Formula is the “4th best choice” and other fallacies

FFF Brooke recently wrote an amazing blog post on her breastfeeding/formula feeding experiences. She says some extremely profound things, like this:

We have become a Breast is Best society without realizing that we are causing a backlash of incredible mommy guilt when the breast doesn’t work out. And for some families it doesn’t work out because of nonmedical reasons. If I was working full-time, I wouldn’t pump. In my opinion, one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that bonding time, and excuse me if I don’t feel the same way toward the plastic parts suctioning my breast. (And for what it’s worth, I think it’s possible to have the same bonding time when bottle-feeding.)

Formula did for moms what the pill did for those not wanting to become moms (at that moment). It gave them a choice. I think it’s time we stop judging others for those choices and making them feel like formula is a punishable mommy offense. I shouldn’t have to defend my choices the same way you shouldn’t have to defend your right to nurse in public.

I stood up and applauded after reading this (and by the way, Brooke’s blog is always great, so check it out if you have a chance). Unfortunately, an anonymous commenter had to weigh in, completely missing Brooke’s point and putting a damper on the beautiful mood this post put me in.

“The thing is FF shouldn’t (be) a choice. What I mean by that is if a medical condition or a true supply issue comes up in your Breastfeeding relationship that isn’t a choice “you” made. You HAD to give formula for the health and well-being of your child. That to me wasn’t a choice it was a matter of life or death really. But people who chose to give formula from day one…those people know they are giving their children second best(actually 4th best). It is to me like saying well I am going to chose to buy my child a second rate car seat because well I can it is my choice after all.”

 Oy vey, Anonymous. Seriously? As I said in my response to Brooke’s post, this “4th best” rhetoric is utter crap. According to this theory, the order of preference for infant feeding substances is as follows:

1. Breastmilk (fed directly from the breast)

2. Pumped breastmilk
3. Donated breastmilk (from some other woman or a milk bank)
4. Formula

(Oh, and just to add insult to injury… Jack Newman likes to talk about how formula may not even BE the fourth choice over cow’s milk; that it is only “theoretically” superior to cow’s milk for an infant. Are you KIDDING me? Cow’s milk can cause kidney failure in babies. Formula can’t. What is theoretical about that?)

There are a few things that strike me as idiotic about the order of these substances. First, the fact that breastmilk and pumped breastmilk take up two different slots. Considering there are very few stay-at-home moms in this day and age, this is basically saying that the efforts of millions of working moms are only somewhat valiant. How would it make you feel to read that you are giving your baby the “second” best while hooked up to a pump for the 3rd time that day?

As for the third option… when I responded to Brooke’s anonymous commenter that using banked milk is cost prohibitive for most women (this will run you around $100/day, which makes my kid’s hypoallergenic formula look downright cheap), she directed me to Milkshare.org, a site that encourages random women to donate milk to each other.

The ethical, legal and medical repercussions from this boggle my mind. I personally cannot fathom giving my child milk from some woman I do not know, without some sort of advanced screening process involved. But I digress. If you feel comfortable doing so, that is absolutely your choice, and more power to ya. However, this site contains a plethora of terrible, inaccurate propaganda that I (of course) can’t ignore. Like this lovely nugget of wisdom:

Formula is static, is often not tolerated well, and does not contain live white cells and antibodies to fight diseases like breast milk does. In contrast, breast milk is species-specific for humans and changes according to the infant’s needs!

That may be true, Milkshare. But considering you are telling women this information in order to encourage them to use donated breastmilk rather than formula, don’t you think it would be nice to explain that the milk they will be feeding their babies from another woman, which has been stored, frozen, etc, probably doesn’t have many “live” cells left, if any at all?

According to a 2004 study from the Fetal and Neonatal Edition of the Archives of Disease in Childhood that examined stored breastmilk, antioxidant levels are severely impacted by the storage process:

But while antioxidant levels of formula milk remained stable whether refrigerated or frozen, levels in fresh human milk fell the longer it was stored and the colder the temperature at which it was stored….Compared with fresh milk, human milk frozen for seven days had the lowest antioxidant levels. And refrigeration for seven days was equivalent to freezing for 48 hours in terms of the effects on antioxidant levels.

They conclude that in order to preserve its antioxidant content, expressed breast milk should be stored no longer than 48 hours at refrigerator temperature, and that it should not be frozen.

Now, this study concerns antioxidants, not live blood cells. But here’s another excerpt from a 2004 study on the composition of breastmilk after storage:

To conclude, our study has shown that storage of expressed breast milk caused a decline in vitamins A and C concentrations after 24 hours in a refrigerator (4 °C) and a decline in vitamins A, E and C after 1 week in a freezer (–4 to –8 °C)….Further studies are needed to understand the effect of different temperatures and durations of storage on different constituents of expressed breast milk.

 My point is simply that before stating that donated breastmilk (oh, and the above study also explains that milk varies from woman to woman and day to day – kind of negates the whole “breastmilk adjusts to meet the needs of the baby” thing if you aren’t using your own milk) is a vastly superior choice to formula, making women feel that they need to take financial or liability risks to get this “liquid gold”, we might want to do a wee bit more research.

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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38 thoughts on “Formula is the “4th best choice” and other fallacies

  1. According to the CDC's most recent statistics, only 17% of women in America give human milk to their children for one year.

    The AAP and WHO both recommend at LEAST 2 year of breastfeeding.

    No one needs to defend formula. Human milk is the minority. Get over your insecurity and get informed.

  2. The reason Breastfeding and pumping take up 2 slots is because when a child feeds from the breast, the breast makes antibodies specific to the germs in the baby's mouth.

    Pumping is less beneficial than breastfeeding, but it is, in my own personal experience, a lot harder to do.

    One of the benefits of feeding formula is that you know what goes into it. For example, here is a well known brand of first infant formula:

    Lactose, Vegetable Oils, Skimmed Milk Powder, Whey Protein Concentrate (Enriched in Alpha-Lactalbumin), Emulsifier (Soya Lecithin), Sodium Citrate, Magnesium Chloride, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Citrate, L-Tyrosine, Vitamin C, Choline Chloride, Potassium Hydroxide, Calcium Hydroxide, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Inositol, Ferrous Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, L-Trytophan, Cytinide-5' -Monophosphate, L-Carnitine, Antioxidants, (Tocopherol-Rich Extract and Ascorbyl Palmitate,) Disodium Uridine-5' -Monophosphate, Vitamin E, Niacin, Adenosine-5' -Monophosphate, Pantothenic Acid, Disodium Guanosine-5' -Monophosphate, Diosodium Inosine-5' -Monophosphate, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Copper Sulphate, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin, Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulphate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin K, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin B12

  3. Thank you for this Guggie Daly!

    “No one needs to defend formula. Human milk is the minority. Get over your insecurity and get informed.”

    I agree completely.

  4. Sorry to break your bubble but you ARE being a “boob” about it. Although, since I don't believe that a misogyny based use of female bady parts as a derogatory is acceptable, I think a better term would be “ass”. An outlet for toxic fecal matter into the world, spreading disease and discomfort? yup, “ASS” it is. How much are you being paid by the formula companies to be their Mouth, oops Asspiece?

  5. Acutally I have read that as little as 10% of women in the US breastfeed past the first 4-6 months. And yes the WHO recommends at least 2 years for full long-term and short-term health benefit. Bottom line, breastmilk IS what is best for babies, yet strangly it doesn't “work out” for 90% of American women. Hmmmm.

  6. The reason that 'breastmilk' and 'pumped breastmilk' take up two different spots is exactly what you complain about later in the post.

    Breastmilk, directly from mother's breast is superior to pumped and stored breastmilk because (among other things)it is:
    a) still 'live' without and nutrient loss from time or refridgeration/feeding,
    b) the perfect temperature,
    c) variable from the start to the finish of a feeding,
    d) customized to the point of day the feeding is happening,
    e) fed from a non-artificial nipple,
    f) responsive to the current viral and bacterial exposures, and
    g) necessitates skin to skin contact between baby and mom.

    Those differences mean that directly breastfed human milk and pumped and stored breast milk are indeed two VERY different options and should be counted as such.

    Artificial baby milk is a godsend in some cases, and has saved many babies who otherwise would have starved or suffered malnutrition. I am most definitely NOT anti-formula, BUT, referring to it as '4th best' is not rhetoric, it is accurate, taking into account variables that are not always considered by new mothers (like pumped milk and donated milk). In fact, I've seen it listed as '5th' or even '6th best' at times, when the options of a wet-nurse or a group of dedicated volunteers taking turns directly breastfeeding a baby are taken into account.

    Even today, even in North America, babies DO die from formula. Powdered formula is not sterile and can cause necrotizing enteritis in newborns or sick infants. It is common for formulas to be recalled for contamination of tampering. Allergic reactions can be severe and sudden (and despite the advertising, your favorite brand doesn't use the same 'recipe' from batch to batch, ingredient lists are dictated by market forces and as long as the basic nutritional content remains the same, the individual make-up of any particular formula can vary wildly.)Melamine is now permitted in formula, but not pet food. People make mistakes with formula preparation all the time: over-diluting, under-diluting, adding cereals or other thickeners, using formula that should have been discarded, etc…. and let's not even get started on the dangers of bottle propping.

    I understand the need to defend formula feeding as a valid parenting choice. I also understand that 'Mommy Guilt' is a vicious thing and that passionte breastfeeding supporters can sometimes come across as extreme and judgmental. However, calling facts 'rhetoric' because you don't like them, and bashing on the evidence and experts isn't helping your cause. There are ways to defend the CHOICE of formula feeding that aren't knee-jerk or hostile.

    One of the most powerful is that breastfeeding can be difficult and stressful, and some women find that that stress and struggle negatively impacts their parenting ability, or their happiness to the point that it is no longer worth the health benefits. No one could argue that.

    (For the record, I used formula to varying degrees with my two sons, and exclusively breastfed my daughter beyond age two… and ALL options I used worked for us at the time and in the situation we were in)

  7. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
    -Elanor Roosevelt

    To state the TRUE facts of a food substitute is not to belittle the women who need to use it. Millions of dollars have been spent on announcing the danger of cigarretes and alcohol but no one is preaching against responsible drinkers and smokers. Why do you feel the need to act defensively when the truth is revealed? The world of doctors who have done the research have proven time and time again that for infants breastmilk is beneficial and even necessary for optimal development. Its a fact whether you run around yelling about it hurting your feelings or not. The laws of nature cannot be changed because it makes you sad.

  8. I'm with Guggie on this one. Women who choose to formula feed have no reason to feel defensive, they are in the majority in the US. As for being told breastfeeding is best, it is & if that makes you feel guilty then perhaps you should reassess your choices. Women who actually have to use formula (a very small percentage in actuality) don't have a choice & I am not including them in my statements regarding formula feeding. Yes, I have actually used formula *gasp* & I have bottle fed pumped milk as well but there is nothing like breastfeeding your child. My 2 children are generally far healthier than their formula fed counterparts, you can chalk it up to whatever you like but I believe that it is the fact they are breastfed (1 year & 16 months respectively)that makes the difference. The reason why there is such a push to promote breastfeeding now is because of the dismal statistics, not only in the US but many other countries as well, & the ever burgeoning obesity epidemic & general decline in the overall health of children. As uncomfortable as a person maybe with their child being given breast milk from another woman there are babies who are alive today because someone was willing to donate milk. Breast milk saves lives, especially when dealing with NICU babies who may not be able to tolerate formula. There are multiple stories of babies being wet nursed by a stranger after a natural disaster to save their lives & why? Because there was no clean water for mixing formula or sterilizing bottles. If you choose to formula feed that's fine, it's your choice but you need to own that decision & if you feel the need to defend your choice then it either a) wasn't the right choice & you feel guilty b) was an uninformed choice & you feel guilty or c) is all of the above & you feel guilty & that is no one's fault but your own. Rather than touting how formula really isn't all that bad (despite plenty of evidence to the contrary) why not work to make sure that all women have the information to make a truly informed choice & change the system so that there is more support for mothers in their feeding choices. Honestly, how many women switch to formula because they don't have support from friends, family, or doctors? How many women receive formula samples when the go home with their new baby? How many women allow their baby to be supplemented with formula in the hospital so they can get a little rest? The system is flawed & needs to be fixed. All the complaining about why you feel attacked for choosing formula is like complaining at the wind for the rain falling. The push for breastfeeding is a movement to change the system not a referendum on your choices.

  9. Clutching at straws ??

    I formula fed both my children but unlike you and many others, I dont feel the need to try justify my choice to formula feed.

    Formula is NEVER the best “choice”.

    Medical reasons aside (note- less than 2% is REALLY medical), breastfeeding is always the best choice for baby.

    If you want to formula feed your child, fine, but dont then set out to discount breastfeeding and try to normalise a sub-par alternative, thus sending the message to the world that formula is just as good.

    Inform yourself- the ingredients in formula
    the benefits for baby AND mum from breastfeeding.

    Then maybe you, like me, will finally be able to live in peace with the mistakes you have made and move forward without guilt. !

  10. Are you under the impression that formula feeding needs to be protected? Honestly? As the previous poster, Guggie Daly, posted, all it takes is common sense and the ability to read to know that breastfeeding, in any form, is rare in our society. Formual feeding does not need protection: it's alive and well for the vast majority.

  11. This blog is a joke. FF moms…always looking for another excuse to feed their babies powdered chemicals. Well done.

  12. @Mell F,

    Unfortunately, many people arrive here via some negative reference to my blog on Faceboook or Twitter or what have you, and comment without reading more than one or two entries. I WAS one of those moms who had (numerous) medical reasons to formula feed. In fact, an LC who works with one of the most renowned breastfeeding supporters (an MD who I have discussed negatively on this site) told me that I should throw in the towel. So I do not feel guilty about my choice, as I did everything possible and spent a ton of money trying to nurse. I know I did my best and in the end, formula saved my son's health and my sanity. So no guilt here.

    However, I do not like bullies. Never have. And I have found in my journey through motherhood that lactivism has been veering more and more towards a blatant resentment and general superiority towards formula FEEDERS, rather than the system that makes it difficult for women to breastfeed. I also do not believe that formula is the cause of obesity- I think that is a terrible cop-out and disregards our responsibility as parents (and as a society) to steer our kids towards healthy eating and exercise. I think we would all be better served to fight for better options in cafeterias, affordable health food for lower income groups, and the reinstatement of physical education programs, than to focus so much on what a baby drinks in its first few months.

  13. Anyway just wrote a long post and it was deleted accidentally.

    I am guessing the majority of posters here have no idea what it is like to work your ass off and still “fail” at exclusively breastfeeding. It sucks (no pun intended)! It is demoralizing when people think you're lying when you say you have a low-supply and then put terms like low-supply and allergies into quotation marks. It sucks (again no pun intended) when you go looking for support when you're mourning your breastfeeding relationship and people either try to retroactively solve all your issues (and generally the solutions were ones that I had used). I now know I did all I could and now feel no guilt. It took a long time (years), that's why I post here.

    Anyway as Wet nurses have existed for god knows how long, I am sure the WHO was well aware of them when they made up their list. “Artificial milk” came fourth. Wet nursing didn't. Homemade formulas according to the WHO should only be used in emergencies and comes after commercially prepared formula http://www.euro.who.int/document/e56303.pdf (page 39). Again even if the WHO has said that formula is the fourth best, they didn't put Rat poison as the 5th.

    I also think it's a Straw man argument to say that she's trying to protect formula feeding. From my perspective she's given a place for women who are doing “what is 4th best” to discuss topics. She's also opening up a discussion between those who may be against formula feeding. Perhaps to see what it is like not to have a breastfeeding relationship. Is that so bad? I understand from some perspective that there are people who think “Everyday is formula feeding day” so why do they need support. However I have seen good health information on formula feeding decrease since my daughter was born in 2006.

    I did a conflict-resolution course last year and one thing it discussed that when you feel that someone is attacking something that is attached to your “meaning” that is what will make you angry. I understand that many people so deeply believe that breastfeeding is far superior to formula feeding so a blog like this may seem like it's an attack. It's not. Please check out her post on comments http://fearlessformulafeeder.blogspot.com/2009/11/some-comments-on-comments.html . Think about it. There are so many blogs dedicated to breastfeeding. What's wrong with one that discusses formula feeding in a non-negative light.

    Peace to you in 2010.

    FFF- sorry to post while you're on vacation.

  14. I can't find sympathy for someone who gets defensive about a minority opinion. Just like I won't get defensive that the earth is round because a minority group decided to follow a fiction book that says the world is flat. It's a minority view, they're not hurting me.

    I have formula fed both my children. Both premature. One “very” premature and needed a lot because I was too ill to pump for a long time and it was only when she was ready to nurse that I was able to pump enough. She didn't do well and needed a lot of formula supplements. My youngest was premature (there are different levels of prematurity just in case that doesn't seem to make sense) and was quite quick at getting it. However much formula I have used I will never accept that it is the best option. It's like having hungry children on a motorway and the only service station being McDonald's. It's junk food but it fills a gap. It fills a gap but that doesn't make it good food.

  15. //affordable health food for lower income groups//

    JFTR, breastmilk is about as affordable and healthful a food as you can get.

    In a culture where breastfeeding is so rare, and where so many people don't understand or feel comfortable around it, infant formula and those who use it do not need supporters.

    It is breastfeeding which needs to be normalised. Part of this process is in changing how we talk about breastfeeding. Breast is NOT best; it's just normal. It is the standard by which all other infant feeding systems are judged.

    So, breast is not best, rather, infant formula is a poor substitute for breastmilk.

    Breast fed babies are not statistically “healthier”, they do not hae “higher IQs”. FF babies are LESS healthy and have LOWER IQs etc. etc. This language is misconstrued as “bullying” by those who feed formula. Get over yourselves. It's not, contrary to the popular song All About You. It's about normalising what should already be normal. If a woman feels “bullied” for her choices, she needs to take a long hard look at herself and deal with her own self-doubt and guilt.

    For what it's worth, I think there is a link between obesity and formula feeding, but I think part of the link is that many of those who choose to use formula are often lower-class, less educated and not well aware of “good choices” when it comes to diet, starting with formula and not really improving a great deal as the child grows.

  16. I feel personally attacked by the commenters with regard to my “guilt” about formula feeding, which makes me believe they didn't actually read my post about formula.

    I think OttawaAllison posted a brilliant response.

    I find it amazing that people post responses like the ones above and then stare at us gape-mouthed asking why in the hell WE need support.

  17. Obesity is more prevalent in lower-class families; breastfeeding is less prevalent. In such families there is often less education, less money to GET that education, less money to follow through on good food choices. (Sadly, junk food is usually cheaper… infant formula being an exception.)

    Those using formula certainly do need more support; to improve the help and information available to them to enable them to breastfeed successfully in future if they wish to have more children.

    If they have already made up their minds to use formula from the get-go, then they are either sorely lacking in information about good health choices, or they just don't give a shit one way or the other.

    If you simply can't breastfeed despite trying, and need to use formula, that is a different kettle of kippers. What is there to feel guilty about? Where is the need for “support”? Unless the reason that breastfeeding was stopped was because of a surmountable problem, but the support network was lacking and it was never overcome… but again, this is to provide more help and information to enable more success in future, not to pat you on the back and validate your decision. That is precisely what this blod is for, but in reality no one can do that for you; it's up to *you*, and you alone.

    No one needs support for using a “majority choice” inferior product.

  18. Sam – some of us mourn the breastfeeding relationship. That is just one of the many reasons why we need support (and I am not asking for support at the expense of breastfeeding support. I support breastfeeding,nursing in public, extended breastfeeding etc). As for the guilt for trying and not succeeding. It is painful. I personally got the idea that breastfeeding was suppose to be the integral part of the mothering experience. I am a type A personality and to try so hard at something (I had help from LCs etc) and have your body seem to betray you is very hard to take, even if you know that feeding you child formula is the thing to do . I was breastfed (as were my siblings… this was during the 70s when it definitely wasn't in vogue … my mom wasn't one to follow trends lol). To me breastfeeding was the “normal” way to feed your child. I managed to realize that the most important thing was that my daughter was being fed. She thrived once being supplemented. For the first time ever she was satisfied and then she started gaining weight.

    Also I do know highly educated women who decided to use formula from the get-go. They looked at the whole picture and decided what worked best for them and their families (and yes, they do care about their children).

    As for your last statement “No one needs support for using a “majority choice” inferior product”. I disagree with your premise and the was you expressed it. I am in a very BF friendly city. I am well educated and have a good job. My peers all started out BFing. In my playgroup the vast majority breastfed and I was the first one to start exclusively formula feeding when my DD was 3.5 months. It's wonderful that this blog is here.

    @Brooke- Thanks!

  19. @Sam-

    Considering that the vast majority of people who read and comment on this blog (myself included) have “legitimate” medical reasons for using formula, and these same people have mentioned time and time again their need and support for this blog and the opinions expressed therein, I would say your argument doesn't really hold water. I intentionally do not differentiate between those of us who have tried to formula feed and those that haven't, because I like to believe in the inherent goodness and intelligence of my readers, and therefore assume that they have educated themselves as to the “risks” of not breastfeeding. Those risks have been questioned a lot lately, and while I know that you will probably ignore or dispute this, in most of the legitimate studies cited by the AAP and such, there is a caveat at the end saying that hydrosolate formulas, or formulas fortified with DHA, have proven to hold the same benefits as breastmilk.

    Breastfeeding pressure backlash has provoked some great critical literature as of late. Hannah Rosin, STATS.org, and Joan Wolf, to name a few. I tend to agree with their assessment that there ARE some indisputable benefits to breastfeeding over formula feeding. However, I think it is the right of every woman to weigh the pros and cons. To struggle or do something painful or uncomfortable psychologically or physically for a few less ear infections (hypothetically) a year and maybe a few less upset stomachs? I don't know. I think that is a choice we should have the right to make without being called a bad mom.

    To the few people who said they formula fed but still think formula is sub-par:

    I was anti-formula until medical reasons forced me to feed my baby formula, and he thrived amazingly well. I feel sorry for those who still believe that they did irreparable harm to their kids or did not allow them to live up to their full potential. That must really suck, so I understand how you are so self-hating. But I wonder how your babies will feel when they are old enough to understand that you think you are at fault for their poor health, or you don't think they are the best they could be. That will really suck, too. My child is more brilliant, with a stronger immune system, and more well-adjusted, than I could have ever hoped for, formula or not.

  20. I just really hate Feminist….women shouldn't have a choice when it comes down to the health of their child. I hate that you say it is a womens right to chose how to feed their baby. Breastmilk is what we are suppose to feed to our children…if not they would have been born with a bottle and a can of formula. We are mamuals…we give our milk to our children.

    Also (most)formula is cows milk…it has just been processed in a lab.

    Also as a mom who used donor milk from milkshare.org…It saved my sons life. His Drs recommended it actually they told me it was either that or he would not thrive. Formula is harmful to some children.

  21. “To struggle or do something painful or uncomfortable psychologically or physically for a few less ear infections (hypothetically) a year and maybe a few less upset stomachs? I don't know. I think that is a choice we should have the right to make without being called a bad mom.”

    God forbid you do something for your child that requires a little bit of work.

    And it shouldn't be a choice. Formula should be the last resort…not the go to thing.

  22. //As for the guilt for trying and not succeeding. It is painful. I personally got the idea that breastfeeding was suppose to be the integral part of the mothering experience. I am a type A personality and to try so hard at something (I had help from LCs etc) and have your body seem to betray you is very hard to take, even if you know that feeding you child formula is the thing to do .//

    Essentially, the letting go of guilt and the painful feelings is still down to you. No one can make that happen for you. If you HAD to stop breastfeeding, then I mourn that right along with you. If I COULDN'T breastfeed, I would mourn too. But I wouldn't expect support for having to use formula, just like I wouldn't expect “support” if my kid refused veggies and wanted crappy food. The kids gotta eat and I'm not going to make a song and dance about it and expect a pat on the back for what I have to resort to.

  23. @Sam Yup, I did do the letting go of the guilt.And while technically I did do it by myself, it was nice to have people supporting me. There are many people who use support groups, boards, chat rooms and blogs to support each other on a plethora of topics. I took offense with you saying that formula feeding women do not need it.

    I guess part of me wanted this, that some of us had issues and just didn't run to formula at the first hint of trouble (btw I don't think most people who breastfeed would think that way, just a tiny minority). I read BF boards and blogs during my DD's first year of life to try and figure out a strategy for next time. I'd only chime in when stereotypes were being made or if they were really being down on formula feeders (here are a few I heard during that time; they don't want to ruin their breasts; they don't want the responsibility and want to go and party; they are uninformed; their doctor is an idiot; they leave their kiddies with their bottle propped; they had formula in their house, that is why they went to formula; look at this – this mom accidentally mixed their formula with Vodka; if a mom knew what was in formula she would never use it; they didn't try hard enough; they had a “low-supply”). An epiphany came to me when my DD was 9 months old. I saw her playing with a bunch of other kids and realized, no one would know how any of them were fed by watching them.

    @ Anonymous – So does that mean all of our choices need to be scrutinized then if it could affect the health of your child? Our choice to drive? Should people who drive with their kids in their car above the speed limit be charged? Should parents who don't exercise be reprimanded (being active yourself increases the chance of your kids being active)? Feminism isn't a bad thing, most of us in the western world born after the 60s don't know what it is like to live without the influence of the third wave of feminism and quite honestly I am glad.

  24. Ah yes… sarcasm is confusing!

    I was referring to the post that referred to us not being born with bottles and formula (which was the last post when I responded before other posts were approved).

    My point was that I rely on antibiotics to cure bacterial infections and that without antibiotics I probably would be dead. Colostrum does not supercede modern medicine… sorry. Saying that we were not born with bottles and formula *obviously* negates the need for any man-made substance because we weren't born with them (that was sarcasm, in case there was any question).

    Since I make so little sense elsewhere, can you please point out those comments so that I can help clarify.

  25. Ottawa Alison – If someone were to point out on a discussion board the health disadvantages of feeding kids processed food I wouldn't take offence. If someone else said “I don't think women need support for feeding their kids MacDonalds” I still would not take offence, even if that was all I could get my kid to eat. I'm sorry that you feel offended and I'm sorry that you are so easily offended. I am not sorry for the facts (formula is a distant 4th best when it comes to feeding choices, if that) and I don't apologise for my opinion either, particularly as it was not directed at anyone personally. If I were so easily offended I wouldn't frequent online blogs and forums where offence is so much more easily taken.

  26. @Sam – my daughter eats mostly unprocessed foods and gets lots of activity, however I lucked out on having a kid who adores veggies and fruit and a kid who's energy levels are boundless (she's the most active kid I know, she's been in constant motion since she was in utero – no kick counts were ever necessary). I know others aren't so lucky. Would I think it was ideal that some kids who refuse to eat veggies and fruits were getting highly processed food every night, of course not. That being said, I would also support the mother in her frustrations if she had wanted to feed her kids all the nutritious stuff, but is having a heck of a time feeding it to her kids (my brother lived on peanut butter sandwiches for about a year and refused fruits and veggies… my mom was lamenting about that with me today when we were talking about nut-free schools, but I digress). Does she not deserve support because she's not doing the ideal, is she not allowed to speak her frustrations?

    Anyhoo, let's agree to disagree. You don't agree with the purpose of this board fine (there are plenty of support boards of activities I don't agree with either). You disagree with me being offended by your comments no worries, let's agree to disagree.

  27. One more thing which goes back to this post. Breastfeeding often requires a lot of work in a very short amount of time to make it happen. Essentially there isn't a huge window of time. Some women can relactate, but not everyone can, at least exclusively.

    I have breast hypoplasia, so I had an undersupply as it was (I breastfed for 3 months, not exclusively). So sure, the ideal would have been just breastmilk, but the option wasn't there. So, as for door number 2. I was using a top of the line hospital grade pump, I hardly even got half an ounce. So door number 3, as my name suggests I live in Ottawa; there is one milk bank in Canada, in Victoria BC. In 2006, my costs would have been 700$ per week to get it sent and there would be situations where it wouldn't always been available if they were having shortages (first priority went to preemies as it should have been, my DD was born at 41.5 weeks).

    So I was left with door number 4 for most of my daughter's first year. I don't think one can compare Formula to junk food or McD's since first of all, formula is formulated to provide a lot of a baby's nutritional requirements in compositions similar to breast milk (I know, sans the antibodies); junk food/fast food isn't . Junk food tastes good, formula doesn't (well DD liked it, I didn't).

    Can you at least view formula like a protein drink or meal replacement? Formula has evolved over time as well.

    Again you'll probably disagree with me, but c'est la vie. I am guessing we'll have to agree to disagree.

    Cheers and have a nice day.

  28. I'll never understand why those who are so “fearless” and proud of their choice to feed their babies artficial baby milk feel the need to “defend” themselves and talk about Mommy Guilt. How on Earth can you feel guilty for something you think is perfectly fine?

    The bottom line is that nearly every mother CAN breastfeed. It's just in this country that we have soooo many problems with it.

  29. When my daughter was in the NICU donated milk was never an option. They were very strict about checking breastmilk, requiring that two nurses verify that the milk label matched the ID bracelet, and a note went into her chart at every feeding saying milk was verified by so-and-so. This makes me doubt if donated milk is really a better alternative than formula, especially if it is not pasteurized. The doctors and nurses that cared for my daughter were *very* careful not to feed a mother's milk to a different child and those procedures wouldn't be in place if there weren't risks involved.

  30. hmmm, just a thought. if you truly believe that a woman's milk varies from day to day, feeding to feeding, what faith does that leave you with formula? formula is “patterned” after breastmilk, 20 calories per ounce, and the amounts of vitamans and minerals. but whose breastmilk? what time of day? what feeding? formula doesn't change the caloric level EVER (if you mix it properly, and please those who use it, mix it properly!) are formula fed babies ever getting what they need? i don't know and i'm not trying to be rude whatsoever, it was just a thought.

  31. Wow. It’s really unfortunate that you set up a site to support people who formula feed and it gets filled with rude, judgmental, even harsh comments. You would think that purple who are supporting “the natural way” would be more caring.
    As I have been doing more and more research about formula feeding, admittedly in part trying to ease some guilt, I am learning how mean moms can be to each other. I hope you don’t let their superior attitudes get to you- keep this site going. Many of us need support!

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