Is there too much pressure on new moms to give their babies breast milk?

Photo by Summer via Flickr

Expecting and new mothers hear a steady refrain from medical professionals and child-rearing experts of “breast is best” when it comes to feeding their newborns. Some of those that can’t or have trouble providing breast milk are turning to online marketplaces.

A cottage industry has sprung up facilitating the sale and donation of human breast milk on the Internet, but a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics confirms the concerns of health professionals over this unregulated marketplace.

The report found that breast milk bought from two popular Web sites was often contaminated with high levels of bacteria, including, in a few instances, salmonella. The amounts detected in some samples were sufficient to sicken a child. (New York Times)

Today’s Question: Is there too much pressure on new moms to give their babies breast milk?

  • JQP

    oddly yes. but its that subtle innuendo driven internal sub-conscious thought driven kind. no one ever “says” you are a bad mother …. but clearly a “good ” mother would …
    you know..

  • Gary F

    Yes, the Utopian push for this has caused lots of stress with mothers. Sure, mother’s milk is best, but to put undo guilt and anxiety on an already stressful moment in mothers life is not necessary.

  • CK

    Yes, and you are told by other women it you don’t you are a bad mother. The formulas today are very good. My doctor gave me a choice, she didn’t judge. A few questioned me. My child was still healthier than other babies. He’s smart enough too and attached. I’m really sick of people getting on their high horse.

  • tipperteal

    Counter question: Would mothers feel like there is too much pressure to give their babies their own milk if our culture adequately supported breastfeeding?

    • csigirl2

      Thank you for saying this. If you look up the poem called “Embarrassed” by Holly McNish (from the UK) she explains so well the downlooking eyes that many women have gotten for YEARS when breastfeeding, like it is some unnatural thing to be hidden and shamed. If this current increase is just a fad, that is incredibly sad and unfortunate, as our culture needs a permanent shift to supporting breastfeeding, whenever possible (realizing it is not for every woman and child).

    • Jackie

      While I agree to some extent, I have never once in my 11 months of breastfeeding heard a negative comment or been asked to leave or cover up. I breastfeed at restaraunts, malls, the zoo, in parking lots, or whereever I happen to be. My work, family and friends have all been supportive. But I have seen formula feeding mothers shamed for their inability to breastfeed. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

      • tipperteal

        “Culture” goes beyond the idea of nursing in public. It’s how hospitals, doctors, and nurses offer information and support (and not just in the sense of moral support). Even the seemingly tiny things like telling moms they need to supplement their jaundiced babies with formula can have negative consequences on breastfeeding. So many moms experience “booby traps” that they shouldn’t in a wide variety of settings and from a wide variety of people. Some women are lucky and either do not experience them or overcome them easily; you’re more likely to be able to do this if your friends and family are supportive. Most women are not so lucky, and it’s tremendously hard to reach your breastfeeding goals when there are roadblocks in your way almost constantly.

        • Jackie

          Then I was lucky, my doctor, nurses and hospital were all very supportive. My insurance paid for a pump. I was visited my a lactation consultant multiple times, she called to check up on me and there were free weekly meeting available. I think things are changing and it is becoming a lot more accepted and supported in the culture. But I’m also glad that when I did need to supplement that I was told it was okay and not shamed for it.

  • sharla

    Today’s women are spoiled beyond belief! I say do what mother nature intended (breastfeeding) and woman-up!

  • Alicia

    Breastfeeding is working for me but didn’t for a dear friend who has a daughter 10 weeks older than my son. They switched to formula because it was what was best for them. She has had significant anxiety and guilt about her decisions because there is so much pressure to give breast milk now. I am fortunate to be an overproducer and have donated milk. I do not take money EVER, and am simply doing it out of a desire to help others and because I can’t store any more in my freezer. I store it in the same methods I would for my son because I don’t differentiate between what I am donating and what I keep and use for my son. It’s organized in chronological order, labeled and dated. The women donating in informal networks are doing so out of kindness, not profit. I can’t speak to for-profit situations. If you knew how much work it was to pump, especially while working full time, then you understand there is no motivation to give away bad milk.

  • Sue de Nim

    No mother (or father) is perfect, but most are more than good enough. Ideally, every child should be bread fed, should be read to daily, should be sent to a quality preschool, should be stimulated with travel, should be taught by highly qualified and motivated teachers, should be given challenges to rise to, should be sent to good colleges, and should be given good examples by adults in their lives who live with integrity and compassion and have a good work ethic. No child gets all of that, but most turn out okay anyway. Stop shoulding on parents who are trying to do their best.

  • Chris

    Yes. The best way to feed and care for your baby is the way it works best for your family.

    While I opted to breastfeed it was more about my inherent cheapness than anything else. But I would have been steaming mad if the hospital hadn’t offered me both choices and been completely accepting of what we determined what was right for us.

  • Pearly

    It takes a village to breastfeed a child.

  • Bunnie Watson

    No, I do not believe there is undue pressure to breastfeed. I personally never experienced it, or know of friends who did. It is nature’s pevolutionary way to nourish young homo sapiens, so by default it is the optimum method. If, for some physical or psychological reason, a new mother cannot offer her own milk, any obstetrician or nurse midwife worthy of their credentials should work with her on alternatives. In the Third World they have fought the battle against formula companies forcing themselves upon mothers to make a buck from their naivete. Only in America would we turn breast milk into a for-profit industry and prey upon the poor self-image of modern women.

  • Fred Garvin

    Does anybody REALLY care?
    I bet our grandmothers spent about 1 second thinking about how much pressure she was under to breastfeed. Then she either did it, or waited 5 minutes until she was done feeding the other 6 kids, finished baking the fifth loaf of bread, and bringing the water to boil for the laundry.
    We’re all becoming a bunch of wimps and wimpettes.
    Grow a pair–and I do mean both guys and gals.