The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes explicitly states that there should be absolutely no promotion of breastmilk substitutes to the general public. Unfortunately, the United States pays no attention to the WHO Code and formula companies are allowed to brazenly advertise as much as they wish in the United States. Not only do we live in a country where "bottle" is a regular symbol for "baby" and where women are routinely chucked out of public places for nursing their children, but new mothers, who may have never really observed a breastfeeding dyad (due to the chucking) and who may be struggling to establish their milk supplies with little support from ignorant health care providers, are bombarded with images of bottle feeding in magazines and on television. This wears down a woman's confidence in her ability to breastfeed and convinces her that bottle feeding is what is "normal" and that breastfeeding is just too challenging, resulting in missed opportunities for both baby and mother to be as healthy as they are meant to be.
This week, in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, take Lone Star Ma's Formula Ad Challenge to learn about the extent of this violation of the WHO Code. Go look at some parenting magazines whose target audience is parents of babies and toddlers. Try to find one without any formula ads. Were you able to find one? Count the formula ads you find and count the images of breastfeeding mothers that you find in the magazines you peruse. What was the count of each? How do you think this impacts breastfeeding establishment?