At a forum I frequent I came across a thread with a link to a website hoping to give support to women who formula feed their infants either for medical reasons or by choice.
Now while I think their message of support is fantastic and that all women regardless of their parenting choices deserve support I couldn’t get past the rest of their message. They were saying that formula was just as good and that formula advertising should be legal. I do not agree.
And when it comes to whether or not formula is just as good, experts don’t agree that is either. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend exclusively feeding breastmilk for the first 6 months and the introducing solids, then continuing to breastfeed until at least 2 years.
Just 1 bottle of artificial baby milk (ABM) can damage the delicate gut flora of an infant which can take weeks to repair.
Formula is often recalled due to contamination, remember the infant deaths in China due to bad ABM? It’s rare but it happens.
Truth is breastfeeding isn’t anything special, it’s just normal. Breastfeeding doesn’t lower the risk of contracting certain illnesses nor does it boost a babies immune system but that ABM increases a babies risk of contracting certain illnesses and decreases a babies immune system.
Here is a great place to start researching if you’re interested in formula.
On the topic of advertising, well with breast-feeding rates so low in Australia does formula really need to be any more normalized? Bottles are shown in every mainstream television show involving a baby. I was FLOORED when 2 years ago they suggested on Neighbours that a young teen mother (Bridget?) was breastfeeding her babe. It was never shown on screen of course and it wasn’t long before the babe had colic issues due to foods the mother was eating, then the mother dies in a car accident and the ABM cans start sneaking in on the bench top just in view of the camera.
Then you’ve got children’s programming like Hilltop Hospital on ABC4Kids where animals bottle feed their young. I’ve seen elephants, rabbits and cows giving their babies bottles. What is up with that? Show them breastfeeding or just don’t show it! That show has a whole heap of birthing issues as well but I’ll leave that for another post.
Then there are bottles on wrapping paper, baby shower invites, extra bottles with breast pumps, bottles everywhere! Don’t forget the ‘infant milk’ advertising which is just formula advertising in disguise! The ad where they start saying breastmilk is best for babies and the baby glows blue makes my blood boil! Just come out with your agenda and don’t hid it behind pretending to care about breastfeeding.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t think poorly of formula feeding mothers, my daughter was formula fed and it was only in hindsight that I realized the advice was dodgy. I was a sleep deprived mother with a baby with reflux. The GP didn’t care, neither did the MCHN and the pharmacist only wanted our money. I wasn’t given any advice on how to continue breastfeeding just told how to make up a bottle. The guilt was crushing. I probably come across as harsh but the truth is that formula is seen as the magic cure all by the medical field when it isn’t. My daughters feeding issues just got worse and worse on formula and I ended up with PND. I honestly believe if I had of seen a lactation consultant rather then a GP we would have continued breastfeeding long term.
Breastfeeding is normal for babies. We are the only species that feeds their young the milk of another animal. If unable to breastfeed there is the option of sourcing breastmilk, try the Human Milk 4 Human Babies Facebook page for your area.
If your struggling with breastfeeding please give the Australian Breastfeeding Association a call on 1800 mum 2 mum.