Wednesday, November 20, 2013

That Lactavist smells like .... is it? .... yep. Formula!!


I feel passionate about breastfeeding.
If we're being honest, I would call formula poison.
That's how strongly I feel about formula.
It's marketed like crazy to trusting and/or unsure parents who have every reason to doubt their ability to provide for their child (because who isn't questioning their ability to parent when faced with a crying newborn?).
And nutrition?
That's basic.
So if I can just measure out formula and watch the ounces get sucked in by this baby, then I'll know they are being fed.
Because it's measurable and scientific.

Ugh. Ugh.
Women are not supported enough in their breastfeeding relationships, our culture is not set up to support breastfeeding ..... lots of reasons why I HATE formula.
And the companies that sneakily push said formulas (because handing a mother a "free" diaper bag with formula samples on her way out of the hospital door is NOT helpful, because offering 2 weeks worth of"free" samples to mothers in countries where clean water is not guaranteed is dangerous) infuriate me. It's not about doing what's best for babies or families or the earth - all things I value.

To be less negative - the benefits of breastfeeding that we know about are overwhelming. So to have this clearly superior nutrition option for an infant who is relatively fragile, undermined by profit driven businesses is maddening. And those who feel as passionately as I do (and there are plenty of individuals who admittedly feel even more passionate than I about breastfeeding) do not gain financially and therefore do not have the funds to promote breastfeeding as aggressively as formula companies. So the "average" main stream American family has a little less than a 50% chance of breastfeeding their baby at 6mos and a 27% chance of breastfeeding their baby at a year - this is not exclusive breastfeeding (no solids, not formula supplementation) - this is receiving ANY breastmilk at all (stats according to the 2013 CDC breastfeeding report card).

When our babies were young I nursed them. Whenever. Wherever. In restaurants, the mall, the living room, the park, the library, the grocery store, walking on the sidewalk, etc. I remember one time in particular when one of the kids was over a year and needed to nurse. I was standing in the Square Mall on Church St. in Burlington, Vt having run in to a couple of college friends, none of whom were juggling a child or children. It being winter, I had several layers of clothes on. I didn't want to end the conversation with friends and felt that sitting in the middle of the mall would be just a little noticeable and awkward for friends. So I managed to wrestle my clothes and baby in to a nursing position, while standing and carrying on the conversation. Friends definitely raised eyebrows. But a baby has to eat and a momma needs to feed them - wherever, whenever, with whoever.

Having said all that ....
We now have a baby who has that stinky formula-fed smell. I feel my cheeks redden with embarrassment when I pull out the bottle in public. I want to explain to the check-out person at the grocery store that I'm actually a breastfeeding mom, but I'm buying formula to feed a baby I didn't birth. That sometimes, even when it's against what you thought you could ever do, you do it any way because it's best for the child you're raising.

Do I think formula is poison?
Do I feed it to our baby?
And I'm thankful for it?
She came to us very underweight and is growing and gaining and maturing so quickly and by all measures, healthily.
Does it make me sad?
At first.
I'm more sad that formula is used when it doesn't need to be (and I understand that "need" criteria can be broad).
It's like c-sections (don't get be started on that!) - I'm thankful we as a society have the medical knowledge to perform c-sections when needed.
Do I think 32.8% of births in America require c-sections (keep in mind this is the country that promotes itself as one of the leaders in the medical field)?
No, no way. Not even close to that percentage.
But for the 2% that actually actually need c-sections - so thankful.
In the same way ... do I think 30% of babies should never have breastmilk (and the stats go up as the baby gets older)- no way!

Formula is there for a reason, use it when needed, and the rest of the time, leave it on the shelf.
And really? Cleaning bottles, runs to the store (30mins away) to re-stock formula, planning ahead to ensure that you bring enough formula with you when out and about, etc is not so fun. The other kind of scary part for me is: formula is static. Right now our 10mos old has a stuffy nose. The formula we feed her is not re-engineering itself to provide appropriate antibodies. If she's feeling thirsty (but isn't that hungry) it isn't more diluted to quench her thirst. When she's suddenly really hungry, the calorie count is the same as it was when she sucked down 4oz to fall asleep but wasn't so hungry.

If it was allowable, I would be seeking out donated milk and attempting to re-lactate. BUT, while I feel like all children are ours to enjoy for a relatively short term - this baby really IS on loan, and organic formula seems like the best compromise.

** This is just another example of: if you make bold statements, you may find yourself eating your words. I could NEVER imagine feeling comfortable feeding a baby with a bottle .... and now I do it regularly without thinking about it. I do cringe to see our big kids use toys as imaginary bottles to feed their "babies", but then my heart warms as they rock their swaddled "babies" making "shsshhhhshh" noises. **

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