I was watching PBS last night and caught a commercial for breastfeeding promotion by the New York State Department of Health.
The video shows a woman happily shouting, “I’m 40 pounds thinner!” She then holds up maternity jeans, “These were my pants and now I’m down to a size 8 again!” Cue hair flipping and waist circling. She continues:
I didn’t starve myself and I didn’t go on a fad diet. So what helped me get back to my target weight? I breastfed my baby!
While I really appreciate the Health Department’s catchy and attention grabbing pro-breastfeeding message, I can’t possibly buy into this particular commercial. Sorry love, I highly doubt you lost 40 pounds due to breastfeeding. You lost 20 pounds of fluid, 10 pounds of baby, and maybe the rest from breastfeeding plus an active lifestyle of running after your toddler. But you know, you didn’t have to lose anything.
The video’s narrator goes on to explain that breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day (that’s like two hours of aerobic exercise!), and ends with, “while it’s good for your baby, it’s also great for your body.”
Breastfeeding is great for your body. It reduces the chance of developing certain cancers, helps delay the return of menstruation, and is free to boot. But the commercial promises an ideal standard of beauty. Why does she have to be a size anything?
New mothers have so many pressures related to the baby — the last thing they need is a media source promoting what they should look like right after birth, or even 18 months later. I can’t decide if the message is being deliberately ignorant or if it’s just really playing up the statistics that breastfeeding does help accelerate postpartum weightloss.
At least the $1.6 million for this campaign wasn’t all for this one commercial.