Sunday, February 21, 2010

Books! Birth Partner and Jack Newman's Breastfeeding

I recently finished The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.  That was quite an accomplishment, because it was one of the first books I started back when I was taking my DONA workshop, and has somehow taken me this long to read.  It was so jam-packed with information, and being non-fiction it was a slow-go, so I was reading several other books at the same time. 

But I'm not going to write a review of it here, nor am I going to suggest it for you to read. Why? Because all the knowledge is inside me now! And if you want to find out whats in it you'll just have to have me to be your birth partner! muahaha!

I am now deep into Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding, which is awesome. It is also going to be a long read because it is extremely comprehensive. My favorite chapter so far is "The Sale and Promotion of Infant Formula."  It presents information that is simply shocking! Here is a summary: In the 1970's the media revealed to the world shocking photos of dying babies in developing countries. Everyone found out that the marketing of baby formula to women in developing countries who could not afford to pay for it, didn't have access to clean water or who didn't understand that using formula would interfere with going back to breastfeeding. Babies were fed diluted formula or formula mixed with bad water and were missing out on immune protection from breastfeeding and therefore developed infections and illness.

In response, in 1981 NGO's, UNICEF, the World Health Org, formula companies, and scientists got together and created a code of ethics on marketing infant formula and bottles. The gist of the agreement was: 1. marketing couldn't directly or indirectly target the consumer (no free samples given to pregnant women or parents at all), but advertising about formula can be given to providers (doctors and nurses); 2. Literature on infant feeding must be provided by the government, not formula companies and all donations of money or equipment by formula companies to health care providers must be done openly and without special benefits.  This code, however, is not law and the formula companies disregard it. Nestle, who owns Carnation, especially, disregards these rules in countries all over the world, and this is a big reason for the Nestle product ban. They, along with many other companies, advertise heavily to doctors and hospitals, giving money, equipment and free products. They also directly advertise to consumers through the mail and provide discharge packs for new moms leaving the hospital full of formula samples and brochures on how "formula is just as good as breast milk."

The brochures are the most interesting part. They might say breastmilk is better, but then emphasize how tiring, restrictive, painful and difficult breastfeeding can be, and how formula is easy and healthy. Jack Newman describes the brochures' approach, which he provides pictures of in the book, as "breastfeeding mother as brazen harlot, formula-feeding mother as convent girl." I wish I could find the images for you to see online. Photos of the breastfeeding woman pray on fears of modern women to be exposed - the woman's breasts are both exposed, even the breast the baby is not feeding at. They show her squeezing her breast to express milk. Also, one image clearly shows the breastfeeding mom's left hand with an obvious lack of wedding ring on her ring finger. The formula-feeding mother, on the other hand, is dressed modestly (in a jumper, no less) and also has her left-hand clearly exposed with a very obvious wedding ring on her finger. Dr. Newman also shows two contrasting photos of dad and mom feeding baby together. In the breastfeeding photo the dad has a stank 'stache and looks a little left out of the feeding process while mom breastfeeds baby. In the formula photo, dad is feeding the baby with a bottle and the couple is clearly better looking than the breastfeeding couple. Shocking, formula companies! Simply astonishing, your stealthy manipulation!

This is a great ad though!

Mom says - I don't use a bottle
- It gets dirty easily and can give my baby diarrhea
- It diminishes my milk production
- Teeth grow deformed and with cavities

Baby thinks -
My mother's milk is the best and I can take it when I want.


  1. I recently gave birth to my first child and I must that although it's hard work it's the most beautiful experience one can have. Since this is my first child and I still have a lot I found this, as well as your other posts, very useful to read. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for stopping by! I'm glad you are enjoying my blog and finding it useful! :)


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