Video: Gov't launches breastfeeding ads

By Rehema Ellis Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/19/2006 11:21:39 AM ET 2006-06-19T15:21:39

From playground to playgroups, it’s long been a sensitive subject of debate for new mothers: To breastfeed or bottle feed? Where and when?

And now a controversial public health campaign is sparking new debate.

Recent studies show that babies that are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea — babies were born to be breastfed.

It's an in-your-face approach showing pregnant women in dangerous situations, suggesting that not to breastfeed is to put your baby at risk.

“There was no hesitation,” says Derosa Jennings. “I knew the first thing I was doing after delivery was to breastfeed. He started two minutes after birth and has never stopped.”

But for Amanda Pymm, who like many mothers tried to breastfeed but couldn't, the campaign is upsetting.

“It makes me feel terrible, and I wish I could do it. I wish there wasn’t so much pressure to do it,” she says.

The latest government figures show more than 70 percent of moms try breastfeeding when their babies are born, but that six months later, only 36 percent are still breastfeeding. One reason, doctors say, is that more than 60 percent of mothers go back to work.

“We’re not trying to create guilt at all,” says Dr. Suzanne Haynes, chief scientific adviser at the Office on Women’s Health. “What we’re trying to do is reach the first-time moms that are out there who are making the decision whether to breastfeed or not.”

While the government ad campaign is winding down now, another controversy may be gearing up. 

Some lawmakers want a warning label on formula cans, similar to what's required on cigarettes, saying breast milk is better than formula for babies.

But in the end, it’s a personal choice whether breastfeeding is the best formula for everyone.

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