On Monday, the FierceMamas blog posted an interesting piece by Arie Brentnall-Compton called "How the Breastfeeding Industry is Destroying Breastfeeding" that has sparked a lot of intelligent discussion in the blogosphere about consumerism and marketing when it comes to “helpful” products for breastfeeding moms.
"A very large, capital I Industry has built up around ‘breastfeeding.’ What started as a small group of committed, WHO Code supporting companies has morphed into thousands of companies marketing ‘feeding products.’ Previously Code compliant companies have shifted their focus to ‘Feeding,’ offering little or no breastfeeding imagery, or products directly known to interfere with the success of breastfeeding,” Brentnall-Compton states.
She goes on to call out companies such as Medela, Lansinoh and others for selling non-WHO-code compliant products, shifting their marketing imagery away from breastfeeding, and burying breastfeeding information deep in their websites.
She acknowledges: "It’s hard for women who have yet to develop a successful nursing relationship to sort out the useful from the useless, the harmless from the harmful. … That same mother expressing concern on social media today is likely to be sent to purchase a bag of lactation cookies marketed with dubious medical claims. Other products prey on the same fears: bracelets, charms & apps imply you may not remember to nurse on the ‘correct’ side; cookies, teas, supplements imply your supply may be inadequate without them."
And she is absolutely correct. Naturally, pregnant and new moms are full of worries and questions about birth, nursing and motherhood while being inundated with generally well-meaning but sometimes detrimental recommendations from all sides — friends, family and yes, the media.
We really enjoyed the comments from readers on this blog post, too. MayasGold makes a great point when she says, "In my experience as a breastfeeding mom of two, the most essential thing for a nursing mother is free but sadly, not broadly available: support from other nursing moms. A community of knowledgeable & caring women with children at various stages of life can provide information about what to expect, what is normal, what to do when trouble arises… plus can stave off the isolation one feels as life gets turned on its head with the arrival of an infant!" Exactly how we feel as we build MilkforThought.com!
We also appreciated Ally's insight, who helps run a breastfeeding support group and sees real issues with breastfeeding gadgets being misused, such as mothers lubing up with a cream before nursing and wondering why baby can't get a good latch.
So how do moms figure out what they need, what they don’t, and how to have the best nursing experience possible? Connect with those credible, supportive resources, of course! From in-person mommy groups to meeting with an IBCLC, talking to someone who knows is so much more valuable than listening to the product recommendation blitz coming from the Internet, or even well-meaning friends.
It can be tough for new moms to cut through the clutter and determine what tips and products are really beneficial to helping her reach her personal breastfeeding goals. One of the reasons we at MFT saw a need for a super-credible but hip online platform for the breastfeeding community is that new parents often feel lost amid the tens of thousands of YouTube videos, Google search results, and forums full of moms giving anecdotes and advice — all of which may or may not be helpful.
So what does Milk for Thought take away from FierceMamas’ blog post? Amid the overload of products and recommendations, it can help new moms to remember that the 2 things they need to feed their baby are free and readily available: Love and support and breastmilk!