Where real moms tell it like it is.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Update on Breast IS Best

To anyone I may have offended with the "Media Elite" term, I apologize for generalizing. I, too, am one of those latte-sipping media elite types as I have a degree in journalism and have worked as a journalist and hated receiving similar hate mail. Without the name-calling -- sorry, I am sick and a bit emotional -- I do want to hash out one of my pet peeves about the formula versus breast-feeding debate, Salon constantly loves to mention in its broadsheet section. I strongly recommend people to scroll down to the entry "This Bad Mom Trusts the Bottle" and click through its hyperlinks and the discussion, which I think is pretty balanced.

In this most recent entry, reporter Tish Durkin of the NY Observer decries the "nutcases" who wrote in response to her column bragging at how she has chosen not to nurse her baby for no particular reason. She simply doesn't want to. Which is fine and I agree with her that La Leche League's religious followers should just leave her alone. (But it's interesting to me that she used her megaphone to write this column and then seemed shocked to receive feedback for it.)

One of the hyperlinks leads to another entry called "Baby we were born to Breastfeed?" -- and this is the source of my ire. Rebecca Straister is perturbed to learn that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has put up billboards endorsing breastfeeding as if it were some slam on women who can't breastfeed. No. That's like me driving by a billboard that reads "Human mouths were meant to consume lots of fruits and veggies." Yes, there are people alergic to certain fruits and vegetables and Lord knows we hate eating them. But I don't think public health organizations should keep this information from the public because it may offend people. It's science!

Again, I want to emphasize that women who cannot or do not want to breastfeed should not be guilted about their decision. As a mother who received a lot of unsolicited advice from complete strangers at the supermarket, I am a fan of the "mind your own business" mantra. But should the government and other health organizations let women know that breastmilk is better than formula for a newborn baby's health? Why shouldn't they? They are expected to do so for the well-being of adults whenever there are new studies on people's eating habits and good health.

Having gone into breastfeeding with determination to follow through, I am surprised at how few resources -- such as a lactation expert -- were available to me despite medical wisdom surrounding nursing. Also, as some of Salon's letter writers will point out, there is still taboo surrounding public nursing and misinformation that formula is just as good as breastmilk. (Again, I ran into that mindset when I nursed.) I don't think Salon or any other publication should decry health officials from informing the public for fear of pissing off people like Straister or Durkin.


At Thursday, December 22, 2005 7:13:00 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Great rant, Elisa. It made me start lactating all over again! :-)

At Wednesday, December 28, 2005 10:41:00 PM, Blogger Queen of Spain said...

There are so many things I would love to go on and on about here...but I really think we should be looking at exactly WHY formula is pushed at hospitals and peds offices (ie, your doc tells you breast is best...but hey, have this free formula) and why misinformation on the subject remains...$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Makes me wonder if formula and big oil are in cahoots.


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