Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"How the Breastfeeding Industry is destroying Breastfeeding"

I love reading an article that opens my eyes to something I've missed.   As a mom of 5 who's been breastfeeding (this round) for almost 9 years solidly, I've always been a huge advocate of  "less is more". I refuse to have a crib (ok, I lie, I did have one was very handy for storing all the clean bedding and receiving blankets!), never had a change table, usually use my stroller for carrying school bags and groceries, and preferred manual expressing over using a breast pump..... I guess I've been out of the loop on all of this. I've noticed all the ads but never really thought of it this way. Well done.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2011How the Breastfeeding Industry is destroying Breastfeeding.
I've spend 10 years (!!) as a loud, active protector of breastfeeding. I've worked within the breastfeeding community, as an LC, been the first person to connect babywearing & breastfeeding as public health issues, a writer & so much more. I've attended countless conferences, tradeshows, speakers' events & taught at just as many. I've been observing an unnerving trend and a concept that James Akre introduced to me over 4 years ago has crystalised of late. 
A very large, capital I Industry has built up around "breastfeeding". What started as a small group of committed, WHO Code supporting companies has morphed into thousands of companies marketing "feeding products". Previously Code compliant companies have shifted their focus to "Feeding", offering little or no breastfeeding imagery, or products directly known to interfere with the success of breastfeeding. By creating an industry around the ostensible support of nursing mothers, companies have changed the culture around breastfeeding. The average new mother today is inundated with blog posts, ads, product samples and more more for things like breastfeeding cookies, bracelets, apps, creams, teas, menu plans, covers, hot/cold packs and so much more. 
It's an individual's choice to purchase & use what they'd like, make no mistake. The sum total of the entire industry and it's rapid growth over the past few years has accelerated to give the impression to today's first time mother that breastfeeding is expensive, time consuming, requires a lot of paraphernalia & often doesn't work the way they'd planned. It's important to know that the vast majority of these products simply didn't exist even a few years ago. It's also important to note the changes:
-Lansinoh, a beloved product for nursing mothers long endorsed by La Leche League, now sells bottles & other "feeding accessories" in violation of the WHO Code. 
-Boppy, one of the first commercial brands of nursing pillow, have rebranded as feeding pillows. There is currently not a single image of breastfeeding on their site or in their marketing.
-Medela, once a Code compliant supplier of pumps & accessories, is now marketing bottles & low quality pumps to mothers.
-Generically, many larger brands of nursing covers (a non-existent product category until about 10 years ago), have shifted their marketing from being a breastfeeding aid (which isdebatable) to providing a cover while pumping, bottlefeeding, or simply holding a sleeping baby. The imagery infrequently shows women actually nursing anymore.