Not all too long ago, a little thing called “infant formula” was created and soon touted as the best and most complete food to feed babies. Fast forward a few decades, and scientists and those in the medical community are taking it all back – but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still some residual effects.
While the number of women who are choosing to breastfeed their babies has increased since the 1970s when only 40 to 50% of babies were breastfed, still anywhere up to 2/3 of babies aren’t being breastfed past the age of 6 months.
A Demand For A Baby Formula Ban
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians is asking for the Australian federal government to go all out and ban the promotion of any type of baby formula, citing this as a key reason behind the drop in breastfeeding rates across this nation. This comes on the heels of the call made by Australia’s Assistant Health Minister, Fiona Nash, to get rid of an independent panel that would monitor the complaints and advertising of infant formula.
While a ban may seem drastic to us here in Australia, this type of action is actually far more common than we think. For example, the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes bans any marketing, free sampling, and gifting of formula for children under a year old, and has been adopted by more than 80 countries. Recently in the United States, two states, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, banned the practice of giving infant formula gift bags to new mums.
Is A Ban The Solution?
In my opinion, no. My first born had a tongue tie and was unable to breastfeed properly, no matter how hard I tried. While my second, breastfed for a long time with no problems. A ban is not the solution here. Increased support for breastfeeding, though, can certainly help women feel more comfortable and empowered when and if they wish to try breastfeeding. Rather than get into what needs to change culturally and as a societal whole, there are a number of things that can be made available to mums today to get them started:
Free and widely available access to breastfeeding resources and support (i.e. groups such as the La Leche League of Australia should be promoted by physicians, midwives and nurses)
Make the existence of milk banks known, both for use and for donation (women don’t necessarily need to use formula to supplement their baby’s feedings!)
Increase a mum’s comfort and confidence by increasing the awareness of clothing that has been designed just for them: fashionable, no-nonsense breastfeeding clothing that will help them remain discrete when feeding in public.
Providing free samples of helpful items, such as breast pads and nipple ointment, to minimize discomfort.
See the current range of styles and colours atPeachymama.