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The Today Show and The Atlantic Article About Breastfeeding

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The Today Show did a story this morning on breastfeeding, calling it “Is Breast-feeding Really Best?” It featured Dr. Nancy Synderman and Hanna Rosin, the author of The Atlantic article about breastfeeding. You can watch The Today Show piece below.
At the outset, the segment actually does a good job of outlining some of the health benefits of breastfeeding for babies. Rosin talks about how she is still breastfeeding her third child. And Synderman and Rosin talk about how hard it is to go back to work and continue to breastfeed. (True). They also discuss the “peer pressure” some moms feel to breastfeed. (True, too).
But Synderman and Rosin don’t talk about a key point… Formula is an invention. So Rosin’s argument that the science backing up the benefits of breastfeeding isn’t clear, seems a bit superficial. I’m not a statistician, so I’m not going to argue the merits of different scientific studies. But it seems logical that something made by our bodies is going to be better than something made in a factory. (For a more reasoned argument of the health benefits of breastfeeding see The Motherwear Blog).
Rosin and Synderman also overlook that fact that using formula, in place of breast milk, is a luxury. It’s a luxury we have in developed nations. So all this talk about worrying how moms feel about their “choice” whether or not to breastfeed is really a discussion about affluence. If moms didn’t have access to clean water and electricity to sterilize bottles, how would they give babies safe formula? If there was an emergency (natural or man-made), and moms couldn’t get access to formula, what would they do? How would they feed their children?
I support a mom’s right to choose whether to use formula or breast milk. In this country, it’s a highly personal decision, and moms should feel good about whatever choice they make. But let’s not forget how fortunate we are to have this choice. Furthermore, if we had better family leave policies, we wouldn’t worry about how hard it is for breastfeeding moms to go back to work.
Finally, to the mainstream media outlets… of which I used to be a part… let’s try not to sensationalize breastfeeding any more. Using headlines like “Is Breast Best?” may draw in viewers and make your advertisers happy, but it doesn’t address the real issues going on here.

5 Responses to “The Today Show and The Atlantic Article About Breastfeeding”

Thanks Andi for highlighting the benefits of breastfeeding in cases of emergency, which was especially poignant in China where women have succumbed to formula advertising only to have 53,000 babies fall ill because formula was tainted with melamine. Too bad the Today Show and Rosin didn’t mention that!

Nancy Snyderman bugs me, and so does Hanna Rosin.
I don’t vaccinate my child and she has been super-healthy! Is Dr. Snyderman ready to concede that vaccines are not for everyone and, depending on circumstance, moms might be better off deciding against them? Of course not! And YES, Hanna, breastmilk IS like medicine. Why does she think women accept donations of it for their preemies?
I don’t understand what she was after, trying to prove that something that creates tons of waste and costs thousands is nearly as good as something that’s free and eco-friendly. Feminism in this country has just started to get kind of precious.

None sense. Breast feeding is still the best way to nurture our babies. It’s like the bonding between mother and child.

Articles like this just make me sad. its like breastfeeding is the majority & anyone that doesn’t breastfeed gets hounded when sadly the opposite is more likely to be true. why say anything to discourage breastfeeding??? breast is best! & how can they possibly say “formula is fantastic” like it is actually an equal – it is a last resort! just sad!!!

In my case breastfeeding is more expensive than formula…I have to eat 3000-3500 calories a day to avoid loosing weight (I am already 10 lbs BELOW my Prepregnancy weight of 124 lbs)….and we’re spending a lot more $ at the supermarket!”"

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