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About That Breastfeeding Ad Everyone Is Talking About

Breastfeeding is really, really hard.

Last night, the Golden Globes aired on television. Gowns were worn, Zoom glitches were had, jokes were made, etc. The show was a standard COVID-19 affair. But for some, one advertisement that aired during the awards show was the most important and impactful part of the entire ceremony.

The commercial, produced by Frida, the postpartum company that provides nursing support products, and baby products for cold and flu to grooming to oral care, is a no-holds-barred look at the struggles of breastfeeding (and an implicit indictment of the lack of support moms receive to do so). And it’s super important. 

More moms than ever are choosing to breastfeed their infants. The 75-second ad uses a series of voiceovers from moms who are struggling to breastfeed while showing them attempting to latch with their baby, unclog their breast ducts, pump, use cabbage to deal with breast engorgement, push electric toothbrushes on their breasts, and more.

“Alright girls, you’ve got this,” the video starts, with a mother speaking to her boobs. “Latch… much better,” she says. The video then switches to a blonde, White mom, who says “Unlatch! Unlatch!” 

The video cycles through all sorts of questions: one mom, looking at a near-empty bottle of breastmilk, wonders if it’s too early to call a lactation consultant. Another asks herself, “Do I love my baby?” Another: “Am I a bad mom if I stop this now?” Then they launch into a chorus of times: 3 a.m., 4:06 a.m. “I’m so tired.”

“And, clog!”

“And cluster feeding!”

“My doctor said cabbage.”

“Not enough milk!”

“What even is enough milk?”

“I just want to feed my baby.”

One mom falls asleep and shoots up when her baby cries, and she knocks over an open bottle of milk. “Fuck!” she shouts. 

The ad is important for so many reasons. But namely, it’s because moms are made to go breastfeeding functionally alone, and the rosy conversations about breastfeeding (or the shaming of moms who choose not to, or cannot, do it) dominate the conversation.

Here’s the real conversation we should be having: With no government-mandated paid leave, no federal investment in breastfeeding support for the majority of moms, and little work into helping moms, breastfeeding is a chore that falls on women’s backs alone. You’re a good mom if you do it, and if you don’t, well, why have a kid? (Or so the breastfeeding shamers may ask.) You’re gross if you do it in public, but if you don’t do it, what are you going to do, feed your baby formula? 

There is no winning for new moms. And that’s the problem. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s time we start talking about that loudly. People can make their own choices as to how they feed their babies. And it is a genuine sacrifice of bodily autonomy, happiness, sleep, and, well, sanity, at times.

The reality is that breastfeeding, while great, isn’t for everyone. Fed is best. Moms decide to feed their babies the best way they can, and while we can all wax poetic about the health benefits of breastmilk, many people are having that conversation without seeing the genuine physical, mental, emotional, and financial toll breastfeeding puts on moms. An ad that doesn’t flinch away from the hard stuff of being a new mom, clogged ducts and all — while sandwiched between videos of people in full glamour, receiving awards in gowns and suits — is a breath of fresh air.