You are what you eat — or so they say — but if you’re a breastfeeding mom, a disturbing new ad campaign wants you to know your occasional indulgences are affecting your baby too.
Brazil’s Pediatric Society of Rio Grande (SPRS) commissioned a series of ads intended to remind moms about the unintended effects their food and drink intake has on their newborn child. The ads feature young babies suckling at a breast that has been painted to look like an unhealthy food or beverage with the ominous slogan “Your child is what you eat.”
Hopefully your child is not actually what you eat, but questionable sentence structure seems like the least of this ad campaign’s problems. Check these out:
Beneath the slogan, the ads also inform moms that the choices they make during their baby’s first 1,000 days can have a serious impact on their child’s future health. This is based on a recent study by Robert Waterland, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular and Human Genetics, that found a mom’s healthy diet can result in her babies developing a gene variant that suppresses cancer growth.
The idea is that a balanced diet during pregnancy and the newborn stage can help ward off ailments later in life. That’s an exciting breakthrough and something most parents can get behind. I just want to know why they couldn’t find a less shamey, ridiculous way to raise awareness.
I also want to know how to turn my breast into a delicious cheeseburger, but that’s a different post entirely.
Whether we’re bottle feeding or breastfeeding, most of us are already freaked out about our kid’s health and nutrition. We know it’s important. We’re doing the best we can. Are you really going to deny us our afternoon Coke Zero too?
One major component of child health that we always seem to forget about is the health of the mom. If mom is miserable munching on celery all day and systematically cutting out anything she enjoys just to ward off some hypothetical future disease that may not even be a reality, that’s not good either. Moms shouldn’t have to stop being human beings in order to breastfeed. That’s just not realistic.
The way these ads are presented doesn’t focus on moderation or the sum of our choices. They present a clear message that if you make certain food choices, bad things will happen to your baby. That is alarmist and totally unnecessary. It gets attention, sure, but it does so at the expense of moms who are already stressed, panicked, and trying to make huge adjustments in their lives to accommodate a newborn. A donut is not going to give your baby cancer. Five donuts are not going to give your baby cancer. Promoting child health is important, but let’s stop raking moms across the coals in the process.