The government is into our breasts?

In Friday’s Washington Post, a front page article talked about the Department of Health and Human Services toning down ads about breastfeeding. Besides the fact that this was front page ABOVE THE FOLD (clearly a slow news day), I started to think why is it the government’s business as to how many people are breastfeeding babies?

Let me start out by saying that before my children were born, I was super gung ho about breastfeeding until they could get up and get their own cup of milk. My efforts with my first child proved difficult, and we ending up supplementing early even though I struggled to nurse until he was five months old. With my daughter, we had a much easier go, even after a early bout of mastitis, but she wanted to eat in total quiet. Alex (who was 16-21 months at the time) would have nothing to do with quiet. So at five months, I packed them in and pulled out the formula.

The article talks about how the federal government commissioned ad agencies to run these attention grabbing ads encouraging (more like scaring) moms into breastfeeding. The formula companies were a bit irate, as you can imagine. Their reason for the ad campaign was that the U.S. breastfeeding rate “lags behind the rate in many European countries.” Well, duh! Why do you think that is? Maybe it’s because many European countries give moms a year maternity leave. Wouldn’t that foster a better system for breastfeeding more than ads? While I am one of the fortunate ones who can stay at home with my kids, there are many out there who don’t due to money or career. Adding the pressure of breastfeeding or sitting in a bathroom to pump milk during the day at work, on top of a new baby is a bit ridiculous.

Breast is best for babies. I will not deny that at all. I didn’t enjoy it the first time around, but really did with my second. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Do I encourage other moms to? You bet. Do I scorn those who don’t do it? No way. Every mom is different; every baby is different; and every situation is different.

In Sweden (you all know how I love Sweden), the majority of moms breastfeed until 6 months or a year. It’s more of a culture expectation and while some moms don’t do it, you’ll see moms hanging out at the mall, in a restaurant, at a park breastfeeding in the open. Our society is not quite ready for boobs flying here and there although by the time I breastfed my second, they were and I didn’t even look up to see if anyone cared. I feel like until people in the U.S, are fine with public breastfeeding and until moms have better set up for being home with their kids until 6 months of age at least (all very huge cultural shifts for us), not much will change. I don’t think any decision from our men at the top that has to do with “new advertising” to push breastfeeding is going to be the answer.

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