Is Pushing Weight Loss Really The Best Way To Promote Breastfeeding?


The New York State Department of Health recently launched a new campaign designed to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their children. And while their intentions are good, the execution on at least one of the ads is somewhat questionable.

The ad seen above is just one of several ads released for the campaign, each of which is designed to fit the campaign’s overarching theme: “Breastfeeding…For my Baby. For Me,” which hopes to attract young mothers to the practice of breastfeeding by showing them that the choice may not only be beneficial for their children, but for themselves, as well. According to a New York State Department of Health press release, “The campaign, which will run through the end of October, reaches out to new and expectant mothers, primarily in lower-income areas. The campaign addresses the support that breastfeeding mothers need from family, employers, health care providers, and the community and describes the many benefits for mothers and their babies.” This ad, however, just seems to be yelling, “breastfeed and drop those pounds, ladies!”

A second, less obnoxious ad is also running, with the same weight loss theme:

I’m all for any campaign that aims to educate women about their options, but something about the tone of the ad above strikes me as a bit…off. Perhaps it’s because the ad so closely mirrors the Jenny Craig/Nutrisystem formula, having a woman hold up her old pants in order to show off her weight loss. It seems to be playing on post-pregnancy body insecurities, pitching breastfeeding as a diet plan, with the mother’s weight loss taking precedence over any other possible benefits (it’s good for the baby, great for the mother, you see). I’m guessing that the ad is designed to draw women in, so that they head to the DOH website for more information, but there’s something frustrating about the way this was executed. Is weight loss a potential benefit for mothers who breastfeed? I suppose so. But “burn 500 calories a day!” and “I lost 40 pounds!” are things you’d expect to hear on an ad featuring frozen lasagnas and the phrase “bathing suit season,” not on an ad designed to focus on women’s post-partum health. But perhaps I’m just viewing it the wrong way.

What do you think, commenters? Is the ad effective or offensive?

State Health Department Launches Breastfeeding Campaign [NY State]

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