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Wednesday, January 04, 2006Stumbled across an editorial from the Scripps Howard News Service today that started off as commentary about the new Massachusetts legislation on the distribution of formula in hospitals and quickly denigrated into a stereotypical rant on breastfeeding in public before switching gears and turning breastfeeders into judgmental hypocrites that wish to use breastfeeding as a way to minimize their own guilt over bad parenting.
In other words, this writer was all over the place.
In a commentary article titled "
Formula for success? Breastfeeding zealots have gone into overdrive," writer Betsy Hart starts off wrong and goes downhill from there.
Hart's errors start off on the factual side as she writes:
The legislature there has just banned -- yes, banned -- hospitals throughout the state from giving out free samples of infant formula, provided by formula companies, to new mothers.
The problem is that she's flat out wrong. The new law does not ban the distribution of free formula. It bans the AUTOMATIC distribution of free formula to ALL MOMS. Hospitals are still allowed to give formula to any mother that asks for it.
The commentary goes downhill from there as Ms. Hart patronizes pro-breastfeeding moms by repeatedly putting quotes around phrases the way that a sarcastic teenager uses air quotes while speaking scornfully of an ex-friend. Apparently Ms. Hart nursed all four of her children in public on rare occasion and feels she was completely discreet in doing so but now claims that plenty of other mothers are out there flashing their goods for the world to see just to make a point.
Not sure what world she lives in, but even during my year of breastfeeding when I kept an eagle eye out for nursing moms I only ever spotted two. (and it's not like there were no nursing moms in this city of more than a million people.)
From the article:
And some moms, for a host of reasons, choose to, or have to, bottle feed.
That should be their prerogative. But instead it is an absolute no-no according to some of the "experts." That's when the breastfeeding zealots, all the national organizations and advocates who lobby for and can actually accomplish an amazing thing like having a state legislature ban the free distribution of an expensive and nutritious baby product to needy mothers (as well as wealthy ones) step in. These folks are able to make even moms who only occasionally give baby a bottle feel like a complete loser. And that's what I object to.
Wow. Did anyone else just read the same thing I did? Hart basically accused all Lactivists of wanting to starve the babies of poor mothers. (oh, and wealthy ones too) We're also evil for encouraging moms to breastfeed instead of encouraging them to throw in the towel at the first problem so that they can give their child an inferior and expensive alternative to what comes freely and naturally.
Yeah, that makes sense.
Hart goes on to say:
Perhaps one factor is that breastfeeding has become a palliative for guilty moms who choose to go back to work and leave baby with the nanny. Maybe it has something to do with the reality that infant formula is expensive and probably profitable, and the fact that corporations make money on feeding baby (inexplicably) drives some people nuts.
But more and more I've come to think we so desperately want to believe, literally, there is some formula, preferably a comparatively easy one, for making our babies better, stronger, faster. Some pill, some expert advice, some technique, some guarantee, some answer to this business of childrearing. And so we've glommed onto breastfeeding as the national Rosetta stone of bringing up a perfectly, happy, healthy little one.
Makes sense to me.
The breast is best, but let's make sure we never say it.