Saturday, April 02, 2005
The truth: Formula is poison and your children will die.

All women can breastfeed. Milk supply is never an issue. Bottle-feeding is selfish. Formula is the equivalent of poison. Women who don't breastfeed simply don't Try Hard Enough.

By now, all mothers know that 'Breast is Best'. I don't have a problem with breastfeeding, in fact I did it myself for awhile. What I do have a problem with is another issue that seems to lead to mothers attacking other mothers. Here's the facts:

Your (or my) breastfed child is/will not be smarter, happier, or healthier from breastfeeding alone.

"Breastfeeding leads to": (from Google)

--good health
--employee loyalty (ok, that was a joke)
--optimal brain development
--a reduction of bleeding after birth
--savings for the mother and family

and my personal favorite:

--breastfeeding may compensate for harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy

But are all of these things true?

We know the facts about breastfeeding reducing allergies and asthma were disproved/proved/disproved. Click here and here and here if you haven't heard about that.

Why do the studies get proved/disproved/proved etc.? I think it is because there's really no definate control group. All babies are different. All mothers are different. There are way too many variables. We live in different homes, eat different things, have genetic dispositions to some conditions. Some families are large, some small. Do any of these studies account for mold growth in the home? What about pets? Fast food intake? Even things that may be harmless like tylenol, daycare, herbal supplements, and exposure to sunlight may affect findings. There is no fool proof way to test a group of infants. Remember, babies should start solids between four and six months, and therefore a once 'exclusively breastfed' baby becomes 'breastfed with some solids'.

I personally agree that breastmilk is the ideal food for babies. I don't agree to even having studies that say breastfeeding may compensate for harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy. It's nice to know that and all, and I'm sure it encourages pregnant smokers to breastfeed after the baby comes. In the meantime doesn't it also give the impression that all you have to do is breastfeed and your smoking-related problems will be solved? Never mind the deaths smoking can cause in the womb, and the increased chances of SIDS for the babies after birth.

One other fact: Formula has no harmful effects. It may not be the best, but it is most certainly not bad for your baby.

Don't be surprised if ten years from now there is an infant formula that will be able to make your baby smarter, healthier, and possibly even happier than a breastfed baby. Technology can do a lot of surprising things these days.

I also personally think that it is a great idea to try breastfeeding your newborn. Most mothers do want what's best for their babies. But I have to clarify that wanting what is best doesn't always mean breast milk. There are many unselfish reasons that some mothers choose not to breastfeed. Some mothers have such a hard time breastfeeding that they begin to resent their babies. I personally would choose formula over resenting my kid, because resenting your child probably won't lead to that 'happy-healthy-breastfed kid' we want.

Another issue regarding breastfeeding is the idea that as long as you have __x_ (opinions seem to differ on this matter) amount of calories, you know your baby is getting enough nutrition. It is simply not true. First, it is a FACT that at least five percent of women do not produce enough milk to satisfy a newborn's needs. Next, the nutritional value of breastmilk isn't determined by caloric intake. For breastmilk to be perfect, diet while breastfeeding must be perfect (or as close to perfect as one can come).

If studies on breastfeeding suddenly showed that the slight majority (sixty-percent) of American teens who do not experience pregnancy were breastfeed, I might change my opinion. On the same note, if those studies showed breastfeed babies were least likely to be in the fifty-five percent of children who used illicit drugs by the time they left high school, I would probably be more tolerant of people who seem to think breastfeeding is the only way to a happy, healthy child.

I'm not saying you should or shouldn't breastfeed your child. If I thought it was a bad idea, I would never have done it. What I am saying is: Before you criticize a bottle-feeding mom, know the facts (or the current facts, anyway). Know that the bottle-fed baby won't be harmed any more than the breast-fed baby of a mom who eats a lot of fast food. There are bigger issues us mothers should be coming together to deal with in the country (and world) right now, and I'm sure if mothers became less critical of other mothers, the world could be a slightly better place for ALL of our children to grow up in.

Blogger drama mama had this to say:

I enjoy your blog!

I tried breast feeding with both of my boys. Both times I had problems with the amount of milk I made. My second son was born a little early, so I really wanted to breastfeed him. We rented one of those heavy duty hospital pumps to pump between each feeding, still, very little milk. He was not gaining weight,so we switched to formula and he did great!

Mothers have enough guilt to deal with, they don't need it coming from other well meaning mothers!

10:40 PM EST 

Blogger Sarah had this to say:

Great blog. I breast fed both mine up until three months, I did find it hard. After then they switched to formula and I got some sleep lol.

12:10 PM EDT 

Anonymous Anonymous had this to say:

I sent this article on to my wife, who stopped breastfeeding but faced immense disdain from all corners for her decision.

9:47 AM EDT 

Blogger Heidi had this to say:

I couldn't agree with you more about this issue. I consider myself to be a very open-minded, caring person who tries her hardest not to judge others or force my opinions on them. I was very naive when I became a mother. I just assumed I would suddenly share a bond with other mom's and perhaps we would all support eachother through our trials and tribulations in some sort of sisterhood... Wrong! Boy, was I naive! I had NO clue how judgmental and downright RUDE some ladies would be after I was a member of the "Mom's club" (so to speak..)!

I was usually not the object of their disdain, because I became a stay-at-home mom and breastfed my babies. However, I heard them freely pass judgment on working mom's and those who bottle-fed their babies. It made me sick. Many of my best friends are working mom's and bottle-fed their kids. Heck, MY mom was a working mom and I was bottle-fed!!! I can't stand to be around people who have nothing better to do than point their fingers at others and judge them b/c they aren't exactly like them. I don't care what those ladies say or think about me, but I care about the effect it has on our society as a whole. We shouldn't waste time passing judgments. We should do our best to empathize with others and appreciate our differences. Thank you for your post, magnolia. :o)

3:23 PM EDT 

Blogger Library Lady had this to say:

I just found your blog and I would love it alone for this entry.
I went through hell with my first girl because they told me I should try to breastfeed, that giving her a bottle would cause "nipple confusion", etc. She was a squirmy, cranky baby and we were all miserable.Finally we got her on bottles and everyone was a lot happier. I pumped a miniscule amount for 6 months and gave up with relief.
Daughter # 2 had jaundice and had to start her on bottles to help it. So I was nice and relaxed about nursing.I did manage to nurse her a bit and did so for a year.I enjoyed it. I also managed to pump a bit--though I too, never got more than an ounce or two at a time! But I didn't agonize over it at all and it made a big difference.
Every time someone goes on about how you HAVE to breastfeed I want to hit them. It may be best, but it's not right for everyone. Having babies is exhausting, and having someone heap guilt on you is NOT helpful.
As for the LaLeche folks, they make me nervous. Especially when I see 4 year olds nursing..........

4:28 PM EDT 

Blogger Anne had this to say:

While breast milk is definitely the best choice for babies and all moms should be encouraged to give it a try, today's formula is a reasonable substitute. In some cases (like an underweight mom or one with a poor diet or who takes meds), formula is a better choice. And, of course, some babies need soy milk due to milk protein allergies or lactose intolerance.

There are a lot of advantages to breast milk, many not usually listed outside of nutrition texts, including lower instances of childhood cancer, but no one should be made to feel guilty for choosing formula.

Women have to remember that those who make different choices are not making the wrong ones or saying (unconsciously) that they have made the wrong choices. We all need to be more secure in our own decisions!

5:53 PM EDT 

Blogger Deepu George V had this to say:

Nature is the best and perfect.

12:24 AM EDT 

Blogger volterwd had this to say:

Your comments about babies and parents being different is not accurate... randomization of patients in clinical trials accounts for most of the aformentioned variability.

Breastfeeding provides antibodies not available in formula... and is 100% safe... the same thing cant be said for formula. Babies are designed for breast milk not formula and giving formula when breast milk is an option IS SELFISH.

And with regards to anothers comments about feeling guilty about not breast feeding... if you dont have a very good reason for not breastfeeding you should be made to feel guilty.

3:48 PM EDT 

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4:50 PM EDT 

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