I attended a friend’s baby shower in 2007. Guests were seated and served an array of fried appetizers while we anxiously awaited the arrival of the very pregnant mom-to-be. The decor was straight out of a baby magazine: the pink and silver tables were anchored by clusters of ready-to-use formula bottles, the centerpieces were bottle-shaped helium balloons, and the tables had scattered metallic confetti in the shapes of bottles and pacifiers. The party favors were baby bottles filled with pink jelly beans and each place card was decorated with a pacifier.
Formula, bottles, and pacifiers, oh my! How is a mother-to-be going to be supported when she makes informed decisions about her health and her baby’s health when the messages around her say formula, bottles, and pacifiers are normal for babies? When will we celebrate and welcome a pregnant woman into motherhood with biological norms and not marketing messages?
New mothers need to know the real normal:
· Breasts make milk as early as the 2nd trimester, so there’s colostrum even for preemies.
· Breastmilk is digested in about 90 minutes and babies are born with tiny tummies, so they need to nurse frequently.
· Babies know how to breastfeed, if they’re given access early and often.
· Breasts are the real pacifiers. When a baby sucks on cue at mom’s breast, he sets mom’s milk production to his required level. Using a pacifier before breastfeeding is well established disguises the baby’s hunger cues and can prevent proper milk production as he nurses less often even though he’s hungry.
· No artificial nipple is “most like mom’s.” Most bottle and pacifier shapes do not encourage a baby to latch well at mom’s breast. Pacifiers with a narrow base teach the baby to pinch his lips to hold it in, instead of flanging his lips for a good latch when nursing. Most pacifier teats are too wide at the tip for the baby’s tongue to cup. Some artificial nipple shapes even teach the baby to pull his tongue back into his mouth instead of to extend it to latch on for nursing.
How do we avoid or negate the advertising and marketing images of major corporations, when their visuals are so loud, ever present, and often charming?