Breasts for Success?

retro picture mother newborn baby and nurse in hospital

The age-old arguments of breast milk over formula is a long one, but in NYC the battle of boob v bottle has been won hands down by the breast.

With the same zealous determination with which Mayor Michael Bloomberg  has taken on cigarettes, and sugary soft drinks, he’s now taken on infant formula. Started in early September, N.Y.s Nanny-in-chief is asking hospitals to play hide and seek with new Moms by locking away their baby formula to encourage Mothers to breast feed.

There was a time not so long ago when the thinking was quite different

 Better For Baby Easier For You

Growing up in the 1950s I didn’t know anyone who was breast-fed.

The battle of Boob v Bottle was an old one by the time I was born and had been raging for over 50 years with doctors trying to persuade mothers to ditch natural breast-feeding for scientific formulas and sterilized bottles.

By the time I was born the battle had virtually been won hands down by the makers of baby formula.

Being a typical up-to-date-American baby, my very first mouthful of nourishment was a synthetic, sweetened bottle formula, sipped through a-its-so-life-like-just-like-mother-latex-rubber nipple. Talk about whetting your appetite for future petroleum-based products.

retro picture mother and baby

My Doctor said, Carnation. Prescribed by leading baby specialists everywhere. Vintage Ad 1954

Spin the Bottle

While Mom was still groggy from the anesthesia after giving birth to me, a bouncy candy striper had handed her a colorful pamphlet (thoughtfully distributed by Carnation Milk) discouraging breast-feeding.

“Most young mothers wonder whether or not they should nurse their babies. You do not have to nurse your child. Scientific evidence today indicates that children who have never been nursed are just as healthy, sometimes more healthy, both physically and emotionally, as children who are nursed. If you are reluctant to nurse your child, if it makes you feel tense or uncomfortable do not attempt it.”

Why nurse baby when there were herds of Carnations contented cows more than willing to offer up their services. Breast feeding might be okay for Elsie the Cow, but not for my post-war mom.

To her surprise, Moms roommate who gently tossed the booklet aside, was quietly breast-feeding. Mom was bewildered. Why live in the dark ages when modern science and medical know how could make feeding so easy.

Besides which, the days of plump, matronly figures following childbirth were over. No longer did nursing mothers lay about sipping cocoa and eating rich cream soups to “make good milk”. Mama could begin her diet immediately.

retro illustration baby nurse in hospital feeding baby

Carnation House Formula used at Best Hospitals. Vintage Carnation Evaporated Milk Ad

After fluffing up Moms pillows, a lovely nurse, who bore a striking resemblance to Nurse Cherry Ames, dressed in a crisp white uniform her starched white cap perched on bouncing black curls, would bring me to Mom for my feeding.

Although Mom and I were housemates for over nine months, for the entire ten-day stay in the hospital, we were never roommates-my mother was in her room and I was in the nursery.

We wouldn’t be formally introduced for several hours, at which time I could look forward to my very first meal. After months of ordering in,-“womb service”- I was looking forward to my first home cooked meal outside the womb.

Any hopes of latching onto a breast and getting me some bone fide mothers milk were quickly dispelled.

vintage illustration dr. mother and baby

When your doctor prescribes your baby formula, remember this fact. No doctor can recommend any better evaporated milk than White House Milk for infant feeding. Vintage Ad A&P White House Evaporated Milk

Just What the Doctor Ordered

 Doctors did little to encourage breast-feeding and why should they. Concocted by chemists in a lab, scientific baby formula was marketed as being as complicated as nuclear science and just as precise, so unless you had majored in bio-chemistry and physics, you would require detailed instructions from your doctor.

Since formula feedings needed the special skills only he could provide, the pediatrician elevated his position in the mother’s life, and in his bank account. Bottle-feeding formula became increasingly the norm, the relaxing, modern scientific, way. Feeding at fingertip control.

Better for baby, easier for you.

You Might Also Enjoy

Feeding the Baby Boom Baby

A Hands On Dad

All American Childbirth Fit For a Queen…or a King

Copyright (©) 20012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved -Excerpt from Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear Family


  1. Pingback: Feeding The Baby Boom Baby « Envisioning The American Dream

  2. Hi Sally! What a thought provoking post. I can’t believe Carnation’s pamphlet about it being better to formula feed! Do you have the pamphlet?? I was also wondering if you wouldn’t mind if I shared your last White House Milk ad on my collection of formula ads post?

    Please let me know. I will happily remove your photo if you’d like but I will leave a link to your article because it needs to be shared. Thanks!


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