Over the weekend, I went to the local Baby Fair with a friend. (This was not, as Elijah supposed, a place where they were selling babies and I could pick the one I wanted.)
It was an interesting experience. On one hand, it was encouraging. A breastfeeding support group and a natural childbirth class led by a local doula were represented, which was awesome. There was even a woman there wearing her baby in a locally-made wrap. It's nice to see things like doulas, babywearing, and support for breastfeeding and natural birth here in our city, and I hope it becomes more and more common.
On the other hand, there were some definite "Whaaaaat?" moments on my part. The first one occurred almost as soon as we walked in the door, at the table set up by our local hospital. Moms-to-be could sign up for a hospital tour and receive a free diaper bag. Fine-- except one of the diaper bags appeared to include formula that said it was "for breastfeeding moms." Wait, what? Isn't giving formula to breastfeeding moms sort of like giving condoms to people who have chosen to remain abstinent? "We know you say you're going to breastfeed, and that's cool... but wait, here's some formula you can use when you decide to give up. Best of luck with that breastfeeding!" Talk about discouraging!
At a pediatrician's table, there were pamphlets about how important and necessary vaccinations are, entitled in a way that would lead you to believe that it was telling you "all you need to know" about vaccinations. As someone who believes strongly in doing some serious research and prayer before putting medications and vaccinations in my body or my child's body, I find this frustrating. A word of advice: do some research on vaccinations, beyond reading a pamphlet given to you by your doctor or written by the vaccine manufacturers. You might be shocked to find out what's in some of them. (For example, some vaccines contain human diploid cells, which originate from human aborted fetal tissue.) Two excellent, in-depth books on vaccinations (both of which I have read) are Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide by Aviva Jill Romm and The Vaccine Guide by Randall Neustaedter. It's a tough decision to make, and I encourage parents to be fully informed.
And at the local health department table, there was a brochure about co-sleeping that stated that room-sharing is safe, but bed-sharing is not. There are certainly safety precautions to be taken when having a baby in bed with you, but to classify all bed-sharing as unsafe is grossly inaccurate. Babies need to be close to their parents, even at night, and bed-sharing is an excellent way to do this.
So in the end, I came away feeling both encouraged and frustrated. It was great to get a chance to talk with other local women who are supportive of natural birth, breastfeeding, and babywearing! But I was also reminded how common it is for breastfeeding to be undermined by formula companies, and for biased information about vaccines and co-sleeping to be put out there as though it is balanced truth. My advice, as always: read, research, ask tough questions, become fully informed, then make your own decision based on research, prayer, and what you feel is best for your family.