When I see someone drinking mineral water, I feel compelled to tell them to stop. Who knows what date that water was bottled, how long it sat on the store shelf, how long it was in a hot warehouse, how it was transported, how much of the chemicals from the plastic in its packaging has transferred on to the water itself.
When I see those blue water gallons being transported by trikes or pick-ups under the heat of the sun, I feel the need to follow them to their destination and tell the customer that those blue gallons contain BPA — yes, that chemical that’s banned by most countries for baby containers.
When I see an ad of Wilkins or Absolute talking about how they are the “siguradong safe” water, that they’re safe for babies, that they’re recommended by pediatricians!, that Judy Ann believes it’s the best for her family, I feel angered by the irresponsibility of the brands, the pediatricians and yes, even Judy Ann. The water is packaged in plastic. How can that be SIGURADONG SAFE?? Even if it’s packaged in PET, it’s still plastic and there have been studies form the Environmental Health Perspectives showing that even PET may leach endocrine disruptors in the water.
My passion stems not from the need to be a doomsayer or even to sell more Aquasana (I own AquasanaStore). It stems from my exposure to all the information I’ve researched and learned about water and plastic. I feel like a small little fish fighting against the gigantic corporations in this world, glamourizing water, giving people the impression that it’s the safest thing to drink and while they’re at it, making all the other fish in the world unhealthy, while they rake in the profits.
Yes, some people think I’m OA about it. There was even this person who fought with me about my opinions on a blog post on those blue gallons of delivered purified water. However, I feel so passionately about it. I feel frustrated that I can’t get through to people to stop drinking from bottled water. (Honestly, I really think the rise in cancer rates are related to our contact with plastic! That is a personal opinion and there is no study I know that is linked to this but if you put two and two, well…) If I could give away Aquasana water filters to everyone, I would. (Maybe I should start an NGO! It would be a much better one than the lot made by Janet Napoles!)
So there, kulang na lang umiyak ako para sa tubig, but that is my side on water, which brings me to the real point of my post — in a sense, my experience has led me to understand breastfeeding advocates deeper. My passion for water doesn’t even come close to theirs on breastfeeding.
Jenny Ong, Jen Tan, Eliza Ypon — they’re some of my good friends in Latch — and they’re the most passionate people I know when it comes to this advocacy. They study breastfeeding. They support new moms. They provide the most current information through their blogs. They work with Senator Pia Cayetano on legislation and making sure people are aware that donating infant formula is illegal, even during calamities. They brought in Dr. Jack Newman to help teach and enlighten medical professionals on breastfeeding.
Jenny Ong isn’t scared to go against the big fish — the Nestles, Wyeths, Mead Johnsons of this world. She isn’t afraid to expose their strategies, which honestly, as a marketing person, seems pretty accurate. I didn’t see it until Jenny pointed it out on her blog and I must say, it was very shrewd of the milk companies to do this. (Milk companies have used celeb moms who have toddlers to endorse growing up milk. Strategically, they get celeb moms who have just given birth as well. Subconsciously, the consumer sees the celeb, associates her to the formula brand and associates her to the latest news surrounding her — her new baby.)
Jenny, Eli, Jen, the rest of Latch — they don’t get paid to support this advocacy. They do it out of sheer passion. They do it because they want to make sure moms do the best for their babies, because breastfeeding IS best for babies. Formula doesn’t even come close. Formula is the last resort when there is completely no hope. I have come to believe that breastfeeding is a responsibility we take on to give our kids the best health. I do not judge moms who choose to give their babies formula but I hope that they have accepted the fact that because of their given circumstances, they chose to give their children something inferior (again, I’m saying this as a fact about formula vs. breastmilk and not as a judgment).
I stopped breastfeeding M at 10 months. Initially, I felt defensive towards the breastfeeding advocates. I would say I did my best but if I were being honest to myself, I didn’t. I had chosen to do an event that took me away from M for 3 days. When I came back, I didn’t even attempt to try pumping or breastfeeding again. I just switched to formula. If I could go back to that time, I would do it over. I would refuse that event project because I know now, it just gave me short-term revenue over a lifetime of benefit for my child. However, I have accepted that I chose the road more traveled, more convenient. During those times when I felt defensive towards the breastfeeding advocates, I would say I felt that they were judging me but really, I was judging myself because I knew … I knew I made a lesser choice for my child. (For N, I am proud to have breastfed for 18 months, even if it meant bringing out the breast pump right in front of my male business partners during meetings.)
The breastfeeding advocate is often accused as judgmental but really, they are the ones often judged. All they have are the purest of intentions — the best interests of children and moms in their hearts — knowing all that information that they’ve learned, armed with their passions, supported by their own resources against giant companies who own practically everything on this planet. We moms shouldn’t feel defensive against these mom advocates. They are our small band of defenders. We shouldn’t feel judged by them. They are the first ones who support moms. At the very least, we shouldn’t defend the formula companies. They’re just in this for the business. We should stand alongside these moms and support them because they have the passion of the mother defending her child at all costs, a feeling we came to know when we gave birth to our kids.
So here’s to you Jenny, Jen, Eli, Latch and all you heroic breastfeeding advocates out there. May you not tire in your pure advocacy. You truly make the world a better place for our kids.
P.S. Here’s a screen shot of @Next9’s (Jen Tan’s) Instagram post last night. Yes, I believe the formula manufacturer has the responsibility of making sure their consumer is educated in mixing their products with safe water — and in my book that doesn’t include bottled water (and yes, that’s how I bring back my two topics together – haha!).