Friday, August 31, 2007

Breastfeeding...Where's the profit in that?

The Washington Post reports today that our government department of Health and Human Services, in 2004, caved in to lobby pressure and changed ads promoting breastfeeding. The formula manufacturers were "grateful" for intervention which stopped health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding."

The original print ads displayed asthma inhalers and insulin syringes topped with a bottle nipple; bluntly insinuating when you feed formula to an infant, you are feeding them asthma and diabetes. These ads were never shown in the United States, but here is an international ad with similar imagery.

The pressure from formula companies caused the U.S. health organization to abandon the scary, shocking ads for softer, less assaulting suggestions that plainly inform parents of breastfeeding benefits. The Human Health and Services department was informed beforehand that these ads would be ineffectual, but they spent our money on them anyway. Current reports show that the number of breastfeeding mothers is decreasing.

Is anyone surprised? After all, infant formulas are manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry and big drug companies are known for their powerful influence and generous spending in Washington.

I imagine pharmaceutical companies would not only lose money from the decrease in formula sales, but later on, sales would be lost by the fewer number of people taking diabetes and allergy medication.

Why do we allow these companies to make decisions about our health?

I am sure we would not let a company who makes money per every high school drop-out decide how we educate our children. Doesn't it seem just as logical that an industry that makes money from sick people should not be pulling the strings in our government health offices?

Everyone should take an interest in our government's soft promotion of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is more than the premiere bonding experience for mother and baby, it is the only way newly born human beings were intended to be nourished.

All mothers should breastfeed, plain and simple.

If a mother's health or physical limitations prevent her from doing so, fortunately formula is available as an artificial substitution. Keep in mind that this substance is a man-made chemical solution that is industrially manufactured. This should not be a mother's first choice for her baby.

In our society it seems acceptable for mothers to opt out of breastfeeding because it is an inconvenience.

If cooking dinner for the kids become too much of an inconvenience are we going to insert feeding tubes with a liquid supplement into each of their bellies? I'm sure they would all "turn out just fine", but really, it's just not an option!

Some parents believe that because their own mothers used formula and they turned out o.k., then that is what they should do too.

I guess that makes sense for some, but I was never able to look at any of our newborn children and maintain the philosophy of only trying to provide what is "good enough".


Alex Elliot said...

I absolutely agree with you on the issue of government lobbying. However, I find the original ads completely offensive. Unfortunately, a lot of moms fit into the category of having health or physical limitations that prevent them from breastfeeding. The guilt that we experience is extremely painful, and in a time of rising awareness of post-partum depression, it is an issue that should be taken very seriously. Our government should not be in the business of causing guilt. There are a lot of barriers to breastfeeding in our society, and the government ought to target those barriers and encourage breastfeeding. Instead of trying to terrify women into breastfeeding, the government should address atrocious maternity leaves, lack of workplace facilities for feeding and pumping, and lack of education.

Luckymom said...

"Our government should not be in the business of causing guilt."

Anybody that feels targeted by a public service commercial or health awareness ad is likely to feel an emotional response. The ads that do not provoke feelings are usually the least effectual.

I would certainly never want a person inhibited by their health to feel guilt for not breastfeeding, but if that is the side-effect of an advertisement that promotes awareness and change, than it is a burden we should be ready to bear. Perhaps support groups could offer help for those unable to breastfeed.

On positive side, that same guilt that is needlessly felt by someone who CANNOT breastfeed, might change the mind of the undecided mom who has NO HEALTH RESTRICTION.

If the guilt of feeding an infant asthma or diabetes causes more mothers to breastfeed, we can rest assured knowing that bettering children's health is worth this tiny price.

Breastfeeding is the matter-of-fact BEST NOURISHMENT for a child. We should all want what is best for the child, despite our own feelings.

"...the government should address atrocious maternity leaves, lack of workplace facilities for feeding and pumping, and lack of education."

Yes, I agree whole-heartedly, but it shouldn't be done instead, it should be in addition to.

Grandma Bettyanne said...

Ah, so the problem is "guilt" and illiciting "guilt"...

I thought it was the health of the children and not being influenced by formula companies that are out for profit.

Also, there is a difference between guilt and regret; and false vs real guilt. My physical, health limitations may be a cause for regret, but guilt?

There is nothing wrong with experiencing regret...we just move ahead doing the best we know to do; and using the experience as part of our maturation.