Monday, July 23, 2012

The Breastfeeding Debate Continues

I could not believe it when I read it but the issue on formula samples rages on and has now been compared to giving someone a pack of cigarettes when they are trying to quite smoking.  (for full article click here).  In short, Peggy O' Mara, editor-in-chief of Mothering Magazine, stated:

It is naive to believe that the formula industry’s distribution of formula to you is an innocent gift. A “gift” of formula is like a “gift” of a pack of cigarettes when you’re trying to quit smoking; it will undermine your resolve. The formula company has bought your name and address from the hospital, without your knowledge, and will now solicit you for sales. Do you really want this commercial intrusion into your life?

I previously wrote on this topic last Monday (click here to view my previous blog post The Breastfeeding Debate).  To say the least this is a poor analogy.  Formula is hardly an addictive, toxic substance.  A sample of formula is hardly a temptation for a new mom to throw in the towel and not breastfeed if that was part of her game plan.  I agree that formula companies market to new moms just like the diaper companies do, so what?  This is no different than getting a credit card solicitation in the mail or enjoying a free sample of tortilla chips at BJs when you are shopping. 

Every new mom makes this very personal decision for a myriad of reasons.  To celebrate this ban offends me.  So much pressure is out there for a woman to breastfeed and so many times a woman is made to feel guilty or a failure if breastfeeding does not work for her scenario.  I know I felt the pressure from some of the nurses in the NICU.  That to me is so much more of an intrusion into my life than getting a free sample of formula at the hospital and an occasional coupon in the mail.  I find it to be so much more offensive for a stranger to tell me how best to raise my child.  I find it so much more offensive for parents or other people to judge another parents parenting skills. 

Yes, I gave formula to my three boys, and you know what they are fine, happy little boys.  For anyone to imply that I should feel guilty for giving up on pumping or not breastfeeding or that I am somehow less of a mother is offensive and despicable.  I think it is naive to assume that women cannot think for themselves and would be so quick to stop breastfeeding based solely on crafty formula marketing.  Maybe the goal should be to give the new mother all the facts and let her make an informed decision based on those facts rather than bully her into making a decision out of guilt and fear.