September 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have a hard time with moms who choose to formula feed.

Websites like this and this make me want to scream.

Every time there’s a story in the news about breastfeeding, there’s an uproar from moms who tried but were unable to breastfeed and are sick and tired of being made to feel guilty.  I’m not talking about those women.  My heart breaks for those women who tried until they were bleeding and wrecked, but, in many cases because they weren’t getting the help they needed, they were not able to be successful, and I hate that they are down on themselves for it.  (I get frustrated when those women become upset any time breastfeeding is featured in a positive light, as though they are being personally attacked, but I know they tried and struggled and some are still grappling with that.)

In fact, the whole issue of making moms feel “guilty” is missing the point.  We shouldn’t make anyone feel guilty, because we all love our kids, and we’re just trying to do our best.  Moms carry too much guilt about raising their kids as it is.  We shouldn’t even really be talking about the “benefits” of breastfeeding, as though there are different options and some are just better than others.  As though there are disadvantages.  If all women had access to the overwhelming amount of evidence-based information about breastfeeding and had proper support and resources to help them overcome any hurdles they encounter, we wouldn’t be having this discussion about guilt.   There would simply be no question.  It would be a non-issue.

What we’re dealing with is institutional and cultural and market-driven bias against breastfeeding in favor of formula.  But honestly — who cares?  It doesn’t matter what your friend did or your mom did or what the Enfamil commercial tells you — you have to do what’s right for your baby.

I spoke with a mom today who is going to formula feed.  She’s already decided.  She says she doesn’t have time to breastfeed because she’ll be working full time, and I talked about how breastfeeding actually takes less time than sterilizing and cleaning bottles and mixing formula, and how she could consider pumping at work, or, if she can’t do that, then at least breastfeeding the baby while they’re at home together, and only using formula while she’s away.

She said, “I’m really not interested.”

Not interested?  That’s what I told the telemarketer trying to get me to join the Allstate Motorclub for $1.99 a month.

We’re talking about feeding, and caring for, and bonding with your baby.  We’re talking about preventing disease, in the mother and the baby.  We’re talking about saving $1,200 to $2,500 a year.  We’re talking about 101 other reasons to breastfeed.

And yes, sure, plenty of babies — millions of babies — were raised on formula and turned out just fine.  Others, however, contracted meningitis from contaminated infant formula; many died and those that survived suffered brain damage.  We’re also talking about unethical corporations preying on developing nations and causing the deaths of millions of babies.

I just don’t get it.  If you can explain it to me — civilly and respectfully, of course — please do.


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