A new photo series from the Pediatric Society of Rio Grande (SPRS) is stirring up controversy and for good reason. What they claim is an attempt to encourage new moms to eat healthy actually comes off as shaming and guilting and encouraging moms to stop breastfeeding if they aren’t eating perfectly.
On the organization’s website they defend their campaign by speaking of the importance to educate and inform mothers about “procedures necessary for proper nutrition”. The whole campaign could be written off as simply a misstep with good intentions if they didn’t add a tag line that has no other purpose than to terrify mothers about causing their children a life of disease. It comes off as a carefully worded “You’ll kill your child” card.
Yours [sic] habits in the first thousand days of gestation, can prevent your child from developing serious diseases.
Of course healthy eating is always in everyone’s best interest but it is not necessary to create healthy breast milk. In fact, the American Association of Pediatrics is quite clear on the science
The mammary glands that produce your milk are able to provide your baby with highly nutritious milk even if your diet isn’t perfect every day. The mammary glands and milk-producing cells, help regulate how much of what you eat and drink actually reaches your baby through your milk.
Encouraging healthy lifestyles is a good goal. Unfortunately, nothing about this ad series is encouraging, informative, or supportive. Advertisements like this actually rarely have the intended effects. Very few moms will see this and change their eating habits. Most will, unfortunately, just assume they are setting their child up for a life of “serious diseases” and quit nursing.
La Leche spokeswoman, Diana West, explains the likely consequences of this campaign
If women think that their milk isn’t ‘good enough, they won’t bother breastfeeding at all. It’ll also make them worry that they’re not ‘perfect’ moms. Shaming like this is horrifying.
That’s really what it comes down to. Is this encouraging or crossing the line into shaming? The consensus among experts and moms seems to be that this is shaming. I tend to agree that this is a pretty gross attempt to lower breastfeeding rates instead of encouraging healthy eating. If they wanted to encourage healthy lifestyles they could have done the same campaign but with broccoli or an apple painted on the breast.
Most nursing moms can attest to the fact that cravings while nursing are almost as bad as they are during pregnancy so fear not, if you are really craving a donut go ahead and have one. Your baby will be fine. You’re doing great!
Update: It seems, unsurprisingly, that this campaign and organization are linked to Nestle. This is why it is so blatantly negative towards breastfeeding.