Over the past few decades, breastfeeding has been considered one of the most efficient ways to guarantee child health. However, today, some babies are not exclusively breastfed and are being introduced to infant formula. There are forces that contribute to the shift from exclusive breastfeeding to integration with bottled milk. One of the forces in the medical field that seems to support infant formula as an alternative to breastfeeding is healthcare providers, as stated in chapter one (Allers, 2017). Therefore, social structures and cultural forces within the society play a role in undermining breastfeeding while promoting infant formula as an alternative using the information provided in chapters one, two, three, four and six.
Medical Field Influence On Mothers
The medical field influences mothers’ decisions to choose breast milk or use infant formula. The sector uses a system of measurements and recommendations to compel mothers to trust supplements over breast milk, and mothers have accepted the imbalanced opinion. Mothers usually have little knowledge of breastfeeding and base their decisions on what they hear from medical experts (Allers, 2017). After childbirth, mothers usually rely on pediatricians for their children’s health information. Medical providers are taking advantage of their closeness with mothers to introduce infant formula.
These providers use a growth chart to diagnose infants and provide them with a formula if they have growth and development issues that should be addressed (Allers, 2017). Thus, infant formula is constantly replacing breast milk through the intervention of medical providers.
Medical providers’ active involvement in marketing infant formula is undermining breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to market infant formula in exchange for donations from the companies (Allers, 2017). Learning institutions, especially healthcare providers, are also taking part in the marketing of infant formula in place of breast milk. Most medical schools lack a relevant breastfeeding curriculum that involves in-depth training on the mechanics of breastfeeding. The educators in medical colleges are of a generation that was educated when science was expected to improve living conditions, and the chemistry of infant formula was thought to outperform breast milk (Allers, 2017). Therefore, the medical field plays a major role in replacing breast milk with infant formula.
The Milk Money
The main interest of the formula industry is to make money for the stakeholders as opposed to improving the lives of babies. Infant formula was originally meant to assist preterm babies who could not breastfeed. However, companies in this sector saw an opportunity to make money (Allers, 2017). Thus, the shift to mass production of bottled milk was driven by making more profit. This transition changed infant feeding patterns as mothers are being advised to use bottled milk as an alternative even to breastfeeding infants. Based on this, the messages on the nutritional, developmental, and immunological benefits of breastfeeding are becoming scarce every day to enable mothers to capitalize on using infant formula as an alternative (Allers, 2017). With scarce information on breastfeeding, the formula industry has increased the number of mothers using bottled milk to feed their babies instead of breast milk.
The business around infant formula is booming, attracting many players across the globe. Abbott Laboratories and Bristol-Myers Squibb are dominant in this industry and have managed to foster a virtual oligopoly (Allers, 2017). These companies have more than 50% of the market share combined and control the infant formula market. For instance, they are spending more than $1 billion in research and development because of high-profit margins realized due to the mass production of infant formula (Allers, 2017).
However, even as the formula industry maximizes its wealth, families using infant formula are spending a lot of money that can be saved by encouraging breastfeeding. A ready-to-feed infant formula goes at 21 cents per ounce, and an average baby consumes about 25 ounces daily (Allers, 2017). This is equivalent to $5.25 daily, $157 monthly, and $1890 yearly. Therefore, the sale of infant formula is booming, attracting more business players.
Scientific Breakthroughs or Breakdowns
Science has played a major role in developing infant formula at the expense of breastfeeding. It is used to build the formula industry and destroy mothers and breastfeeding. Everyone, including parents, usually depends on science to guide decisions in concepts such as nutrition and vaccination and social development, as well as preventive health measures (Allers, 2017). However, when mothers seek information on the inferiority of infant formula to breastfeeding, they find confusing data. Infant formula companies use the scientific landscape to ensure that their products are presented as beneficial to consumers to increase their market share. For instance, the information provided on whether breastfeeding babies should be healthier than bottled milk is confusing to read. Science provides questionable information on the benefits of breastfeeding.
The negative relationship between science and breastfeeding is considered a breakthrough for infant formula. The field of science has worked so hard to make sure that mother’s milk is replaced with bottled milk (Allers, 2017).
The formula industry has reaped a lot of benefits from scientific developments and innovations. For example, the development of synthetic versions of docosahexaenoic acid-rich (DHA) and arachidonic acid-rich (ARA) found naturally in breast milk is among the benefits of infant formula. This enabled the infant formula makers to have an alternative to breast milk. In addition, they used the information to persuade parents that bottled milk is very close to breast milk. The main beneficiary of this information has been Enfamil because of DHA and ARA, which are perceived to improve brain development (Allers, 2017). As a result, science is an outcome of the structural and economic forces that undermine breast milk.
The Unseen Things Undermine Breastfeeding
With adequate support, nearly all mothers across the globe can breastfeed their babies. In the traditional setting, the rate of mothers effectively breastfeeding babies is about 100% (Allers, 2017). However, the case is different in the current society, with most women found to have a low milk supply to meet the needs of the infants. This issue is the psychological, social, and cultural forces that undermine breastfeeding patterns. These forces create an environment that supports or curtails breastfeeding. Previously, social structures established by norms and standards were integral in ensuring that all mothers breastfed their babies.
Based on this, the issues identified in breastfeeding in the current society result from unseen societal forces (Allers, 2017). For instance, we live in a society where the medical field seems to support infant formula instead of breastfeeding. Because parents depend on health care providers for information regarding the health of their babies, contradictory information impedes breastfeeding.
Moreover, apart from the medical field, the other factors affecting breastfeeding are occupation and gender discrimination against breastfeeding mothers. In most occupations, women are usually given less than three-month maternity leave and are expected to get back to work. One out of four mothers in the US return to work two weeks after childbirth (Allers, 2017). As a result, it becomes challenging for mothers to continue breastfeeding.
In addition, some mothers find themselves in a hostile work environment for breastfeeding. In addition, lactating mothers also face discrimination from people within and outside the work environment. For example, there are instances where some mothers are forced to use bathrooms to breastfeed their babies (Allers, 2017). Societal and cultural factors are unseen forces that hinder breastfeeding.
The Impact of Feminism Fallacy on Breastfeeding
The feminist movement is developing ideologies that tend to undermine breastfeeding. They have an ideology that teaches women to view breastfeeding as time-wasting, energy-consuming, and obstruction to fully participating in employment. Feminists argue that infant formula is a product meant to liberate women from the slavery of breastfeeding (Allers, 2017). They perceive breastfeeding as a problem that has hindered women from achieving their full potential at work. As a result, this ideology has successfully influenced some women to consider using infant formula for breastfeeding. Thus, the feminist ideology is one force that undermines the breastfeeding of babies and supports bottled milk.
Medicine, big organizations, and feminism have undermined breastfeeding in contemporary society. Breastfeeding was earlier on recognized as one of the most effective techniques to ensure a child’s health. However, some newborns are not entirely breastfed and are given infant formula. There are dynamics at work that contribute to the transition from exclusive nursing to blending with bottled milk. One of the forces that appears to favor the adoption of infant formula as an alternative to nursing is the medical field.
Allers, K. S. (2017). The big letdown: How medicine, big business, and feminism undermine breastfeeding. St. Martin’s Press.