The Wet-Nurse State

The Washington Post reports on a scandal in a milk bottle this morning that somehow gets front-page treatment. It involves a government program to bolster breast feeding, which supposedly got toned down after intervention by infant formula interests. Rather than be scandalized about the influence of lobbyists, one has to wonder about the editorial decisions of the Post and the idea that government should conduct these kinds of ad campaigns at all.
At Heading Right, I scoff at the notion that anyone is shocked, shocked! to find politics in play in the federal government. Breast-feeding advocates got this ad campaign effort going through the same mechanisms that the formula lobby managed to get it softened from the scare tactics HHS initially decided to take. But why is the government involved in this kind of advocacy at all? And why is this a page A-01 story? It seems we’re regressing from the Nanny State to the Wet-Nurse state.

9 thoughts on “The Wet-Nurse State”

  1. Of course the distinction is that the breast feeding advocates actually had science on their side.
    Why is it that letting lobbyists/fundraisers sleep in the Lincoln bedroom is so bad, but allowing them to rewrite policy is no big deal — even when it endangers children’s health and safety?

  2. Not many responses to this, I see.
    Cap, you really don’t see a difference here?

  3. How is this any of the Federal Government’s business?
    You breast-feeding advocates seem to think that states and cities and families and mothers don’t care about children.
    Every child in the world doesn’t need the US Federal Government to try to be his/her mother. Breast feeding advocates should mother their own children and leave the rest of us alone.

  4. Ben,
    You seem to take breast feeding personally. I hope you haven’t had a bad experience breast feedeing or feel that the government is putting undue pressure on you to start breast feeding.
    The government and Surgeon General have traditionally shaped public opinion abouth health and provided Americans with factual information crucial to protecting the public’s health. In an age of multi-million dollar corporate advertising budgets, the government is often the people’s only reliable advocate. It turns out that smoking wasn’t a great family activity, a message that big tobacco pushed into the public’s heads for years:
    If you had a sister or wife about to deliver a baby, wouldn’t you want her to know that breast feeding was scientically known to greatly improve the chances of her child avoiding the development of a chronic health condition? Or are you more worried about the truth hurting the sales of infant baby formula and harming corporate profits?

  5. Soooo… when do these idiots get involved with potty training… or did I sleep through that one?

  6. (Canadian viewpoint)
    Three rules:
    1. Every pregnancy is different.
    2. Every birth is different.
    3. Every post-partum is different.
    Almost every “Breast-is-best” advocate is following a standard script, either mindlessly or according to official directive. It was the same script after the birth of each of my three kids (aged 5 yrs to 6 mos). The script doesn’t account for the above Three Rules.
    Due to various reasons, my wife couldn’t nurse, was mostly successful with pumping but lost production after about one month (a sudden, high fever each time). So, formula it is. Every public health nurse acted as if a disaster had occurred. Their words and behaviours suggesting she wasn’t a good mother only made her angry; imagine if she was suffering post-partum depression. My kids aren’t dead, but they would have been without formula.
    Putting out ads with “Studies say that feeding your bady formula will destroy his life” are more of the same “but it’s for the children” garbage that gets everyone worked up and feeling guilty with little or no justification.
    Better to have pre-natal instruction on the options and opinions, without guilt attached.
    Education, not propaganda.

  7. I take it personally when pushy busybodies steal my tax money and try to use it to force their point of view on people.
    These are the usual people who think they know how you should live you life. If you keep letting them get away with forcing their will on you, eventually you’ll never be allowed to make any decisions for yourself, because they will have made them all.
    I actually don’t care about breastfeeding one way or the other. I care about freedom of choice. I care about my taxes.
    And I care about stopping these people who, if they had their way, would have the police come to your house and arrest you for not living your life according to their choices they made for you.

  8. Count me in as a (formerly breastfeeding) mother who doesn’t want the government or any organization controlling what I give my eight-month-old to eat.
    Before my child was born, I was in the “breastfeeding camp” all the way. Then, post-partum happened. Total exhaustion; baby not happy with the milk supply; husband willing to give baby formula so that I could catch some sleep.
    Eventually, it became both mom and bottle. By the fifth month, she refused mom. She now gets bottle. She had just begun solids, though. She’s a good eater now.
    I have seen zero decline in her development. Zero indications of allergies. Zero problems. And no, no formula rep pushed me or her into it. Bottom line: it was my choice – and, of course, hers.
    The fact of the matter is that few moms can handle being the “milk factory” for six months, let alone a year. I know of one who couldn’t continue feeding her twins after six weeks. In her own words: “I couldn’t do it anymore.” Oh: and how about the single new moms? If I had plenty of difficulty, they probably have triple of it.

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