Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is Breastmilk Green?

Is Breastmilk Green?

Human milk is produced and delivered to the consumer without any pollution, unnecessary packaging or waste. Most of the focus on the environmental effect of newborns is concentrated on the debate between cloth vs. disposable diapers, but the environmental consequences of formula feeding have far greater impact. Large amounts of water, fuel, paper, glass, plastic and rubber are required in the production, shipping and preparation of formula.
Additionally, formula feeding produces significant amounts of solid waste. Substituting cow’s milk for human milk is costly, causes waste and uses valuable resources. For example, each year in the US, over half a million women formula feed their babies from birth. If just these mothers breastfed for a full year (with solids introduced after six months), these valuable resources would be saved:
25 million pounds of steel from formula cans
2.5 million pounds of paper
2.5 million pounds of HDPE from plastic milk containers
27 million gallons of milk, requiring 465 million pounds of dairy feed to produce
6 million gallons of oil for production, transportation and refrigeration
135 million pounds of carbon dioxide produced by the use of those 6 million
gallons of oil, requiring 35,000 acres of forest to absorb


Baumslag, N. and Michels, D., Milk, Money & Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding. Bergin & Garvey, Westport, CT, 1995.

Motherwear. Business Unusual. Northampton, MA, 2000. Online at:

Reprinted with permission from Breastfeeding at a Glance, By Dia L. Michels and Cynthia Good Mojab, M.S.with Naomi Bromberg Bar-Yam, Ph.D. Platypus Media, 2001, ISBN: 1-930775-05-9.
For more information, visit or call 1-877-PLATYPS (toll-free).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Breastfeeding Reduces Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Breastfeeding reduces heart attack and stroke risk

The longer women breastfeed, the lower their risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular disease, report U.S. researchers in a study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting breastfeeding has health benefits for both mother and baby.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh looked at data on nearly 140,000 post-menopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, a study of chronic disease that began in 1994.

They found that compared to women who never breastfed, women who breastfed for one to six months in their lifetimes had a:

five per cent lower risk for high blood pressure
nine per cent lower risk for diabetes
seven per cent lower risk for high cholesterol.

Women who breastfed two years or more during their lifetimes had a:

13 per cent lower risk for high blood pressure
12 per cent lower risk for diabetes
20 per cent lower risk for high cholesterol.

An average of 35 years had passed since women enrolled in the study had last breastfed an infant, suggesting that the benefits from breastfeeding last a long time, said lead researcher Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and obstetrics,
"We have known for years that breastfeeding is important for babies' health; we now know that it is important for mothers' health as well," said Schwarz.

"The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them... Our study provides another good reason for workplace policies to encourage women to breastfeed their infants."

Research has found that breastfeeding offers many health benefits to both mother and baby.

The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada notes that breastfeeding offers protection for some women against breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, osteoporosis and anemia.

The list of benefits for the baby is long, with breast milk credited with protecting against obesity, childhood cancers, allergies, and ear and stomach infections.

The Canadian Paediatric Society and Health Canada recommend exclusive breastfeeding for a baby's first six months of life.

Breast is Best For Both Mom and Baby

Breast is best for both mom and baby

Women who nurse are less likely to get host of diseases later in life

By Sharon Kirkey, Canwest News ServiceApril 21, 2009

Breast isn't just best for baby: mothers who don't breastfeed their babies may increase their risk of heart attacks and strokes decades later, new research suggests.
The evidence comes from the massive Women's Health Initiative trial and involved nearly 140,000 women. Researchers found women who breastfed were less likely when they were older to have developed high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in Canadian women.
"The longer a woman breastfed her baby, the better it was for both of them," says lead author Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, of the University of Pittsburgh.
"We know that women who don't breastfeed their babies are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer," Schwarz says.
Recent studies show women who don't breastfeed also have higher risks of diabetes and high blood pressure.
"Ours is the first study that shows that there really is a strong effect in terms of preventing heart attacks and stroke for women who nursed for more than six months," says Schwarz, an assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
The study appears in the latest issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Health Canada recommends breast milk should be the only food or drink for the first six months of life, and that breastfeeding continue, along with the gradual introduction of solid food, for two years or more.
But a national survey released last month found only 14 per cent of new moms in Canada were exclusively feeding their newborns breast milk by age six months.
Breastfeeding helps protect babies against infections and disease, benefits that are thought to last a lifetime.
"We now know that it's important for mothers' health as well," Schwarz says.
Her team analyzed data from 139,681 post-menopausal women, average age 63, enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative study, known best for its research on hormone replacement therapy.
Researchers looked at the women's lifetime history of breastfeeding, meaning how many months in total they had breastfed their babies.
Women who breastfed for one to six months had less diabetes, less high blood pressure and less high cholesterol, all known risk factors for heart disease.
Those who breastfed for seven months or more were significantly less likely to have actually developed cardiovascular disease compared to women who had never breastfed.
Women who breastfed for a lifetime total of at least 12 months were 10 per cent less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke or developed heart disease when they were older.
The finding held after researchers took age, income, body mass index, diet, physical activity, family history of heart disease and other factors into account.
For Schwarz, the study was personal. "As a new mom who went back to work, I found pumping a bit challenging," Schwarz says. "Everybody kept telling me it was good for my baby. I wondered what effect it had on my own health."
The study doesn't prove cause and effect, just an association, and there may be other issues at play, cautions Dr. Beth Abramson, a Toronto cardiologist and spokeswoman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Breastfeeding Has Twice the Benefits of Bottle-Feeding

Breastfeeding has twice the benefit of bottle feeding, UNC research shows
Friday, April 10, 2009 — There’s plenty of research showing how babies benefit from breastfeeding. But there’s mounting evidence that nursing benefits mothers, too, says Dr. Alison Stuebe.

Alison Stuebe, M.D.
Written by Margot Carmichael Lester for UNC Health Care
Alison Stuebe, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, is investigating how breast-feeding impacts diabetes, heart disease, stress and metabolism. Stuebe, who works in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, used longitudinal data from the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest and longest-running investigations of factors that influence women’s health.
“It’s apparent that nursing may help the mother's metabolism shift out of pregnancy mode faster,” she says. Stuebe’s findings show that breastfeeding can mitigate the effects of these conditions:

Heart Disease: “Women who breast-fed for two years or more had a 23 percent lower risk of heart attack,” Stuebe says. “That’s pretty big when you consider that heart disease is the leading killer of women.” Other studies have found that post-partum women who breastfeed have better cholesterol levels that women who don’t.

Diabetes: Stuebe also did a study, the first to show a long-term metabolic benefit for mother, which found that women who nursed had a lower risk of developing Type-2 diabetes. Nursing mothers had a 15 percent lower risk per year of breast-feeding; and women who breastfed a single child for a year had a lower risk than women who breastfed two children for shorter periods totaling a year.

Stress: “There is clear evidence that women who breastfeed have a different response to stress than those who bottle-feed,” she says. Oxytocin – a hormone that reduces fear and increases trust – is probably the key since it’s released during breast-feeding.

While the relationships are clear, why they exist is not. “Is it something about the breast-feeding itself, or the something about the mothers who breastfeed?” Stuebe asks. “Is it the lifestyle of nursing mothers or the milk itself? These questions are hard to answer in observational studies. But the protective aspects of breastfeeding are becoming clear.”
Given the benefits, Stuebe has teamed up with the UNC Hospitals’ lactation consultants to launch a breastfeeding clinic to help women begin and continue nursing. The UNC Lactation Clinic is available to mothers whether or not they delivered at UNC Hospitals. Its midwives, lactation consultants and OB/GYNs meet with mothers, develop a plan and follow up as necessary. To make an appointment, women can call the Breastfeeding Warmline at 866-428-5608.
Many mothers, like Anne-Marie Meyer of Carrboro, come to the clinic in pain.
“I was having recurring infections, and before I went to the clinic, I saw three primary care/internal medicine physicians, a midwife, an immunologist, two dermatologists and an OB/GYN,” she recalls. “None of them could help me.”
The Lactation Clinic team not only began investigating the source of Meyers’s symptoms, but also provided pain management, and emotional and lactation support. Stuebe determined that Meyer was suffering from a staph infection that presented in an unusual way. Meyer was given immediate treatment and the infection was eradicated.
“The clinic team really put the big picture together,” Meyer says. “This was the most difficult and excruciating medical experience I’ve had to navigate in my life, but I felt I had the most personal and genuine care at the clinic.”
While Meyer is more than satisfied with her experience at the clinic, Stuebe wants to be able to provide even more comprehensive care. She’s hoping to secure funding for a study on managing breast pain.
“About one-third of women who stop breast-feeding in the first month attribute the decision to pain,” she says. Working with a microbiologist and the UNC lactation consultants, she will try to find out how to appropriately diagnose and treat infection-related pain. That descriptive data would then be used to launch a clinical trial.
“There’s a paucity of good literature on how to manage this kind of thing,” Stuebe laments. “We’re hoping to develop protocols for breast infection and other common issues so the health care community can begin to work in the same way. We want to gather data and come up with evidence-based guidelines for treatment and education that we can disseminate throughout the community.”
Expanding the research base on the benefits and problems of nursing is critical, Steube says. “Breastfeeding affects two generations – mother and baby,” she asserts. “There’s just not as much good science as this topic deserves.”
To learn more about lactation services at UNC, call the Breastfeeding Warmline at 866-428-5608 or visit For more information on women’s health, visit
Media contact: Clinton Colmenares, (919) 966-8757, or Tom Hughes, (919) 966-6047,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Breastfeeding Boosts the National Economy

Nursing by Numbers: How Breastfeeding Boosts the National Economy By Olivia CampbellWeb Exclusive, April 2009
Forget about retail therapy, breastfeeding is an economic stimulator that's completely free. According to USDA research, infant formula-feeding exacts a toll on national pocketbooks.
"Breastfeeding and the provision of breastmilk exclusively for the first 6 months? promises the United States improved health of both its citizens and its economy," the US Breastfeeding Committee said in response to the USDA report.
Most people understand how nursing benefits baby's health and parent's finances, yet few people realize the extent to which breastfeeding benefits the mother's health and how this all spells savings for the entire nation.
Research shows breastfeeding decreases the incidence and/or severity of the following illnesses in childhood (and in many cases also into adulthood):- Ear infections- Bacterial meningitis- Respiratory infections and viruses- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) - Asthma - Allergies (nasal and skin)- Urinary tract infections- Gastrointestinal infections- Diarrhea- Lymphomas, leukemia and Hodgkin's disease - Autoimmune thyroid disease - Type 1 and type 2 diabetes - Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease - Necrotizing enterocolitis- Multiple sclerosis - Obesity- Bacteremia- Celiac disease- Botulism- Pneumonia- Lung disease- High blood pressure- Anxiety/stress- Bed-wetting- Nearsightedness- Increased intellectual, developmental, and cognitive aptitudeFor the nursing mother, breastfeeding can help protect against the following diseases:- Breast cancer - Ovarian cancer- Uterine cancer - Thyroid cancer- Type 2 diabetes - Osteoporosis - Lupus- Rheumatoid arthritis- Obesity
In 2001, the USDA concluded that if breastfeeding rates were increased to 75 percent at birth and 50 percent at six months, it would lead to a national government savings of a minimum of $3.6 billion. This amount was easily an underestimation since it represents savings in the treatment of only three of the dozens of illnesses proven to be decreased by breastfeeding: ear infections, gastroenteritis, and necrotizing enterocolitis.
"Choosing to give your baby formula results in an increased risk for ear infections, for diabetes, for leukemia and so on. We as a nation need to understand that it is not that breastfeeding lowers the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but that choosing to feed an infant formula increases his risk of sudden infant death syndrome," said Stacy Kucharczk, a certified lactation consultant and pediatric nurse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2008 breastfeeding report card found that since 2000, breastfeeding of newborns has increased from 64 to 74 percent, and from 29 to 43 percent at six months. However, at one year, only 21 percent of babies continue to be breastfed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least one year. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years.
The AAP says each formula-fed infant costs the healthcare system between $331 and $475 more than a breastfed baby in its first year of life. The cost of treating respiratory viruses resulting from not breastfeeding is $225 million a year.
"Insurance companies should realize that covering a home visit by a board certified lactation consultant would result in significant healthcare savings down the road," said Kucharczk. "Savings in the short-term for decreased pediatric health care visits for common acute illnesses, such as ear infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, and upper respiratory infections to name a few. Savings in the long-term from lower rates of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, asthma, certain types of childhood cancers, and obesity—as well as lower rates of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancers in the mother."
Health benefits for the nursing mother include a reduction in risk of many cancers and other serious diseases, during and after lactation. The key to achieving the maximum benefit to the baby, mother, and the economy appears to be extended breastfeeding, which is nursing for more than just six months or one year.
"We need to help mothers understand that extended breastfeeding does matter," Kucharczk said. "I often point out to mothers that the studies demonstrating the benefits of breastfeeding often show a dose-related effect, as in some breastmilk is good, but more is better."
Lactation duration and breast cancer risk are inversely related. The longer a woman breastfeeds the less likely she is to get pre- or postmenopausal breast cancer, even with a family history of the disease.
Re-examination of data from 47 international studies found that for every year a woman breastfeeds, she reduces her risk of breast cancer by an average of 4.3 percent. The risk is reduced a further 7 percent by simply having a baby.
For example, if you had three children and nursed them each for two years, your risk for breast cancer would be reduced by 46.8 percent. In fact, one study found that women who've nursed for six years or more reduced their risk of breast cancer by as much as a 63 percent.
The multi-study report estimated that breast cancer rates could be cut by more than half if women increased their lifetime breastfeeding duration. The National Cancer Institute reported the national expenditure on breast cancer treatment in 2004 was $8.1 billion, meaning extended nursing could save upwards of $4 billion a year.
For each year of breastfeeding, a woman decreases her chances of getting type 2 diabetes by 15 percent, reported a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005. So if we consider the woman from the aforementioned example, in her six years of breastfeeding she's earned a 90 percent reduction in her risk of developing diabetes.
The National Institute of Health estimates that between 10 and 11 million American women have type 2 diabetes. The estimated cost of their treatment and lost wages is roughly $78 billion a year. This expenditure could be cut drastically by increased extended nursing rates.
For the national Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), supporting a breastfeeding mother costs about 45 percent less than a formula-feeding mother. Every year, $578 million in federal funds buys formula for babies who could be breastfeeding.
A year of purchasing formula can cost a family between $700 and more than $3,000. Many women who go back to work soon after giving birth might think the expense of formula is worth the convenience. The extra medical issues of formula, for mother and child, make the cost more than monetary.
For employers, formula-feeding results in more health claims, more days off for sick children, and decreased productivity. It benefits employers in the long run to provide a time and place for mothers to pump breastmilk. A few minutes off the clock is more than made up for by the lifetime of health enjoyed by nursing babies and mommies.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An amazing blog; a must read!

Written by Morgan Gallagher:

Friday, 10 April 2009

Signs & Symbols, Barthes & Bottles
Over the past few months, I've had to blog about bottle images being used in publicity materials and campaigns - none of which were for infant feeding companies. Many times, I've ended up in conversations with people who Just Don't Get It. They can't see why we need The Code, to protect us against formula and baby bottle advertising. They don't understand how something as innocent and harmless as... a baby's bottle... can cause so much fuss. Inevitably, many comment that it's an attack on mothers who formula feed, and use bottles to do so. And every time this is raised the hoary old spectre of The Women Who Can't Breastfeed is also thrown into the mix. Many people express their complete amazement that there is anything wrong, or even anything to get het up about, about using the image of a baby bottle. What's the problem?
.Well, the problem is quite complex. Extend me some patience, and some of your time, and let me explain it all out....
We live in a highly savvy media centred world. Images surround us, and images have power. They have rather more power than we might think. Some images, are so powerful, they have automatic, and obvious meanings. Meanings that are so 'obvious', that we don't have to think about them. Advertisers, promoters and media specialists, use such images as a language to speak to us. We understand the meaning: we read the meaning without having to read any words. The images do the work. We don't have to think twice about the images being used in the posters above, for example. We can clearly see that when you place a can of petrol, next to a battery, next to a green tree, and then we see the question "What should cars run on?" we instantly know we are being asked to interpret, and process, several very complex and convoluted economic and environmental debates. All that's been done with three images - and simply placing them together..
There is a language we use to describe images, and their effect upon us, and how we interpret them: semiotics. It's how we analyse images and explore how they work. As a tool, it requires discussion and exploration of how the image speaks to us - what it means, as well as how we, the audience, accept that meaning. Some images have variable meanings: you need clues and context on how to read them. Some have very clear and fixed meanings: Universal meanings. We call all images that speak to us, signs. Signs usually require context, and written text, to make their meaning clear to us. The petrol tin, the battery, the tree, in the above poster, are all signs. As an audience, we have to look, make judgements, read the text, to make out the clear meaning.
Some signs don't need context, don't need text. Their meaning is Universal: we all know what it means. A single red rose, for instance, means love. Romantic love. Just as the red 'heart' shape represents love. But it's not the shape of a heart, how can that be? How can we look at these two signs, and know what they mean? We just do. They so fill our lives, with the same meaning, again and again, we understand that meaning. In a global world, these signs have a single, agreed, meaning: they are symbols.
Symbols are very powerful. They work upon us subconsciously, and unpack their meaning in our brains before we have even thought about it. I bet some of the readers of this blog, spotted the rose and the love heart as they glanced down, and thought "Why is she talking about love?", and it piqued their interest.
Some signs are pre-made, artificially constructed, in order to be used in a very specific way. Such as the skull and crossbones on a bottle, to signify poison. Such as the radiation symbol used above: constructed for a deliberate and Universal message. Not naturally evolved, or emerged from culture, but sat down with, drawn, redrawn, looked at, worked upon. The meaning - the signification it carries - highly debated and refined. We're used to dealing with such signs, and don't really think twice about them. Sometimes, this can cause us trouble, when we don't think through everything it might mean to everyone: when the audience changes. Take the Red Cross, for instance. The sign used to say Don't Shoot, Aid Being Given, Neutral People Doing Good Things.
Except, as we've found, it's not neutral. It's a cross: it's Christian iconography. Where one audience sees it as a sign of good -others see it as a sign of repression and religious intolerance. So we develop another sign, for areas where we need you Not To Shoot: areas where the Christian Cross is problematic. We develop the Red Crescent, to be used in conflict areas which are primarily Islamic. But this, in itself, is not neutral in some eyes. Again, the audience changes, and the reading of the meaning changes: one culture's neutral helper, is another's threat of intolerance and so we must find a third sign - one truly truly neutral: totally made up: the red crystal. And the Cross, the Crescent and the Crystal, stand together, or separately, as and when needed.
.Some signs are manufactured commercially. Thousands, if not millions of pounds, is spent in setting a sign up, and promoting it, and upholding it, and developing it: so it conveys in the audience, a powerful and potent message. Corporate media analysts construct the image, corporate advertising agencies create messages in the audience that is designed to make the audience have both an emotional reaction, and attachment, to the sign. It 'stands' for the company. For the product. For the lifestyle that company sells with the product. (For no company ever sells you a product - they sell you a lifestyle that the product represents.) They try to create a symbol from their sign: they try to give it Universal meaning. They try to create, a mythology around their product, that supersedes every other interpretation of it.
Sometimes they succeed, in part. Millions of people, worldwide, will look at the sign above, and automatically know what it is supposed to stand for: good food, cheaply and quickly. Universal standards of the same tasting food, every time. But audiences are more fluid than that: audiences rebel. Audiences have their own opinion. For every two or three people who look at that sign, and see hamburgers, another will look with a resistant view, a deviant view from that being pushed on them by the sign-maker. Many see the golden arches and think: corporate greed, exploitation, processed pap. You can't control all aspects of how an audience will react.
But you can try.
Which brings us to baby bottles, and formula, and Code.
For it was recognised, decades ago, that commercial companies had been so successful in constructing a sign, that it became symbol. It went from an advertising device, to a symbol that meant so so much more. It acquired status and power, and moved into myth. It constructed an emotional image upon the audience, so powerful, that it became 'natural' to look at, and to see it not for what it was, but for the ideology, lifestyle, and total world view it proposed. A worldview where science and hygiene, was to free the world from hunger, by raising wonderful rosy cheeked children, strong, intelligent, bushy tailed and bright eyed. Where the modern saviour of all ills - science and technology, was to meet the loving mother in the Nursery, and provide us all with an image that was at once love, nurture, nature, science, advancement, wealth, comfort and liberation.
A symbol that was to give us a world where women were liberated from worry by the lovely men in the white coats, who had 'rescued' them from the need to feed their own babies with dirty contaminated inadequate and icky female fluids. Where the nurses in their impeccable clean and pressed clothing, face masks on, and the scientifically clean white coats of the laboratory, were to provide the new wonder food of the future. Where fat cheeked white skinned and blue eyed children flourished under the protective banner of the symbol of mythical abundance and love: the formula in the baby bottle.
We are so used to seeing this symbol, all around us, we truly don't see it anymore. We all grew up with babies being fed by bottle. Most of us fed our own baby dolls, by bottle, and fought hard for the new model with the new bits - real fluids to pour into plastic mouths and to flood into real nappies out of the plastic bum. We're flooded by baby bottles as the image to represent the feeding rooms in shops and stores, we see babies in the street with bottles in their mouth, self feeding. We forget the difference between an actual real baby being fed, and a constructed media image. We see one, as the other.
To the vast majority of us, bottle feeding, with formula, is so normal, that we have to think twice when someone objects to an image of it on a billboard? What? Object to feeding babies? What nonsense is that?
But it's not normal. It's not natural. It's artificial. It's a construct. An artifact. We have made it up. We created it. It is a fabrication. The normal, natural, actual way to feed a baby is to put it to your breast and let it suckle. The image we have banned almost entirely from our view, is the real one. The fake one, the industrial product, is the one we have honoured with mythic status.
The biggest misunderstanding about all this, is that when we object to images of bottle feeding, we are objecting to women's choices to formula feed. Nothing could be further from the truth. We're objecting to the MYTH that bottle feeding is love, babies, motherhood and family life. We're all objecting to the myth behind the symbol. We're objecting to it because that myth kills babies. It makes them sick, it robs families of much needed income, it sucks the life blood from our babies and 4000 of them are buried, every single day. In a shallow grave as their mothers were subjected to a barrage of images of the mythic power of the baby bottle and its contents. That it will make your baby better, smarter, faster - just like the rich white kids in the USA and the UK. That when you buy the product, you buy the lifestyle of dreams: of rich, famous and wonderful health for your soon to grow up to be Someone Special baby.
Where Science is rescuing you from poverty.
And, of course, the myth is, in reality pitiful. The reality is disease, death and misery. Poverty and babies being fed coffee creamer, whilst their mothers turn them away from the breast, as the breast isn't New And Wonderful and Scientific.
Code recognised the power of this symbol to destroy lives, families and communities. It recognised that to protect babies, mothers and fathers needed to be protected from seeing constructed images of WonderFoood, constructed by vast multi-national corporations for profit. Protected from free samples that lasted long enough for the mother's milk to dry up. Protected from the myth - one of the most powerful, all pervasive and efficient advertising myths ever created. One that wove into a culture uneasy with the role of women, and children. A culture that sought to keep breastfeeding women in the back bedroom, out of the public eye. A culture that prefered to seperate mothers and babies, and keep them in seperate boxes, so the male could control them both. That told women their breasts where for male pleasure only, and that they could 'escape' the Nursery and leave their babies behind and go out to work on a man's terms.
And when you took this mythic construct, into resource poor areas, this myth killed, and is killing, millions and millions of babies. Code stood against this, and recognised the global impact of the bleed through to poorer areas, of the saturation of bottle feeding images in richer areas. It stood up and said "No. Thou Shall Not Pass."
And everytime the baby bottle is used in promotional materials, like the Parliament posters, it strikes a blow straight through the heart of the Code. It reinforces and upholds the myth, and makes natural and normal that artificial construct.
And that kills babies. Today. Tomorrow. For how much longer?
People have asked me why I think the Parliament campaign has included the baby bottle. I think it's very clear why. All four posters are raising serious issues that affect all of us, Europe wide. But we are a very diverse group, financially, ethically, and ethnically. None of these posters have any people in them. All use "neutral" signs to get over their quite subtle message. If you analyse the written text the posters are both not putting forward a 'party line' and at the same time, using images, that clearly outlines the 'right path'. But not clearly enough that anyone could take offense: you can read your own message into them. If you feel that wind-power is economic nonsense, you can read the poster being neutral about that. Equally, the rest of us can see that in the decision between nuclear and wind: wind wins.
But the subtleties of what's the 'right' answer, is in the images, the signs, not the text. And it wouldn't work so well, with real people in the poster. Who to pick to represent 'Europe' in the poster? A nightmare to get ethnic diversity right: leave out all people! No human beings allowed - it will cause too much contention. In wishing to speak to the whole of Europe en masse, humans have to be removed from the equation: hair colour, skin colour, eye colour, body shape, dress, hairstyles... no way to speak to everyone, in so short a campaign.
But how then, to represent family and family life? Without putting a baby in? Ah.. it's obvious.. use a baby bottle. The Universal symbol of babyhood.
Who could object to that? Clear message, everyone can understand in one glance.
Unfortunately, that's true. That's why Code exists. The marketing message was, and is, too effective. That's why it's an obscene use of the baby bottle image: it's been chosen precisely because of the mythical ideology behind it. And for a political organisation not to spot that, in terms of Code? Incompetence on a bone chilling level.
But there is another element to this, to do with audience. On why some of you can't undestand why we make such a fuss, why we fight and fight and fight over these media images of baby bottles. I raised above, with the symbol of a fast food restaurant, the notion that audiences differ. We can make our own readings, within different contexts than that of the maker of the symbol, if we have a different background knowledge to that of the audience being targeted.
Everyone who is screaming mad about this baby bottle being used, isn't just doing it from an intellectual understanding of the issues of Code and baby's health. We're also doing it from an emotional reaction: we read the image differently. The actual image of the baby bottle impacts us, mythically, in a different way. A completely different symbolic connection is made in us, at a gut level.
It's difficult to explain this, if you're still all wrapped up in the dominant mythology, so have a look at this baby, chugging 7-up, from a 1950s advertising campaign. Does it shock you? Can you feel yourself having an emotional reaction to the image? What about this one, of a sugar container being plugged into a baby's mouth, like a bottle? Do you have a powerful reaction to the idea of something so unhealthy being plugged into a baby's mouth? Especially a happy glowing smiley baby eagerly grabbing its 7-up? Are you upset that an advertising company could so basely use a baby in promoting a fizzy drink? The presumption that it would have that effect on you, is why they use the sugar container in the health promotion one: they're banking on you having that instinctive revulsion to the image.
And the instinctive revulsion you might have felt when you spotted the 7-up bottle, is a shadow of what most of us who fight to protect babies feel, when we see a baby bottle used in promotional activity. We see the poster, and it's a slap across our face. A powerful retch inside us that makes us feel sick.
Because we see baby bottles differently. The media image of a baby bottle doesn't conjure up cosy images of cute babies, clean Nurseries and glowing health. We see filth and disease. We see dying babies. We hear screams. We glance at the baby bottle in promotional materials, and we react viscerallly to the horror of it.
We see death and suffering. That's the ideology that stands in front of us: that's what the baby bottle signifies.
Which was the masterstroke of War on Want placing the image of the crying, malnourished baby in the bottle: it stripped away the fake ideology of love and tenderness and scientific health, and replaced it with the reality:
Dying babies.
Unhappy, miserable, sick, screaming needlessly dying babies.
And that's the final insult. To take the image of something that will kill more babies this year, than the adult death toll combined for gun and knife deaths, and to place it up in front of our eyes and say it represents... family?
To be so ignorant of the suffering of so many babies, so many fathers, so many mothers.. that you take the symbol of disease and put it on a poster in nice, affluent Europe, and use it in a promotional campaign to get people to vote?
To be so ignorant of how many people in Europe are struggling to buy enough formula to feed their own, European Parliament babies enough?
To pretend there are no health risks to formula feeding in Europe?
When you see a media image of a baby bottle, you may see in your mind, and your heart, the gooey, soft focused, warm fuzzy glow of advertising myth. And from that position, be totally bamboozled by mine, and others, reaction to the image.
But when I see a media image of a baby bottle...
...I see death.
I see all the the real maggots crawling in all the real bottles.
I see the tiny white bundles being put in the shallow shallow graves.
I see corporate greed and profiteering, being put before baby's lives.
The ignorant and incompetent need to find another
'neutral' symbol for family, for motherhood, for love.
The baby bottle doesn't cut it.
Our realities will not be airbrushed out of the picture:
Code will be upheld.
But it would be nice if everyone understood why:
because a media image carries many more
layers of meaning than you might think.
And can cause so much more harm than you could ever dream of.
complain to your MEP about the poster campaign