UK magazine, that's life!, published an article in September that made the front page of their magazine. A gigantic "My warning to mums: BREASTFEEDING left me INFERTILE" is the biggest thing on the cover.
Not surprisingly, this cover pissed off quite a few breastfeeding moms, but then I found out the truth of the article as well, and frankly, I got kind of mad too, because the woman's infertility had nothing to do with her breastfeeding.
Nina Hanney, the mom in question, had body issues even as a teen -- binging and dieting. When she did get pregnant, however, she loved the growth of her body, and said, "I'd already read parenting books, so I knew breastfeeding would give him the best start. I had also read breastfeeding was beneficial for mums too, because it was a good way to lose baby weight."
In the article, she laments how her baby had colic and needed breastfeeding every two hours ... implying that this is frequent and stressful. Um, breastfed babies often feed every 1-1/2 to 2 hours, so here's one reason moms were annoyed -- her baby was acting totally normal, and yet her own opinion, and the way it was portrayed, treats it as if somehow her baby was unusually needy and demanding.
One day, she saw her stomach had a bulge, so she claims she thought she was too fat and took up running up and down the stairs for exercise. Her obsession with weight loss put her into self-destruct mode. She lived on 500 calories a day, which she says she got from "a cup of watery porridge and two rice cakes."
When her partner told her to cut down on nursing because she seemed run down, she insisted on keeping it up to burn the extra calories. But around the time her baby was 5 months old, she put him on formula and then claims she stopped eating altogether, aside from diet cola, coffee, and hot chocolate. Sounds healthy, doesn't it?
Her partner -- seeing how she had a severe problem -- convinced her to get psychiatric help for her anorexia. She does say, however, "I've been so foolish. I let my breastfeeding and weight loss get so out of hand and it's affected my fertility. But I refuse to let it affect our completing our dream family."
So ... um ... basically she was starving herself to death, which can stop periods, she was mentally ill, needed mental help ... but both she and the magazine chose to blame it on breastfeeding? Preeeetty far stretch, if you ask me. All I see here is one very sad mother who was very mentally ill, not a breastfeeding problem whatsoever.
that's life! did finally issue their apology:
Our 8 September issue carried an interview with Ms Nina Hanney in which she described her eating disorder and how, after giving birth, she tried to accelerate weight loss through a combination of dieting and breastfeeding. We would like to make clear that the article and coverline (‘My warning to Mums: breastfeeding left me infertile’) were based on Ms Hanney’s fears, rather than any medical testing, and that breastfeeding cannot cause infertility.
They also promise to run a pro-breastfeeding article, but many fear the damage was done, especially since many people read covers and yet never read the article inside, nor their apology.
Do you think their headline was misleading and unfair to breastfeeding?
Image via that's life