The past few days, there’s been much ruckus among us moms. Debates have been raised, sensibilities were offended, and the gap between breastfeeding and formula feeding moms have sadly, inched farther than ever. All in lieu of a Father’s Day promo campaign by MeadJohnson and an anti-MJN campaign by breastfeeding advocates contesting this particular marketing move as a sly and deceiving effort to associate life’s best beginnings with a company that manufactures infant and toddler formula.
This issue is so reminiscent of that controversial Time Magazine “Are You Mom Enough?” cover. The magazine succeeded in eliciting worldwide public reaction, but at the same time, it created a bigger gap between breastfeeders and non-breastfeeders.
I would be first to admit that I myself, did not initially see the subliminal message my fellow breastfeeding mums imply. But as I read and re-read blogs, I began to see their point. The message was concealed, and cunning at that, but as someone who has previously worked in a marketing firm, I would say, clever and strategic deception is how marketing thrives. Sad maybe, but that is the reality.
But what saddens me more than anything is that instead of it becoming a medium for awareness as what I suppose our breastfeeding sisters aim for, this whole fracas about the #beststartswithdadcampaign has become another ground for the great divide: that between those who breastfeed and those who don’t (or didn’t). And it’s sickening already.
Since the wave of breastfeeding has become more pronounced in the country, the debate on which side is better grows more heated by the day. I don’t think we can deny that breastfeeding is, cliche aside’, best for babies. The WHO, UNICEF, AMA , PMA and every other medical institution in the world deems it so. Study upon study reveals both short-term and long-term benefits for breastfed children.
But as breastfeeders, does this automatically place us higher on the parenting hierarchy? Does this make us better individuals than the small margin of moms (even foster ones) who choose to source their newborn’s milk from a tin can rather than from lactating friends or milk banks?
To be fair to breastfeeding advocates, I think with their constant battle with formula milk proponents, it has become their default to become wary of circumstances and always be on vigilant mode, even if that comes across as too militant sometimes. Even I had a recent encounter on such when my intentions for peace between both parties has been misinterpreted as a suggestion to appease the feelings of formula feeders and give up the fight against milk formula companies altogether – and I am a breastfeeding mom myself!
I have breastfed Lia for the past 14 months and I will continue to do so for as long as I can. I applaud our local breastfeeding counselors and advocates for their free and hard work on raising public awareness on breastfeeding and for staunchly unmasking the sly marketing strategies of milk formula companies with unparalleled devotion – reason why I try my best as well to inform the public and my friends of breastfeeding benefits too (politely and non-coercive, of course).
|Lia still breastfeeding at 14 months.|
But at the same time, I do understand where these offended moms are coming from. You see, one of my closest friends used to formula feed. She wasn’t producing enough milk when her baby F was born, she said (which is a common misconception because milk is not really visible during the first three days) so they gave her the bottle. It caused nipple confusion and made F refuse the breast altogether.
Frustrated, my friend called weeping, saying that she feels like an “inadequate, bad mother and that she was a failure” – all because she couldn’t get F to breastfeed (With the help of lactation massage, consultations and emotional support, she was able to relactate and F is now exclusively breastfed 🙂
Mothering…oh I can’t even begin to tell you how complicated it is. And society has even made it more difficult by imposing on us an impossible standard of what a good mother is. As mothers we do our best but at the end of the day, everyone still have something to say about our mothering. It is our call to make sound decisions, from the most trivial to the life-changing, be at peace with those and accept responsibility for each single judgment we make, regardless of what others say.
Breastfeeding is natural. It is one of the most wonderful gifts a mom could receive and partake to her kids and share to the world. But with bad blood existing among those who believe and those who don’t, it loses its purpose and beauty, leaving both breastfeeders and non-breastfeeders scarred.
I know it is easy to get riled up on our beliefs and advocacies, but instead of turning to each other, why don’t we expend our energies on supporting one another – if not on our advocacies, at least on motherhood?
Let’s stop with the bickering and finger pointing. Stop being smug about our choices. If as breastfeeders we give a blow-by-blow account of how beneficial breastfeeding is when others critique our choice to nurse, why should we assume the reason why formula feeders defend their choice is that they are insecure and guilty of not being able to provide what’s best? Does breastfeeding make our reasons more valid than those who choose not to?
That goes to formula feeders as well. Please don’t take offense of every anti-milk formula feedback or campaign and perceive it as an attack toward you. We can not extol the importance of breastfeeding without laying the facts, and while it can be hurtful, fact is, formula feeding does present risks.
At the end of the day, whether breastfeeding or not, I think we can all agree that all of us mothers want only what’s best for our kids. We are bound by one common ground: our love for the little ones, and that encompasses nourishing our offspring.
|The sad plight of formula feeding indigent families.
Source: Chronicles of A Nursing Mom
Breastfeeding has a long way to go in this country. And it needs all the help it can get, not for those of us who have access to information, the privilege and finances for feeding options, but for indigent moms who barely have anything to eat but spend all they have on formula milk. They are the true victims of sly and deceptive milk formula marketing.
As we bicker, thousands of babies are dying due to misinformation and formula-related complications, because their moms were led to believe that they are not sufficient and their milk is sub par. Let’s create action where it is needed, not where it is not.