Media – 1. Mamas – 0.
The media won again.
We all got caught up in the mommy wars of “breast is best” and “my child is perfectly healthy” and “do what FEELS right” instead of using our brains for a second and uniting against the journos looking for a quick attention grab.
I was fortunate enough to have a great Year 11 English teacher. He was also my Political Science teacher. From his dissection of mass media I learned to interrogate what I read instead of accepting it as gospel. Every piper has a price, every media outlet has an agenda, and industry money is everywhere. I’m now a proficient user of google who’s carefully cultivated her knee-jerk reaction from “SAY WHAT?” to “WHY did WHO say THAT?”
It’s often a much more interesting question with an answer that’s less divisive. Simply put, industry want to increase their bottom line. They want to sell stuff to us. How do they do that? By creating a need for their product. Straight up, formula is necessary. There are many children alive because of it. There are many mothers with their sanity because of it. It’s like open-heart surgery; while it’s fantastic we have the ability to feed a young infant when a mother is not able to – for ANY reason, we’re not all clamouring to lie under the scalpel.
I’ve talked before about feeding your baby in public and the fact that I don’t care if you have a boob in their mouth, a bottle, a spoon, a supplementary nursing system, an IV, a nasogastric tube, JUST FEED YOUR CHILD and stay alive. That is mostly the goal of this parenting gig and everything beyond that is luxury.
What shits me is when print media presents an “expert” giving his opinion on a matter in which he’s not an expert. Brain surgeons are not routinely consulted about gall bladders. What does your GP do when presented with an intricate problem outside their scope of treatment? Oh yes… refer you to a specialist. Where was the immunologist? Where was the child psychiatrist? Where were the peer-reviewed journal articles confirming Dr Christian’s bold claim that breastfeeding after the age of six months has no effect on boosting a child’s immune system?
More importantly, why weren’t we surprised?
Our media takes every possible opportunity to incite. If that means removing information from context (as was done here) then yes, let’s not bother with that qualifying sentence. Opinions are bought and paid for by editors, who are owned by their advertisers. In this case, Closer is a British tabloid magazine published by Bauer Media Group, who recently received a nice chunk of cash from manufacturing giants Nestle. Hang on. That name rings a bell. What do they make again? Ah…
Swings and roundabouts. Just make sure you’re not pushing the mummy swinging beside you OFF her swing, or sticking a foot into her roundabout. Don’t ask me when I’ll stop breastfeeding my child and I won’t ask you what you feed yours. Instead, I’ll sterilise a teat for you, boil a kettle, and make you a cup of tea with a lactation cookie or a bottle of formula, whatever you need at that moment in time.
If you’d like to read more stats, there’s a fantastic post here at Evolutionary Parenting; there’s also a fantastic fact sheet on breastfeeding past infancy (complete with journal references) available here at kellymom.