Thursday, 3 December 2009

For the love of boobies*

Recently I was talking to friends about moral issues (oh yes people, it is going to be one of those posts – but it is a VERY important one so shut up and read on!), I shared one of my most thought provoking issues. It is an issue I battle with constantly, having known of it for a long time but being unable to commit to fighting it fully. I was fired up about it and my friends caught fire as well, fairly quickly.

What followed was a months-long delving into some of the saddest stories you'll ever hear.

In third-world countries, where advertising code standards are loosely or not-at-all observed, formula companies exploit the ignorance and desperation of women. Doctors and nurses are paid commissions to hand out samples of baby formula and press new mothers to use it in place of breast milk. They tell them that formula is better for their babies than their breast milk could ever be, that, if they loved their babies, they would buy the expensive formula packs. The women either buy completely into the wretched idea that formula is superior to what their bodies produce, or they use the samples just long enough that their own breast milk dries up. And then they're stuck, dependent on expensive powdered formula.

We found pictures of babies who starved to death because their mothers couldn't afford enough of the pricey formula and diluted it. Other babies became sick after being fed formula mixed with bad water, or drinking from unsterilized bottles. One woman who had twins was told her body would only produce enough breast milk for one baby, so she fed the other formula. The breastfed baby thrived; the formula-fed baby starved.

Admittedly I'm fairly easy to rile, but there are few things in my life that have sickened or angered me more than this. The ONE THING these mamas can do for their babies is being taken from them.

The scariest statistic: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.3 million babies who die annually because of nutrition and health issues would NOT die if their mothers exclusively breastfed them to the age of 6 months and continued to breastfeed thereafter.

Dead babies, people. Dead babies can't be ignored.

So I have joined
the boycott of one of the leading offenders, Nestlé. As much as I love Shreddies and Toffee Crisps, I love women and babies more. It would be fabby fantastic if you joined me - it's not asking much to pass over the Buxton water (yep, Nestlé own them) and get the Evian or the Malvern instead, is it?

Although I give you all plenty of credit to understand this without me saying it, I will clarify that this isn't a hate-on-all-formula campaign we're waging. Formula has its place. It is the best substitute for breast milk that exists, and when used safely, cleanly, and as directed, it does not kill babies. Babies are killed by disease and malnutrition. Babies are killed when women who can't afford formula and/or do not have access to clean water are convinced by greedy, shameless people not to trust their own bodies.

And that is something I cannot and will not endorse.

*Also, the title is one that I suggested if we were to start a petition. But apparently that would not be appropriate so I have used it here instead, to lighten the tone a bit.

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