I got a box of Similac Infant Formula in the mail yesterday.
I haven't been pregnant for over 11 years, don't subscribe to baby magazines, and haven't purchased anything at a maternity store recently, so I'm not sure whose list I'm on. One thing is sure, though. They sent the formula to the wrong person.
I am offended by formula companies and they way the undermine the confidence of women, and profit on our failure to successfully breastfeed.
As a woman, I'm not sure I can think of a time I was MORE insecure than when we first brought Sarah home from the hospital. Wanting to be a great mom, not wanting to drop her or starve her or cut the ends of her fingers off when her nails had to be trimmed....there were SO many things to be paranoid about. What I needed, more than anything, was someone to come alongside me and be a cheerleader...to tell me I could do it, that my body was made both to give birth and to feed my child, that even though there was a learning curve to this mothering thing, it was exactly what my body was made for.
What the formula companies do instead, is to send a steady stream of messages that tell us, "it might be too hard", "you probably can't do it", "it might not work", "you better have back-up". And it works. Data show that the distribution of free formula to mothers of newborns is consistently tied to lower exclusive breastfeeding rates, and earlier weaning. Lower breastfeeding rates are tied to greater health risks - respiratory infections, asthma, allergies, diabetes, and lower IQs.
I want to stand up for women and the thing that makes us unique. To defend our right to be successful at breastfeeding (even the formula labels state that breast milk is recommended) without subversive messages from formula companies or the implied endorsement of a hospital that gives a "gift" of a formula-filled diaper bag.
If making milk is my super-power as a woman, free infant formula samples is the Kryptonite.
*August is National Breastfeeding Month
**Though I support breastfeeding, I do not support the "guilting" of mothers who choose not to breastfeed. For many of them, the decision is beyond their control. I am partially inspired, however, by my own breastfeeding regrets and by the many mothers who tell me they wish they would have known more about breastfeeding or had help before they gave up.