May 19, 2013

Motherlode: Maker of infant formula need not open its mouth

By KJ DELL-ANTONIA

(Continued from page 1)

If anything you say to a mother with a baby at the bottle or breast might sound judgmental, far easier to say nothing at all, especially if you were trying to think of a tactful way to offer breast-feeding support or help in a context where that would be appropriate.

There's no denying Similac has a financial interest in convincing us that that conversation -- the one in which you try to encourage a friend to breast-feed -- is just too delicate to have. Sometimes it is. But we'll be the judge of that, thanks.

Because if "no judgment" means "no talking," and "no talking" means, as Allers says, we're not talking about all the social, cultural and societal factors that play into the choices we make about feeding our babies, then we lose.

It means we're not likely to say, "I might have nursed longer if I hadn't had to go back to work after six weeks" or "I might have weaned sooner, but I felt like if I wasn't working, I should be nursing."

When we avoid conversations that might lead other women to judge us, we never experience the solidarity of knowing we weren't alone.

Truly strong moms make our decisions recognizing that they necessarily stem from more than individual "choice," and we know others do the same. We can consider each others' choices and our own without judgment, not because a corporate sponsor tells us to, but because we trust we were each doing the best we could.

And without a pack of brand managers telling us to hush up, lest we be seen as judging, we can talk about what needs to change to ensure that when parents make decisions about how to feed and raise their babies, they really are making a choice.

Contact KJ Dell-Antonia at:

kj.dellantonia@nytimes.com

 

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