I try to stay away from breastfeeding discussions. Really, I do. I think every parent can make the decision for what’s best for both their babies and for themselves. However, this story caught me off guard:
Gisele Bundchen, the gorgeous, 30-year old supermodel with one child, recently told Harper’s Bazaar that there should be a law against giving babies infant formula for the first six months of their lives. In fact, here is exactly what she said:
”Some people here (in the US) think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?’ I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.”
I find her comments incendiary, to say the least. My true, honest opinion is to do what works for you and your baby. Breast is best, but baby formula is an option for those who need or choose to use it. In this blogging “job” I talk to moms, new and experienced, all the time. Most can tell you that feeding is an incredibly important decision that few mothers take lightly. For a supermodel with one child to state that all mothers should do the same thing globally is out of line.
A few hours after the story broke, Bundchen apologized for her comments, backpedaling and stating “I am not here to judge…I think as mothers we are all just trying our best…”
It certainly sounded like judgment to me, but maybe I’m being oversensitive.
What’s your opinion?
It’s very rude. It’s none of her business how other women choose to feed their babies. Really, I am sick of the whole “breast is best” campaign. That is most definitely NOT true for everybody. Sure, it may be the most nutritious option, but it causes a lot of stress and emotional/physical pain for many women. Sometimes, these disadvantages can outweigh the advantages, especially if the mom is too stressed out about it to be happy around her child. Formula is not sewer water. It is a very good alternative to breast milk.
I think everyone should try to breastfeed before they give up on the concept. But I dont think someone can be forced to continue.
I tried, and tried and tried, but could not produce enough milk for twins. I continued to breastfeed and pump milk for 11 months and had to suppliment with formula. Not everyone who doesnt breastfeed makes the choice.
Marybeth Hamilton says
I think it’s a great point that “Not everyone who doesn’t breastfeed makes the choice.” Thanks for commenting!
I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting such a law to exist! While I do agree that breastfeeding is best, there are many people that do not breastfeed (whether they can or can’t, or want to or not) and their babies turn out just fine.
To me, it sounds like Giselle spoke before thinking. This is obviously a topic she feels strongly about, but I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that it was more a slip of the tongue than an actual suggestion.
It’s kind of a mixed bag if you ask me.
Our society is very much about ease, comfort and the quickest route possible. If that is the motivation of the mom then maybe she should think twice about having children because it’s certainly a bigger job than that attitude allows for. And, perhaps there should be greater concern for the amount of chemicals that we ourselves consume as well as our children – I think as we see an increase in the organic movement we’re seeing a new thought process in thinking about foods and the chemicals we consume.
At the same time, there are reasons that women use formula – many because they have a short maternity leave and need to get right back to work. This is understandable – not everyone is fortunate enough to have the option to stay home with their little ones for six months – though with the new laws about breast feeding it should open the doors to more women to be able to at the very least pump and feed their babies well, while still going back to work.
I think it’s important to remember that formula has saved children’s lives. There were circumstances where women couldn’t breastfeed and there were no options. That’s where formula became the hero! Thankfully there is an alternative that babies can get the nutrition they need if breast or pump feeding is impossible.
So – okay did Gisele possibly forget that some women don’t have the same opportunities that she has had? Yeah, probably. Could it be hurtful to the mom who would love to breastfeed, but didn’t have that option due to different circumstances? Of course. But couldn’t it also make someone take a second thought as to what they are feeding their baby and the reasons why they made that decision? Definitely.
Could she have expressed herself in a more tactful way? Yup. But at least she’s thinking through what she’s giving her baby and not afraid to say – I made a decision for the babies benefit. We’re all so “politically correct” that it sometimes takes someone saying something without tact to make people think.
Its rude. I would have loved to breast feed my son, but he was born 6 weeks early and i never got milk. I hated the lactaion cunsaltints at the hospital wehre i was, my son was sick, and they kept pushing it on me. Please dont make me feel like a lesser mother becouse i physiclly could not breast feed. i have to say they turned me off breast feeding with their holier than now attitudes. and i tell anyone who makes an issue of it, its not your business.
I can see where she is coming from. I agree with her in concept – it is proven fact that breastmilk is superior and ideally, all mothers would nurse their babies for at least 6 months. However, this is a society heavily influenced by 2nd wave feminism. We all expect equal pay for equal work these days, and we also expect for women to have the right to choose how to feed their babies. It would be easy for me, a SAHM nursing my 1 child, to say that all women should do it because it’s easier and healthier and cheaper and whatever else. But, I don’t know that it is. Maybe pumping is a huge pain in the butt and I wouldn’t be able to hack it for a week pumping at work. And maybe it just depends on the woman, the milk supply, and a hundred other variables.
Her comments may have seemed insensitive, but if you think about it from a baby’s perspective…well, maybe not so much. My 14 month old son isn’t about to give up his mama milk and we are both okay with that. But that doesn’t mean I think every mom should nurse beyond a year, or 6 months, or whatever makes them comfortable. What I do think is that every woman should try. But I also don’t know how it may feel to not be comfortable nursing at all, even jsut to try it once, so I’m only speaking from my own experiences, jsut as she was.
wow, she really should have thought before she spoke. Breast feeding is a highly charged topic, and frankly to say something so asinine like saying “it should be a worldwide law” is just ignorant. She, nor anyone else, can presume to know a mother’s circumstances and why she may or may not be able to or choose to breastfeed. I think every one agrees breast is best nutritionally, but in the end, what is best is that the baby gets fed. Personally I was not able to breastfeed due to my supply drying up prematurely because of the enormous stress of having to go BACK into the hospital after giving birth due to extremely high blood pressure, remnants of pre-eclampsia from pregnancy. I’m sure there are many other unavoidable circumstances that prevent mothers from breastfeeding, and of course there’s always the mothers that choose not to breastfeed for whatever reason. I think the focus needs to be on happy and healthy mothers and babies, not on judgement of others. Not everything any mother does is perfect, so keep in mind while you judge another mother, someone else is judging you.
I breastfed for a year and I wouldn’t push it on anybody. Especially with the shoddy state of breastfeeding support in many first-world countries. It has its benefits but for some women it can also be painful, inconvenient, and make things like PPD worse.
Breast feeding is so incredibly difficult for many moms, and I can say from firsthand experience that BF challenges were a big contributing factor to my PPD after my daughter was born. I was blessed to be able to FINALLY get it and nurse my daughter for 14 months, but I wouldn’t wish the pain, fear, and judgment on anyone (esp. a first time mom). Her statements are incredibly insensitive and ignorant. The rest of the world doesn’t have the resources or support that she has, and baby formula has saved the lives of many babies. Praise God that we live in an age where it’s an option if needed.
Breastfeeding has not come easy for me primarily because I have anorexia and bulimia. My daughter is a month old and we are still working on proper latch and positioning and bty I supplement with formula. Also I have a low milk supply.
I would LOVE to punch her in the face after reading what she said! I agree with Emmy on her points – esp. of people trying to make you feel like lesser of a person – my first son was born 8 weeks early and had to be fed through a tube. I pumped but that only lasts for so long…
My second son would not nurse AT.ALL (and I’m talking scream bloody murder every time I attempted and I tried EVERYTHING). I met with NUMEROUS lactation consultants, none of whom were able to help. Little Miss Perfect Bundchen (or not so much… homewrecker) needs to stop judging everyone else and concentrate on her own family. As you said, everybody should do what works best for them and their baby.
I cannot belive this! I tried to breastfeed and the “help” at the hospital just made me feel terrible. Being a new mother is really emotional on top of all of the other stuff! It was not my choice – I had to go with the the bottle. With each birth I recived some criticism even though I have NEVER produced any breastmilk. I have 4 happy and wonderful children!
It’s easy to say that everyone should breastfeed when you have the luxury of time and help and a body that makes what you need to feed that relationship. I breastfed my son exclusively for eight weeks until realized he was not gaining weight because I was not making enough milk; it was difficult to admit that we needed to supplement but his needs were more important than my ego. Rather than make such comments, Gisele would do more good by helping to promote policies and programs that encourage parents to try breastfeeding and give them places to do so at work and out and about, like malls, etc.
Wow, just wow at her comments. She’s very judgemental and obviously feels she’s above everyone else just because she breastfed her “one” child. I just wanted to chime in to add that sometimes moms can’t breastfeed for medical reasons. I know a mom who had to take prescription meds continuously for a condition right after giving birth and breastfeeding was not an option since the prescription meds taint her breast milk and will be harmful/dangerous to her child, so she had to formula feed. Just because Gisele breastfed her “one” child doesn’t make her Miss Know It All and def does not put her above other moms. What irks me most about her unintelligent comment is that she puts all formula-feeding moms down and make them feel like they’re bad mothers for not breastfeeding. Sorry we’re not all privileged like you…just unbelievable!!
EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE! I feel if more people are educated about the benefits of breastfeeding vs. formula more would do it. I also think society needs to recgonize it as a natural thing vs. a sexual thing. Of course then there is a hurdle in the workplace regarding pumping etc. – once all that happens it could be more natural for most women want to / try to follow natures course. Making it a law….. I can’t believe she said that!