Breastfeeding Campaign Debated

breast feeding
Campaigns that encourage women to breastfeed may be doing more harm than good by stigmatizing moms who choose not to breastfeed, two researchers from the U.K. claim.

In an interview with WebMD, one of the researchers charged that the "breast is best" campaigns have turned a debate about nutrition into a "politicized moral crusade." He says women often feel pressured to breastfeed and are made to feel inadequate if they can't or won't.

He further criticized those he calls "breastfeeding zealots" for refusing to present both sides of the issue.

"We need a more grown-up debate about breastfeeding," says sociologist and author Frank Furedi of the University of Kent. "What is needed is a proper discussion that isn't centered on whether breast versus bottle-feeding is morally good or bad."

Educating Moms

Breastfeeding proponent Ruth Lawrence, MD, couldn't disagree more strongly with Furedi's claim that women who don't breastfeed are made to feel like second-class mothers. She says her own research on the subject shows just the opposite.

Lawrence tells WebMD that the breastfeeding campaigns she helped write simply highlight the many benefits of breastfeeding.

Lawrence is director of the Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Study Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and she is on the breastfeeding committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The AAP recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for six months, and continue breastfeeding for at least a year.