Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


As in, Breast Feeding Fan. I am one. And, hey, has anyone heard about this whole New York hospital formula "controversy"? Check it out here.

If you don't feel like clicking, here's the gist: "New York City's hospitals have banned infant formula from their gift bags for new mothers — a policy that they hope will encourage nursing and healthier babies." Pretty simple, right? Instead of getting a formula goodie bag, new mothers will get a goodie bag with a breast-milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads, breast-feeding tips and a baby T-shirt with the slogan, "I Eat at Mom's."

Any new mother who wants formula has only to ask for it. And yet, Susan Donaldson James, author of this article for ABC News, refers to The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action's slogan, " "Save 1 million babies beginning with one action," as "rhetoric that fuels the great divide between those who choose breast-feeding as a maternal mission and those who opt for bottle-feeding, feeling guilty and inadequate." Hmmm. Susan, I think you might be projecting a little, here. And aren't journalists supposed to be unbiased? This isn't an op-ed piece, after all.

But what really pisses me off is this TV segment hosted by none other than everyone's favorite mommy-basher, Meredith Vieira*. I don't know which woman pisses me off more, Meredith, for heading up this piece (among her other mommy-bashing pieces), or Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who puts the Men vs. Women spin on this so-called controversy. Because everyone knows that women can't be politicians! Tee hee, math is hard! She also has the flaming nerve to suggest that women of color who live in the city have an insufficient support network to allow breastfeeding to go smoothly. Dr. Snyderman, I hope you enjoy the check that the formula companies gave you, because it seems to me that a bigger concern for poor women in the city, whether they are of color or not, is the COST of formula. Also, families of color are known for having excellent support networks, at least in my experience.

Please note that I am not, Not, NOT knocking women who use formula. Hell, I use formula sometimes. And for some women, breastfeeding just doesn't work. But for the vast majority of women, breastfeeding is a viable and wonderful (and inexpensive) method of feeding their babies. I have long been gung-ho on breastfeeding, but after initially being prevented from breastfeeding my son in the hospital, and having formula at the ready at all times while we were hospitalized, I found the prospect of breastfeeding successfully really, really daunting. It didn't help that every single nurse in the maternity ward pushed formula on me, and one or two even wanted to see the evidence that we had fed him formula (open formula container, etc.). Nibbler wasn't a great nurser at the start, and the nurses had me feeling guilty (and inadequate, perhaps just like Susan Donaldson James) that I wasn't providing a steady spigot of breast milk, despite the fact that my milk hadn't yet come in. I can only imagine how much easier and how less daunting the whole thing might have been if I had been encouraged from the start by more than one person on staff (who was a lactation consultant and a dream come true).

I love how this is being lumped in with "Nanny Culture," i.e. the whole anti-smoking, no trans fats thing that's happening now. It's irritating because there is still plenty of choice allowed here. This is something that promotes health in a way that is completely positive; the only negative is less cash in Nestle's pocket. Perhaps Big Formula (hee!) should hire Rick Berman, who recently appeared on 60 Minutes, decrying "Nanny Culture." His fascinating interview can be read here.

Hey, if they're willing to pay him, I bet he could do a bang-up job making people feel like they're being lied to, and that they should just give up and bottle feed.

Happy Breastfeeding Week!

*Via International Breastfeeding Symbol blog.