Monday, March 29, 2010

It goes so far beyond Facebook...

Standing up and demanding that breastfeeding be normalized in our society goes far beyond the issue of whether some people are uncomfortable with the sight of a mother nourishing her child in the best way possible. If this video doesn't give you chills, doesn't outrage you, and doesn't make you question the corporate corruption that too often drives our society, I'm not sure what will.

We need to demand change.

And as a breastfeeding mother who fiercely and adamantly believes that breast is best - I think it is incredibly important, essential even, to point out that this is NOT an attack on mothers who choose not to breastfeed or are not able to. This is an attack on the societal pressures that contribute to an environment where the benefits of breastfeeding are incredibly marginalized and where mothers who choose to breastfeed are often stigmatized, judged, and harassed. Despite the fact that the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, 2003 CDC data shows that in the US, only 14.2% of mothers were following that recommendation. And did you know that in 2006, the United States had the second worst infant mortality rate in the entire developed world?

Where are our priorities?

A society that surrounds young girls with Barbie and her ridiculous body measurements, where approximately one in four females experiences sexual violence, where breastfeeding mothers are asked to leave public places , and where a major formula company can net profits of over 9 billion dollars a year, I really wonder HOW we expect mothers to choose breastfeeding and stick to it. US hospitals are notorious for giving babies bottles even when asked not to by mothers attempting to establish breastfeeding. I've posted about my own experiences struggling to teach my preemies to breastfeed and the hurdles I ran into with lack of hospital support, and I assure you that I am not alone - not by a long shot - in that experience.

Facebook, I'm afraid, is only the tip of the iceberg. It is simply symbolic of the environment we sit in.


We have to start somewhere. We have to start everywhere.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be defined by the society I described above. To the core of my being, I believe that we are better than this.

You can learn more. You can help.

  • This earlier post lists things we can all do to are some additions to that list, many of them courtesy of your comments...thank you!
  • Baby Milk Action - helping to protect babies from unsafe breast milk substitutes and protecting breastfeeding
  • Help get Ellen on board - it may sound silly, but we NEED mainstream media support and exposure
  • Offer to become a Roots of Empathy family, or become an instructor. Roots of Empathy brings attachment parenting, including breastfeeding, into the classroom.
  • Offer to visit your a local classroom or daycare as a pregnant woman, and then do follow up visits with the baby.
  • Support the Nursing is Normal initiative: and on Facebook.
This list is a small sampling of how you can help - if you have an idea or know of a resource, please share and I will post.


Kara said...

Thank you for including Kathy O'Brien in your post! She is a fabulous woman, trying to do a fabulous thing! I treasure the nursing pictures that she took of me and my daughter, and will be calling her again as soon as my son is born, any day now!

Daryl said...

Another post that should be read and sent to Ellen ... doesnt she have a website?

Anonymous said...

As I watch the video you attached, I noticed that many of the same images used are the ones used from the Nestle boycott in the 1970s for the same reason. (I remember our house being Nestle free nearly my whole childhood). In fact, much of the video uses pretty old footage. In the 1980s the boycott was called off, as Nestle had reportedly made reparations and changed its policies. Have they gone back to their old ways?

April said...

Nestle denies many allegations, but there is pretty staggering evidence against them and their many transgressions against humanity. is full of great information. Nestle has also been targeted by Greenpeace for their irresponsible deforestation of fragile rainforests...more info at

G the V said...

"US hospitals are notorious for giving babies bottles even when asked not to by mothers attempting to establish breastfeeding..." Source?

Formula is often vital to preemies survial and isn't forced down their throats. If a mother can't produce enough milk to get the preemie the required caloric intake the baby stands the chance of dying.

While new mothers may not want their babies to have formula, it is often needed to keep them healthy/alive.

What about parents who don't want their kids to recieve medicine when they are sick because of religous beliefs, should the hospitals go aganist the mother's wishes then?

Or what about parents who refuse to immunize and risk putting the general population at risk?

My overall point is, who are we as individuals to judge the choices of others? Especially those who have our babies best interests at heart.

April said...

I'm referring to healthy babies who do not "need" formula to survive. It is also rare that a lactating mother is physically incapable of producing the milk her baby needs to grow and thrive. I'm not arguing that formula is inherently evil, I'm pointing out that the propaganda surrounding the use of formula is not based in science or what is medically best - it is based on corporate greed. As far as your other points, that's a very broad statement about vaccines, but I don't believe it's appropriate for the government or hospital to force a parent to vaccinate a child - I believe in parents making the decisions for their children. However, my HUGE stipulation is that parents need accurate information and have an incredible responsibility to educate themselves in order to make the best decisions for their children. So to your overall point, I think we as individuals have a very grave responsibility to make judgement calls as to what is best for our children. But judging the choices of individuals is not what I am interested in - I do what I think is best and hope that others will do the same. I do, however, judge corporations that prey on vulnerable populations and use trickery and deceit to make a buck at the price of human life.

Anonymous said...

April: On the list of my lifelong regrets will be not finding your blog sooner. I had my first child at the end of April '09. By memorial day he had been disgnosed with a Milk Protein Allergy/Allergic Colitis. As a first time mom I did not question the medical advise given to us. We immediatly put him on Nutramigen and I did continue to pump my breast milk - filling the freezers of my family and friends. By the time he was 4 months old- and completely recovered- the Dr. was adament about keeping him on the formula so I stopped pumping completely. Had I found your blog sooner I would have known that there were other options available and at the very least of it asked if there were an alternative to formula.

Keep fighting the worthy fight and updating your blog - you are making a difference - in the lives of people you may never meet.
Thank you!