I just bought two of these beautiful mother memory books by Chronicle Books yesterday with the hope that I will fill them out every few days for the next five years. I bought one for each of my girls so they’ll have their own book to look over when they grow up and maybe have their own children one day. I have my own 5-year one-line a day diary that has been nice to write about my pregnancies and look back on so I thought my girls would appreciate these as well. I love the classic look of the gold lettering on the front, the gold on the edges of the pages, and the yellow place holder ribbon. Though perhaps a less stereotypical color for the cover and inside lettering would have been nice but I digress. In all, a quality journal worth the price.
Then, after I brought them home I read the back. Specifically, the examples of what to write about on the back outside cover. There are only two entries you can read, one for the baby’s first year and another for the second year. The first one caught me off guard, like I was slapped in the face, offending my delicate sensibilities regarding mothering and breastfeeding.
Take a look. At the top it says “Capture the precious moments of motherhood with this unique journal.” Record special events, quotes, thoughts. Ok, sounds good, right?
This is what it says at the top, “Matilda took a bottle today!!! She drank the whole bottle & cried when it was done because she wanted more!”
Really? The best example of a first year memory to feature on the back of the book was a baby taking a bottle? Really? And yes, the sample mother actually used three exclamation points.
Maybe I just wish that our bottle feeding culture would have been left out of the mother’s memory book. Maybe the bottle was of breast milk, maybe formula. I don’t really care. What I would have liked reading was a loving caption on the back about the child nursing, maybe the first time nursing after birth and the emotion that brings out in the mother, or the baby playing with mama’s hair or nose while nursing, or falling to sleep at the breast with a milk smile, or the mother excitedly and proudly reaching a nursing goal, or any sort of hundreds of wonderful memories involving breastfeeding. Yes. I would have preferred anything to do with nursing instead of taking a bottle. Even the difficult breastfeeding events, like being exhausted from nursing in the middle of the night all night, or teaching the child not to bite for the first time, or how it feels for when an infant nurses too long and the mother’s nipples hurt. But I don’t think that would help sell the journal.
Or hey, here’s another idea. They could have even written about the child having a bite of solid food using baby-led weaning or wielding their own spoon. (Just a reminder here: The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and then introducing complimentary solids after that. A great phrase to remember about solids during the first year is food before one is just for fun.) That would have been better. Those are real nutrition related milestones. Or maybe getting a first tooth, or rolling over, or taking a step, clapping or their first laugh. There are so, so many priceless memories for the first year, why does this memory book have to feature bottles and side with the paradigm we, and all the other major health organizations in the States and the world, are trying to shift?
Using bottle-feeding as an example of a sweet memory or milestone example on the back of a memory journal that is meant for all mothers, from stay-at-home to work-from-home to working mothers, lends to the idea that bottles are normal for all of us. They are not. Breast is normal. Only certain mothers even use bottles but nearly all babies reach those other milestones. My nearly one-year old has never used a bottle because she still breastfeeds and I work around her needs. Does that mean we missed a milestone because I have never left a feeding to someone else? No. My older child breastfeed and when the time for her to drink from a container came, she skipped bottles and sippy cups altogether and went straight to regular cups. Did she miss a milestone? No. Bottles are not necessary and citing them as an example of what is normal is a fallacy.
Am I being a little too nit-picky here? Well, when all we read, see, and hear about are bottles feeding babies, breastfeeding gets thrown even farther into the taboo realm. Take Sesame Street for example. In recent shows, they feature bottles more than breastfeeding mothers but a couple decades ago, nursing was featured equally. A petition to bring back nursing mothers as the norm or at least the same number of times as a bottle is shown, has been created because showing young children what is normal is one of the steps to destigmatizing breastfeeding. Naysayers of this movement to bring breastfeeding back to Sesame Street claim that showing a breast doing what it was intended to do is lewd and our children need to be “protected.” I call BS. Also, half the kids watching the show should still BE breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is important. Bottle feeding, whether it be filled with pumped breast milk from the mother, donor milk, or formula is often necessary, sure, but not for everyone and unnecessarily promoting a bottle feeding culture is damaging. The importance of supporting breastfeeding mothers cannot be understated. In the US, if 90 percent mothers fed their babies breast milk only for the first six months of life, the lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year. Right now according to the 2012 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, the national average for mothers exclusively breastfeeding is only 16 percent. That is shamefully low and the major health organizations know it. They are actively trying to raise our rates because of the lives and money it could save our nation each year. How much? $13 billion dollars a year in unnecessary health care costs could be saved here in the US alone if we helped mothers feed their children breast milk, according to the Surgeon General and studies published by the Journal of Pediatrics on our national breastfeeding rates and outcomes. How many mothers breastfeed at birth? Only 79%. That means over 20% of our babies, for whatever reason, are not given the milk they need from their mothers. And at 12 months, only one out of four mothers is still breastfeeding, even though the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until at least 2 years of age and then continuing on for as long as it is mutually desired.
Breast milk’s positive influence on mothers, babies, and our society has been proven time and time again in countless studies. Studies have proven that bottle feeding and the use of formula interferes with a mother’s ability to reach her goals and combo-fed and formula fed babies are not as healthy as their exclusively breastfed counterparts. Nursing mothers do not need to feel pressure to give a baby a bottle for any reason, from letting another relative handle a feeding to feeling like bottles are more socially acceptable for public feedings. Even WIC promotes exclusive breastfeeding and discourages the use of bottles, citing the negative implications of even ONE bottle.
Yes. Even that ONE bottle as the example on the back of Mom’s One Line A Day has negative implications on our health and our culture.
Try again, Chronicle Books. Your Mom’s One Line A Day marketing disappoints this breastfeeding mother.
What do you think? Offensive or not?
If you would like to voice your concern, feel free to contact Chronicle Books by calling or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am going to send them my thoughts and suggestions for improvement.
If you would like to purchase one of these, it is here on Chronicle Books’ website.