I am preparing to return to work tomorrow after 12 glorious weeks bunkered down with my family and sweet baby boy. My husband (my rock) and I have run down the check list and I have diligently been building a supply of frozen breast milk in my freezer so that he will receive only the best in my absence. Lucky for me I have a super supportive family and employer that allows me time to pump and feed my baby while at work. My husband brings him at lunchtime for a visit and snack (it is my favorite part of the day)! For the two days that I am at work I will continue to pump every 3-4 hours and know that my children are in good hands with their daddy.
Throughout my pregnancy and over the last twelve weeks, I have received a ridiculous amount of marketing from formula companies. Samples, coupons, emails with “suggestions” on how to get more sleep, wean so that I can return to work, and let my husband “share” the joys of feeding. When I receive these items in the mail, I always write return to sender, sometimes if I have had a good night of sleep I send a letter back first, asking to be removed from the list, and secondly scolding the manufacturers for sabotaging my breastfeeding experience with their propaganda. Just this week as we broach World Breastfeeding Week the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement urging Pediatricians to refrain from passing out samples of formula in their offices.
Everyone knows the innumerable benefits to breastfeeding. What fails to be conveyed is that giving formula comes with risks. Of course, every family has a right to choose how a baby is fed but the truth does not need censorship. In most of the world a choice between breast and bottle is a matter of life and death. The mothers who choose to breastfeed should not be inundated with materials, and samples that wreak havoc on their efforts. We know that mothers who receive samples of formula are more likely to give them. Formula companies are no longer just marketing their product to formula feeding mothers, they now frequently pass out “breastfeeding support bags,” in doctor offices and sadly at many hospitals.
In no way are these formula manufacturers supporting breastfeeding they are making women feel in adequate. The number one reason cited by breastfeeding mothers for weaning is lack of milk or perceived lack of milk. What I hope this post does is to tell all women that you absolutely have what it takes! Don’t let these companies play mind games with you, and remember this: Your body created and sustained life for 9 months and is able to sustain it for at least another 6 months purely with the milk your body makes. Thereafter breast milk continues to nourish and provide antibodies for your baby and protect you from a multitude of illness and cancers. Millions of women have sustained the life on many children with their milk alone. The fact is that lactation and breast milk are undervalued in our society there is no product out there that comes close to what breast milk is despite the claims. It is indeed a wonder food and drug that prevents and treats illness and is essentially free and never recalled. I urge you to fight back when you receive these products in the mail. Contact your local representatives, ask your pediatricians’ to follow the AAP’s policy and discontinue free samples at their office. These samples are not free and come at a high cost! How will you participate in World Breastfeeding Week check out http://www.biglatchon.org/ for events in your area.
Molly is a full-time mama to 3 and part-time nurse and lactation consultant. She has breast-fed in many places including under water-falls, tops of mountains, in the ocean and of course snuggled up in bed!