Archives

A Bone to Pick: More on Nursing vs. Formula

I am planning to spend a day taking pictures, and then to spend a while posting pictures and commentary on life in Israel.  But before I do that, I want need to rant, get this out of me, and move on.

I have a [huge] bone to pick.  It has been bugging me since Shlomo was a couple of months old, over a year ago.  If you are super-sensitive and do not agree with my standpoint on nursing vs. formula feeding (read this to see if you do), stop right here, and do not read the rest of this post.  You’ve been warned; don’t say I insulted you.

Disclaimer:  I am not speaking, in this post, about the mothers forty years ago, thirty, or even twenty-five.  I am speaking about the mothers that I meet on the street, who are my peers, and are supposed to know (but evidently don’t) what I am about to write. 

I am also not referring, in any way, shape, or form, to mothers, or babies, whose doctors have informed them that they have specific medical needs that impede breastfeeding.  If you cannot breastfeed for a medical reason, either yours or your baby’s, that is what formula is for, and I support you completely.  Please do not read this post; it is not meant for you.

Now, back to the beginning:  I have a [huge] bone to pick with mothers who choose to formula feed.  It began when I started getting comments on why I was not feeding my baby formula.  I got even more annoyed when these same people started deriding me for continuing to nurse.  And I got extremely annoyed (even though, to my credit, I always kept my cool) when they started telling me that they knew more than I did, because they were pregnant again, or had already had two, when our [first] babies had just turned one.

I’m sorry; having two babies in one year (plus or minus) is nothing to be proud of.  No, it’s not.  Just forget it.  If it happens, it happens, but it is far from ideal, by any standard (including religious standards).  (Yes, nursing really does can work as birth control – more on that later.)

benefits of breastfeeding, composition of breastmilk, breastmilk, breastfeeding, nursing, formula, bottlefeeding, breastfeeding vs. formula, advantages of breast milk, disadvantages of formula, breast is best, breastmilk is better than formula, formula is not good for your baby, formula is not good enough, why formula is good, why breastmilk is good, healthy babies

from Green Grub Wellness

If I am right, and I know I am, do NOT put me down for it.  It annoys me (but does not, in any way, deter my determination to nurse).  It makes me want to ban formula from being sold in supermarkets and make it prescription-only, with each OB/GYN, psychiatrist, and pediatrician allotted a certain number of prescriptions per month, and no overlaps (i.e., you cannot receive a prescription from more than one doctor, and you are allotted a certain number per year).  If you choose not to nurse, the least you can do is not flaunt it; flaunting the fact that you chose, of your own free will, to do something harmful to your child is disgusting and absolutely repulsive.  That’s first off.

Second of all, do not tell me that I am wasting my time and energy nursing and pumping, because you know so many babies who were formula fed and were fine.  You just end up sounding like an ignoramus (to put it nicely) who is talking about things that she obviously has never researched.  If you knew what you were talking about, you’d know that breast milk is the best, with only a few extreme medical exceptions (such as the mother being addicted to drugs, on certain medications, or a baby who is extremely lactose intolerant), and that there is a direct correlation between formula and all sorts of health problems.

And third, do not tell me that your baby is just as well off as mine is, even though he’s being formula fed.  Go get a life, and get an education.

Sure, we all know some breastfed babies who were sick a lot, and some formula-fed babies who are hardly ever sick.  Well, first of all, anecdotes do not make evidence.  Second, imagine what would have happened if the breastfed baby, who seems to always get sick, had been formula fed.  He would’ve been a lot worse off than he is now, and a lot sicker.  You can’t know, when your baby is born, whether he will have food sensitivities and frequent ear infections, or not.  And because you can’t know, you have to give your baby the best stuff you can – i.e., breast milk – so that he can grow up as healthy as possible.

benefits of breastfeeding, composition of breastmilk, breastmilk, breastfeeding, nursing, formula, bottlefeeding, breastfeeding vs. formula, advantages of breast milk, disadvantages of formula, breast is best, breastmilk is better than formula, formula is not good for your baby, formula is not good enough, why formula is good, why breastmilk is good, healthy babies

from Ten Steps

If it turns out that your baby has sensitive skin and allergies, be glad you’re breastfeeding, because he’d be worse off without it.  And if it turns out that your baby is pretty healthy, then think how much healthier he’d be, in the long run, if he had been breastfed.  Did you know that Crohn’s, which shows up in young adulthood, affects nearly double the number of young people who were formula-fed as those who were breastfed?  There are many other illnesses that are the same way.  Obviously, this doesn’t mean that breastfed babies won’t get sick later on, or that formula-fed babies will.  It just means that these are the facts, and you can weigh the risks of formula for yourself.

If you choose to formula-feed your baby, you are taking a serious gamble with his or her future health.  Don’t tell me that formula is good for your baby, or that I should stop nursing.

If you would like to see my sources, click on all the links.  Some of them are more informal, but some are pretty impressive.  All of them together are a small part of the wealth of research supporting breastfeeding and showing how formula is harmful.

Want to know why I think it’s my business how other people feed their babies?  Click here.  It’s long, but it states all the reasons I would have given you, in addition to others that I didn’t even think of.

For your information:  I Googled “formula is better than breastfeeding,” just to see the other side of the argument, and came up empty-handed.

Here is an understated summary of how breastfeeding benefits babies:

benefits of breastfeeding, composition of breastmilk, breastmilk, breastfeeding, nursing, formula, bottlefeeding, breastfeeding vs. formula, advantages of breast milk, disadvantages of formula, breast is best, breastmilk is better than formula, formula is not good for your baby, formula is not good enough, why formula is good, why breastmilk is good, healthy babies

from The Alpha Parent

Breastmilk vs. Formula

Similac formula cans

Less than a week and I’m posting about controversial subjects already, huh?

Here in Israel, all formula cans bear a warning in both English and Hebrew that “breast is best“, formula should only be used as a last resort, and only with a pediatrician’s consent.  I assume, logically, that this is required – why else would someone undermine the very product they are selling?

Yitzchak has often described his mother as one of those people who can give 3-hour lectures on why formula is bad for your baby.  Knowing her, I believe it.  All she has said to me on the subject is that breastmilk from a bottle isn’t nearly as good as breastmilk during nursing.

This is true.  If you pump your milk and refrigerate it, it has a 24-hour (tops 48 hours, but the recommended is 24) life.  In this case, all the antibodies are present – but usually a 180 ml. bottle will only include foremilk or hindmilk, not both.  Try pumping into a 240 ml. bottle!  It’s kind of depressing, unless you have a really good electric pump that gets every last drop out.  Also, if you only have 10 minutes, you probably won’t get every last drop.

Frozen (and then thawed) milk loses 40% of its antibodies.  That’s still 60% more than formula, but, especially if your baby is less than six months old, it’s not good.  Why?  Because babies less than six months don’t have a good immune system, so a baby who isn’t getting antibodies from Mom, is completely exposed to anything and everything.  Actually, babies don’t have a fully developed immune system for a few years, but we’ll leave that aside for the moment.

Now that I’ve gone off on a tangent, let’s get back to the point.  It really bothers me when mothers decide that pumping takes too much time, or nursing is too hard.  That’s what lactation consultants are for.  That’s what LLL is for.  The most common “excuse” I hear is that a mother doesn’t have milk.  Um, that’s kind of odd.  Because in the olden days, if you didn’t have milk, and you didn’t have enough money to hire a wet nurse (and most people didn’t), your babies died.  So, that horrifically scary gene in which a mother doesn’t have milk probably wasn’t perpetuated enough for it to have such a large influence (think 20%) on today’s mothers.  So no, that’s not an excuse.  But if your baby isn’t latching right, you WILL have milk problems, because your body is not being told to produce milk.  Well, obviously. . .

What I’m trying to say is this: Nursing is important.  It is not something to be thrown out lightly, and it is something that should be required of anyone able to.  Obviously, I am not talking about preemies who can’t suck, mothers whose milk is contaminated by an illness or by medication, or even babies who for some reason or other can’t nurse or need formula supplements.  Those people, and I am going to say this loud and clear, SHOULD NOT be made to feel guilty because they are not breastfeeding.  In these cases, formula is best, and a mother who cannot nurse is not at fault.  I am not talking to, or about, these mothers in this post.  I am talking to and about situations in which neither mother nor baby has any medical contraindications for breastfeeding, and yet the mother chooses for some reason or other not to nurse, or to stop early.  That bugs me.  It really does.  When you have a child, you are taking it upon yourself to care for him or her in the best way possible.  And part of that means nursing him or her until at least one year, if not two.

Oh – and about the pumping?  I told my MIL that I had to finish the semester, so I didn’t have a choice and he needed to be able to take a bottle.  Then she gave him the bottle I had pumped, because, of course, Shlomo had decided to wake up just as I finished pumping.

I know, I know, I’m not allowed to say this.  Go ahead, start the debate. *hides under table for protection*

Thanks to the debate here for giving me the inspiration for this post.