Saturday, September 23, 2006
Attacking the "Bottle Model"
Yesterday I attended a day long conference that featured Jack Newman, a Toronto pediatrician, talking about breastfeeding. How refreshing to hear a physician really support breastfeeding. I was particularly enthralled with his talk on how birthing practices impact breastfeeding. Nothing radical or new, just refreshing to hear a physician saying those things (even if he is Canadian and not American). Makes me wonder why the American healthcare system can't figure some of this out. I left the conference empowered in my thinking, more convinced than ever that I need to birth my way. I felt very validated by what I heard. Things like: breastfeeding is the physiological norm, bottle feeding is an intervention. How could we have fallen so far, always comparing breast to bottle? It should be the other way around; how does bottle stack up to breast? He talked a lot about how formula companies market and their subtility in undermining breastfeeding. There was a moment of panic among the conference planners when they realized one of the vendors, a national baby store chain, had placed prenatal vitamins manufactured by a formula company, and a sample baby bottle in their goody bags that they were handing out to the attendees. Talk about a lulu of a boo boo. They had to quickly go through the bags and pull those items. My friend Charlene argued that the store should have known better than to give out bottles at a breastfeeding conference. I told her, of course they wouldn't know any better- this is the whole point of what the speaker was talking about- we live in a bottle feeding culture. Of course they wouldn't get it. After all breastfeeding mothers take vitamins right? Breastfeeding mothers supplement and use bottles, right? Only us lactivists would think twice about using vitamins made and marketed by formula companies. The whole point of this conference (I think) is to demonstrate how little awareness there is that breastfeeding is endangered and under attack precisely because we live in a "bottle-model" society where breastfeeding is constantly compared with bottle feeding instead of the other way around. The speaker gave excellent examples of how breastfeeding is routinely threatened, not just by formula companies, but by our own healthcare system and providers. I certainly saw breastfeeding underminded as a labor and delivery nurse. In most hospitals around the country, the cure to any breastfeeding problem is bottle feeding. The cure to any ailment or potential ailment is bottle feeding. Nobody gets that formula is ARTIFICIAL BREASTMILK. I just about decided to refer to formula as artificial breastmilk, after all, thats what it is. Who will join me? Lets call it what it really is- second best.