Friday, September 3, 2010

THE HORROR! How backhanded "breastfeeding support" from Similac works.


As alerted by Blacktating, Babble has not only been hosting Similac ads, but also breastfeeding support and advice pages . . . as hosted by? Similac.

To this, you're probably thinking one of three things. 1) Huh? I don't understand why Similac would do that. 2) Yup, up to their old tricks (if you're a jade- er, experienced lactivist).

Or maybe you're thinking 3) Well, what's so bad about that? That's awfully generous of a formula company, to provide supportive information for their competition - competition which happens to not charge a cent for their product. That's downright altruistic, really! See, they can't argue with the facts about breastfeeding - and look how nice they are, they're not even trying to argue! They're trying to HELP women!

In case you fall into reactions number 1 or 3, here's most of the introduction (and this is just the introduction):
Your body is still recovering from labor and delivery. You and your baby are struggling to learn the finer points of latching on, which are so essential to breastfeeding success. You're also adjusting to each other's nursing supply and demand. You're sleep deprived. Friends and relatives, in-laws and neighbors, everyone seems to have an opinion about what you should be doing and how you should be doing it. And you're just trying to learn as much as you can about who this tiny new person, all snuggled in next to you, is.

Add to that the breast soreness, nipple pain, the need to respond to middle of the night cries, and a body that feels like it belongs to someone else completely — perhaps even more than it did when you were pregnant — and you have a lot of factors challenging your preciously regarded pre-childbirth image of yourself, with baby at breast, in the happy still of the night, breastfeeding contentedly by the light of the moon, gently humming a lullaby to your satisfied infant.

True, there are probably some new mothers who do waltz right into that idyllic scene. But many new moms limp there, feeling engorged, massaging their way through blocked milk ducts, gritting their teeth through cracked, sore nipples, wondering if that broccoli they ate the dinner before is what's making their infant howl through the night. But either way, if you muddle through — past whatever common breastfeeding problems may await you — you may get to the promised land.


This is just the introduction and already it's a %$@#! TEXTBOOK example of how formula companies expertly undermine breastfeeding while trying to appear as if they're helping.

"Who, US? Undermine the ideal, pie-in-the-sky, vision of perfection, unrealistic promised land that is breastfeeding? Heavens no! We're just providing a backup plan in case breastfeeding is SO MISERABLE AND AWFUL AND HORRIBLE AND NIGHTMARISH AND PAINFUL AND FRUSTRATING AS IT IS FOR SOOOOOOO MANY WOMEN (PERSONAL CHOICE) BLEEDING NIPPLES PLUGGED DUCTS CRUELLY-RESTRICTED-DIETS-FOR-MOM THRUSH MASTITIS LOW SUPPLY (PERSONAL CHOICE) SLEEP DEPRIVATION BODYNEVERYOUROWNAGAIN (PERSONAL CHOICE) AND DID WE MENTION SORE CRACKED BLOODY RAW HAMBURGER NIPPLES that you need an alternative. Just in case.

But breast is best!"
The rest of that page is a freaking marketing masterpiece, laying out all the ways in which your life is liable to become one of pure misery if you breastfeed, one after another after another. I may pick it apart later, but I'm seriously too pissed off about the whole thing to do so right now. Feel free to have at it in the comments. It can be a game! Find the undermining techniques used in each of the problems they so helpfully cite. You'll be busy for hours.

For the record, of course I'm not denigrating any mom who experiences any one of these issues - I had some myself, as you probably know. So not the point of this. Babble, I like some of your bloggers and many of your articles, quite a lot, in fact, but wow, is this ever revolting to me.

[No, "The Scream" doesn't have anything to do with this directly, except (a) how I feel after reading that page, and (b) illustrating exactly, to a T, how Similac wants you to feel about breastfeeding. Ideal, best, painful, terrifying, practically impossible breastfeeding.]

6 comments:

  1. P.S. Wouldn't you love to see a Mad Men episode devoted to the beginning of modern formula marketing? The only sad part would be that it would probably fall to Peggy to come up with it, and I'd have to stop loving her so much.

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  2. There should be a counter ad in the same style about getting through all the possible health problems related to formula.

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  3. I didn't like that "promised land" shit AT ALL. Honestly, my favorite section was "Breast vs Bottle" where they tried their damndest to down play the risks of formula. They practically said, "Allegedly breastfeeding is good for the baby, but honestly, the jury's still out."

    This was hilarious, thanks for blogging. If anyone else feels strongly about how WRONG it is for Babble to allow blatent advertising to appear on their site as information, let them know on their Facebook fan page. A few comments so far, but they've been unresponsive.

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  4. The whole thing feels like backhanded advice from an overbearing mother. You know, "Is that what you are going to wear? Oh, no, sweetie, it looks fine, I just thought you might be more comfortable in something that makes your behind look smaller."

    It's not really advice, it's just a vehicle for spinning the scare factor out of control. Because it's one thing for me to tell a new mama that I have recurring plugged ducts that hurt like hell - because I'm still breastfeeding and loving it. It's QUITE another thing for a formula company to tell her that plugged ducts are horrible and awful.

    Surely Babble knew that this would seriously piss a lot of mamas off.

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  5. Check out WebMD whose breast feeding page is sponsored by Gerber aka Nestle. Same story different page. It's unfortunate that many mothers may not have the knowledge to know that this advice is coming from formula companies.

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  6. I realize I may be joining this conversation a little bit late, however... this is atrocious. The worst part is some of the nurses and doctors in postpartum are all too happy to say, "Oh well, you tried, and formula won't kill them." And that's a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one. I breastfed, I had cracked nipples, I had to get up throughout the night after a c-section. I had to pump while I was at work. It wasn't so awful overall. I have very fond memories of nursing my son, pain, engorgement and all. :)

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