Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Why the way you feed your baby is MY business

“My baby, my choice”.
“It’s got nothing to do with you how I feed my baby”.
“Live and let live”.

These are classic lines you’ll hear from some defensive formula feeding mothers whenever a breastfeeding advocate points out the flaws of formula. The message from those who give formula to their babies is clear: “It’s none of your business”. Yet I argue that the way a mother chooses to feed her baby IS my business. Read on to discover what motivates my judgy stance.

1. The abuse of developing countries riles me

...and the frustration is even moreso when that abuse is concentrated on infants.

Formula feeding in developing countries can lead to serious illness and even death. Take the Philippines for example. Just 16% of children between four and five months old are exclusively breastfed. This is one of the lowest documented rates on earth. Every year, according to the World Health Organisation, some 16,000 Filipino children die as a result of “inappropriate feeding practices”. These deaths are caused only by feeding children with formula. An article in The Guardian has highlighted that:

“Both the Government of the Philippines and the UN blame the manufacturers of baby formula for much of the decline in breastfeeding. These companies spend over $100m a year on advertising breastmilk substitutes in the Philippines. Those who appear most susceptible to this advertising are the poor, who are also the most likely to be using contaminated water to make up the feed. Some spend as much as one third of their household income on formula. Powdered milk now accounts for more sales than any other consumer product in the Philippines. Almost all of it is produced by companies based in the rich nations.”

Another issue is that the promotion of formula in developing countries results in a greater likelihood of closely spaced pregnancies, thus burdening women more and increasing the risk of their own deaths and that of their newborns and existing children. Formula feeding means that the contraceptive effect of breastfeeding is lost.

Of course, the Oscar for abusing developing countries goes to Nestle and their “milk nurses” (click here for more info).

Every time someone buys a can of formula, whether in the UK or abroad, they are fueling an industry which causes the death of thousands of babies. We live in a capitalist driven economy, so in effect, each pound/dollar we spend can be thought of as a vote. If I spend money on an industry that thinks it's acceptable to use unethical practices to promote their products, or an industry that causes severe environmental destruction or death of people, then I am in effect, voting with my pound, to say that such behaviour is acceptable.

2. I find the suffering of my nation’s children equally offensive

As I pointed out in “15 Tricks of Formula Companies” (click here to view), the dangerous risks of formula are not limited to poor countries. Even in rich, industrialised countries such as the UK and USA, where formula is assumed to be safe, formula fed infants are more likely than breastfed infants to suffer from...

•  Diarrhoea
•  Meningitis
•  Ear infections
•  Blood infections
•  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (cot death)
•  Diabetes
•  Childhood cancers
•  Obesity
•  High blood cholesterol
•  Asthma
•  Reduced effectiveness of vaccinations
•  Reduced effectiveness of organ transplants
•  Candidiasis
•  Enteroviruses
•  Gastroenteritis
•  Giardia
•  Haemophilus Influenza
•  Necrotizing Enterocolitis
•  Pneumococcal Disease
•  Respiratory Infections (general)
•  Respiratory Infections (protective effect against exposure to tobacco smoke)
•  Respiratory Syncytial Virus
•  Salmonellosis
•  Sepsis in Preterm Infants
•  Urinary Tract Infections
•  Anemia and Iron Deficiency
•  Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
•  Constipation and Anal Fissures
•  Cryptorchidism (undescended testicle)
•  Gastroesophageal Reflex
•  Inguinal Hernia
•  Lactose Malabsorption
•  Morbidity and Mortality
•  Plagiocephaly
•  Pyloric Stenosis
•  Wheezing and Asthma
•  More pain during medical procedures
•  Impaired jaw and teeth development
•  Allergies
•  Eczema
•  Reduced Development and Intelligence
•  Bedwetting
•  Reduced Brainstem, Cognitive, and Motor Development
•  Reduced IQ
•  Reduced Gastrointestinal and Immune Development
•  Hormone imbalance
•  Reduced Neurological, Psychomotor and Social Development
•  Disturbed Sleep Cycles and Arousal
•  Reduced Speech and Language Development
•  Reduced Thymus Development
•  Autism
•  Appendicitis
•  Poor Bone mass
•  Cardiovascular Disease (Atherosclerosis, Cholesterol Concentration)
•  Celiac Disease
•  Helicobacter pylori infection
•  Haemophilus Influenzae Meningitis
•  Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis)
•  Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)
•  Poor Mental Health
•  Menopause (timing of) – I’m not joking
•  Multiple Sclerosis
•  Reduced Oral and Dental Health
•  Reduced Protection against toxins (environmental contaminants, chemicals, heavy metals)
•  Schizophrenia
•  Reduced Stress Resilience
•  Tonsillitis

This bumper sticker was found on the window of a hospital nursery in America (John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville, GA):

In the population of the 596,122 babies born in England and Wales in 2002, the number of cases of asthma, coeliac disease and obesity that could be prevented over 7-9 years if all babies were breastfed was 33,100, 2655 and 13639 respectively (Akobeng.AK and Heller.RF). In the USA, 720 babies under 12 months of age die each year because they are not breastfed (Chen.A and Rogan.WJ).

And don’t get me started on the issue of product recalls. “Most parents have taken for granted, when they buy a tin of formula, that the contents are of high quality, but they are overly complacent” (Palmer. G 2009, 'The Politics of Breastfeeding'). Formula has been found to contain disease-causing microbes and pathogens. Dr. Derrick Jelliffe has characterized the history of formula production as “a succession of errors.” If I outlined each recall I’d be here all day. Suffice to say formula has been recalled for being contaminated with polyvinyl chloride, excessive magnesium, beetle parts, beetle larvae, pieces of hard plastic, elevated levels of lead, salmonella, glass particles, and enterobacter sakazakii (which can cause meningitis), to name a few of the incidents (read more information here). Needless to say, breastmilk will never be recalled. If the formula companies ceased marketing, they could spend the money saved on better quality control. However this will not happen because sales would fall without marketing, which refutes the common claim of formula companies that they only sell formula to fulfil a need.

Even when formula is not contaminated and is prepared according to Government guidelines, babies fed on it are significantly more likely to suffer from lifelong health complications. These scenarios occur worldwide, regardless of the wealth or development of the nation involved.

As I don’t use formula you may wonder why I’m troubled by this. However just because I did not give birth to the children suffering or put at risk because of formula feeding, this does not prevent me from feeling compassion for them. I find it short-sighted and self-centred that people expect me to care only for children to whom I have a genetic link.

What’s more, Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises “the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”. Thus I would argue that access to breastmilk is every baby’s human right.

3. Formula feeding dumps on the environment

“The ecological consequences of cloth vs disposable diapers are debated routinely, yet they are small potatoes compared to the consequences of the breast vs. formula decision.” (Michels. D, 'Mother Nature Loves Breastmilk').

Every time a can of formula is purchased, the buyer is having a greater impact on the environment than they may be aware of. Let’s look at the stats:

  • “The production of formula, cans, bottles, nipples, labels, packaging, and advertising uses trees, metal, glass, plastics, paper, and fuel. Artificial feeding of infants creates an enormous volume of waste materials” (Family Education).
  • For every million formula-fed babies, 150 million tins are used, made from 23,706 tonnes of metal.
  • The paper labels amount to 341 tonnes and the wasted paper materials of marketing goes way beyond that.
  • A company director at Avent bottle manufacturer boasted that its UK factory distributed 20 million bottles per year. Manufacturing processes and disposal problems make infant feeding equipment environmentally harmful.
  • “Bottles and nipples require plastic, glass, rubber, and silicon; production of these materials can be resource-intensive and often leads to end-products that are not-recyclable” (Michels.D).
  • Cows’ milk is transported from farm to factory for processing into powdered milk, itself an energy intensive process. It then goes to another processing plant to be made into formula. This is marketed globally and imported over thousands of miles (Palmer.G).
  • Cows need pasture. As the population of the world increases and more women formula feed, more cows are needed to produce milk to make infant formula, so wooded lands are cleared to provide grazing (Stanway.P).
  • Livestock account for 18% of human-caused greenhouse emissions. In addition, cattle rearing is linked with water contamination and soil erosion. Cattle feed products are also transported across the world.
  • A woman can produce hundreds of litres of breastmilk for a zero carbon footprint.
Because the environment is our life-support system, it's impossible to truly estimate its value. The deterioration of the environment threatens the earth's natural resources such as our clean water supply, fossil fuels for energy and food supply. Many of these resources are non-renewable. Once they are gone, they are gone forever. This is the legacy being left for our children.

4. Formula feeding undermines womans lib

Is infant feeding a feminist issue? There are compelling arguments which suggest so. The act of breastfeeding provides stunning evidence of women’s physical prowess and their contribution to the economy and human welfare. By nursing her baby, a woman confirms that she has the power to control her own body, and challenges medical hegemony. When we hand over the feeding of our babies to formula companies, we relinquish some of our power as women.  As Palmer has maintained, “the production and aggressive promotion of commercial formula took power away from women and gave it to industry. Industry got richer and women got poorer.” The genius of formula marketing and advertising is to get women to withhold from their offspring that which they already have and to instead purchase a replacement product of questionable quality. It is akin to being a given a “choice” between the blood already flowing through your veins and a replacement product that marginally resembles blood (Remer).

Instead of commonly being seen as a roadblock to women’s empowerment, breastfeeding should be seen as a facilitator of it. As Van Esterik remarked in her essay, “Breastfeeding: A Feminist Issue”, “Conditions supportive to successful nurturing, are conditions which reduce gender subordination generally by contradicting negative images of women and emphasising the value of women's reproductive work.” In other words, to disvalue breastfeeding is to disvalue women.

The BBC has contended that “All mothers produce breastmilk”. If, for sake of argument, we concede that 98% of women can produce sufficient breastmilk (Baby Friendly UK) yet less than 3% do so exclusively until 6 months (Unicef), this means that at least 95% of women are unnecessarily surrendering their baby’s health to the will of multinational corporations such as SMA and Aptamil. As I said in my article, '15 Formula Company Tricks' (click here to view), the primary purpose of these companies is not to do good or even provide useful products. Rather they have a statutory duty to put the needs of their shareholders first, which makes profit their prime concern.

When we consider that the highest ranking executives of formula companies are men (Aptamil/ Cow&Gate - Mr. Jan Bennick; Heinz - Mr. William Johnson; Hipp - Mr. Klaus Hipp; Wyeth/SMA - Mr. Rober Essner), we begin to see the injustice from a gender perspective. Women have a gift that is highly valued in evolutionary terms (that of single-handedly birthing and nutritionally sustaining human infants), yet their competence in delivering this gift has been undermined by men.

Furthermore, a common conception of formula is that it aids a woman’s economic mobility through strengthening her role in the workplace. She is no longer tied to a dependant infant and can instead pass a bottle of formula to grandma and return to being economically active. However this perceived benefit is negated by the fact that formula fed children are significantly more likely to fall ill, and numerous studies have shown that a child’s illness commonly results in the mother rather than the father taking time off work (Journal of Early Childhood; Weimer.J; Nursery World; Mother and Baby; Working Mums Magazine). Thus when a woman is taking more time off work she is seen as a burden by her employer. This does not strengthen the role of women in the workplace. Consequently women of childbaring age are viewed as liabilities. This is not to mention the strain on employers caused by their employees sick children results in lower incomes for working families, thus reducing income tax revenues which pay for government programs and services that benefit everyone.

5. Widespread formula feeding distorts society’s perception of breasts

In our society we have an ironically degenerate view of breasts. They are seen first and foremost as sexual objects, while their nurturing function has been downplayed. This leads to a sizable proportion of women declining breastfeeding because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Although bottle-feeding is common in the mass media, visual images of breastfeeding are rare, and a mother may never have seen a woman breastfeeding (Shannon.T et al; Swanson.V et al).

The act of placing your breast inside an infant’s mouth is somehow “creepy”, a view which the deputy editor of Mother and Baby magazine propagates (The Telegraph; The BBC). Such beliefs make women feel embarrassed and fearful of being stigmatized by people around them when they breastfeed. In The Guardian Yvonne Roberts observed that:

“The contradictions are endless. Breasts are allowed out on the Sun's Page Three but not actually to feed in a public place without embarrassment. Sex is OK on television ... but breast feeding? Now, that is disgusting.”

As I wrote in my article: “For and Against Breastfeeding in Public” (click here to view) people who have a negative response to viewing breastfeeding need to view more of it, then the act will no longer elicit a sensational reaction. The more women that breastfeed, the faster society’s perception of breasts as purely sexualised objects will change. Instead breasts will be viewed first and foremost as nurturing devices and providers of nature’s gold standard of nourishment for babies. This natural view of breasts already prevails in countries where breastfeeding is the norm and there is little formula feeding (Britton.C).

Therefore, for every woman that chooses formula over breast there is one less woman to normalise breastfeeding. Widespread breastfeeding would counteract the objectification and sexualisation of breasts, which is an especially important message for children.

6. Formula-use lowers the IQ of the population

“The nutrient advantages of human milk coupled with the mother-infant relationship provide the matrix for the child to reach his/her full intellectual potential” (Lawrence. R).

Breastfed children are more cooperative and socially better students the longer they are breastfed. In a study by Horwood. LJ and Fergusson. DM the high school drop-out rate was higher among children who had been formula-fed and lowest among those who had been breastfed equal to or longer than eight months, even when factors such as mother’s age, education, marital status, socio-economic status and family income were taken into account.

In the same study increasing duration of breastfeeding was associated with consistent and statistically significant increases in 1) intelligence quotient assessed at ages 8 and 9 years; 2) reading comprehension, mathematical ability, and scholastic ability assessed during the period from 10 to 13 years; 3) teacher ratings of reading and mathematics assessed at 8 and 12 years; and 4) higher levels of attainment in school leaving examinations. Furthermore, these effects are 1) pervasive, being reflected in a range of measures including standardized tests, teacher ratings, and academic outcomes in high school; and 2) relatively long-lived, extending throughout childhood into young adulthood.

Another study hypothesised that breast milk has a beneficial influence on cognition by affecting brain growth. Isaacs. E et al maintained that breast milk promotes brain development, particularly white matter growth.

It used to be thought that breast milk’s promotion of intellectual potential was down to it containing long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), notably docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). However when a synthetic form of DHA was added to formula milk, it was shown to have no developmental benefits (Simmer K et al). Instead the IQ safeguarding benefits of breastfeeding have been linked to the fact that human milk contains a wide variety of other factors including hormones and growth factors, some of which (e.g. thyroxin, nerve growth factor) are likely to influence cerebral development.

The contention that breastfeeding protects a child’s intellectual potential has also been backed up by numerous other studies (Quinn PJ et al; Kramer M et al; Mortensen EL et al; Angelsen. NK et al; Andersen JW et al; Gustafsson PA et al). These findings are not surprising when one considers that “cows' milk (the main staple ingredient in most formula) is designed to rapidly grow an animal with a large body and a small brain whereas human milk is designed to grow a small body but a large and rapidly developing brain” (The Independent).

But why do I care about the IQ of other people’s children? As formula feeding lowers the IQ of the population, this means less scientific advancements. We’re talking about cures for cancers and other diseases, new amenities, new technologies, strategies to combat global warming, and so on. Our society is becoming much more of a service based economy than ever before, with most of our manufacturing jobs disappearing in favour of those jobs that require far more education and knowledge. Intelligence paves the way for societal developments which benefit the whole community. If the bulk of society carries on formula feeding we will never reach our potential for scientific advancement.

7. More formula – more child abuse

Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to abuse their children. Controversial? Yes. Can I back it up with stats and research? Indeed (Reuters; Strathearn et al; Lvoff NM et al; Picton. G; American Society of Registered Nurses).

There are many reasons why breastfeeding has been shown to have a protective effect against abuse. The most prominent hypothesis is that breastfeeding enhances maternal responsiveness by stimulating oxytocin release, which is associated with reduced anxiety and elevated mood, a blunted physiological stress response, and more-attuned patterns of maternal behaviour (Strathearn.LChiodera P et al; Heinrichs M et al; Uvnäs-Moberg K and Eriksson M). These findings are consistent with animal research on the effects of oxytocin on long-term maternal behavior.

In the same vein, research has found that non-breastfeeding mothers demonstrate reduced brain responses when they hear their baby cry (Time).

Another hypothesis suggests that mothers who decide to breastfeed may be more emotionally invested in motherhood and in their child; in turn, these mothers may be less likely to neglect or abuse their child (Strathearn et al).

An alternative, and in my opinion more compelling hypothesis, is that breastfed babies are less likely to be abused because they cry roughly half as much as formula-fed babies. This is because breastfed babies don't need to wait for formula to be mixed and bottles to be warmed up; also a mother’s breast is a more effective pacifier than an artificial plastic teat; moreover formula-fed babies are in gastric distress much of the time - because formula is significantly harder to digest than breastmilk. Consequently, breastfeeding reduces the chances that a baby will be abused by causing the baby to cry less. Crying is one of the main triggers of abuse in infants (Children’s Memorial Hospital; Barr. R; Lee.C et al; Kids Health).

Other research has shown that parents who are sleep deprived are more likely to abuse their babies (Meltzer. L & Mindell. J). It’s a common misconception that formula-feeding parents sleep longer. In reality breastfeeding mothers get more sleep and their sleep is of higher quality. A breastfed baby can eat as soon as she or he is hungry. If cosleeping, that means before the baby even starts to cry. A formula-fed baby has to wait for formula to be prepared and warmed, in the meantime getting more and more distressed and agitated as well as waking others in the household. When breastfeeding, even the mother does not need to wake up fully to nurse her baby. Furthermore, the hormones produced during nursing have a relaxing effect, and the mother is likely to sleep even better when she nurses her baby.

Regardless of which hypothesis one favours, the fact remains that formula fed babies are more likely to be abused. Abused children are more likely than unabused children to grow into abusers themselves (Pears KC, Capaldi DM; Pianta R, Egeland B, Erickson MF). Thus, a vicious circle is perpetrated. I’m sure I’m not alone in contending that any behaviour which is likely to increase child abuse should be avoided wherever possible.

8. More formula - more crime

Countries with a high rate of breastfeeding benefit through reduced crime, reduced unemployment and generally stronger attachments with family and community supports (Barker 2008). Children who are not breastfed have particularly higher rates of delinquent, aggressive and anti-social behaviour (Oddy.W; Reuters; Telethon Institute for Child Health Research; Fraiser.J; York University). In a large-scale study only 4% of the breastfed babies showed a tendency to behavioural problems compared with 16% of those fed formula milk (The Guardian).

As with the relationship between formula feeding and child abuse discussed above, the relationship between formula feeding and crime has been the subject of various different hypothesis. One study suggests that delinquency in formula fed children is the result of a weaker maternal bond through not breastfeeding. Fergusson and Woodward maintain that “children who were breast fed for a longer duration were more likely to report higher levels of parental attachment and tended to perceive their mothers as being more caring and less overprotective towards them compared with bottle-fed children.” This is the case even when data were adjusted for maternal demographics.

Another hypothesis looks at the IQ enhancing effects of breastfeeding (discussed above).  For some time, researchers have known that people with criminal records tend to have low IQ scores (Hunt. E). Furthermore it has been shown that low IQ leads to delinquency rather than results from it (Lynam. D). Therefore by formula feeding a parent is increasing the risk that their child will turn to crime when they are older. The consequences of crime impact on the whole of society.

9. Formula-feeding hinders herd-immunity

Before I explain the technicalities of ‘herd immunity’ it is important to recognise that breastfeeding ensures that vaccinations have full effectiveness. Breastmilk promotes the response to immunisation made by the still maturing immunologic and enterohepatic systems of infants. It “influences physiologic parameters that can change metabolism of ethylmercury derived from some vaccines” (Dorea. J). Following vaccination, antibody levels are significantly higher in the breast-fed than formula-fed infants (Pabst.HF and Spady.DW; Silfverdal.SA et al).

As breastfeeding is the biological norm it is a fact that the use of formula lessens the effectiveness of vaccinations. This has significant consequences for herd immunity, otherwise known as ‘community immunity.’ Herd immunity:

“describes a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population (or herd) provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. In contagious diseases that are transmitted from individual to individual, chains of infection are likely to be disrupted when large numbers of a population are immune or less susceptible to the disease. The greater the proportion of individuals who are resistant, the smaller the probability that a susceptible individual will come into contact with an infectious individual” (Wikipedia - Herd Immunity).

Herd immunity protects people who cannot safely receive vaccines because of a medical condition such as an immune disorder or for organ transplant recipients. It also protects people who don’t respond to vaccines. Formula feeding reduces the effectiveness of vaccinations, thus weakening herd immunity, putting vulnerable members of society at risk.

10. More colds and flu floating about

As I touched upon above, breastmilk protects and nurtures a baby’s developing immune system (NHS). It has beneficial effects on intestinal flora (Oddy. W) and contains unmatchable immunological properties (Field. C). This protection can last many years (Hanson. L)

Prematurely discontinuing breastfeeding can facilitate pathogenesis of many chronic diseases later in life - e.g, autoimmune disorders (Jackson. K and Nazar. A). This is not only bad for formula fed babies, it also has implications for vulnerable members of society such as the elderly or persons with auto-immune diseases. The theory is similar to herd immunity in vaccinations. Formula fed infants have a weaker immune system than nature intended. This means that more cold and flu viruses are passed around.

11. The redundancy of nature’s contraceptive

Mothers who formula feed miss out on the contraceptive affect of exclusive breastfeeding (this is one of the reasons that they are at greater risk of ovarian cancer). Consequently they are more likely to have closely spaced pregnancies. The fact that this is a problem is not unique to developing countries. As mothers who formula feed are more likely to come from lower-economic, uneducated, disadvantaged groups (The Guardian), the increase in closely spaced reproduction perpetuates a cycle of poverty. Any contraceptive choice that is removed from a woman reduces her economic choices. This creates more kinds of headache for the taxpayer. For instance, it can cost the taxpayer over £154,000 to support a single mother over a decade (The BBC).

12. Formula fed babies clog up hospital and doctor waiting lists

Formula fed children clog up waiting rooms in both hospitals and GPs surgeries. Since they are statistically less healthy, formula fed babies see the doctor more often (McConnachie.A). They have a higher risk of infection, and are more likely to spend time in hospital during their first year (Shiva.F and Ghotbi.F; Hengstermann.S; Galton Bachrach. VR et al; Quigley.MA). This difference does not depend on the social or economic status of the baby's family.

One comparative study in the US and UK, focusing on just three medical complaints - lower respiratory tract illnesses, otitis media, and gastrointestinal illness - found that in the first year of life, after adjusting for confounders, there were 2033 excess doctor visits, 212 excess days of hospitalization, and 609 excess prescriptions for per 1000 formula fed infants compared with 1000 infants exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months (Ball. T and Wright. A). These excess visits would be preventable by breastfeeding, thus freeing up doctors to tend to needy patients with unpreventable illness.

13. Formula culture is anti-breastfeeding

Formula feeding is viewed by many as the “normal” way to feed infants. This formula culture makes life difficult for current and future breastfeeding mothers. It perpetuates a vicious circle: less women breastfeed - breastfeeding seen as subnormal – hostility towards breastfeeding mums - less women breastfeed.

Until more women breastfeed the “boobie-traps” of our formula culture will continue to make life unnecessarily difficult for nursing mothers. By boobie traps I’m talking about such things as aggressive formula marketing; lack of support from family and friends; insufficient knowledge among medical professionals about breastfeeding techniques and challenges; misinformed postnatal hospital practices; and cultural attitudes (Read more about boobie traps here).

Taking aggressive formula marketing for example, formula companies invest millions of pounds in marketing material that undermines breastfeeding (see how it is done here). One of their strategies is to plant seeds of doubt in the mind of the breastfeeding mother where there were none before. For instance, many commercials for follow-on milk cite that “when you decide to move on from breastfeeding, use our formula”; note that the commercial says "when" not "if". The assumption is that all breastfeeding mothers must move onto formula at some stage, presumably at 6 months. Unfortunately this untruth has been absorbed by health professionals and then regurgitated to parents as the common misconception that “there is no nutritional value in breastmilk after 6 months”.

Another example of formula companies erecting unnecessary hurdles in the way of breastfeeding mothers can be seen via their company ‘carelines’. Many of these hotlines and their associated website content maintain that in order to successfully breastfeed a mother must consume a specialist diet, which is nonsense (read more about the strategies of formula company carelines here). The more people that buy formula, the more money formula companies have to perpetrate such inaccurate and misleading marketing, thus distorting choice for all women.

Likewise, the more people that buy formula, the more money formula companies have to manipulate health care professionals (see how it is done here) which not only makes breastfeeding mother’s lives harder (click here to see how health visitors in particular do this), it also stalls medical progress. Accurate information on formula, its ingredients, its safe preparation, and its risks are obscured by heavy marketing campaigns and the pseudo-science they contain. Many of these campaigns are aimed at health care professionals, who assimilate the information and then relay it back to parents.

14. Draining the public purse

A sizeable proportion of my household income goes to the Government in the form of taxes. This is money taken from my purse that could have been used to feed and clothe my children, so naturally I have an interest in what it is spent on.

Firstly, the UK tax-payer supplements the formula-use of low income families (HM Revenue and Customs). The same goes for US tax-payers; at least one-third of the US infant formula market receives support from government programs. Those programs include both food stamps as well as the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Tax payers also supplement formula used by the general population as there is no tax (VAT) on formula. Curiously there is still tax on nursing bras, breast pumps, breastpads, nipple cream, etc. Thus breastfeeding mothers pay tax on their paraphernalia, yet formula feeding mothers do not. The tax lost from formula is supplemented by the public purse. Is this fair in light of the fact that breastfeeding mothers and their healthier babies cost the Government less?

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, the additional number of illnesses needlessly suffered by formula-fed babies translates into staggering medical costs. UK taxpayers would save £360 million for every year of higher breastfeeding rates. This would be made up of annual savings in treatment costs and lifetime contribution to the economy from infants who would otherwise have died prematurely.  In 1991, in an English town, the costs of treating just 150 formula fed babies hospitalised for diarrhoea was estimated to be £225,000. Hospitalisation for diarrhoea is almost unknown for exclusively breastfed babies (Palmer. G).

Breastfeeding an infant saves £305 on medical costs alone during just the first 6 months of a baby’s life. When you consider that there are 605,634 babies born annually in the UK, if they were all breastfed for 6 months that would be a hell of a lot of taxpayers money saved. £305 x 605,634 = £184,718,370. Think about how many new homes, hospitals and schools could be built annually with that!

If there was just a 10% improvement in breastfeeding that would mean that 60,563 additional babies would be breastfed. UK taxpayers savings for just three illnesses and the formula, bottles and teats, would therefore be: 27

•  about 17,000 cases of otitis media avoided at a saving of £509,000.
•  almost 3900 cases of gastroenteritis being avoided, at a saving of £2.6 million
•  over 1500 cases of asthma being avoided, at a saving of £2.6 million.
•  a reduction in the cost of teats and formula of £102,000

(Source: Baby Milk Action. To see the cost of formula v breastfeeding in other countries, read this).

In the US a minimum of $3.6 billion would be saved annually if breastfeeding rates were increased. This figure is likely to be an underestimation of the total savings because it represents cost savings from the treatment of only three childhood illnesses: otitis media, gastroenteritis, and necrotizing enterocolitis.

Furthermore, formula feeding is subsidized by American taxpayers through WIC programs (supplemental nutrition programs for poor families), which spend over $578 million dollars on infant formula annually. WIC is the largest purchaser of infant formula, buying approximately 40 percent of all formula sold in the United States.

Thus the conclusions are unanimous: It is more expensive to provide formula than to breastfeed, and formula-feeding results in excess illness, which increases the cost of health care. Treating the ill-effects of formula feeding drives a significant amount of money away from the treatment of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone diseases, diabetes, cerebral palsy, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, and from cancer research. People unfortunate enough to be affected by non-preventable diseases through no fault of their own are being significantly disadvantaged by the preventable increase of ill health caused by formula feeding. Therefore whilst formula feeding parents contribute to the prosperity of formula companies, they are also contributing to the state of inadequacy found in NHS care for terminally ill patients.

The salt in the wound is the fact that formula companies are not paying for the social and financial debt they continuously bring about. In the UK, HM Revenue and Customs estimate that companies avoid £13.7 billion worth of taxes by using ‘tax havens’. Consequently, the bulk of tax is paid by the mass of ordinary middle or low paid people like you and I. Is it any wonder that so many breastfeeders feel contempt towards their formula feeding peers? (An issue discussed in great length in my book 'Breast Intentions').

In conclusion...

Just to clarify, I fully defend a woman’s right to chose how she feeds her baby IF that choice is fully informed, free from bias and backed up with adequate support; yet as I pointed out in Top 10 Breastfeeding Boobie Traps and 15 Formula Company Tricks the choice of whether to breastfeed or formula feed is far from fully informed and support is patchy. The consequence of manipulation from formula companies is the production and maintenance of a society where shareholders bonuses are valued above infant health, babies are dying and women have warped cynical views of their bodies. By giving their cash to formula companies, parents are fuelling this cycle, providing a bleak outlook for future generations. Research has shown that formula-use is environmentally inherited. In other words, if you formula feed, your children are more likely to formula feed when they become parents. Thus, one formula feeding parent can equate to generations of formula feeding. The problems mentioned above (strained healthcare services, deteriorating environment, delayed women’s liberation, etc) are prolonged for decades.

So next time you feel the urge to tell a lactivist (or anyone else for that matter) to mind their own business, bear in mind that our choices are not made in isolation, they often have widespread implications for other people and society as a whole.

148 comments: said...

This post makes me really sad. As if mothers don't have enough things to feel guilty about!

I hope not many formula feeding mums have to read this. Do you really think this is helpful?

I'm just really confused that someone so passionate about breastfeeding would so badly misjudge the best way to support women to do it.

I've agonised over posting this comment, but I really feel something needs to be said.

It is not sisterly to write these things and, I'm sorry to say it, but I'm starting to think that it's people such as you who give breastfeeding supporters a bad name.

Please, please read up about the best ways to help create a breastfeeding culture because I really can't believe this can possibly be a good way to go about it.

I want to believe that you *do* want to help. I don't want to believe that you write like this purely to get more hits on your blog.

Alpha Parent said...

FYP - knowledge is power; but sometimes the facts hurt. Does that mean we should shelter from them? The economic consequences of formula feeding in particular are seldom discussed yet very important. said...

There are ways and ways of getting information across, and I just feel that this isn't a helpful way.

Erika Marie said...

I totally & completely agree with your stance; however, we can't force idiots and selfish people to even read what you're writing. They simply don't care. I gave my daughter formula because I was overwrought with guilt that I wasn't producing enough milk. She never seemed satisfied. However, I am still breastfeeding at 14 months. It pisses me off when I hear people I know refuse to even think about breastfeeding. One woman said "my breasts are for my husband, not my baby." What kind of backassward response is that? Try as I might, some people just don't get it.

Alpha Parent said...

FYP - in my experience, whenever a formula Vs breast debate occurs online, formula feeders often try to silence debate my saying "mind your own business". What this article is trying to explain is that the baby feeding debate is everyone's business. We should not put our heads in the sand.

Erika - I can only assume that the people who refuse to even think about breastfeeding are doing so out of ignorance. Hence why we really need to shift the focus from the benefits of breastfeeding (nursing your baby is the biological 'norm' after all) and on to the risks and detriments of formula feeding.

sarapunkinpie88 said...

I feel that this article is very informative AND helpful.

I do not see how it would make formula feeding mothers feel 'guilty.' I personally know very few people who WANT to formula feed, but they end up doing so because they have a lot of misinformation. Those mothers should not feel guilty for being misinformed by their doctors, family, and the formula companies. The ones that WANT to formula feed should not feel guilt about a conscious decision. They made the decision, they own it.

Imogen said...

"Just to clarify, I fully defend a woman’s right to chose how she feeds her baby IF that choice is fully informed, free from bias and backed up with adequate support"

Bullshit. Utter bullshit. You don't defend a womans right to choose unless she chooses what you think she should.

Let me tell you a little story. I breastfed my oldest son for more than two years. I also suffered from horrific PND for the first year. For the first 4-6 months, I hated breastfeeding. Hated it. It completely exacerbated my illness. I was exhausted from constant feedings, constant night feedings with no help. Breastfeeding made me feel like i was being devoured, like I was trapped. I stuck with it through sheer stubbornness, and through fear of reprisal from people like you. We made the decision to combination feed when he was 4 months and you know what? Life got SO MUCH better. Maybe if we had made that choice sooner, my son wouldn't have the sensitivities that he has today. Maybe he wouldn't be emotionally scarred from having a mother who screamed and shouted and couldn't cope.

I understand your point that change begins with the individual. But think of it this way. Do you think my son would have thanked me if i had walked in front of an oncoming truck instead of giving him some formula? Do you think that the world would have been a better place without me and my evil choice?

Now, i know you are going to jump on me now and say that my guilt must be causing me to be offended by your post. Well, if you must know, i feel NO guilt WHATSOEVER for giving him formula. Sometimes, i wish I had done it sooner! IT actually saved my life. It gave my son the gift of a MOTHER who didn't shout all the time, a mother who didn't feel trapped, a mother who was ALIVE.

(character limit, more coming)

Imogen said...

Your point about child abuse would be funny if you weren't being serious. There is a MASSIVE difference between CORRELATION and CAUSATION. Who knows why formula feeders are more likely to abuse? Maybe it's because they are statistically more likely to come from an abusive, impoverished background. Formula is the symptom, not the cause. Do you seriously think that forcing women to breastfeed when it is causing them to NOT be a good mother is going to help? Breastfeeding is magical and amazing, but I'm pretty sure that it isn't capable of turning a would-be abuser into a good parent.

Your intention with this post was not to share (admittedly very shaky) facts. It was not to inform. it was to incite emotional comments like mine, it was to get hits and it was to piss people off. Well, congrats. You won.

I am a passionate advocate for breastfeeding, but people like you make me ashamed to say that. Yes, looking at the big picture is important and infant feeding is an issue that concerns everybody, but you know what else is important?

COMPASSION. A bit of fucking human decency. There are plenty of great blogs out there, Free Your Parenting above for example, that provides information about breastfeeding AND about the detriments of formula feeding in a way that is accepting, supportive, and actually useful. All this post will do is piss people off. The only people who will gain something from this post are those who agree with you - not really very useful when you're trying to get a message out.

I don't usually leave long comments such as this, but I just couldn't help myself this time. Who the hell do you think you are? Who are you to decide what a good reason not to breastfeed is? How can people like you, who claim to advocate for the rights of children, completely neglect to advocate for the rights and feelings of the parents that raise them?

Do you think it would have been better for me to have pushed through breastfeeding and maybe ended up damaging my son even more than I already did, for the sake of the greater good?

Use your passion and your clever way with words to fight the formula companies. They are the ones who should be answering to the bad things above. You cannot blame formula feeding mothers for the above ills. You have been very clever in your wording, placing the blame squarely at the mother's feet without *actually* saying it, and yet you claim to be pro womens-lib. For shame.

Alpha Parent said...

Imogen - so much of what you have said rings true to my experience. I also hated breastfeeding with a vengeance in the early months, so much so that I wrote an article about it, titled "10 Things I Hate About Breastfeeding". You can read it here:

I also had the most disabling PND. I wrote about my battle with it here:

"Formula is the symptom, not the cause." - that is subjective. As I said in this article, there are biological factors at play during nursing that impact upon a mother's likelihood to abuse. There are also environmental factors brought about by formula feeding that make abuse more likely (increased baby's crying, sleep deprivation).

"How can people like you, who claim to advocate for the rights of children, completely neglect to advocate for the rights and feelings of the parents that raise them?" - I will always put child-right above parental-right. Sometimes there is a clash. For the vast majority of infants, formula feeding has no advantages over breastfeeding. As I made clear in this article, the parent and the child are not the only affected parties in the baby feeding debate. There is the pertinent issue of social responsibility.

I agree with you that formula companies have much to feel guilty about and we should boycott them. I wrote about their unethical practices in my last blog article.

the funny-shaped woman said...

If I had read this article 9 or so years ago, after my first breastfeeding relationship was sabotaged through top-ups and I ended up fully formula feeding, this article would have deeply upset me. Because mine wasn't an informed choice. I was already feeling the lowest I'd ever felt because I "couldn't" breastfeed, my body didn't work and was somehow broken, and not good enough for my child (something I have proven wrong three times over now), and I think that reading that the money I was spending on formula was "fueling an industry which causes the death of thousands of infants" would have sent me over the edge. Honestly. Yes, you spoke the truth, but take care to speak it kindly: once you are fully formula feeding, once you have lost that precious breastfeeding relationship with your baby, you are given no other choice but to buy those damned cans and fuel that damned industry. It's like casting a vote with your money but there's only one candidate on the ballot paper. And there is no way out... Unless people like you, me and every other breastfeeding advocate offer formula feeding mothers a viable alternative to infant formula. If the way others feed their babies is indeed your business, it makes sense to INFORM mothers in this article (perhaps in the first point?)that they still have a choice: they can be supported in relactation or find breastmilk from another mother through Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network (see:

Alpha Parent said...

TFSW - you make excellent points re: milk banks and relactation. I should certainly look into writing about those valid options.

nmill said...

Wow, are your kids going to be screwed up.

Imogen said...

Thankyou for your reply, AP. I think we will have to agree to disagree here.

Children are human beings and are therefore entitled to equal rights. And sometimes, protecting the parents rights IS what is best for the child. I firmly believe that it is better for a child to grow up in a home of love, acceptance and happiness than it is to spend the first precious months of their life resented. Children can pick up on these things.

This article assumes that formula feeding mothers aren't bothered about their child's health or the well-being of the planet (economically, socially, environmentally). It assumes that women are eagerly waiting for an 'excuse' to stop breastfeeding. Most women are not. Most women really want to, and then for reasons that nobody else can profess to understand, they decide to move to formula.

I had the same attitude towards it as you do, a few years ago. As time has gone on, I have realised that it's not as clear-cut as you'd like to believe that it is, and that the emotional health of parents is AS important as the health of the child. The child cannot be cared for and provided for emotionally and physically as they deserve to be if the parent is not present.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to any aspect of parenting - INCLUDING infant feeding.

Alpha Parent said...

Imogen, no where in this article did I mention the motives of the formula feeding parent. Instead I focused on the ill effects of formula feeding, to the baby, the economy and the planet. Do you agree or disagree that to make breastfeeding the norm again we need to move away from "breast is best" and discuss the inadequacies of formula?

Imogen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Imogen said...

I completely agree, the phrase 'breast is best' is unhelpful at best, and damaging at worst.

Nope, it wasn't mentioned in words. But the implication is there for all to see. It is perfectly possible to write a post about the implications and dangers of formula feeding without a harsh and judgemental undertone.

Think about it this way - you write an article about the dangers and implications of fertility treatment, and how more people should have babies naturally. You'd choose your language far more carefully. There are women out there who cant make babies, and there *are* women out there who cannot breastfeed fully. its a damn sight more than the 2% touted by many. for a start, more than 2% of the population would have had full mastectomies, breast reductions etc. I agree that we need to quash the booby traps but we MUST be careful with the language we use and how we go about it, because causing emotional distress to women who cannot physically breastfeed is like mocking somebody for a disability and telling them they should be able to walk if they just had the right support.

Also, you have neglected to point out that the vast majority of studies done on the superiority of breastfeeding are not completely infallable. It is impossible to control a breastfeeding vs formula feeding study for perfect accuracy - there are a lot of other factors involved. I'm not disputing that breastmilk is what babies were intended to receive - it is what their bodies expect, after all - but it's important to point out that it's not as cut & dry as many would like to think.

Alpha Parent said...

Imogen, by focusing on the small minority, you are missing the point. Surely health education should be (and indeed is) focused on the majority. The "what about women who physically can't breastfeed" argument crops up time and time again in an effort to silence debate. Should we discourage women from taking folic acid during pregnancy because for a tiny minority of women it can have ill effects?

To address your point re: imperfect research, no study is completely infallible. Does this mean we should discard all studies? How do you propose that we advance our knowledge?

Little Me said...

Sorry but this is another shocking post from you. What gives you the right to say things like this? Your research is flimsy - some of those studies you appear to be alluding towards are complete bullshit. Linking formula feeding to child abuse and lower IQ is disgusting. How dare you judge people like that? I found your other post on the 15 tricks pretty vile, but this one takes the biscuit.

Nev said...

A word on Herd Immunity:

I don't know where you got your explanation from but it is wrong.


Jessica said...

Great Article! Sad when people want to shoot the messenger when you're just trying to help spread the truth.

Alpha Parent said...

Jessica, do you have a more reputable source than a biased anti-vaccination site?

Nev said...

AP, in that link are various sources for that. I gather you got your information from a biased pro-vaccination site?

Btw.. I generally agree with your article above, just not with the Herd Immunity bit.


Cornish Blonde said...

A controversial post but a brave one. Well done. You can't hide from the truth and scuse my French but our anti-breastfeeding culture really dicks me off!

So many people choose formula milk without even trying breastfeeding and it's just selfish and totally unfair on the baby who undoubtedly just wants and needs to be close to his mummy in the way which nature intended.

I topped up my now nine month old daughter with formula and continue to do so now I am back at work. I regret this deeply. Should I be fortunate to have another child, I will definitely take more time off work so I can avoid formula feeding completely. This post has reinforced my decision and will hopefully save the NHS a few quid! Though 9 months in and my little one is yet to be ill...

Inspirational, thank you.

Nearly Not Quite said...

I love the particularly nasty and vocal breastfeeding activists who think if they educate us, the 'dumb, uniformed, unsupported mothers' we will immediately want to be just like them. You know the type (of course you do, you’re one of them) the ones that post this stuff in the name of ‘fact’ and believe fact = god given right to be a total cow (pun intended).

The thing I like most about you people is that you honestly believe that this is the way to win people over to your ‘cause’. You think that by preaching at us, by accusing us of hurting our babies, of not trying hard enough and of being duped by ‘big pharma’ we are all going to sit up and feel sufficiently chastised, and immediately try and relactate – lactate or do god knows what we would have to do to be ‘good enough’ in your eyes.

I love it when we are accused of damaging our babies, and causing them pain and agony from GI issues because after all – Formula is poison and if you can’t breastfeed your baby then God knows a dead baby is better. Coming from the mother of a dead baby – let me tell YOU something.

How I raise my kids is none of your business. You can rattle off national health statistics, you can spout your words and you can twist facts to say that not breastfeeding causes cancer, as opposed to the truth, that is breastfeeding has been shown to minimally decrease the chances of a mother getting cancer. You can say all the things you want to say – this is your space and you’re entitled.

But not a single thing you say is going to convince me that my beautiful healthy formula fed children have missed out. You aren’t going to convince me that they aren’t loved, cherished and adored. You will not convince me that they are not healthy. You won’t convince me that they are not as smart as your breastfed child. You sure as hell won’t make me feel guilty for making the choices I made. You will not steal from me the empowerment I felt when I made the decisions I made.

If even one week of breastfeeding turned me into the sanctimonious nasty piece of work that you and your type are then I would have run in the other direction as fast as my (stupid, obese formula fed as a baby) legs could carry me. The truth of the matter is, I don’t actually care about your statistics, your feigned worry for my ‘poor’ child. It’s all lies.

You care about being right. You care about degrading women’s choices, about pushing an agenda of breastfeeding as the ‘only option’ because by doing so YOU FEEL BETTER THAN ME.

It’s ok. If that’s how you sleep at night you run with it. But honey, I don't need you worrying about my kids. THEY don't need you worrying about them. We're just fine - and we're just fine without breastmilk.

Young American Homemaker said...

Funny thing is, I can't tell the difference between formula feed children or breastfeed children in my community. Both go to the doctor, both do well in school and both poop, both play nicely on the playground. What I do see different are the parents - you can tell which are judgmental and which are loving, which listen and which just talk to hear their own voice. This goes for either formula feeding mom and breast feeding moms. Boob or bottle isn't the issue. It's about the heart. You can't change people by demanding it or trying to control them. There will always be somebody doing something "wrong" and drawing that line in the sand with "truth" only separates you from them.

Heather M. said...

I found this post randomly, and I just want to say this: You are not helping your cause. At all.

The primary points you make aren't *necessarily* wrong, although most of the studies you cite have tenuous connections to actual science at best, but your tone is pretty horrible. Shaming women for choosing the feeding solution that works best for THEIR families and THEIR children doesn't make you an educator. It makes you seem arrogant, judgmental and narrow-minded.

I believe strongly in a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere, without shame or embarrassment. I believe strongly in a woman's right to formula feed anywhere are everywhere, without shame or embarrassment. Shockingly, these aren't mutually exclusive concepts. I wish people like you could figure that out.

prairiebabydreams said...

All I can do is shake my head at this.

Breast is not always best, I'm sorry to inform you. What about women who have children with special needs who can't orally feed or children with weak suck, etc? Don't you think we feel shitty enough already without you telling us from your high horse that our children are going to be low-IQ, disease-ridden children? Because NEWSFLASH it doesn't matter what the eff you put in their tummies, what matters is HOW you raise them and if you put the effort into teaching them things like their ABCs and their 123s.

I just having nothing to explain how flabbergasted I am at this post. It is absolutely none of your freakin' business what I feed my child. Maybe you should go breastfeed your kids and then they can cure cancer or something.

Also, I LOOOOOOOOOVE that it's always the women that CAN breastfeed that look down on formula feeding moms the most. How about a little empathy? That pesky 3% that can't breastfeed means that approximately 2,500,000 women JUST in the United States can't breastfeed. What about single moms or single income families? Do you expect them to come to the daycare every three hours to feed their babies? Seriously?

I WISH I had such an awesome life as you obviously have so that I too could judge people and spread hate. It must be soooo nice being perfect!!

teriofthelongposts said...

I kinda just feel like saying "I feed my baby formula and she's just as smart, healthy, well-loved, and well-cared-for as your child. I'm just as good a mom as you, and nothing you say will change that. Neener neener neener." And pass the popcorn for the inevitable epic tantrum at your inability to micro-manage every detail of the rest of our lives. Immature? Maybe...but a helluvalot more mature than this post is.

People like you are curiously adamant about prescribing one-size-fits-all medicine to women and children as if we are all clones of each other. This temper tantrum really shows your inability to see anything in shades other than black and white, which I guess means you are about at the developmental level of my toddler. My child has the same potential number of IQ points as yours AND mine will have social graces, which you apparently completely lack, much less show any capacity to pass on. I feel sorry for you and sorrier for any children who know you. I'm starting to feel that way toward a lot of lactivists these days. It's just sad, small, and sick of you to be this worked up over what my child eats for around 1% of her life (based on my made-up stat of 80 years life expectancy (my made-up stats, by the way, are about as scientifically sound as some of the studies you mentioned)).

Others have addressed your total inability to grasp correlation vs. causation (were you formula-fed? :P) in your verbal diarrhea so I won't bother. I'll just say I find it pathetic that such purportedly "evidence-based" people have such a curious inability to actually read the studies they quote, and not just the abstracts please, because you will find the bulk of them flawed to the point of being useless. Perhaps your feminist self can mull over why we accept such crap research in this realm as opposed to insisting on, y'know, good studies? Does this mean I want to throw out all studies for having flaws? Yes, I do want to throw out the studies that are so flawed as to be useless--a better question is why wouldn't you? You'd rather infant feeding policies be made based on the lies you prefer than insist on proper research? You only prove to me that militant lactivists never let a little thing like logic get in the way of sanctimommy snit fits.

Anyway, please don't worry about my child. No, seriously, please don't worry about my child, and further, please never come near my child. I promise I won't let her anywhere near yours. The anxiety attack you had here is a lot more likely to damage a child than a tin of formula ever will and I'd honestly fear for my daughter's safety around you. Your rant is so damaging that in some circles it might be taken as threatening, and contrary to your assertions, I protect my child from abuse--including abusive people like you. Speaking of which, ever consider that your tense, anxious attitude and inability to accept anything other than your delusional version of perfection as remotely good enough might, just might, be harmful to whatever children you have? (I haven't bothered to look through the rest of your blog to find out if/how many kids you have because, well, I'm pretty sure I'm wasting enough time here as it is...) All kidding aside, based on this post, I believe that militant lactivists like yourself need to have a long conversation with mental health professionals because someone with this much need to control others, meanness, nastiness, and hatred in her heart cannot be in a good place and may actually cause psychological harm to any child under her care.

Damaged Goods said...

You realize we can read the actual studies and not just the links you cite as "sources" right? And that most of them prove that these are lies...

Alpha Parent said...

You lot fit into the "some defensive formula feeding mothers" group that I cite at the start of the article. Lots of talk about tantrums from those having the biggest ones. You're going to love my next article.

Caitlin said...

There is so much wrong with this post and although I'd like to write you an equally long response explaining why, I have better things to do. I'll keep it short.

First off, a little compassion would do a lot to help you and others understand that feeding choices are not as easy and black-and-white as you make them out to be.

In my situation the side effect of NOT formula feeding is dead baby. I think that trumps anything you've got. Also, before you ask, a milk bank is not an option. Try finding a donor who will follow an elimination diet of 20 food allergies, including 7 of the top 8. And again, before you ask, the reason I fearlessly formula feed is not because I couldn't follow the elimination diet. I could expand on the medical reasons why breast is not best for my little guy, but it's none of your damn business.

princess_shell81 said...

I have a question no other die-hard 'lactivists' I've come across seem to have the stones to answer without being all PC about it. Other people's feelings are obviously of no concern to you judging by the wording and the tone of this post, so maybe you can satisfy my curiosity. What is your opinion about mothers who breastfeed WITH supplementation? What do you think about mothers who exclusively feed their baby PUMPED breastmilk? What do you think of mothers who breastfeed for 6 months, a year, however long, and THEN switch to formula? Your post is so black and white, I am wondering if you are unaware of the billion 'grey areas', or if you find them just as unacceptable and offensive to your morals and standards of successful parenting as if those parents were shoving bottles of poison...I mean...formula in their babies mouths.

Alpha Parent said...

I haven't got any noteworthy opinion on those who exclusively pump, except to say I salute them. Pumping CAN be very hard work and dehumanising. It was a happy day when I put my pump into storage and left it there.

As for those who don't BF for the WHO's prescribed "2 years", I approach it like a hierarchy: no breastmilk < 3 months < 6 months < 1 year < 2 years, etc.

Carma said...

Oh, my. Absolutely ridiculous. This is why women who formula-feed feel the need to defend themselves. Perhaps it would be helpful if you talked to women about their choices instead of lecturing about the "dire consequences" of feeding a child formula. Formula is food, period; if mom can't provide nourishment, then thank goodness we have a way to feed our children who would otherwise starve.

Please consider your impact on women who were/are unable to breastfeed. This is a terribly ineffective way to increase breastfeeding rates, and it only widens the divide between extreme lactivists and everyone else. I realize I've probably wasted my time writing this entire comment, and rest assured that I will not return to your blog in the future, but you need to know that you are wrong for writing this.

k9mamahf said...

One of the most liberating feelings results when you give others permission to be completely wrong about you and your situation. Nothing I say would be convincing to you, as you are committed to making innumerable logical and cognitive fallacies in your argument, particularly: post hoc ergo propter hoc with respect to the studies you cite, along with hasty generalization. You are wrong about what you argue, and nothing will get you out of your epistemic cloudiness.

As the husband of a strong, smart, caring woman who has cried endless tears because she was medically unable to breast-feed and our son would have died had he not had formula, I want you to know that you and people like you have caused far more needless pain than any good that may result from your posts. Step back and think about the damage you are doing to parents who medically need to formula feed, but resist doing so because of the fear of being judged by people like you. Fortunately, my wife was strong enough to be ok with people like you being wrong about her. As a result, our son is extraordinarily healthy, happy and intelligent.

Have a lovely day spreading fear and misery to others.

Damaged Goods said...

But Alpha Parent, soo many of these "links" are too small to make any kind of conclusion.
An HONEST reporter wouldn't make misleading claims. Using statistical tricks to make something sound worse than reality is wrong.

Lying only turns people away from breastfeeding. As soon as people look up the Actual numbers, it makes lactivists look like a bunch of scammers. Why would you do that?

Damaged Goods said...

btw, I am 100% pro-Breastfeeding for at least a year.

I am also 100% against LIES. >.>

Stanselmdoc said...

"You lot fit into the 'some defensive formula feeding mothers' group that I cite at the start of the article. Lots of talk about tantrums from those having the biggest ones."

Okay, then explain me. A breastfeeding mother who thinks you're full of crap. Am I feeling repressed guilt from my mother formula-feeding me or something? There's gotta be a reason. I mean, it can't be that I think your opinions are rude and wrong simply because they are actually rude and wrong...

inthewritemind said...

Thank you for this post. You've just further cemented my decision to formula feed my next child. :)

That being said, I admire anyone who is able to breastfeed. What I don't admire is ANY mom--breast or formula feeding--that tries to make another woman feel guilty for her choice.

budhist-milf said...

How I feed my child is none of your business unless you will pay my rent, groceries, medical insurance and other thing me and my baby need to survive on a daily basis. I do not live in a country with adequate maternity leave and I am not pumping in the bathroom which is the only available place for pumping at my work. Do not spew the rosy statements about breastfeeding laws. At my job, anyone who make waves, she is laid off.

You can protest formula feeding companies in Africa but better yet, advocate for more equal income distribution world wide. If you want more women to breastfeed, guilt is not the way to go. Countries with long paid parental leave have higher breastfeeding rates.

Anyway, I do not have time for writing blogs that make hard working moms feel bad. I have to go and work my 8 hour shift so I can pay rent etc etc etc.

Summer Kinard said...

Some of us have no choice but to use formula. I have IGT, so I cannot physically make enough milk (not even approaching enough) for my children, even with the aid of herbs and drugs. I did not have full support for my son, and he had other feeding issues, so I only managed to nurse him (plus heavy formula supplementation) for six weeks. For my daughter, I had much better support and stronger drugs. We are still nursing (plus solids and most liquids coming from cow milk and water) at sixteen months. I love nursing, am very well informed, and would have desperately loved to exclusively breastfeed my children. A soy allergy that runs in the family prohibits us from using donor milk, not that I could have afforded it anyway. For us, organic baby formula was the best way to fill out our children's nutritional needs. All of the spurious health claims you made do not apply to my children, either. We are very well bonded with both children (I thank babywearing and cosleeping for a lot of this), they are very healthy compared to their peers, and they are both at least a year ahead on all of their intelligence milestones. Since we live in the US with clean water, they were not at high risk for bottle borne illnesses. I'm saying all this because your approach would paint me as a supporter of various abuses and as ignorant and uncaring of my children, just because I did not exclusively breastfeed my children (which would have killed them). I am not that exceptional; loads of women have serious breastfeeding challenges that put them in a position where formula is the safest and healthiest choice for their babies to eat.

While I admire the sentiment that women should be informed about breastfeeding and encouraged to nurse their young, I think most of your article amounts to fear-mongering, not informing. Premie and NICU babies are usually not separated out from the health effects of formula studies, and they are far more likely to have to eat formula due to limits of their health and their mothers' supply (common in stressful births). Those delicate babies have more health problems, but formula is not causing them. Correlation and causation are not the same thing, which one would hope one might recognize before making "scientific" claims.

Also, you know what happens when women don't eat? Milk dries up. A much better way to support breastfeeding in impoverished countries is to advocate for women's health and nutrition. Then maybe they could put the baby to the breast and actually have some nice milk to feed. Sadly, women are so poorly regarded in many places that food expenditure for formula will remain a higher priority than expenditure for maternal nutrition.

I think you could take your same "information" and actually find some positive ways forward. Maybe consider this a rough draft post, and make another detailing how you hope to actually improve things for mothers and babies, rather than just berating women who, for reasons you failed to address, feed their children formula.

Sarah V. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alpha Parent said...

Sarah I've had to remove your comment as it was a cheeky plug of your own blog. I welcome feedback but not spam.

Sarah V. said...

The first link was to the post I wrote in response to this one, and the second was to a post discussing the literature (or, for the most part, lack thereof) on breastfeeding past a year, illustrating the fact that there's no real evidence of advantage in so doing. I wouldn't personally have described them as spam, as both were relevant (and they wouldn't fit the definition of spam, either), but maybe your personal definition is different.

In any case, the point I wanted to make is that I feel posts like yours are likely to backfire quite noticeably when it comes to persuading women to breastfeed. People really don't take too well to long unpleasant lectures in which you make point after point after point after point after point about how awful their behaviour is... it's really off-putting, and just isn't likely to win anyone over or persuade them. In fact, it may give women the impression that this is what they can expect from pro-breastfeeders generally - and that might really put women off when they're deciding whether to seek help with breastfeeding difficulties. As someone who would really like to see breastfeeding rates increased, I am asking you to please refrain from taking this sort of tone in activism in future, as it is very, very off-putting.

Alpha Parent said...

"There's no real evidence of advantage" in breastfeeding past a year?

So do antibodies suddenly dry up? Does something miraculous occur at 12 months whereby oxytocin ceases to be produced?

In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:

29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
-Dewey 2001

And considering that breastmilk is free, how could obtaining that quality of nutrition for no cost - fail to be an advantage?

Sarah V. said...

This is why I included the link that you deleted without checking after leaping to the conclusion it was spam - it was actually to a post answering numerous questions on the subject, your first one above included. ;-)

The answer is that, no, the antibodies are still there, but as the child grows and matures it has less need of them. The only study I've been able to find that studied breastfeeding up to two years didn't find any reduction in infection rates in children who were nursed past a year compared to children who weren't. And you can see a taper-off effect in the benefits if you look at studies that look at nursing to a year.

As to your second point, fair enough - it would have been more precise for me to state that there's no real evidence of health advantage in breastfeeding past a year in situations where the child is getting adequate nutrition from an alternative route (food and/or formula). There's therefore nothing that I've been able to find that would support a blanket recommendation to mothers to breastfeed to two years even in cases where their children are eating a normal diet.

anunschoolingadventure said...

Wow, you've really taken some harsh beatings on this one, huh?

I love your article. It's well-researched, well-written and doesn't beat around the bush. I admire your balls! I agree with pretty much everything you've said, and am grateful to have a bit more information on some areas. Thank you.

Becky Pitcher said...

I literally want to punch you in the face.
I am not even freaking kidding.
You are a seriously pretentious self-righteous bitch and I don't care how many times you hear it, but NO. It is STILL not your business how other people's children are fed.
Sorry we don't all have magical breasts that squirt out fountains of liquid gold that our babies lap up like obedient puppies, but I have yet to meet a woman who decided to formula-feed without at least TRYING to breast feed, and then suffering for months (and years) from guilt caused by women like you.
I suppose that's the point of your blog though, right? "The snobby side of parenting" gets a rise out of people and a high readership.
Even I'm leaving a comment and I pretty much hate you, so your schemes are definitely working.

Brittany said...

The only thing I can say is that I *love* Becky Pitcher. In fact, I think I have a mild crush on her.

But seriously, I can't believe the ignorance in this post.

anunschoolingadventure said...

Becky, I don't think the article was targeted at mothers who genuinely can't breastfeed, but at those who either choose not to, or give up too soon for whatever reason, viewing formula as just as good as breastmilk, which it obviously isn't. And for your information I've met PLENTY of women who couldn't be bothered breastfeeding because they wanted to resume their old lifestyle, drink alcohol, not have the hassle, etc. Those mothers do exist and I think they're the ones this article is aimed at! A colleague of mine had a baby a month ago and doesn't breastfeed because she wanted to go out with her mates and get drunk every weekend. Try not to take articles like this personally! There really are some bad mothers out there who need some sense knocking into them! But no one said you were one of them!

Becky Pitcher said...

I'm pretty sure that she said that all formula is bad. Formula-drinking babies are sickly, abused, unintelligent, etc.
I can't see why babies who drink formula because their mom can't breastfeed are any different than babies who drink formula because their mom doesn't want to.
This post didn't differentiate or qualify anything. It was 100% black and white.
Breastfeeding = good. Formula = bad.

anunschoolingadventure said...

But all formula is bad. However you want to dress it up, the facts are the facts. Formula-fed babies are statistically more likely to be ill, die prematurely, etc. So anyone who chooses to give formula is not making the best decision for their baby. It's a different matter if they don't have a choice and can't breastfeed for whatever reason. Formula is there for that reason. But it should be accepted as the poor substitute it is, and only be used if absolutely necessary, not as the next best thing, which seems to be the attitude of most people.

It's like, say, if you fed your child on nothing but really cheap, nutritionally poor food because it's all you could afford. You wouldn't have a choice. But you would never think that you were doing the best thing for your child, not feel angry at the situation, or feed them that type of food if you could afford really nutritionally rich food. But imagine a rich person feeding their child nutritionally poor food because they thought it would be alright. It wouldn't be, because they could do better and are making the choice not to! Their child might survive on that poor food, and be one of the children that suffers no ill-effects, but they wouldn't be getting the best possible chance in life they could!

I hate the attitude that formula is ok - the next best thing. I was fed formula as a child, and yeh I survived alright. But I have asthma, hayfever, recurrent eczema and dermititis. I've been overweight most of my life. I've had mental health problems. Maybe I'd have had these issues if I'd been breastfed too, but maybe not. But I know I'll do everything IN MY POWER to reduce my daughter's chances of having any illness, and I can't understand why mothers would knowingly, deliberately, not do the same! Again, it's different if you don't have a choice. Necessity is necessity. But the fact remains that formula-fed babies are more likely to be ill.

Another Rambling Mommy said...

LOVE this post. No, seriously, I LOVE it. Formula-feeding moms say this all the time when the benefits of normal feeding and the risks of artificial are pointed out- "it's my baby, so my choice". Actually, so do CIO-moms, those who chose to front-face their infant's car seats, give their babies cow milk etc etc etc. It's really sad. I mean, at least own what choices you are making on your child's behalf. It's not about you, it's about them and they are not your property. They belong only to themselves and it's your responsibility to make the best choices until they can do so. So educate yourself and research before making a decision.

More or Less CrUnChY said...

I face the same issues when blogging about breastfeeding....I feel like 'oh,can't say that' or 'oops,better phrase this more carefully'.
And while I completely dislike offending anyone,SOMEBODY needs to speak the truth!
We live in a 'follow' culture where we will do anything that everyone else seems to be doing.What happened to nurturing parenting styles?
What happened to holding your baby close,birthing,feeding and caring for our little ones the way nature intended?
If we have the opportunity to choose,why do so many of us choose the least natural methods?

Jaimie said...

As one respondent stated, regardless of whether the choice to formula feed was informed or absolutely medically needed because mom was not able to make milk...formula is not "second best", it is the only other choice. The studies behind that statement are well respected, well researched and easily accessibly through WHO, LLL, etc. That includes benefits of breastmilk after one year. We didn't evolve as we did by other species supplementation...we evolved because of the beautiful design of the mother baby dyad which study after study, as well as anthropological research has shown to be the average of about 3 years nursing/nurturing together (note: average) It is really quite simple.

FOr those who are against this article of the tone/attack...please be responsible for your own feelings. This article IS a trigger, it was written that way, but not intended to blanket blame every *single* person who has formula fed. It was aimed to make people look at actual studied facts about the benefits of breastfeeding and the true risks and low quality of manufactured formula. Just like feed-lotting meat, crowded poultry houses, and pesticides on food...formula has a well documented history of being produced with quantity and profits (and not quality) in mind. If formula feeding is necessary (a very low documented percentage) it should be milk proteins from organically non-grain fed cows, on organic pasture, and all added ingredients of additional nutrition should come from sources you can actually check into! In fact, I am a firm believer in formula being prescription only so that the quality control (which is really only slightly better, but still better) is under additional scrutiny. It would also make formula regulated as possibly medically necessary and the cost covered by insurance. I find it deadly horrible that for families that really have to formula feed, they need to bear the full brunt of the ridiculous cost of formula...for the money, it should ALWYAS be organic and the absolute best made and regulated fluid on the planet. The water sourcing ALONE would make you shiver.

Carmen said...

I LIKE this post.

One thing I have noticed about formula feeding Mums, is that they're an insecure bunch. You have to be very careful with them and their delicate little feelings. They usually feel no way about saying what the hell they like about breastfeeding 'cos 'it's just my opinion', but they get VERY touchy when you talk about formula, 'cos 'it's none of your business'.

Funny, most of the FF Mums I've met haven't bothered very much and aren't very good Mums. There's a difference between a Mum who does everything expected of a Mum, and a Mum who does what's best for her child - regardless.

Keep blogging - I love it!

And @Becky Pitcher - YOU'RE the bitch here, mate. Reading your whiny, pathetic comment, my fist was ITCHING to punch you in the face. Idiot.

pipnrich said...

Why are people so scared of the truth? What you put in your baby's tummys DOES concern me - we are one world, all linked, all affected by eachother's choices. It's pure ignorance to think this is not true. Families have to know the dire risks of formula feeding their babies. They are real. They are there.

Camille Griffiths said...

I think it's important to raise awareness of all this information. I am a breastfeeding advocate, I just wrote a college paper on the importance of normalizing breastfeeding. I breastfeed my almost 3 year old and I nurse her in public all the time. But I think you need to realize that formula feeding moms don't deserve to feed attacked. Instead, focus on getting information out there, and attacking the true culprits. Medical professionals that don't support and teach pregnant and new moms about breastfeeding, and give out formula samples. Formula companies that give out information about how great their formula is and give out free samples. And the general public but making breastfeeding into some sort of gross act and not making people comfortable breastfeeding in front of anyone, which discourages people from doing it at all. People who switch to formula are 9 times out of 10 unaware of the health risks, have never seen a breastfeeding mom and have seen many bottle-feeding ones, encountering some really hard problems with breastfeeding, don't have enough support to keep going, etc. We don't know what they are going through. My pediatrician told me my daughter wasn't gaining and tried to force me to switch to formula, even threatening to report me to CPC. Would you have blamed all these things on me if I didn't manage to keep breastfeeding through that??

Camille Griffiths said...

feel attacked*

prettyinpink said...

Brilliant blog post!
No matter how much anybody tries to "sugar coat" it infant formula is not and will not ever be the same or as good as breast milk. Sure it is an "adequate" means for infant feeding when breast milk is not available and in those cases it's good to have but many,many,many mothers make the choice to formula feed without ever giving a second thought to breastfeeding just because formula is there for convenience without thinking of the impact it can have on their child,their health,their future or even the world.
I have 3 children 2 of them are teens my teens were both breastfed for a few months and then formula fed due to medical issue I had however luckily my youngest child was breastfed for almost 3 yrs,I do not let the information that is posted in blogs like this one,information about the dangers of infant formula,how breast milk is best,etc,etc bother me or make me feel guilty because I know in most cases the information is the sad truth.I am going to end my comment with one of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

ChewyMomma said...

I love this.
I had twins at 30 weeks, one ended up breastfed, one was given pumped milk for 4 months and switched to formula. When I was told the truth about formula, I was SO mad. Not at the formula companies, not at the hospital for making me feel like I HAD to do this to keep her home...but at the women who told me. How DARE they tell me that what I was doing for my child wasn't what was best for her!
It was after some careful research, and learning how to put my child's well-being before my pride, that I learned I was wrong. What I was told was not true, and these "awful, spiteful" women were actually right.
If I knew then what I know now, she'd have gotten donor milk.
The truth isn't always nice, and it's not always pretty, and sometimes we did what we thought we had to do...and we find out that if we knew more, we'd have done things differently. It's part of growing as a human being, not JUST a parent.
Know better, do better, right?

Thank you for this post, no matter how much some people will "feel attacked" by it (even though you were in no way speaking directly to them!). The truth needs to be spoken, and it needs to be heard. Nice or not, truth is truth.

nething4bugnboo said...

Ok first off I am not an idiot or selfish!! so for the parents who judge a woman just because she feeds her child formula over breast GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!!
YES I feel that formula feeding is not the best option. I feel breast is the best for a baby.
However having 3 children, after medical issues, I had no choice but to switch to formula which was the best option for my babies. IF you follow guidelines take your baby to their doctor visits you will make sure that they are healthy and strong and are getting the nutrients and developing the way they should.
You forgot to post how outdated your data is. Nestles debaucle was in the 1970's. Yes third world countries would do better with breast over formula. HOWEVER, the majority of these poor people cannot get enough food to feed themselves, which harms their breastmilk production and starves their babies. That is why formula companies are "trying" to help. Do I feel they would have better ways of helping these poor people? (like give them healthy food and water so they can get the nutrients needed ) YES!! That is why people need to make their opinion known to these companies.
Yes the babies get nutrients and antibodies from their mother's milk however, if the mother does not get sick the baby does not get those antibodies, and can still get sick. The ONLY way to make sure your child does not get sick is to put them in a bubble!!
Do I get upset over the safety standards and quality control of formula??? Who wouldn't!!! but you need to do more research and look at the quality control of ALL food, I bet you will never eat anything store bought AGAIN!!!
Formula fed babies are not the only babies on bottles many breastfed babies are fed from bottles as well using the same amount of waste for bottles and nipples as formula fed babies. waste??? EVERYTHING has waste, even the cloth diapers I put on my babies bottom were made somehow!!! Where do you think PUL material comes from??? it is not NATURAL so unless you use all wool you are still contributing to waste. No matter if people breast feed or formula feed the cattle will still be the same since people EAT them!
As for birth control. it is a proven fact that breast feeding is not a safe form of contraceptive. You can still get pregnant even if you breastfeed. That is why doctors insist you still start a birth control method while breast feeding your baby.
Also I was on state help with one of my children, when I breast fed they gave ME food so I could have the nutrients needed to get enough milk for my baby. When I switched to formula they gave me formula help. So even if people who are low income decide to breast feed... you will still be giving them money!!!
I have been working with children for over 12 yrs now. I am an educator and have dealt with children from birth. Have I seen a difference between the kids that were breastfed over the kids that had formula? ABSOLUTELY not!! there development is no different, their illnesses are no different. you seem to think that you can go into a classroom and point out the kids that are formula fed over the kids that are breast fed. It doesn't work that way. The kids will develop and grow based on their surroundings and their abilities!!!
You put people in a room together and one gets sick, they will all get sick. The only way to stop sickness is to build up immunity. So unless mommy got the sickness, baby will still get sick! Being breast fed does not make you less prone to diseases!!!
As I said yes breast is better for your baby however, do not think just because a baby is on formula that the mother is just not caring!! give people the benefit of the doubt and next time you write an article like this maybe you should look at both sides not just one. There are many places out there that support breast feeding however a big negativity is growing for the people who formula feed. it is not right to judge!! It is the mothers option yes it should be more informed however you can jump off your breast feeding pedestal at any time!!

nething4bugnboo said...

Also would like to mention the controversy called "Nature vs Nurture" This is when a child learns from their environment... So if the parents raise them to believe and act certain ways that is what they will do. like parents who are racist and make rude cruel comments constantly and then the kids grow that way as well Or parents who are abusive then the kids are abusive. Crime rates have nothing to do with formula vs breastfed it has to do with the child's learning and growing environment.

So formula feeding mommy's just make sure you love your babies, give them many learning experiences and your baby will be as smart as or smarter then the breastfed babies. Next time look at both sides of the argument not just your opinion you might learn a lot more.

Rebecca said...

While the tone was a bit harsh the point I got from this, and most articles like it, is not 'bad mom' vs 'good mom,' is not stupid sick fat baby vs genius healthy strong baby, it is your child within its range of potential could be more or less of these things based on its food. There are definitely ways to compensate the difference wither way. A formula mother who encourages exercise and early reading could make up some of the linked detriments of formula, making the child's situation better, where as a drinking, smoking, couch potato bf mother could 'compensate' for the benefits of breastfeeding and make the child's situation work. If you have the ability and means to bf it should be preferable to formula. It is not directed at women who are unable, but those who are unwilling.

Ultimaiden said...

I think I love you- Thank you for this post! It's just that I hate having to tiptoe around formula-feeding Moms' feelings all the time. The really sad thing is that stating the facts makes them think that you are attacking them- when really what we should all be attacking is the system that is undermining women- doctors and formula companies. Instead of fighting each other we should be fighting the health-care industry. AND we should be promoting and expanding the availability of donated milk.

What is so stunning to me is how brain-washed these women are. They have just swallowed the Kool-aid and totally believe that formula is normal and safe and good, that formula companies have their best interests at heart. I understand what it is to be defensive about my parenting (try being an AP parent) but why is it that the women who had to breastfeed assume that all statements of "formula feeding is hazardous" are aimed at them? It is not possible that the 80-90% of women out there are not breast-feeding because of medical issues. The human species would not have survived if we were that bad at it.

So Bravo, and thank you, for saying what I have been thinking for years. It is truly awful how oppressed women are that they work so hard to perpetuate their own subjugation. Women are the ones with the ability to bear and nourish the future of the human race - it's about time that we were valued and supported for that instead of constantly being replaced.

Khyraen said...

Wow, how is it OK to tell people who smoke how it harms their kids, to tell people who eat McDonald's how bad for them it is, but when people CHOOSE to formula feed, pointing out the harmful effects on their children is an attack on them? Not everyone chooses to formula feed, but most do. And the facts are the facts. Since babies were made to breast feed, the lower IQ, higher risk of cancer, etc, is due to formula feeding. If it were any other thing, any other thing at all that made our children more likely to die, to be sick, to be obese, we would want to know so we could change-so we could avoid it. Moms, drop your guilt about the past--my babies have had some formula too--and educate yourself for the future. We don't live in a bubble. If you choose to formula feed, it not only affects that little person you are feeding, but it impacts us all. Just like other bad choices people make. And we should feel SOME responsibility to others. In the end, it is your choice, your right to choose, but don't also ask for a right to choose without being reminded and informed of uncomfortable facts.

dutchblonde said...

Love all the public health arguments. A more direct would be "because your sick kid in childcare will get mine sick"

woo said...

quite annoyed with all the formula mums being so defensive i breast feed and find it very difficult to feed my baby in public only recently i went to hospital and was unable to feed my baby because everyone just assumed i bottle feed. no one offered me some where private to feed. restaurants and other public places don't have anywhere to breast feed but view have smoking areas. so i guess what Im trying to say is that if less people fed with formula and more breast fed then there would be more places to feel comfortable feeding your own baby. i appreciate some people can't feed i know its very difficult. but still feel more people should try

Carley said...

Wow!! So many of these commments fall into the "defensive formula feeders" category!! Love the article. Its all true. And the author is not saying that ff babies are "sickly and abused" (as one commentor wrote) simply that these are the risks you take by formula feeding. To the NUMEROUS people who commented saying that they've never met someone who didn't want to BF. I HAVE!! And not just one person! Her reason: breatfeeding "just never occured to me"!!!!!! Complete and utter ignorance! I pity the child!
I had extreme problems bfing. I breastfed my son until he was 3 weeks old and due to numerous factors(massive bleeding cracks, extreme pain, numerous LC appts, ongoing/long term staph infection, long term a/b's, Raynaud's phenomenon, and more!) I began pumping and continued until he was 15 months old. He NEVER ONCE had formula. I am extremely proud of this and yet when I hear women say "I couldn't bf" or "I gave up because it was too hard" it makes me angry. It completely undermines my extremely hard slog to provide only the best for my child! It was the hardest thing I've ever done and will probably ever do. It makes it seem like I had a walk in the park, when what I had was far from that!

Alpha Parent said...

Carley you took the words right out of my mouth. You're going to love tonight's blog post where I discuss the laziness of some formula feeders.

Exclusive pumping for 15 months is an amazing achievement. You have every reason to be proud.

CAMEOQUEEN86 said...

I understand that breast feeding is the best way to go. I made one heck of a go at it. My baby never took to it and lost weight in the first 2 weeks of his life as a result. Even after that I pumped for a month to make sure I did all I could to give him the best. To even imply that bottle feeding makes me a bad parent is incredibly offensive. I love the idea of breast feeding, but lets face facts, it doesn't always work out. I wasn't bonding with my baby, I was bonding with a pump 5 times a day and having to take the time to feed him as well. That's fine, until it's time to go back to work and support my child's future. Suddenly time takes a toll. Not everyone chooses formula because of ease or selfishness. Some people choose it because it's the only way to feed their child. I was raised on formula and I'm fine. My child will be raised on formula and I'm sure he'll be perfectly healthy. At least that's what my pediatrician said while I agonized over giving up pumping. If it's good enough for me and my child and my doctor and I gave it shot, then who are you to try to make me feel like a terrible mother. I'm all for embrasing breast feeding, but this isn't the way to do it.

The Errant Cook said...

I'm always glad to be able to justify poking my nose in, and this post does just that. I know it's hard to convey with mere text, but I'm being serious. The "it's none of your business" defense in favor of formula feeding is an often used and striking one, and good on you for calling "bullshit."

The health and well-being of babies and of our planet is a responsibility we all share, and it's important for us as lactivists to get the information out there so that all moms can make informed feeding decisions, feel supported in their efforts to nurse, and have the way cleared for their breastfeeding success!

~Jen, proud milk factory for 5 month old Clara and big sister Eva, 5 years (nursed for 1)

ACE61502 said...

ALL babies lose weight in the early weeks. Sounds like another case of bad advice/information. It can take some BF babies up to a month to get back to that worthless value called birthweight. Birthweight is NOT a true measurement, because a lot of that weight (and what is lost over the first few weeks) is hormonal water retaining, same as mom. That's one of the reasons colostrum is thick and concentrated. They don't need the liquid, they need to lose some. Isn't it amazing how nature pieces it all together?

ACE61502 said...

You don't have to be able to pump at work to be able to work and have a nursing relationship with your baby. The boobs work on supply and demand. If all of the demand is during your off-work hours, all your production will be during those hours. You CAN formula feed at daycare and still nurse at home. I'm a single mom, and still nursing my 5 year old. Like you, I work 40+ a week.

ACE61502 said...

Sure am glad I was still breastfeeding my son when he was 2 1/2 and had a stomach bug that wouldn't allow him to keep ANYTHING down but my milk for a week. He'd have been hospitalized at best had it not been for my milk. Is that not an advantage to breastfeeding beyond a year?

What can't be measured is the emotional development benefits of nursing beyond a year. The limited evidence thus far suggests that children allowed to wean on their own timetable are more independent, better behaved, do better in school, etc. The brain continues developing until around age 5, and human milk is proven to support brain development far better than cow's milk, so how can it NOT continue to be beneficial? My milk at 5 years post partum is different than someone else's at 2 years. Why would it change if it wasn't still beneficial?

At 2 years it takes less milk to deliver the same amount of antibodies as it did at 6 months old. Nature apparently thinks they are pretty darn important still. Less need does not equal no need.

Bottom line is that the biological norm for duration of breastfeeding is 4-7 years. Obviously there is some benefit somewhere, or that would not be the case.

ACE61502 said...

I know plenty who refused to consider it breastfeeding. Lucky you for coming from an obviously much better society than I do. Heck, I even had bottle feeders telling me how stupid I was for nursing!

ACE61502 said...

No, she said formula increases the risk of all of those things. It increases the risk for those babies whose mothers truly can't breastfeed, but the alternative for them would be certain death by starvation.

All formula IS bad compared to breastmilk, but there are some valid reasons for using it. Informed choice is the goal here, and it's not informed if you don't know all the risks.

ACE61502 said...

+1, Like, whichever your preference. ;)

Pilgrim Bunny said...

I just happened to stumble across this website through another link...the topic of breastfeeding itself has no relevance to me, as I am not a parent and am not able to conceive; however, as a social worker and family therapist, I do feel it is my duty to comment on the attitude of 'Alpha Parent'. All I have to say is that I honestly feel for your children, AP. I worry for their safety and emotional security, as their mother clearly displays an abusive tendencies. As a human services professional, I sincerely hope that you consider counselling, before your tendencies escalate and potentially hurt your children. I have seen personalities like yours ruin their children too many times in my career. Good Luck.

Jo said...

Hmmm....I had to formula feed my son and I don't feel guilty/ashamed etc about it - nor do I believe I could have been better educated re the benefits of breastfeeding. The bottom line is, sometimes things happen that are outside our control and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Personally, I think this is the biggest load of codswallop and I really cannot believe that you could call this responsible blogging. Also, just in case you're unaware of it, most of the conditions mentioned in that list are actually more genetic in basis. I think that N.E. possibly can be attributed to formula feeding, but most doctors, if you are diagnosed with any of them, will more likely want to know if there is a family history of - not how you were fed as a baby!

Yes, before I had my son, I was extremely pro-breastfeeding and believed that that was the only way for any responsible mother to go. I didn't quite go to the extreme of telling other mothers (like one celebrity did) that if they weren't prepared to breastfeed, then they had no right having children, but I wasn't far off!

My situation taught me that everything isn't always black and white. You're wrong too, it IS none of your business how anyone feeds their child. If you want to address child abuse/neglect etc, I think there are other, more accurate areas to be looking at than this!

karen said...

Well Alpha parent. I'm sorry you feel my feeding my child is creating such terrible situations in other contries but forgive me for doing what is best for my child. I am fully aware that some formula companies act unethically in some countries. Next time I will let my hold starve to death instead so as not to offend you.

Your post disgusts me. You failed so badly in supporting a woman in her feeding choices. Remember we arent all lucky enough to be able to feed out children. Due to the negligence of my hospital, I was unable to.

Rachel said...

Wow, you make some big assumptions here and come across as extremely judgmental. I BF my first two babies exclusively, both of them past 18 months. I had the same views you expressed in this blog post and looked down on formula feeders everywhere. I had huge hurdles to jump with nursing my first baby, and because I was able to overcome them I thought all FF moms were lazy and didn't try hard enough. Then God gave me my third baby-a much fought for VBA2C, if anyone cares. He is darling, bright, good natured...and he cannot breastfeed. I have been pumping milk for 20 minutes 8-9 times a day around the clock since he was a week old, and I am pretty damn tired. I also hear that machine in my sleep, literally. I don't think I can do it one more day without losing my mind for good. I am in the process of weaning myself from the pump and switching to formula feeding because I can not keep spending my life, and my children's childhood, hooked up to a pump. My baby will be fine. Better off intact, because I'll be holding and playing with him instead of pumping all day long. I am not going to stop feeding him, for gosh sakes, but that's the reaction I'm getting. My pediatrician agrees it's the best option "Breastmilk is best, but formula is an acceptable substitute, and don't feel bad about this. You have done more than any other woman I know would have done," she said. After my experiences in childbirth and breastfeeding, I realize now that I can not judge other parents' decisions and it is NON OF MY BUSINESS (or yours) how they give birth or feed their children. I don't know their lives or their situations, and never again will I stand in judgement or feel self righteous when I see another mother bottle feeding her beloved baby. I think you should save this post and re-read it again in ten years to see how how far you have come. Off my soapbox now.

DawnMc said...

Yes ACE61502, all babies lose weight in the early days / weeks, but some lose so much that it becomes a medical issue; NO mother would ignore this.

CameoQueen, I went through the same thing, and when we make the decisions that we made, we are doing what we believe to be the best for our babies at the time. We're not doing it lightly, we're doing it BECAUSE we care. I'm with you 100%.

The guilt that I felt (& to some extent still do feel) about choosing to feed formula was very real. And it's articles like this that can escalate this guilt to PND.

And anyone who believes that formula is the 'Easy' option is seriously misguided. It's LOADS more hassle! It's much less convenient, it means carrying lots more stuff (heavy stuff) around with you, it's less instant.... Mum's don't choose formula for convenience - but we're lucky enough that science has provided us with formula milk for when it's needed.

Please don't judge everyone in the same way - not BFing does not make a woman a bad mother. Equally, BFing doesn't necessarily make a woman a good mother. There's much more to parenting that that!

Unknown said...

I love this post so much!

The only thing I disagree with is that I don't support a woman's right to chose formula feeding. What about the rights of innocent babies who deserve the best start on life? Formula feeders get upset because they know they put themselves ahead of their kids. No matter how you look at it, if you love your kid as much as you should, you will go through hell for them. Even if that means less sleep and some pain to potentially save their health and lives.

Here in the United States a study came out a few years ago saying that if 90% of US mothers would breastfeed for the first 6 months, that over 900 babies lives would be saved every year. That's very significant and heartbreaking that every year 900 mother's are directly responsible for their child's death. All because "formula is just as good" or "breastfeeding is too hard".

I breastfed both my children for over two years each, and my sister in law is always telling me all these ridiculous excuses why she couldn't breastfeed (even though I've never once critized her for formula feeding). But the funny thing is, her oldest was 11 days old when she went on vacation for two weeks to Las Vegas. Her second was 3 weeks old when she went on vacation to Vegas again. Guess how old her 3rd was when she went on vacation to Vegas? 5 days old and she was gone for 8 days that time. She will never admit her gambling addiction is the reason for formula feeding. It's kind of hard to breastfeed when you go on vacation away from your newborn. This is a woman who leaves her very sick kids with the grandparents so her and her husband didn't have to cancel their Super Bowl party. but she will swear up and down she didn't produce enough milk to breastfeed.

Unknown said...

Don't kid yourself. Formula is not acceptable. If your child isnt worth it to you, then you shouldn't have reproduced. And I exclusively pumped for my oldest for 2 years and 4 months since she was born a premie and would never latch. I was attached to the pump for 2-3 hours every day, but I worked it around the time she slept. Her health was more important than a few hours of my sleep. Good parenting requires sacrifice.

Unknown said...

I think the fact that you were searching information about breastfeeding and came across this blog shows that you are feeling guilty for formula feeding.

Unknown said...

Seriously? Counseling for writing about the proven benefits of breastfeeding? That means she's going to "ruin her children"? How about worrying about the children of mother's who are too selfish to do what's best for them. Any mother who would chose herself over her child is the one who needs counseling.

Alpha Parent said...

I assumed Pilgrim Bunny was a troll or ignorant, probably both, so I didn't rise to the childish counselling comment.

Troll or not, s/he's clearly anti-freedom of speech and then goes and posts on a blog. Go figure.

Alpha Parent said...

I agree with you an almost every view. However I'm still pro- mothers' right to choose, even if I don't necessarily agree with the particular choice she makes. The reason is that *forcing* a woman to do something with her body that she is uncomfortable or unwilling to do goes against every feminist bone in my body.

Milk banks however...

Steph said...

I am absolutely stunned right now. I seriously cannot believe that you wrote this well-researched, informative post that's full of FACTS, and still have all the formula-feeders barging in with all their ignorant remarks. I get so tired of reading a really good breastfeeding post and then getting to the comments section and reading, "Well, I couldn't breastfeed because of this" or "I formula-fed my baby and he's still alive at age 4!" Yeah, so? My grandmother has smoked 2 packs a day for 68 years and is still alive at age 86! Let's celebrate the benefits of smoking! Clearly it's just as good for you as not smoking! Look at all the non-smokers who have died younger!
And to anyone who says, "How I feed MY baby is none of your business", I'll say this: You do not OWN that little person. He was given to you on loan, to take care of and grow into the best possible person he can be. After that, he belongs to the rest of the world, and maybe the rest of the world would prefer to benefit from him, rather than pay for whatever mental or physical capacities he lacks due to your selfish choices. Each of us as an individual is part of a much larger system, so yes, our choices do affect others.
Oh, here it comes: "I COULDN'T breastfeed. So you're saying I'm a terrible mother?" Uh, no. Not talking to you. I'm talking to those who CHOOSE to feed their baby suboptimal nutrition in the form of fillers, preservatives, and lab-created "nutrients". And yes, I know many, many mothers who make that choice. In fact, most mothers I know have made that choice (sad but true). And most of them did it because they want to continue smoking, they want to leave their babies with someone else on the weekends so they can go camping, they don't want to be required to be near their babies. That is horribly sad.
If you are unwilling to make the sacrifices required to be a parent, please don't reproduce. The rest of the world doesn't want to pay for your selfishness.

nemlin said...

Nothing of any value to say here but just think its sad that some of the comments you've received are um... how to put this the right way... nasty. Suppose the truth hurts though, doesn't it? What I find the saddest is that it's seemingly OK for them to attack you and then state you're not doing any good for BF - personally I thought it was well written, factual and not sugar coated. Just wish it was printed on every bottle of formula!

SemynonA said...

Jaimie, i totally agree with you.

I'm one of the "unable to breastfeed 100%", one of the 2%, i had to give formula to my baby, even if i was breastfeeding, and pumping to stimulate, and using a LactAid..

On the recommandation of my Doctor (specialist in Breastfeeding) i chose a special formula deliver only in drug store and cost much more than the other formula.

First of all i've had to endure the pain of non be able to feed myself my baby, then i've had to pay a lot to procure her a food which was less quality than my milk, and on top of that i had to listen to other mother complaining about their own breastfeeding unabilities (most of them were completely unexistant) as we were the same, enduring the same...

When i was reading the comments here, i noticed that because i'm one of the 2% i should be angry, i should feel guilty... reading this article.

Absolutely not! I agree with The Alpha Parent on so many point! Thruth has to be told.

Ps : sorry, i'm french, my english isn't perfect.

mandi said...

You're comment is one of the RUDEST, aside from the article itself. So, because I formula fed my child, that makes me insecure? Because I formula fed my child, I have delicate little feelings?

And most offensive to me was the comment that the majority of formula fed moms you know aren't very good moms. That is a big pile of lies. Have you thought that perhaps they aren't good moms simply because YOU are on a high horse and look down on every decision they make?

If I were to stereotype breastfeeding activists, you would fit the bill...rude, condescending, and downright hurtful. No, I'm NOT insecure...but it sure as heck doesn't feel good when someone attacks a decision I HAD to make.

mandi said...

I stumbled across this "responsible" post tonight, and have to say that I am downright disgusted. My husband and I tried for years to have our son. And when I finally was pregnant, I had a head full of ideals and plans of what I was going to do to be a "superior parent". I read the facts. I held every pro-breastfeeding piece of information near and dear to my heart and was ready to spout it off whenever I needed to.

And then, my son was born. And we tried. Extremely hard. Just to get him to latch. Just to get him to even get a drop of colostrum from me. But guess what? NOTHING. Nothing but bleeding, tears, and a bad case of jaundice from lack of nutrition. Now, tell ME that I made a misinformed decision. Tell ME that my sweet son is subject to all these "chances" that you cited.

But I'm going to tell you THIS: My sweet son spent hours in my arms as I fed him...reading books, singing songs, and talking. And he wasn't getting nourishment from my breast, but he was thriving from what he was getting. Not only that, but on the rare occasion, he got to be fed by my husband and his grandparents, and that is something that THEY hold dear. We didn't choose to formula feed for convenience. We didn't choose to formula feed because we wanted to go on a fancy vacation as one commenter suggested (in fact, he hasn't been away from us for more than 2 hours). And we surely didn't choose to formula feed to "support" all these reasons that you listed off as "formula" sins. Yes, I get it, your article was intended to "inform". But it didn't. It HURT. Because it made me remember again the fact that extreme lactivists can't simply embrace that a very significant amount of mothers do have the child's best interests at heart...opposed to what you and so many of your fellow lactivists talked about here.

My son is extremely intelligent for his age. He surpasses the vast majority of "goals" they set for each point of life. He is funny, loving, brilliant, fit, and loved by myself and my husband...that had NOTHING to do with breastfeeding.

So, I hate to say this, but how I fed my child truly is NONE of your business. I don't care how you feed your child (if you even have one). I get there are injustices in the world. I get that there are sufferings and some of it is caused by big name companies. But here's what you clearly don't get: while I care greatly about humankind and the world around me, I care even more about the sweet son I have been blessed with. It is my duty, my job, and my one focus in life to do what I can to make him happy, smart, successful, caring, and responsible, and how I feed him was a miniscule part of that. It will be what I teach him as he grows...and I won't teach him to hate other people and insult the decisions they make, unlike what some of the people on this thread have done to those who don't breastfeed.

My child will flourish simply because I LOVE him and hold him dear as the true blessing that he is. My love wasn't contained to my breast...and it wasn't contained to a bottle. It is BIGGER than that. I wish you could understand that concept...because while it is wonderful to try and inform, this, along with the handful of posts of yours that popped up on the bottom as suggested reads, don't come across as informative, but as hurtful, rude, condescending, and inconsiderate. It's not because I am a defensive "formula feeding" comes across that way BECAUSE I HAVE FEELINGS AND I AM A HUMAN BEING. Does that make any sense to you?

Now I'm done...I respect your bravery in voicing your opinion, but I can't respect how you went about it.

mandi said...

However, because this slipped my mind while I was writing my response, just to throw a wrench in the son wasn't sick ONCE in his first year of life. Not once. In his second year of life, he got a minor cold twice, with the exception of a tummy bug he got from a breastfed baby. Now he is in his third year of life (halfway), and hasn't been sick yet, fingers crossed. So, I guess that just goes to show that SOMETIMES, statistics aren't all they are cracked up to be...genetics and parental care play a huge role in all that. Breastfed babies aren't completely immune to illness, nor are formula fed babies. That statistic holds no weight in my household.

Steph said...

Just because your son has been well doesn't discount decades of research. If a person said that their breastfed baby was getting ear infections, would we say, "Well, by golly, it turns out that breastmilk is terrible for babies!"? No. Anecdotal evidence means nothing. For you to say that statistics aren't all they're cracked up to be is ignorant. Statistics reflect the majority. I'm glad your son is healthy. Imagine how healthy he could have been on breastmilk.

Steph said...

The reasons you stated for not breastfeeding are the same challenges that almost everyone faces. Latching can be difficult, but we keep trying until we get it right, or we use a nipple shield, or we pump. Jaundice is extremely common in newborns, regardless of feeding method. And you probably were producing colostrum, but it comes in very small amounts, which is all a newborn needs for the first few days. You can't see or feel it coming out, so many moms just assume they're not producing anything and give up before even leaving the hospital. It's understandable for a first-time mom to panic if she thinks she's not producing milk, but a well-informed woman knows that it can take several days for her milk to come in. That's nature's way, and baby is still well-nourished from the womb.
Furthermore, the author's comments are directed at people who *choose* to formula-feed. So if you're in that very, very small percentage of women who don't produce milk, then she wasn't talking to you, and you have no reason to be offended. If you're so sure that you tried everything and were in that 2% who are physically unable to breastfeed, then things like this shouldn't even faze you. The information needs to be out there. For all the reasons the author stated, it is everyone's business that most women don't breastfeed. We can't just stop encouraging breastfeeding because someone's feelings might get hurt. The formula companies don't stop advertising just because their ads hurt my feelings, and it would be unreasonable for me to expect them to.

rollforpainting said...

One more good indicator that formula companies do not have best interests of children at their hearts is this: formula is made of cow's milk. Why? Is it because it is closest to human milk and only needs minor additions and adaptations?
Nope. Because there's a lot of it produced and it's very very cheap.
If formula companies cared about real closeness to breastmilk they would have done research on which mammals produce milk closest to human milk..But wait. That'll cost a lot of money. And costs of formula would go through the roof and less people would buy it...Oops.

(if I'm wrong and this research is going on, please let me know, I'd love to read about it...)

dreacakes said...

Thank you for having the guts to say all this! I am so sick and tired of seeing defensive formula feeding moms shut-down discussions about the benefits of breastfeeding. It's not just a "choice," like what you choose to wear in the morning, this has real consequences for their babies, and our world.

jennyt said...

This post isn't about mothers who CAN'T breastfeed out of a biological inability (which many more claim than is accurate); this is about women who choose it above breastfeeding when it is viable.

jennyt said...

I don't understand this need to be defensive when these women likely know that they could have done better. Fine, you were scared that your baby wasn't getting enough, but likely, if you had reached out for support (repeatedly, to different avenues), you would have succeeded. Very few women who claim that they had biological hindrances had ones that could not have been overcome.
Own your decision, don't expect others to pretend like it was the right one.

And, when your child DOES develop a health issue later in life, own that too.

Kimberly Abalos said...

Wow!!! Love it.

Colleen said...

I am wholeheartedly for breastfeeding. For me, it did not work. I guess that puts me into the “Defensive formula feeding mom” category that so many people have referred to. And I agree. I am defensive. I am defensive because of articles like this that blatantly misinterpret scientific studies (I am a statistician and will only go so far as to say correlation is NOT causation). I am defensive because of articles like this that underhandedly attack me by telling me that what I am doing is wrong, bad for my baby, will make my baby stupid, etc. I am defensive because of articles like this that, instead of realizing that there are those of us who tried (and I mean TRIED) to breastfeed and for very valid reasons could not, assumes that anyone who does NOT breastfeed is not fully informed and making a bad choice.

I plan to breastfeed my next child. But I will not apologize or be made to feel bad if I need to formula feed. And I WILL be defensive about it because I am not going to sit back and be attacked for making an informed decision that was best for myself and my baby.

02fcabca-c6d6-11e1-9dde-000bcdcb471e said...

My children were born in a developing country. Children 6 & 7 to a woman who had been able to breastfeed her first five children. Didn't work with the twins, though. Her family makes less than $100 a year. An 8-oz can of formula in the nearest town (a 45-min car ride away, but they don't have a car, so figure a six-hour walk, one way) cost $30. No one else in the village has enough milk to wet nurse twins. As she watches her babies get down to fewer than three pounds each at two months of age, she is faced with a decision few can fathom: watch her babies die or place them for international adoption. She tries making a formula out of false banana roots, but the babies lose more weight. They are dying. So she has her husband sign away their rights to the babies.

And halfway across the world, a couple bittersweetly celebrate becoming parents of twins. Parents who are privileged enough to be able to afford adoption, formula, or, as in my case, the ability to take the time and effort to induce lactation successfully. For the want of a few cases of formula -- AFFORDABLE formula -- two children are separated from their parents, their brothers, their sisters, a village where everyone looks like them. For the rest of their lives, they will need two interpreters to spend any time at all with their family. They lose their language, their culture, their country. But they have an adoptive mother who breastfed them exclusively until past two, so awesome, right?

Every day, I wish they had been formula-fed babies, safe in the arms of a woman who longs for them every minute. Running around with their siblings. Formula does not run like water in these countries as some people would believe. For all but the privileged (at least in the African countries in which I've spent time), formula is so expensive that it can't even be considered a viable option.

reilly810 said...

Your post is spot on, anunschoolingadventure.

For years I've been listening to my MIL wonder out loud why both her sons have food allergies (peanut and shellfish) the entire atopic dermatitis trinity (hay fever, asthma, eczema) pet allergies, severe proclivities to lung infections, myriad other allergies and are both on multiple medications despite being otherwise healthy young men and having absolutely no family history of any of those conditions.

I never asked her if she breastfed her sons. I figured a. it was really none of my business and b. I kinda assumed she did. She was always a stay at home mom who wanted to have lots of children and my FIL made plenty of money to allow her to be a full time mommy. And before she became a mom she was an RN, so I also assumed she knew the health benefits of bfing and risks of ffing.

I knew I wanted to bf my daughter and surmounted a few obstacles to make that happen (tongue tie, a tiny mouth, latching problems and a scary loss of weight the first few days) but none of that would have made me stop. My inlaws descended upon us our first week home and were dumbfounded by the breastfeeding routine. It turns out my MIL didn't nurse either of her sons. She unloaded a laundry list of excuses as to why (even though I never once asked her what happened) ranging from a c section, fever, mandatory 3 day separation from her baby (but not the second one because she "knew better" that time [wha?]) not preparing her older son and he needed too much attention so nursing her second son was impossible, the list goes on and on. It was appaling when she finally de facto admitted the real reason when she told me that her mother said nursing was a pain in the ass so why would she want to do it? She went on to tell me that my husband was put on multiple formulas his first month of life due to excessive crying (again, wha?) and my bil only was put on two before he settled on soy. I can only imagine what kind of havoc was wreaked on their digestive and immune systems by all those switches.

This blog post is not meant to attack women who gave their damndest to try to nurse and couldn't so they had to feed their children another way. They have nothing to be ashamed of and should feel not guilty but angry if they didn't get the support they deserved or are attacked because of circumstances that were beyond their control. All nursing mothers know that nursing is hard even under ideal conditions. If you have physical problems, emotional issues and add in a pretty unsupportive society where moms have to return to work the millisecond after they give birth so they can feed the rest of their family and it can be soul crushing.

It's aimed at those who never tried at all because they couldn't be bothered. Because this society supports people acting like perpetual adolescents and if something is hard to do then why not just find the quick fix? And there are a lot of women like that out there, and their choices are justified by not calling out formula for what it is, a very inferior substitute for mothers milk.

Like you said, maybe my husband would have the same issues if he was breastfed, I don't know. But when I have to watch him struggle to breathe each time he gets a simple cold or if he runs out of his medication for a single day, I have to wonder what my MIL had to do that was so much more important that learning to breastfeed her child. This woman who wanted only to be a mother. I wonder this as I'm kept awake for hours with his epic snoring due to chronic congestion. So yeah, another mother's feeding decision is my business because it directly impacts me, and my daughter too.

Holly said...

Breastfed three out of four of my children for 15 months. My one little boy was a poop and disdained the breast. As I sat sobbing in the pediatrician's office, the doctor said the following "When I was an infant, my mother fed me condensed milk. And I became a doctor." Then he shrugged. "Maybe it's why I'm a pediatrician and not a brain surgeoun." Ha!

You have ignored the causation vs. correlation argument, which is valid. Shoddy parents who are given food stamps to buy formula aren't going to make the choice to breastfeed when formula is free. Why not blame government assistance programs? The culture of certain demographics? That wouldn't be as politically correct, I suppose. To even suggest that formula feeding leads to abuse is pretty egregious. You seem like an intelligent person. You should know better.

Frankly, I'm thankful I had formula when my son refused the breast. Yes, I could've sacrificed hours upon hours pumping, but I didn't have the time, the energy, or the emotional sustenance to do so. These things happen.

Positive things about formula? Parents and foster parents can provide infants with nourishing food. Moms who are sick or whose babies refuse to breastfeed can provide their kids with nourishing food. Single and working moms who can't be home can provide their kids with nourishing food.

Your list of the horrors of formula seems so impressive, until you consider that just putting your kid in the car is statistically far more dangerous than sticking a bottle in his or her mouth. This article is a polemic: pure scare-mongering.

Steph said...

Putting your child in a car is pretty much unavoidable. Formula-feeding is not. It's a bad choice that you're making for someone who can't vocalize that he doesn't want preservatives, fillers and lab-made "nutrients" put into his sensitive gut. And most parents are making that choice for selfish reasons. It makes me wonder why people are having children if they still only care about themselves.

the_bill said...

this blog post is BULL SHIT!! can i just say in no way is my son at a higher risk of all them illnesses you highlighted than any other child no matter how they were / are fed. the way i fed / feed my son and any other children i may have in the futre is no one elses business but my own. i think you are the one who needs more education on how to feed children safely. as long as both mother and baby are happy who cares how they are fed. get off your high breast feeding is best horse and open your eyes to reality!!

Building Rome said...

You say that you support womens' rights to feed their children however they want, and yet you post a countless number of things aimed towards making women feel bad for giving their child a bottle. I definitely plan to breastfeed, but that does not mean that I think my child or I are better than anyone else. That is exactly what your posts imply- that breastfeeding mothers are better, and those who don't simply aren't fit to parent. The simple fact is- it isn't your business how people feed their children. If it isn't your child, it isn't your business. And, just so you know, there is no study that could ever be published that would make me believe that my children- who will be breastfed- are any smarter or healthier than my nephew who was not. I honestly thing that you need to get off your high horse and concentrate on your own life, as opposed to making others feel guilty for living theirs.

Trisha said...

That is the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard. You must not be looking hard. Most of the people I know who formula-feed (which is almost everyone in my very extensive family) chose to formula-feed. Most did not even consider breastfeeding. Not to diminish the guilt many women feel for not being ABLE to breastfeed, but really, why would they feel guilty for something that was out of their control. Nowhere in this post did I see the author rail on women who medically could not breastfeed. So why are all you women taking offense? This post wasn't about you or your situation. So stop being so overly offended.
Was the author a little dramatic in some of her claims? Slightly, but it helps get her point across. Take her article with a grain of salt. As you should do with most blogs that are, after all, on the internet.
I got a lot out of her post, however, especially that I think the governments are not doing enough to educate women on the hazards of breast milk, which would be very beneficial to the women who just automatically assume they will bottle-feed because their mother and grandmother did. They have a right to that information for their baby's sake.
I think it is very wrong to trivialize what is going on ethically with no over site of formula companies and what these african women are enduring now that they believed these companies when they said formula was better for their kids. Now it's too late for a lot of these women to change their minds, and their kids aren't as lucky as ours with our clean water that just comes out of the tap. While you guys are being overly offensive saying breastfeeders are all judgmental and think they are better than you, step back and think about what those african women are thinking of you and your "fountains of clean liquid water that your babies can lap up like obedient puppies"...

andrew burch said...

I'm coming to an understanding about this particular commenter--any, really, that is truly and completely offended by this post. Reacting in such an explosive manner is a defense mechanism, obviously. You clearly feel tremendously guilty about the way you treated your offspring during your breastfeeding struggles, and perhaps resent having to utilize formula as an alternative to breast milk. The point here is, you chose this method more out of convenience than you think. As another poster suggested, there are milk banks with a good bit of supply to donate to mothers just like you, therapists who could have helped you manage your depression [even at little to no cost, depending on your financial situation--not that you wouldn't have the necessary resource available had you not chosen to purchase formula], or perhaps even attempted more than halfheartedly to contact someone who is a breastfeeding advocate [La Leche League, for example]. The point here is that she's not bashing anyone's personal legal right to choose how to feed their child, given whatever circumstances, but is instead informing the masses who read her blog of the many implications of formula feeding of which they are most likely not even aware. I know I never thought of half of these [incredibly disturbing] points.
It's difficult *not* to feel guilt about fueling companies which are clearly morally bankrupt because of convenience, so you're attaching a significant amount of blame elsewhere [when, honestly, it should be placed almost solely upon your shoulders] and making a multitude of "poor, pitiful me" excuses as to why you couldn't access the proper information and assistance you so completely required to continue breastfeeding. I can absolutely guarantee that if formula were not an available "resource" you wouldn't be spouting postpartum depression or resentment of your child [which, by the way, breastfeeding didn't innately cause--again, it was a problem within your psyche, not a physiological one] as a reason for not doing what is absolutely and unequivocally best for your child.

KnikkaP said...

This post was AMAZING... so much truth! its too bad people can't get past their own guilt to see how REAL this is. Nothing even comes close to how amazing breastmilk is. NOTHING. if you think it is, you're kidding yourself and need to do some research.

AmandaDJandFletcher said...

Your post states a lot valid and needed information (not that I agree with every point). I wish it were presented in a more supportive way. I personally feel in order to effectively reach and inform expectant mothers and their loved ones on the overwhelming upside of breastfeeding and breast milk in general advice needs to come from a compassionate place and not a damning one. I, unfortunately had to turn to formula for my son's nourishment after 2 weeks of latching difficulty, even with the help of multiple lactation consultants. As a first time mother I had naive yet passionate views on breast feeding and was not prepared for the difficulty I ended up having. I know now that when the nurses fed my son a bottle right after delivery that that was wrong. I also know now that the soother he was given right after delivery was wrong and I should have stopped it. After we came home I spent countless hours struggling with a hand pump because I couldn't afford an electric set up. I also, like so many mothers was struck with horrible postpartum depression that I was to ashamed to get immediate help for. I feel I made so many mistakes now and am guilty for not overcoming my bad luck to try harder to provide my son with a better start. I got help for myself and dove into breastfeeding information so I can help others and have a better chance with my next child. I don't want others to move on like I did, thinking that it was the end of the road and that there was nothing more that they could do. I appreciate your dedication to informing the masses on their options and I found your breastfeeding timeline very informative and am passing it on to a family member that is expecting. I think that informing people on the evils of formula is just a part of the solution and that support for those that want to give up should be the focus. I just wish that your knowledge was presented with a more effective tone so as to elicit enlightenment in place of hurt and defensiveness as this just works against your cause. Just my opinion, meant to be constructive criticism as I feel you have a lot to offer :)

imogen said...

Wow, i'm amazed that you had this response! I just read the same article and was blown away by how well researched and interesting it was. It's great that someone is putting this info out there, I'm sure you'll be able to use some of the info with other new mums. If we have the info, it's then up to us how we use it. Hope it goes well.

Petunia and the Frugal Crunch said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I am very pro-breastfeeding and its so sad to see mothers just giving their babies formula and not realizing what they are missing out on. I am still breastfeeding my son at age 16 months and will continue to do so until he self weans.

Lula said...

you have pretty much answered yourself - people *choose* McD and smoking, with formula the "choice" is not always there.

nom said...

yes BUT how do you think it makes mothers who tried as hard as they can to give their child every last drop of bm but were unable to continue?
what about the food parents give their child, contributing to obesity? what about smoking when pregnant or while your child is young. there are so many other things that contribute to a childs health and then to the nations healthcare system than formula. the links you have made to crime and abuse are full of hyperbole, generalisations, your opinion and a lack of understanding of what is a LINK and CAUSAL EFFECT.
i find it insulting that you would infer that i love and care for my child less because i feed him formula.

Jo said...

Well, unknown, given you are completely wrong as to how I came across this blog (I didn't have to search for anything)keep your thoughts to yourself :)

reyselle jane gaviola said...

i'm still breastfeeding my son who is almost 13 months now. despite my mom's unsolicited advice to give him formula because he appears thin, i did not listen. i will stick with breast milk until he weans on his own. great post AP. and i agree with your point that infants have the right to their mother's breast milk. as a mother/parent, i can't always give my son everything e.g new clothes (he's getting hand me downs)or fascinating toys, but i insist that my son will only have milk from my breasts to give him the best and perfect sustenance. it is just so sad that we see a lot of defensive formula feeders who are in denial. oh well, we can't please everybody and the truth does hurt. it just means that their feeding choices are uninformed because if they were, they will be totally at peace with their decisions and with themselves. No need to go on a defensive rant here. anyway, keep it up AP, for the mothers of the third world countries who are the most affected by the unscrupulous marketing strategies of formula milk makers.

Michelle said...

Hmmm, so if you're not a smoker, it's ok to formula feed because you're not doing both?

CaperGrrl said...

OK, whoa, whoa, whoa, Unknown. I know this was posted about six or seven months ago but...

I was about to post a reply after I read all the comments with my feelings reiterating that (at least I believe) this article was aimed at women who formula feed by (often uninformed or ignorant) choice; that the formula companies and hospitals/medical professionals being road blocks are the real issues, not to mention society at large and how it's completely sexualized breasts. Oh, and maternity leave, that's one of the absolute worst of them. This is from my perspective, a woman who has researched the hell out of everything to do with natural birth, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, etc. so that when (if, assuming there are no complications as I'm almost 34) I have babies, I'll have some idea of what I'm doing. I refuse to get on a high horse because I know, frankly, sh*t happens. Would I still feel guilty if I get railroaded by all these things? Yes. And then angry. So do empathize on some level with the defensiveness.

Anyway, this one paragraph above here stopped me cold. Unknown, Rachel is not selfish. Everyone has their limits. Just because you never got to that point of frustration, doesn't mean no one else does. Note, she said she has two other children. Your oldest was your only so you were able to devote more time to pumping exclusively.

I find it sad that neither of these babies ever ended up latching on directly, but because of backlash like this (from both sides!), I won't speculate and risk getting hit with it. Not that it isn't my business, but that some people get frustrated and have had enough to deal with, without someone on them about their choices. My Mom is on me constantly about all my choices... and will be when I become a mother. Neither I nor my brother were nursed.

Rachel has sacrificed. Her sanity would have been next, had she continued. Formula is *a* substitute, donor milk is very cost prohibitive. Formula is also expensive, to be sure. I don't know how old Rachel's third child was at the time she wrote that, but regardless, even if he was only a few months old, I would hope that she would have tried to somehow get him to latch directly, but if not, fair enough. I would have said it in much the same way, NOT how you chose to word it, Unknown.

Ignorance/misinformation means not even trying because of appearance, letting vanity and society dictate what is beautiful. Society also tells us to make our kids sit down and shut up... to be in playpens and strollers and car seats when not in a car... ignore their cries... eat junk food of all manner.

I don't blame mothers, mine included. For years, decades, we were fed information, thought it was what to do best, but feeling that pain of our hearts breaking for our crying babies out of our instincts.

I blame society. I blame the ones who put profits before quality & safety. I blame a work, money and profit-obsessed society that makes many of us who don't want to be caught up in that to have no other choice, and do more than we can sanely stand, to feed their greed before nurturing and feeding our children and families. Then it tells us to spend and consume.

Goldenexplosion said...

I'd like to see what Pilgrim Bunny would have to say about this mothers attitude if she thinks AP mother has abusive tendencies for stating plain facts.
People need to start accepting responsibility for their decisions and take the time they spend being defensive and put it towards growing and expanding their knowledge. There are worse things than changing your mind!

Some quotes came to mind when reading some of these defensive responses;

Some people will not tolerate such emotional honesty in communication. They would rather defend their dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others. Therefore, having rationalized their phoniness into nobility, they settle for superficial relationships.

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Don't be afraid to fail. Don't waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It's OK to fail. If you're not failing, you're not growing.

As bluntly as this article was written it has its truths and points and I'm sorry but we are at a time in the world that people need to be told bluntly that its not ok to make an inferior choice just because its "their choice" especially when it comes to a human life. It's a gift not a right.

Again as many people have said this applies directly to the people that have made the wrong choice even before giving the right choice a try or a real effort. You know who you are, obliviously,.....

So as a last word; Buck up, get off your lazy, selfish asses, and take full ownership and responsibility of this amazing gift you've been given: MOTHERHOOD. This is the hardest most exhausting, gruelling, heart wrenching, mentally draining job you'll ever have. Think about that before you embark on the most important journey of your life and decide if its right for you, because it is not for everyone and with so many deserving people in the world that can't avail of this privilege,. Please don't take it and the decisions that go with it so lightly.

littleduckies said...

Thank you! I am linking to this article. This is an amazing, well-written, well-sourced article, and I commend you for writing it!

Samantha♥Fukuhina said...

It's good to finally figure out that you're fucking insane so I can stop coming here hoping to read anything on this blog that doesn't sound like a mental patient penned it during a psychotic episode.

eleanor cullen said...

While I found your post both interesting and informative in parts, I'm afraid the tone and attitude you manage to convey throughout the piece is exactly what stopped me from reaching out for help feeding my now 12 week old son sooner. He has just been diagnosed with posterior tongue tie, and thankfully i have been able to persevere with pumping to feed him, but have been unable to do so exclusively. The thought of running into someone as judgemental and dogmatic as you at a la leche meeting or similar just made me want to cry into my breastpump, and so i avoided them. I fear that raging fundamentalists like you really do more harm than good.

Unknown said...

i felt similarz. I was depressed, sleep deprived and mad at the entire world and I hated having my child attached to me all the time. I still did it, for two years no combination feeding and I'm proud of myself. I feel that I accomplished a lot! I didn't give up for my son. i feel like a real MOTHER, who will do everything to keep her child healthy and happy. I knew that my misery will be over in a year or two so it was nothing. I could endure that. My second one is much easier, she is not attached all the time and she sleeps better. at 9 months she wakes up twice, but that does not bother me that much. I'm much happier, but if she was as bad as my son I would still do it again..

Gabrielle Hymes said...

I love this post for so many reasons! I'm an american living in the UK, but I imagine most of your readers are in the US where we sugar coat everything and everyone is a winner. I was more fortunate than most, having a mother who reminded me that I wouldn't dream of eating processed foods myself and that it would be a disservice to my children to feed it to them out of convenience. Sure, it made me feel guilty, but it worked! I'm so glad I didn't give up nursing my children, through colic and post-partum depression. Moms- you can do it!
Thank you for posting the facts and encouraging mothers to be proactive in their health and the health of their children!

Λουίζα Θεοφάνους said...

I was BF for just 3 weeks, I am now 36. I have a moderate and complex hearing loss that has affected every aspect of my life, since I was around 3 years old, after repeated otitis. I had jaw problems and many teeth went off. I have allergies and a general proneness to getting sick often with a poor immune system, even though I try to take care of myself as best as I can (nutrition etc).
I would be happy if someone was judgmental instead of supportive of my mother who thinks she did the best she could for me. Formula feeding, sweets and fried food later and some physical and emotional abuse. But nobody said anything to her because "it was not their business"...
I breastfed my son for 2 years and still breastfeeding my baby now, for the longest it gets. They are healthy and I want the same for all the children of the world. So yes, it is our business to protect children their parents don't know or don't care how to, from narcissistic parents who think of their children as their possessions and cause so much physical and emotional harm to them!

Brianna Blackburn said...

Alpha parenting,

I am a young mother of 1, still breastfeeding my almost 2 year old. I am saddened by the lot of defensive comments made by formula feeding mothers. I have had many struggles during my breast feeding , including having to re lactate, pump, take herbs, etc. We are now finally getting back on track.

It is absolutely uncanny how incredibly defensive these formula feeding mothers react to this post! For Christ's sake this is an INFORMATIONAL post!!!!! I don't personally give a rat's BEHIND if you mothers are formula feeding or breastfeeding! This is just information! Chill out! I don't personally have any control wether you formula feed or breast feed your child!

I do however prefer species appropriate milk...If a world disaster occurred could you whip up a batch of formula? Have you ever read the ingredients in formula? Better of not to , right? That's okay. Not my child. I went through hell and back to be able to breast feed ...To be quite honest my child was given formula in the hospital by nurses, behind my back, when I specifically told them not to!

Breastfeeding is natural. Think about that. I don't see this article as militant, just simply providing information No need to get upset or defensive unless you have some inner feelings you are disguising, which obviously most of you who commented defending formula feeding , DO!!!!

I can say no more.

jenmunson said...

I agree! Brava! I am single young mom and breastfeeding a now 16 month old! So many women give up and say their kids lost weight. Of course they did! They were tube fed in the womb and breastfeeding is something EVERYONE has to learn. I am pretty sure thousands of years ago women weren't chasing cows to put their infants on their utters! And they didn't have the excuses we have today because that was the only choice. I truly believe I wouldn't have been as good of a mom as I am if I wasn't breastfeeding. Living alone and doing everything on my own gets so frustrating at times I could just tear down my whole house! But when I get overwhelmed and I start nursing I immediately calm down, sometimes I wonder how i would respond in the same situation if I wasn't breastfeeding. Woman need to learn the truth. Even if it hurts.

MKivig said...

So, to you, knowledge is not power. We should all just stick our heads in the sand and allow others to make our decisions for us?
This was a wonderfully written, well-researched article. I believe that it's important for articles like this to be written so women have information backed by facts instead propaganda. This writer is trying to inform the reader and is up against a multi-billion dollar industry that is exploiting our children just so they can make more money.
There is only something like 1% of woman who are truly physically unable to breastfeed. This is caused by actual problems such as illness, birth defects, etc. yet a very large percent choose formula and this is all too often due to women not bring educated on the subject of what it truly means to give your baby formula. Often,a lot of this misinformation is brought on by doctors because the formula companies, much like the regular drug companies, have doctors in their back pockets, so these doctors push formula onto women with the notion that their milk isn't good enough. If more women, nay people, were better informed, if there were more articles like this one, then maybe more women would be able to make the decision instead of having the decision of whether to breastfeed or give formula for themselves.
Ignorance is NOT bliss.

MKivig said...

Erika Marie, what you talked about is exactly what this article is about, I'm do glad at least you could see that. Its not about women who can not breastfeedabout women, and society in general, who ate so misinformed so that breastfeeding is what seems unnatural as opposed to formula. It's one thing to not be able to breastfeed, bit entirely another to not do it because of being given false information or from growing up in a society where breastfeeding is looked down upon for being"dirty", or sexual or any of the other negative thoughts on breastfeeding
I'm sorry you have had such a hard time, but I applaud you for hanging in there!

Shell said...

What a bunch of sanctimonious bullshit. Here is a shocker, my child was formula fed, is a well-adjusted 2.5 year old who has excelled in her development screenings, and been sick with minor colds twice in her life. And you know why? Because I stopped trying to force myself to breastfeed her once I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression (those crazy hormones and the fact that I lost my first pregnancy at 4.5 months, miscarried again at 5 weeks and lost my father all within a year). Silly me, I figured, trying to adjust to being a new mother, going on medication and receiving therapy, and not forcing myself into a situation that was was only increasing my mental instability would help my child more than whether or not I could breastfeed her properly. She was fed. She was happy. And she is still happy. Here's to not driving my car into a tree because I kept trying to live up to the hype of being a "superior mother" because of what my boobs could have done.

Yes, breastfeeding can be a wonderful time for a mother and child. But it is what you do with the rest of your years with your children that really makes the difference.

Sue said...

"sometimes the facts hurt", Alpha parent? You don't seem to be an alpha researcher, because your list of illnesses apparently caused by formula feeding is HILARIOUS. The solid evidence shows that six months or more of exclusive breast feeding (in our developed societies) makes a small difference to the number of respiratory and gastro illnesses in the first year. There is speculation about asthma and allergies without strong evidence. But to list "morbidity and mortality" (do you know what that phrase means?) and things like "poor mental health", appendicitis and "timing of menopause"? You may not be joking, you you are way off with this misinformation. If breast feeding is not worth doing for the actual benefits (of which the health benefits are small, in our society), why make stuff up?

NewMommy said...

I Love your post AP! Good on you for getting this crucial information out there, not to mention expressing your right to post what you believe! I read your entire post plus every comment on here and its plain ridiculous to me that you stated over and over and over again that your post was "not aimed at mothers who couldn't breastfeed, just those who were to selfish to try or gave up" yet mothers continued to comment saying how horrible your post is for mothers like them who "aren't able to". Either these mothers cannot read correctly or only read what they want to read- someone "attacking" them so they get the opportunity to lash out because of the built up guilt and other emotions they have for giving up when in most cases there was nothing medically wrong with them! (Notice I said in most cases, and this is a proven fact as you all know) Yet as mentioned several times, most of these mothers didn't mention even considering the possibility of donor milk...? Bottom line is this is your blog AP and you used it to say the truth which you, myself and so many others know needs to be made aware of. This is not a blog about the other things besides breastfeeding that will help a child grow and develop wonderfully, it isn't about the minorities of large scale statistics or about mothers who for medical and other geuine reasons couldn't breastfeed- it's about the selfish, ignorant, or misinformed mothers who have in the past and continue to not do whats best for thier child. This IS your business AP, just as much as it is mine and every other caring being's of this worlds. It is plain aweful how many of these defensive mothers act as if thier children are thier possesions and thier parenting only has to do with them! Parents are the ones which mold the future of the world and it is everyone's business that the little "futures of the world" get the best start they possbly can. I am pregnant with my first child and had not given it much thought but was already leaning towards breastfeeding. Now that I have read your post and all these comments I am concreted in my breastfeeding decision! Thank you for helping me make the right choice and do whats best for my little boy :) Your post does make a difference. Although I may be attacked by the next commentor for not having children yet and "never having been though it" or "I don't know how hard it is" I do know this: I love my unborn son with all my heart and I am going to do the very best I can for him no matter what it takes. If this means pain, no sleep, lactation consultants, pumping my breastmilk and more I will never quit or give up. If if somehow geuinely cannot give him my breastmilk I will give him donor milk if at all possible and formula at a last resort the way formula should be given and I won't feel guilty because I did everything I could so what would I have to feel guilty about because clearly I can't let him starve to death! These womnen are just silly. Thank you AP!

Melissa Harris said...

Hello and greetings from the US, also known as the home of "You can't judge me!", "Whatever you choose for yourself is fine!", and "Everyone is a winner!"
Thank you for this post, I only wish it was geared toward stats in the US. We are so obsessed with not offending others and not hurting anyone's feelings, it's just a disgusting existence over here sometimes. As it appears from some of your responses, our countries ARE alike in women who love to talk about themselves and their individual stories and anecdotes, about their best friend's cousin's sister, and how they're "JUST FINE" and that "STATISTICS MEAN NOTHING TO ME." Alright, moron, I'll remember that next time you toss your baby into the car with no carseat. Statistics matter. The majority matters. Outcomes matter. How you choose to raise your precious little Aiden or Mason (names of choice over here - how adorable) DOES matter to me and my family, because my children have to grow up with your screwed-up little brats, and one day our kids are expected to be functioning adults in our respective societies; the choices you make are ABSOLUTELY my business, and everyone else's who has a stake in the future.
Sometimes the truth hurts, but sometimes that's when you need to hear it the most. Get a thicker skin, pay attention to what the hell you're doing, and don't have children if you don't plan on doing everything you can to do the best possible for them. Period.

Now where are the commenters who want to speak about the 3% of women who can't breastfeed? I'm anxious to have someone to ignore.

Antoinette Connors said...

I'm a breastfeeding mother...and the comment above as well as "alpha parent?!'s " views are completely voiced disrespectfully. And when it comes down to it its none of anyone business truly how a parent feeds their child. If you want to be all pro about not being modest in public while breastfeeding and have the audacity to claim mothers rights...then why is this subject different?? It is superiority... I've breastfed both my children...and I'd never sit there and say to a woman how dare you feed that child formal and its my business to tell you you're a bad mom for doing so..breast feeders today are really self serving and labeling themselves alpha. Stop attacking've already stated you understand you can not change anyone's why keep bashing..why make a blog for just that purpose and what makes you think you're a better human being?! Equality and respect...common courtesy ...there's some psychological abuse happening here from parents who breastfeed...claiming formula feeders are more likely to be abusive...does anyone else see this?

Antoinette Connors said...

But didn't you just include in your "post" about the environment and bottles??? When children get to the toddler stage they step up to sippy cups...try to evaluate everything in your home not able to decompose...I'm pretty sure you have more than you'd like to share and it would be impossible not to..even if you recycle...she got you good...

Kristin Schmuecker said...

A-freakin'-men!!!! Spot on!

Amanda L said...

I completely agree with you AP. I have no clue why anyone would feed teir child McDonald's all day for a year when they could have natures food?? I do feel somewhat hostile towards this parents. To those who say "what about single moms or low income?" Excuse me but... Breastfeeding is FREE. When you go back to work get a pump for free on kijiji or through LLL. Many people as myself are more than willing to help women do what's best by giving their used pumps for free Your argument is invalid. Sure breastfeeding is tough at first but it gets better. Also, it is my business if you feed your child GM crap because MY child will have to grow up with YOUR child as an influence.

Unknown said...

No it's NONE of your business Amanda. Your attitude pretty much sums of the attitude of all the BF sanctimommies. If you think your precious BF snowflakes are superior to mine, you have another thing coming. If you met my children, you will WISH they could influence your kids. My kids are exceptional in every way, health wise and intelligent wise. My beautiful 5 yr old little boy just came up to me right now, proudly showing me his latest creation. He made a musical instrument using a plastic knife, two close pins, and the metal ring on a key chain. You shake it and it actually does make music. It put a HUGE smile on my face and it reiterated the fact that formula feeding him did not ruin him in any way. He thrived on formula. So did my daughter. She is at the top of her class. She is advanced for her grade. Not only that but she is the sweetest, most kindest little girl ever. Her teacher calls her perfect. Neither of my kids have any of those supposed problems on your list. They are extremely healthy and have never had as much as an ear infection. Yeah yeah I already know what you people are going to say so no need to repeat it. IN REAL LIFE ,not these flawed studies, most FF people are just as healthy, smart, and succesful as those that were BF. BTW, my mother and her sibling, plus my husband and his sibling ALL breastfed and guess what....they all have their share of health problems. My husband is overweight, has high blood pressure, his cholesterol, anxiety, depression, hearing loss. My uncle recently died from complications of diabetes. Your breast milk is not as magically as you think it is. FYI, I did try BF with both of them and I very much wanted to. I felt guilt for a long time, but this blog post just helped me let go of that guilt.I do NOT feel any guilt. Just reading these exaggerated claims makes me realize that it's mostly lies. Studies are flawed people.

Jenjen said...

Becky Pitcher, you said you have never met any woman who never tried to breastfeed? Are you kidding? What world are you living in? My sister in law never tried to breastfeed any of her kids, it was never even a question. She is from Mississippi where things like that just aren't done. She lives in Atlanta, and as far as I know, never had any guilt at all about her choice. There are plenty of other women just like her who never even considered breastfeeding. Why? It's dirty, it's too much like an animal, or because, like my sister-in-law, they wanted to start drinking again after they had their babies.

Kathleen B said...

Dear Alpha Parent,

I am a staunch supporter of breastfeeding. It is my job to support, educate, and counsel breastfeeding moms. It is also my job to encourage new moms who have never breastfed to breastfeed. I just wanted to inform you it isn't your business how a woman chooses to feed her child. "Why?" you might ask. I'll tell you. Because when you look at a women you can't see her life, Miss Judgey McJudgerson. That's right. You don't know the soul of a woman by seeing how she feeds her baby. Here you are some sanctimonious know nothing sitting around turning her nose up at a woman formula feeding her baby. Did that woman have a mastectomy? Is that woman going through chemo? Is that woman on a necessary medication that can transfer and be harmful to baby through breast milk? Is that woman struggling with alcohol or drug addiction? Does that woman have hep B? Is she hiv positive? Was she a victim of sexual abuse as a child? Was she a victim of rape? Guess what? Breast milk isn't always best. Guess what else? You couldn't do my job. You know why? Because it requires me to be a peer, to understand that I am not better than any one, and to respect others and to have boundaries. You need to learn how to support and love women. Hopefully all of this feedback from so many will help you to see the world as it truly is- flawed. Nothing is perfect. Nobody is perfect. Their is no one size fits all. -Peace

Jennifer Peoples-Johnson said...

So I was BF and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 3. My mother also had Breast Cancer. My son was born premature and due to my diabetes my milk never came in. He is now 6 yrs old and a grade above where he should be. The fact that you feel like you are a better mom because you BF is a disgrace to educated women. That is my opinion, but then again, I was BF.....

Lindsey Fay said...

I hope you rot in hell for being a judgmental bitch. Like maternal guilt isn't bad enough under the best circumstance, you have to go and spew this ridiculous, uniformed diatribe? Some women (this guy), their bodies won't allow them to breastfeed. Don't act like it's always a choice. And even if it is, mind your own goddamn business.
I'm surprised you can see what any of us are even doing when you're so high up on your fucking pedestal.

Heather Leonard said...

*shaking head* No, it's not your business, love. It comes down to this decision for some moms: either feed baby formula or let baby starve. This was how it was with my daughter. I could not produce enough milk for her to survive. And yes, I went through massive doses of drugs (Domparidone) and herbs and a breast pump strong enough to milk a cow and countless sessions with lactation consultants. Nothing worked. My situation left them all baffled, including one LC with 30 years in practice, as to why I couldn't make enough milk to feed my daughter. It was frustrating beyond belief that my body is somehow "broken."

I had no choice but resort to formula if it meant my daughter lived.

And to this I say: screw you. Screw you for passing judgement on others when you don't know their situation. When you see a mom bottle-feeding formula to her child, you have no right to shove your nose in the air and equate her to feeding her child poison. She is giving her child life-giving food. You have no idea why that mom is using formula. Many times, it's a situation like mine. She can't because she doesn't produce enough, or she takes medication that ensures she can be a strong and healthy mother but it's passed through breastmilk and she had to make the heartwrenching decision to forgo breastfeeding for the sake of her baby's health.

Formula saves lives. Is it ideal? No, but sometimes it's the only choice we have. When it comes down to a child living or starving to death, all of us will choose formula any old day. Self-righteous, misinformed women like you are what makes this world only worse. It's great that you can breastfeed. Bully for you. Some of us aren't so lucky and you have absolutely NO RIGHT to judge other ladies because they must choose formula over breast.

And by the way, my little girl defies all the lies about formula-fed babies. She is now five years old, tallest in her class, healthier than most children (has only been sick twice in her life), and is academically two to three grade levels above her peers. She is interested in science and wants to be either a marine zoologist or a teacher. She was 90% formula fed and I thank God that formula existed or she might not be here today.

schka said...

I loved your article. You go mama!

To all the butthurt formula feeders: you made your choice, you didn't educate yourself, well hell, now you have to live with the consequences. Tough tits. No reason to now go on a crusade against those that did the work and educated themselves and made the right choice.

This is so obviously aimed at folks that CHOSE to formula feed as opposed to the ones that HAD TO formula feed for whatever reason (usually medical). Had it not worked out for me, I would have also fed my daughter formula. Such is life! I would not go around the internet acting like a little spoiled brat getting offended at FACTS! I would feel sad and angry - but not at those that state the facts, but at the situation - me not being able to breastfeed! What exactly do you want? Everyone to start lying to you to make you feel better? Is the rest of the world supposed to bow down to your little hurt feelings?

I gave birth by c-section, not by choice, but by necessity - medical reason. Yet I don't get mad at women promoting vaginal birth! I know vaginal birth is superior in every single way! I got unlucky, my daughter got unlucky. If I had a choice in the matter, I would definitely go for vaginal birth and I'm a staunch opposer of elective c-section because I think it's just horrible! OMG, a c-section mom going on a crusade against c-section? How can that be? I don't let the fact I had to have a c-section define me and I don't let the guilt I might be feeling (even though it was none of my fault, obviously) cloud my judgment and make me into a little tantrum-throwing idiot.

Nuff said.

Keep on spreading the good word, Alpha mom and don't let the bastards grind you down!

A Deblois said...

My oh my .... zoloft anyone? I got through to the part about the Philippines and stopped really reading . I did scroll through quickly. What I feed my kids is not at all your business, but I'll tell you. My adult autistic son was breastfed until ...oh about 18 months... never did touch a drop of formula. My 15 year old daughter was fed formula from day 1. I needed to do everything different with my little girl. I did. One is autistic with more allergies than you can shake a stick at, and one is a healthy student on the honor roll. I don't think what they were fed as infants had anything to do with who they are today, but I was able to choose. For that I am grateful.

Why would you have that choice taken away? The Philippines have water problems... along with a crap ton of other serious problems. It's not the formula it's the water. You should use your resources to try and change that mom's can safely feed however they choose. Pollution is everyone's business, but do you pollute? Do you drive a car, fly in a plane, use tampons/napkins, buy food in any type of container, use baby wipes, wash your clothes in a machine, power up your computer, heat/cool your home, use disposable breast pad for leaking ( used a ton myself ), eaten in a restaurant, use beauty products, wear clothing, or even take an extra long shower ( love that). Those are just a few things that create pollution. If you live your life without all of those things ( you beat your clothes on a rock and walk everywhere) ...damn you really are the alpha .... really I am proud of you. If you are guilty like me ... eh, you really shouldn't complain about opp (other peoples pollution). Don't use that as a way to take away a mom's right to choose.

Breast or formula? No right or wrong there. Both are good, and my baby girl is all the proof I need, and don't come back with some crap about us not being part of the equation. We are. I know many parents that feel that way. Just let the babies eat....damn.

**sorry about my typing/grammar skills. Fyi -- Momma breastfed me...never had a drop of formula**

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