Bottle-feeding to be banned?
While most mums agree that breast is best, can a complete ban on bottle-feeding be the best way to encourage breastfeeding?
According to a CNN news report, the Venezuelan government are considering a potential ban on baby-bottles as a measure to promote breast feeding. According to lawmaker, Odalis Monzon, who is also from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, "Every baby has the right to breast-feeding.” The ban would be the result of changes to the current Law for the Promotion and Protection of Breastfeeding, which aims to promote breastfeeding over formula milk and other manufactured food products intended for use during the first months of a baby’s life.
The bill would also include imposing of penalties on all advertising and promotions of formula and bottle feeding – anything that would endanger the bond that nursing brings a mum and her baby. This idea was reiterated by Monzon who says,”The most important is the love, the connection between mother and child, that sometimes is lost because they do not give them the warmth that nursing a baby provides.”
The planned proposal does include exceptions for mothers who cannot breastfeed due to extenuating circumstances, such as illnesses. Yet, the proposal has also prepared for this circumstance by including the creation of more breast milk banks.
The measures to ban bottle-feeding is a concerted effort of the Venezuela Health Ministry to increase the number of mothers who breastfeed from the reported 27.1% to 70% by 2019 – an almost triple increase in five years. The large projected growth could be one of the reasons why the proposed changes to the law are aggressive and seemingly extreme.
While we can applaud the Venezuelan government’s encouraging and positive stand on breastfeeding, the idea to ban bottle-feeding or penalising individuals for bottle-feeding screams threatening. Firstly, what it does is that it takes away any element of choice that mothers might have when it comes to feeding their baby and more importantly, it further stigmatizes mothers who have to supplement breastfeeding with formula due to a low or non-existent milk supply. This is especially demoralising for a woman who might feel that she has failed her child in some way. This feeling is echoed by groups that oppose this move such as Eduardo Marin, a lawmaker for the opposition Justice First party who says the move to ban bottle-feeding, “is unacceptable and alarming,” especially since the original 2007 law was aimed at promoting breastfeeding and not on “questioning, stigmatizing and practically criminalizing those who have opted for (other methods) of feeding.”
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A quick check with some of our readers elicited strong emotional responses that range from disappointment to outrage.
Mdm Siti, 29, a mother of a three-year-old boy, was incredulous when she heard the proposal. She says, “Ban bottle-feeding? That’s crazy! How can you penalize someone for choosing to bottle-feed their baby? Why this added pressure and stigma? Most new mums are already struggling with post-natal blues, a lack of sleep, adjusting to their role and now taking away that choice and painting bottle feeding as something so ‘bad’ that it needs to be banned?!”
Hannah, 37, a mother of three kids aged between four and ten, vehemently disagreed that bottle-fed babies miss out on bonding with their mums. She says, “I had to bottle feed my second and third child due to a low milk supply but the bond that I have with them is just as strong as with my eldest. I always made it a point to sing to them and look into their eyes while I bottle fed my child. So it’s definitely ridiculous to think that bottle-fed babies lose out on mummy and baby bonding time. I would definitely be up in arms if such a ban on bottle-feeding would happen here.”
Do you feel that the Venezuelan government's consideration to ban bottle-feeding a step in the right direction to promote breastfeeding? You can learn more about the story by watching this video below.