I think the ads are a good idea. There are moms who legitimately are unable to breastfeed, and yes, they might feel guilty. But they are far outnumbered by the moms who choose not to or are misled about their ability to breastfeed. In many lower income communities, breastfeeding still has the stigma it did in the sixties about being “for poor people” and how formula is good because “we know what’s in it.” An ad campaign telling people about the benefits of breastmilk to their babies could really help them. But it needs to be followed up with targeted help to new moms with breastfeeding.
Unfortunately, many well-meaning relatives and even pediatricians spread misinformation about breastfeeding to new mothers. 70% of moms leaving the hospital breastfeed, but only 20% are exclusively breastfeeding at six months. More often than not, some misinformation comes into play there. Here are a few tidbits off the top of my head:
The baby isn’t gaining weight quickly enough, you should supplement with formula. If the baby is LOSING weight rapidly after the first week of life, that’s one thing. But not gaining quickly enough should not lead to a quick jump to supplementing with formula. That can destroy a precarious breastfeeding relationship, even if the mom pumps during the supplemented bottles (which is very difficult to do to begin with) since pumps are so much less efficient than 99.5% of breastfeeding babies. What should the mom do, then? See a GOOD lactation consultant (IBCLC is the gold standard of certification), nurse as much as you can (go beyond demand feeding and offer the breast every 45 minutes or so when baby is awake) and start eating foods and taking supplements that boost supply. After a week or two, if the weight gain rate is still low, re-evaluate.
When I pump, I hardly get an ounce out, I’m just not making enough milk. Like I said before, pumping is very inefficient and hardly an indication of supply.
I’m just exhausted and I can’t breastfeed exclusively, it’s too tiring. My husband is going to give some bottles. Yes, parenting a newborn is exhausting. There’s no doubt about that. But breastfeeding gets easier and preparing bottles is really more work than breastfeeding in the long run. Plus, supplementing can destroy a healthy breastfeeding relationship since demand is the primary drive behind supply.
I’m on a roll! I can hardly wait for World Breastfeeding Week!