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.

6 comments:

Sage Femme said...

rah! rah! right on!

I love Jack Newman. All first-time mamas in my practice receive his book. His words are far more soothing and comforting to new moms than even LLL. I adore him.

Laborpayne said...

I agree. He is a force to be reckoned with. As a speaker I found him to be witty, engaging, very direct, and oh so sensible. Of course he was very knowledgeable as well- most presenters are, but certainly not all are able to present their message with such power.

amelia said...

I love Jack Newman too! I use his video on breastfeeding in my childbirth classes. I wish that the hospital environment was filled with like-minded, (breastfeeding) educated physicians and staff. I have so many friends that have given up on breastfeeding because of the lack of resources (or waiting too long for help), poor and/or misinformed advice from doctors, surrounded by the bottle culture, difficult starts after medicated births (and the list goes on). I would love to hear him speak. The thing that impresses me most about him is not only his knowledge but that he communicates so well that breastfeeding is the NORM and that there are so many options to try before giving up.

Laborpayne said...

Amelia,
Its like you were there! Those are exactly the things he spoke so convincingly about. One couldn't help but leave thinking, of course moms should breastfeed their babies, what else? You are correct also that he offered many trouble shooting solutions that seemed so simple coming from him.

emjaybee said...

My "bf-friendly" hospital was staffed by people like one nurse who yanked my day-old baby off my breast (even as I fought her, because I was still trying to get the hang of things) so that she could take my blood pressure. I'm sure it showed HIGH due to my rage.

But hey, they had a lactation consultant...so long as you needed her between 9-5 pm M-F. Otherwise, too bad.

Laborpayne said...

Emjaybee,
your comment made me chuckle (though I realize its not funny) because of how often I saw hospitals slap on labels and take up slogans to make themselves more marketable without any real buy-in from staff- so of course, experiences like yours it what comes of it.