A few days ago I participated in an “open house” for expectant moms at a local hospital. Different organizations had booths to advertise their services for new moms. Two artificial baby milk companies were there, pushing their product, with brightly colored cans of ABM (artificial baby milk–I call it that, not “formula” because formula sounds so much more benign than artificial baby milk). The two competitors were at opposite corners of the room. They handed it out “free” samples in chic, stylish black diaper bags. Almost every mom was sporting one on her shoulder. Does anybody see a problem with having ABM salesmen at a hospital? As it says on the Ban the Bags web site,
“hospitals should market health, and nothing else.”
I really felt my “mother bear” chemistry acting up as I saw one of the slick salesmen talking to two young unsuspecting young moms who both had “baby bumps.” I wanted to shout, “NOOOOOO! Don’t listen to him! He wants to sell you an INFERIOR product that will cost you oodles of money in the long-run, both for your wallet and your baby’s health, and get you hooked on it, when your own amazing body can make it for free. Run away and come to La Leche League!”
I used to be all in favor of the WHO code, which proposes to restrict the sale of ABM. I liked Dr. Jack Newman’s idea that ABM should be only available by prescription, just like prescription drugs. I’ve become more libertarian in my old age, so now I am not so much in favor of more laws restricting the sale and marketing of something, as I am in favor of just increasing education of people, especially moms and dads, as to why they don’t need to buy artificial baby milk. Either learn how to make your own milk with your own body, by going to La Leche League or make a whole milk for your baby using whole, natural ingredients, like Sarah Pope teaches HERE,(Be advised I don’t agree with everything she says in her post. Moms who adopt babies can breastfeed, see Ask Lenore. I prefer that moms pump their milk if they are going to be separated from the baby, and moms can usually still breastfeed in most emergencies.)
To increase education about the evils of artificial baby milk manufacturers, I suggest the reading of the book The Politics of Breastfeeding by Gabrielle Palmer. Amazon is offering a great deal on the Kindle version of this very important book that empowers every parent with knowledge. It’s only $2.99 this this week at this link.
Here’s what Amazon says about it:
As revealing as Freakonomics, shocking as Fast Food Nation and thought provoking as No Logo, The Politics of Breastfeeding exposes infant feeding as one of the most important public health issues of our time.
Every thirty seconds a baby dies from infections due to a lack of breastfeeding and the use of bottles, artificial milks and other risky products. In her powerful book Gabrielle Palmer describes how big business uses subtle techniques to pressure parents to use alternatives to breastmilk. The infant feeding product companies’ thirst for profit systematically undermines mothers’ confidence in their ability to breastfeed their babies.
An essential and inspirational eye-opener, The Politics of Breastfeeding challenges our complacency about how we feed our children and radically reappraises a subject which concerns not only mothers, but everyone: man or woman, parent or childless, old or young.
3rd fully revised and updated edition.
And here’s what my friend and TOLM member Sally says about it at goodreads.com:
This book would shock most Americans. We have no idea how detrimental not breastfeeding is to many babies, nor how unethically and aggressively formula companies market to people who can’t afford their product, nor the side effects. Most Americans have never heard of the WHO Code, nor do they realize how blatantly it is violated in the US.
Here’s an analogy: a generation ago, we never would have guessed how crooked the tobacco companies were, in that they knew their product was killing people, yet they hid that information and aggressively marketed anyway. The same has come to light about formula companies, but most people are not aware of it yet.
Let me clarify and say that formula can be a very important tool for some parents; they are not to blame for using formula. This book is all about big business and politics.
The writing isn’t that great, and the index stinks, but the information is invaluable.