Did I even need to be pumping? I was a stay at home mom at the time, and eventually realized that my fat, roly-poly boy was getting enough milk even though he wanted to nurse every hour for something like the first six months of his life, even though he had wicked reflux that scared us to death and necessitated him to take meds for a year...even though this top of the line pump would not yield more than 30cc at a time.
Fortunately for me, I was living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and we had an amazing La Leche League group that taught me all I know about breastfeeding. (I still maintain this point, even years -- and even an IBCLC credential later!) This wonderful group of women taught me what breastfeeding was all about. I am forever indebted to them -- to Ashley (now a midwife and mother of five, who introduced me to cloth diapering as well), to Allison, to Janet, Kathy, and Pam. Thank you for answering my questions, but mostly for modeling what mothering is all about.
Now I work 5 days a week as a lactation consultant and see women day in and day out question their ability to produce enough milk for their babies. It pains me to hear them ask -- first thing -- about pumping, as if they have to pump. My answer is always "Just breastfeed. If you are going back to work or school, let's talk about pumping closer to that time. Right now just relax and enjoy your baby. Build your milk supply. Build your relationship. Just let your baby have the breast. Keep him skin to skin. Give him unlimited access to your breasts."
I say this so often that I want to have it tattooed to my forehead.
So imagine how I felt when Medela (already a breaker of the WHO Code) launched it's new bottle, the Calma. On their site they have something called a "Breastfeeding Video" -- though I caution you, it does not talk about breastfeeding. It talks about how brilliant Medela is because, you know, actual feeding at the breast doesn't always happen.
This video infuriates me on so many levels I can't even begin to put into words how I feel.
Aw, heck, let me try.
Medela feeds into the fears of women everywhere. You know:
"I'm not good enough."
"I can't tell how much he's getting."
"I don't think I'm making enough milk."
"He seems hungry all the time."
"Daddy won't be able to bond if he doesn't give a bottle."
"At least he's still getting breastmilk, right?"
When Medela was busted on the whole WHO Code violation, they admitted that they were in violation but did promise to never use their products to promote artificial milk feedings in any way.
Medela, what about insinuating that breastfeeding is too hard?
What about making women feel anxious because there is perhaps a minute chance that they won't be able to do what their bodies were created to do?
What about giving the subtle message that breastfeeding is white, middle class, and educated? (Really. Look at the video. Could they have picked prettier people or more attractive homes? If you want to see authentic beauty, Medela, look here.)
I know that some women cannot put their babies to breast. I know that some women cannot produce enough milk. I know all about inverted and flat nipples. I know that women go back to work and have to provide milk for when they're gone. For these moms, we need pumps and bottles and supplementers, shields and shells and all manner of tools.
Medela, if you really want to promote, support, and protect breastfeeding....if you really believe it is the norm, then do the right thing. Go ahead and produce all the devices that us lactation consultants resort to when things aren't going so smoothly. Which would be the exception to the rule. Not the norm. Go ahead and make what we need, market it to us, and leave the average new mama alone. Oh wait, that would be going along with the Code, which states, "The code stipulates that there should be absolutely no promotion of breastmilk substitutes, bottles and teats to the general public."
What's wrong with that picture?
Medela wouldn't be making the millions of dollars it is if they did that.
My kids recently learned the verse in the Bible that says "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Guess we know where Medela's heart is.