Why is breastfeeding hard?
Part 1 predatory marketing of formua
Breastfeeding should not be hard. It should be an intergenerational behavior that we see daily. We should see it daily in person, on TV, and on social media. Breastfeeding should be as normal as diaper changing or burping a baby. Breastfeeding should be natural. It should be easy. It should be accessible to all.
We know what breastfeeding should be like. What does breastfeeding in our American culture look like?
perception vs reality
My perception of many moms feeling breastfeeding is hard comes from my professional experience working with families as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant aka Infant Feeding Specialist. I see the problems; So naturally I see Breastfeeding being hard or not easy. I also have met many women with no issues with breastfeeding who find it easier than bottle feeding for many reasons. This is about the perception and or reality for many that breastfeeding is hard.
If it were as easy as the promotional public health posters or the woman who posts a pic of 8 oz pumped bottle in a moms group. Than our duration and exclusivity rates would be higher. If our statistics are showing that people aren’t doing it because it's hard, why do we not change our promotion campaigns to really address the issue. Is it because the why of our statistics is complex?
The Why isn't straightforward
There is more than one blog post worth of commentary. This will be an ongoing theme that I will be revisiting. This is because it is a complex subject. In the coming weeks Ill explore the different issues that make breastfeeding hard.
- Predatory marketing of artificial infant milk or formula,
- our health care system, insurance,
- lack of culturally competent trauma informed care,
- breastfeeding support alphabet soup,
- Pump culture,
- education of other health providers,
- lack of support by qualified professionals
- families’ own perception and expectations of newborn infant care all effect mother’s perceptions
- Got any others I'm missing, let me know
Lets start with Formula and their Predatory marketing
Years of predatory marketing of formula has set us up for a culture of women having to navigate and overcome numerous obstacles to be successful at breastfeeding.
Formula is a tool. It is a tool that has saved babies lives and made babies sicker. This isn’t a post about how if you formula feed you are a bad parent or if you breastfeed you are a saintly parent either. This is not an anti Formula post. My issue is not with the tool. It is about the innerworkings of how the tools promotion interact with our ability to breastfeed and how it continues to undermine our cultures breastfeeding.
Here is an example of the issue with formula marketing.
I went to get a nipple shield, a silicone tool that can help moms that are healing from severe nipple trauma, can help transition baby off bottles and or that can make breastfeeding bearable till you can address other issues, for a client at Walgreens. I think I'll have a whole other post about breastfeeding tools. Well, I used my Walgreens card. Now every other time I buy anything at Walgreens for the past 2 years, I have gotten a large formula coupon.
Imagine being the mom having to use a nipple shield to breastfeed constantly reminded that formula is always there, and if your struggling here is an 8 dollar discount so you can have it around, just in case you can’t breastfeed. How would you feel if it was you?
This is just one of the PREDATORY MARKETING techniques.
Here are some links to more about the World Health Organizations guidelines on formula marketing and predatory marketing.
https://binged.it/2iUNQIa The Politics of Breastfeeding
Got any experiences or stories of how formula was marketed to you and how it effected you breastfeeding experience?
My personal experience as a mom was that formula was every where much more accessible than adequate support.
I wish all families had the prenatal and postpartum support I did. For instance I went to La Leche League groups while pregnant. I saw breastfeeding work up close and personal, I heard women overcome struggles. I was told to hide the free formula samples or even give them away cuz formula is only a store drive away at any time. Only use it if you absolutely have to. Supplementing is a slippery slope, that all to often winds up with premature weaning.. I also read breastfeeding and baby care books I got that Breastfeeding was important but not always easy. Something I wish everyone in our culture could understand.
Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing. Some women can still reach their duration of breastfeeding goals with some usage of formula. My son got maybe 10 bottles of formula in his first year. My supply was established for him. I could make milk while direct breastfeeding, but I could not pump effectively. I had an adequate direct breastfeeding supply and no Pumping milk ability. Formula was a tool I used sparingly and cautiously. I have also worked with families that give a bottle of formula once a day for whatever reason and breastfeed past a year. There is a wide way of making breastfeeding work for your family.
My role in all this is to help make breastfeeding work for your family. If Breastfeeding is feeling hard please reach out.