Tuesday, May 11, 2010

World War II is Responsible for the Decline of Breastfeeding in the U.S.




Infant formula was invented by Henri Nestle in 1860, but it didn’t actually become popular until the 1940s. The main cause for this sudden increase in popularity was World War II. Before the war the vast majority of women were homemakers who stayed home with their children and left the jobs to the men. As the war continued, women were called to the workforce to support their country by doing the jobs that men who went overseas to fight had left behind. In fact, the number of women in the labor force increased 210% from 1940 to 1985. It was this sudden desire and ability for women to leave the housewife life behind that formula companies saw and capitalized on by starting huge advertisement and free sample campaigns to normalize bottle feeding and, of course, get rich in the process.


Kathryn Davis, age 60, is the daughter of a decorated WWII veteran. A self-proclaimed history buff, Kathryn has spent her entire life studying WWII and its effects on the population of the United States.


"I think World War II was the biggest influence on the decline of breastfeeding. It was the first time in U.S. history that women could really enter the workforce. They needed them to build the planes, bombs, tanks, and munitions but if they were breastfeeding babies they couldn't do that on the scale needed. Formula and bottles became quite popular at that time because they needed to be able to leave their babies behind to help the war efforts. The baby boomer generation is really the first generation to have been bottle fed on the large scale. The attitude was that the more intelligent, educated, and sophisticated people bottlefed. If you saw someone breastfeeding you automatically assumed that they were an ignorant country bumpkin. It wasn't that breastfeeding was uncommon, it’s just that the bottle was more common. When my sister had her kids in the 60s they were automatically bottlefed and she was even given a shot to dry up her milk. By the time the 80s came around and I was having my children people were beginning to become more educated about breastfeeding. My doctor didn't influence me either way but basically told me that breastfeeding for the first month was good enough. Of course, I was given tons of formula samples and free bottles at every doctor visit."


Improved communications, especially printing, enabled intensive commercial promotion of artificial milks. Financial support of hospitals and physicians by manufacturers also hastened the decline in breastfeeding. Milk manufacturers also began campaigns in other countries to bring our “better” and “safer” method of feeding babies.


Once women were proving themselves in the workplace as equals to men feminism was born. Especially in the 1960s feminists encouraged women get away from their babies and start living their lives. It’s ironic that feminism, the concept of women supporting each other, actually created a situation where women who chose to stay with their babies and feed them naturally were looked down upon and even shamed for being anti-progressive to women’s rights. As a consequence, we ended up with a widespread loss of understanding of its importance and a declining ability of health professionals to support it. It was the perfect opportunity for formula companies to aggressively advertise and slip money into the pockets of doctors.


By the late-1930’s, the use of commercially manufactured breast milk substitutes became very common, especially in developed countries. Because they were unaware of how grossly inferior these artificial substitutes were, physicians advocated for bottle feeding over breastfeeding for many mothers. The effects of the promotion of bottle feeding and breast milk substitutes became evident during the post-World War II baby boom (1946-1956), when breastfeeding rates at hospital discharge dropped to 25%.


After that time there was a rebirth of breastfeeding, which many believe was due to the efforts of a small, but vocal group of women at that time considered fanatics, La Leche League International. Slowly but surely the news spread that breast was best and many others joined the crusade to get breastfeeding normalized. By 1982 approximately 62% were breastfeeding in the hospital and 27% at six months. Currently in-hospital breastfeeding rates are around 70%.


Ultimately, both good and bad consequences came from women being called to the labor force. These days women can get a job doing almost anything that a man can, and no one can deny that the feminist movement led to women achieving greater rights and being treated like equals. It is simply unfortunate and sad that in order for that to happen, many babies had to be left behind with an artificial breast propped in their mouths. This history of breastfeeding and infant formula also raises a red flag about the intentions of formula companies and shows that they have historically put their wallets before their concern for infant health. Formula is a blessing for babies who are unable to receive breast milk, but the companies that manufacture it have proven time and time again that they are not to be trusted.



59 comments:

  1. It's very disturbing to see that ashtray of baby foot imprints! i am so glad that people are becoming more educated not only about the benefits of breastfeeding but of living a healthy lifestyle altogether!!!!

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  2. I'm all for breastfeeding. I breastfed my first boy for 22 months and my second boy for just over two. When i saw this blog on FB i clicked on it cause i'm all for supporting it. Upon browsing the blog i noticed an Enfamil add on the right hand side. Odd!?

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  3. Unfortunately I have no control over the ads and we ALWAYS end up with formula ads! I'm afraid they won't make much money off of us!

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  4. Don't sweat those ads, they are preprogrammed by things you click on and the topics covered on any given current page you are on. It's a Google thing, the people who created this have no control over the ads that Google thinks their readers are into. :) Great post! I'm not a mom at all but totally support breastfeeding efforts.

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  5. I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding when you can. I breast fed my children till they were 3, 3 and 4. I was lucky and some women cant, my heart goes out to those who cant, its an incredible experience and privilege
    LisAnne Truax

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  6. I've actually been told by strangers, "Can't you use a bottle?" And never mind the comments I give back but at any rate, I love this blog and what a great post!!

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    1. If the person is a mum, say "Couldn't you use your breasts? That's why we have them." or if a man, ask it about his wife or girlfriend.

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  7. If we want to support women breastfeeding, the workplace is the place to start. I breastfed my first child at home on maternity leave, obviously. I went back to work for the sole purpose of giving my 2-week notice. So - for 2 weeks, I was *totally* stressing about pumping -
    no where pleasant to do it [spare bathroom/shower area],
    no where to store the milk [schlep my own cooler]
    no way to really accommodate the time in my work schedule [pumping was a long process for me]

    If women want to rejoice about their freedom to work, they need to either suck it up and bottle feed - or else actively demand somewhere to accommodate pumping to allow them to breastfeed for more than a few weeks of maternity leave.

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  8. Very interesting read. I had come across the history of formula in another book a while back, but that was before I had babies and so I don't think a lot of the info sunk in. But now that I'm a mommy of 2 and have breastfed, reading this makes me feel unwell. It makes me sick to see that, like many of the other problems we currently have in our society, the root of the deterioration of breastfeeding is that terrible ol' green mula. I am glad there were "fanatics" like the La Leche League around to bring back breastfeeding! We still have much work to do, but at least we're in stride and moving forward! Thanks for posting this :-)

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  9. I think that reforming US maternity leave policies is more to the point than accommodation of pumping at work. (In Canada, maternity leave is 1 year, and in some European countries it is 2 years.) Part of what makes breast the best for babies is the contact with Mom -- it's not just about the contents of the breast. The first 1-2 years of life are a critical period for attachment bonding, which has substantial implications for long-term psychological health and development.
    ~Elizabeth

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  10. I found this article fascinating. Formula is a wonderful thing and has its place but its a terrible thing for people who think it's the best they can offer their children. I breastfed my 1st til 3 months but had some issues so he was exclusive to formula from there. My 2nd is comp fed. I planned to exclusively b'feed but due to a round of gastro and a cold, I ended up dehydrated and with supply issues. I've fought it back up again and we're still mostly on breastmilk but she needs 1 bottle most evenings as my supply just isn't quite adequate... Yet. Still, I'm happy we've made 5 months. I feel like we have personally achieved.

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  11. This was a very interesting article! I remember hearing that it was a "status" symbol to bottle feed, but never really understood where that came from, considering if youre lucky enough to stay home to breastfeed, that should be considered "status!"

    Anyhow, I have an 18 month old whom I breastfed til she was about 15 months old, then had to stop due to pre-mature contractions with my son, who is now 6 weeks old...and breastfeeding! I found it SO challenging to breastfed at work. I was also given unsanitary conditions and dirty looks...along with people "mooo-ing" at me on my way to pump with my cooler and breast pump bag in tow. I am planing on heading back to work soon, and I will greatly miss my closeness with my son while I am at work! OBAMA should work on this instead of all the other crap he is putting on paper! WE should be able to bond for a year or two, not just 6 weeks!

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  13. I'm in Canada and our current maternity leave is 1 year during which time a woman can receive employment insurance benefits which amount to approx. 60% of their wages. This in combination with our medical community encouraging breastfeeding during prenatal classes and in hospital after baby is born, is a great support for making breastfeeding the norm (once again).

    I am a former La Leche League leader and support breast feeding for the health and benefits for both baby and mother.

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  14. I want to breastfeed my baby up to two years. But I have to work to the other city (for survival)and left my baby at the province. It hurts but at least I purely breastfed my baby for 1 year.

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  15. My company had a lactation room on ALL floors of their buildings. I worked in a compound with 7 buildings...so about 21 lactation rooms. There was a glider, small table, and electrical outlet with the rooms with more than one glider seperated by the room curtains (like at the hospital). There was also a sink & fridge in the room & you could dim the lights. Their maternity policy was better than the standard 6 weeks. I got to take a total 12 weeks of leave...but that was still hard to do. My supply dropped within the first few weeks of working and I started my baby on solids a little early to make up the difference. You got paid at graduating levels depending on how long you'd been with the company...once you'd been there 5 years, 100% of your maternity leave was paid for!

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    1. I guess you are in america? Here in Britian you are able to have a full year off after having your baby!!!

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    2. In America, you are only guaranteed 6 weeks and this is only if you have been with the company past your probationary period. (Usually 90 days) . Also, in some cases you must work until it is medically necessary for you to take off of work (which is usually when you go into labor.) This was the case for me. Then, the time you take off before you give birth, uses up the six weeks you are given. This all driven by corporate greed....I have no idea why we put up with this

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    3. Actually with fmla you have up to 13 weeks but most only pay for 6 weeks

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  16. Great article- had no idea that's how the whole thing with formula started.
    If I hadn't adopted my daughter (now 11 yrs old) from China, I would've definitely breastfed if I had the chance...yeah, some people say that you can do it (breastfeed without actually giving birth), but as I was sick as a dog after returning from China (had pneumonia) it wasn't on the cards.

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    1. You have probably saved your daughter's life by adopting her. If anyone gives you stick about not trying to breastfeed her, ask if they have saved a baby.

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  17. Very interesting article, and comments. I'm Canadian and had no idea that maternity leave was so short in the US, or that so few women breastfeed. I feel very lucky to have a year of maternity leave. I'm not sure about the other provinces, but in British Columbia (and I believe Ontario) there is a law in place that says Women have the right to breastfeed anywhere they have the right to be.

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  18. Thanks for the article and the comments. I breastfed both of my children for just over a year, so I am relating to many of the joys and challenges others have expressed. Thank you all for bringing attention to this important topic.

    It's unfortunate that the description of feminism in this article is so negative. Here's my favourite definition: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." ~Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

    It's important for women and men who share this 'radical notion' to honour the important advances of past feminists and stand up as feminists to continue to advance the movement. There's so much more to be done! In this case, so that women are supported in making healthy choices, i.e. encouraging breastfeeding and extending parental leave allowances.

    Who's a feminist these days? I'd argue that all of the La Leche League women I know are feminists. Steven Lewis (www.stephenlewisfoundation.org) is a great example of a man who proudly declares himself a feminist at every opportunity. Rather than blaming feminism for pushing women away from their infants, let's take back the term for what it really means.

    Keep up the great work!

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  20. Fantastic! I don't believe that formula is evil, as I've heard from other moms advocating prolonged breastfeeding, but I do believe that breast milk is best! Formula is a blessing that's kept many babies alive that wouldn't have had a chance, but I'm still glad I could breastfeed my kids. Oldest until almost three, and still nursing the 18 month old. As far as Anonymous' statement... yeah, we'll use blankets, or be discreet but people still shouldn't get bent out of shape imagining what's going on underneath that blanket! Even without a blanket though... baby's head and mom's shirt cover everything, unless you're really looking!

    And, it is LAW in the US that a woman has the right to breastfeed anywhere she has the right to be!

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  21. My mother worked in the 1950s, and got the milk-drying shot for my two oldest brothers. But I am proud to say that by 1960, she had joined LLL's "fanatics" and managed to nurse her third baby for a few months. My sister and I, babies four and five, managed to nurse for a while too, though it wasn't easy for her.

    My own two were/are nursed. My daughter for over two years and my son, past one year now and still going. I've taught my daughter that infant formula is for mothers who can't nurse their babies for one reason or another.

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    1. The sight of the milk nurses makes me sick. I would rather dress a 'nurse' kissogram in a revealing outfit. At least people would not take it seriously.

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  22. Barbara SturmfelsMay 12, 2010 at 2:04 AM

    Hi. I'm not sure how else to contact this site's administrators, so I'm posting my feedback here.... Are you aware that by accepting google ads, you are exposing yourself and your viewers to advertisements placed by formula interests? For example, I am accessing this site from New Zealand and one of the ads is for the NZ website of ClubNutricia. I know it is hard to decline the funds that come with google ads, but I feel that until such time as google gets its act together and finds a way to filter out ads from formula etc interests so as to prevent them from worming their way onto breastfeeding sites, breastfeeding advocates/supporters/protectors will just have to forego the income.

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  23. I planned (and gratefully accomplished)natural childbirth as I became a mother. What I had not expected was the 'brain tumor' diagnosis after her 6 week checkup! Thanks to all the women who had shown me the advantages of brestfeeding, and LLL, I demanded the hospital get me that industrial breastpump so I could keep my milk during pre-and post surgery. I pumped until all the meds were out of my system and became the very first patient at that hospital to nurse through a crainiotomy! She weaned at about 18 months. Accurate info is the best thing! I'm so grateful for all those amazing mothers who had shown me the way!

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  24. Formula is *third* best, not "the option for mothers who couldn't breastfeed". Option two is breastmilk from donors.

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  25. Lynne, Manchester. EnglandMay 12, 2010 at 3:53 AM

    I breastfed my 3 children in the 80's and was looked upon as a bit of a wierdo! Fortunately I am a tough cookie and would not be swayed by the opinions of others. It was my most precious, special time with my babies. I think that it is very sad that women miss out on this wonderful experience because of outside pressure to bottle feed. To all mums out there who are undecided I say give it a go and support all your friends that want to try too!

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  26. To be breast fed is a baby's human right, not a mother's choice.
    Formular is never a blessing.
    Donated breast milk is the "other" option if you cant feed yourself.
    Even adoptive mothers can produce breast milk, with some education, time and effort.
    Being polite about formular feeding is not ok.

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  27. Great article!!
    As a fellow blogger myself, I'll say to those who dont like Googles ADs- websites cost money to run once you go past a free Blogger account, and unless your clicking the little donate button, you should be aware that it's sites like Google that help support & pay for site upgrades for many writers. So, while you may not agree that google is putting up formula ads on a BF site, they put up disposable ads next to my cloth diapering articles..it happens, and unless readers are supporting the site (are you?) than I'd leave well enough alone & hope that this blog makes some $$ from Google, to keep supporting itself.
    I've been nursing for going on 4 years, tandem & through pregnancy & I love articles like this, the history, the info.. Keep it up!

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  28. A passing comment was made in the article that "The attitude was that the more intelligent, educated, and sophisticated people bottlefed. If you saw someone breastfeeding you automatically assumed that they were an ignorant country bumpkin."

    This was by design. The formula companies went on an advertising campaign to create this attitude. There is no money in breastfeeding so it wasn't challenged on a widescale. Just challenged by midwives who knew better. BTW there was also an aggressive campaign to make birthing with a midwife appear 'country bumpkinish' too-this one paid for by doctors who wanted a piece of the market.

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  29. I agree with a pp, formula is not a choice IMO. Only a very small percentage of people cannot use their breasts for feeding infants. Most supply issues are caused by diet (for good supply eat pure foods(foods that can be eaten raw, even if you choose to cook them) that are organic no chemicals or processed foods, no dairy, no gluten,no msg, no food colorings, no GMOs, and no caffeine or regular soda...(organic soda is ok)), lifestyle, or lack of skin to skin constant contact with the infant. If for some reason the mother does not want to feed the infant, others can, whether directly, or by donation. I like that you are exposing this history to more people. This beginning of feminism was a planned effort on the part of the people in power that will profit. Children raised on formula, without parents with them as a young child are better consumers. More will be spent on sickcare, and more purchases to fill the empty hole from being abandoned by their parents as infants.

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  30. I am not a mother....yet. And I think that breastfeeding is the way to go.I never have understood why breastfedding is "frowned upon" it is so natural. Besides the close bond that the child and mother get, the nutrition is fantastic. With formula you have an extra expense that you can cut out, seeing how the mother has her babies food already.
    I applaude all the mothers that breastfeed. Good for you and shame on those who get bent out of shape. I know that when I become a mother I will breastfeed, with out a doubt.

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  31. I am a mother of a 6-month old and live in the Netherlands (and am still happily breastfeeding!) Here the government really advocates breastfeeding. I was bombarded by pamphlets promoting the benefits of breastfeeding above formula. It's illegal to advertise or have any discounts on formula for babies under 6 months. If a mother returns to work she has the right to use 25% of her work time to pump. Her employer is also required to supply a suitable room. It's amazing how much support you get, especially from the medical world. It's actually medically 'frowned upon' if you choose to bottle feed. Did you know the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until 2 years old? Apparantly only 4% of women cannot breastfeed, the rest lack proper support from a professional. (Oh and about midwives - that's ALL we have here! A significant majority choose to have their babies at home under guidance from a midwife). The care around natural birthing and feeding far outreaches the American and Canadian systems (I'm a Canadian btw). Another aside - full-time working mothers is definitely an anomaly here.

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  32. Interesting and helpful read. My grandchild who will be 2 in July still enjoys one bottle a day. The rest of the time she drinks from a cup.

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  33. Great article! I also have enjoyed reading the comments. For those who don't live in the U.S., you are so lucky to have such wonderful maternity benefits! The actual law in the U.S. doesn't mandate ANY paid leave, but moms have the right to take up to 12 weeks of UNPAID family leave and have assurance that they will get their same job (or a similar one) back when they return. That's the only national law regarding maternity leave. It is up to individual employers to decide if they want to offer some amount of paid leave for their employees. I work for one of the largest public universities in the U.S. and they only started offering paid leave (6 weeks) three years ago. And that comes with the condition that you must return to work for at least 30 days after your leave or you will be forced to pay that money back.

    I wish the government would take these issues seriously and implement systems like Canada or the Netherlands have.

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  34. President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590, on March 23rd and the Reconciliation Act of 2010, H.R. 4872, on March 30, 2010. (See the combined full text of Public Laws 111-148 and 111-152 here.) Among many provisions, Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.Code 207) to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk. If these requirements impose undue hardship, an employer that employs less than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements. Furthermore, these requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.

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  36. A facinating read, thanks for posting!

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  37. The US also has rules about advertising formula .. Formula companies are not allowed to be advertise and free samples are not allowed to be given to hospitals and doctors' offices .. the problem is that no one listens to them and the government doesn't care because they are lobbied not to.

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  38. Right because your own perspective on life is the only correct one and damn anyone who isn't comfortable with public nudity. How utterly selfish of you.

    I fully support breastfeeding but let's not make this into a bigger deal than it is. Society runs best when people are considerate of the diversity of viewpoints, particularly in circumstances where we all share public space. Why would you want teenage boys ogling you feeding your baby?

    Nursing mothers have demanded and received accommodation in shopping malls and other public buildings. Now this is apparently not good enough and you are demanding everyone avert their gaze as you whip out your breast to feed. As a woman, I am embarrassed by this irrationality of some members of my gender. STOP this insanity! Mommy wars are bad enough between mothers (and my GOD you people are mean) but lets not drag everyone else into this perpetual debate for which there is no right answer.

    As for facebook, why don't you ask for your money back? Oh right - they provide a FREE SERVICE - its nobody's 'right' to use Facebook for their own exhibitionism (even when you deny it is exhibitionism). Facebook provides a good service for free and if you have a problem with they way they do that then by all means cancel your account. Another irrational response from the militant breastfeeding crown. I blame hormones.

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    1. Perhaps if it was more widely advocated teenage boys wouldn't see the breast as a sexual object but rather a body part for feeding. If the are thinking sexual, then they are mature enough to understand the real use.

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    2. I find this attitude that we should hide breast feeding offensive. I have teenage sons who know that breast feeding is normal and natural. This is barely a problem in most parts of the world . I think it is precisely this kind of attitude that is responsible for low levels of breast feedingin the U.S. I had my last child in the U.S. after having my previous 5 in Auustralia. I thought it sad that I was not welcome to teach Sunday school or help in school while feeding. Something I had done with all my other children. When I fed in school in Australia kids woulds would either pay no attention because they were used to it or say that's how my mum fed me when I was baby

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    3. When my daughter was a baby, I attended some La Leche League meetings. The leader's 2 teenage sons popped in one day. It was so refreshing to see the boys matter-of-fact reaction to a room where at least 2 or 3 mothers were nursing their babies. Of course they had been brought ou the right way, and knew breasts were not just given to us to TITtilate men.

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  39. I tried super hard to breastfeed. My sister donated her milk to my child as well. I sure am glad formula was invented to make up the difference.

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  40. My grandmother always tells me, when I am breastfeeding, "The doctors told me I couldn't do that, my milk was too watery." It makes me sad every time, colostrum looks like water, so she believed the doctors.

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    1. It's a wonder they did not tell her to eat grass, so she would produce 'rich thick milk' like a cow.

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  41. I take issue with the idea that women who can't breastfeed have a poor diet. I personally nursed my son for 15 1/2 months and would loved to have nursed longer but I had chronic health conditions that require medication that passes into the milk. I went through HELL to be able to nurse as long as I did because it meant physical pain through my entire body and I HAD to go back on medications in order to be a good mother to my son. Some women actually have physical issues with the shape of their nipples or have a baby with an inadequate suck and need to use formula so that their baby doesn't starve (my husband and his brother were bottle babies for this reason). Not everywhere has milk banks with milk donated, either. They are more common in CITIES or heavily-populated suburbs and rural area mothers who can't nurse for whatever reason MUST use formula (and I'm in the US). My personal opinion is that ALL women should TRY to breastfeed but if they can't because of medical need or physical issues that as long as they are feeding their baby enough to let the baby thrive, THAT is what's important.

    My mother had her three children in '67, '69 (me) and '74 and breastfed all three of us. She instilled in all three children (including my brother) that breastfeeding was the best thing you could do for your baby. As a result, my SIL, my sister and I all either breastfed exclusively or breastfed as long as we could. It was considered NORMAL to all of us and we didn't have any "shame" about carefully easing our children into position to latch on while we were in "public" without anybody even catching on that we were nursing. Luckily, I live in the Commonwealth of VA which has a LAW that breastfeeding is an exception to "public indecency" laws and also sets forth that employers MUST provide a clean, private area for women to pump. I also am lucky in that between my husband's paycheck and my disability income I am a stay at home mom and only had to pump for when I'd be going to doctor's appointments or if my hubby and I went on an infrequent "date night" and Grandma was watching our son.

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  42. I had a wonderful role model in my mother who breastfed all four of her children during the 1960s and early 70s, two born in Malawi and two in England. There was never any question in my mind that I wouldn't breastfed my three babies, the last one till he was 3 years old. Living in a small Australian coastal town, I was also lucky to have the support of a very active Nursing Mother's group and found breastfeeding was the norm at that time and place (early to mid 1990s). My mother, living in the extremely poor Malawi in the early 1960s, was incensed by the formula industry pushing their formulas as the better way to feed babies in a third world country. This in a place where just finding clean drinking water was a huge issue and hygiene next to impossible, never mind the expense of bottle feeding compared to breast. 80% of the population still live in rural villages and their water supply even now, if they are lucky, is a bore pump shared between several villages. In this case yes, the formula companies were evil, encouraging mothers to risk waterborne diseases when breastfeeding gives babies more than just nutrition, it provides antibodies to protect babies from disease in those early years. Formula in those conditions is tantamount to a death sentence.

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  43. Interesting article. In some other countries including Australia, the war doesn't seem to have been the time when breastfeeding dropped the most - it was more the introduction of universal hospital birth - in those days it was like a 'Ten Steps to Unsuccessful Breastfeeding' program in maternity wards, and as the US formula market was saturated from the mid 1950s, Australias near universal breastfeeding rates collapsed under the imports of formula by big US formula companies. I have published some articles on this if you are interested search google for 'The contribution of infant food marketing to the obesogenic environment in Australia'. Like others on this blog, I am appalled at how the US treats new mothers. I am proud that after more than a decade of intense feminist campaigning, Australia has just introduced 18 weeks paid leave in additional to 12 months statutory unpaid leave entitlement for most employees. anyone who has a dog for a pet knows that you shouldn't separate them from their mother before around 6 weeks - its so appalling that US women are treated worse than dogs in this sense. no wonder working and pumping is such a big issue there. Breastfeeding and maternity care is indeed a feminist issue.

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  44. I also take issue with the judgemental attitudes shown towards mums who formula feed, saying it's not a valid choice. Everybody knows that breast milk is best, but until you've suffered the agony of being unable to feed your own baby (which can happen for many reasons, as someone else has already mentioned, not just nutrition) then I don't feel you can sit on your high horse telling everyone else that they just need to eat a healthier diet or give their baby someone else's breast milk (which many people don't have access to.) Surely this whole discussion is about supporting mums in the decisions that they've made rather than heaping shame upon them for something they may already feel incredibly sad about. Let's not forget that many people have grown up to adulthood having been exclusively formula fed and had no significant health problems, while many people who were breastfed have ended up with various health issues. Breast is best, but it's not magical! I think this should be about giving mums the chance to make an informed choice without guilt being attached. I am all for mums being able to breastfeed in public an allowing time and space in work for that, but just as we mums who breastfeed hate being frowned at and judged for our choice, so do formula feeding mums hate being judged for their choice!

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  45. I have seen first hand what happens in 3rd world countries when women that cannot afford formula for their babies, are told that it i the only way to protect their babie for disease is to bottle feed. They then use unsterile water along with watering down the formula to make it go farther which causes the babies to become malnurished and many die from dehydration because they get diahrea from the dirty water. Shame on these companies that feed on the fears of poor women who are trying to do what they are told is best for there children. They should have to go and hold these babies and see the problem there greed has caused.

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  46. Fabulous! I breastfed 5 children including a set of twins - hard work at the time, but I wouldn't change a thing. I and friends used to feed our babies wherever we were - I'm nearly 60 now - and it sometimes provoked a reaction (not always positive). It is a bit weird, though, isn't it, that doing something that's actually how we were designed to work creates so much controversy? We're bombarded with sexualised images of breasts - so what's the problem here?

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  47. It is more respectable for a woman to wear a 'sexy nurse' outfit and work as a stripper or even a prostitute, than as a milk saleswoman dressed as a 'nurse'. Any real nurses who do it, should bre struck off.

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  48. As a UK resident it was fascinating to read this social history. Over here when I was growing up in the 70's it did seem as if 'artificial' foods were held up as being better than natural- white bread over brown, bought cakes over home-made and of course formula over breast milk.
    It also shocked me that you are only entitled to 6 weeks paid maternity leave in the US, when I had my daughter 5 years ago I had 9months paid and the option of another 3 month unpaid period. We still have the problem that we are recommended to 'exclusively breastfeed for 6 months' after which ponit lots of mothers instantly go onto formula. Also, I went back to work after 9 months and the only place I could express was in the staff toilet! Lovely. Luckily i work part time so was able to carry on until she was 2 and a half, which seems to have benefitted her health wise and emotionally.
    We are still however bombarded by formula ads on tv ('Aids brain development and function'!!)and in magazines, breastfeeding promotions are only seen in doctors surgeries, childrens' centres and clinics.
    We're getting there, but we've still got a way to go.

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  49. My grandmother was a WWII bride. She shared with me her breastfeeding story. While I am sure formula was pushed there were other factors. She was alone, moved a away from family to follow my grandpa's training. She took a taxi to the hospital, delivered my aunt via twilight sleep with the aid of forceps which caused my aunt the inability to latch. I don't think she tried with the other ones, just bottle fed them like their sister. How many other brides of the time were away from their mom's and didn't have somebody to turn to for help nursing?

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