Monday, September 10, 2007

Just say no to scare tactics re: breastfeeding

To the editor of the Boston Globe:

I was expecting to agree with today’s editorial “More meddling with health” as I started to read it. In general, I hate the way the Bush administration changes health policies for its own political gains or whims. However, once I read the editorial, I was surprised to find that I vehemently disagreed with the Boston Globe’s comments instead.

Whoever it was in the Bush administration who decided that the “hard-hitting ad campaign on the health risks faced by babies whose mothers do not breast feed” was inappropriate: Bravo! You were absolutely correct to pull this ad campaign!

Women are NOT in the dark about the benefits of breast feeding. The reasons women choose or choose not to breast feed are personal, social, and economic, but are not due to ignorance. It is insulting to suggest that if women knew more about the “harmful effects on children of not being breast-fed” that they would breastfeed more. An ad campaign that uses scare tactics is NOT the way to go to encourage women to breast feed.

The only logical thing in this editorial is, ironically, the statement of the spokesman for the International Formula Council, who intelligently stated that the way to improve breastfeeding rates is to make breast pumping and storing of breast milk easier for working mothers.

Women do NOT need to be made to feel more guilty than they already feel if they have chosen not to breast feed, or if they find, as I did, that they can’t breast feed. What they DO need is society to make breastfeeding, in public and at work, easier and more supported, both legislatively and socially. Breastfeeding women in our country are still being thrown off airplanes, for God’s sake! Until our society sees breasts as what they are – mammary glands – and not sexual objects, women will not feel comfortable breast feeding and breast feeding rates will not increase.

Update 9/15/07: They printed it! (most of it, anyway) Link is here.

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