infatuation with work is in no way related to the gi-fucking-gantic raise the board just gave me. Not at all:) Plans to babysit a bunch of kids 5 days a week are officially filed under “desperate insanity.
Cutiepatootie nursey graphic from here.