I’ve just been reading some statistics about the number of women in the US who are voluntarily feeding their babies formula and it’s got me scared. In some other countries, especially EU, you have to get a prescription for formula if you cannot for whatever reason nurse your baby. In the US, not only is this dreck sold in supermarkets, it is heavily advertised and promoted to pregnant women, even in the hospital! It’s not even the people buying it. WIC (which something ilke 10% of American mothers are on) will actually GIVE these poor mothers formula for free!
In case some of you are wondering why this makes me so mad, here’s some statistics and studies:
If I were feeding my baby a drug to make him less resistant to infections, give 8-10 fewer IQ points than other babies, and more prone to obesity, I would expect the government to take an interest in the well-being of the baby. If the side effect of the drug was that I had a higher risk of breast cancer and obesity concerns related to not losing pregnancy weight, I would expect the government to take an interest.
I’m not saying that women who choose to formula feed are intentionally damaging their children or themselves. Of course there are very real reasons why some women cannot breastfeed- for example, several infectious diseases including HIV are transmtted through breastmilk. I believe that the overwhelming majority of women who formula feed by choice simply don’t know the risks involved and go with what seems the approved route. You can’t watch TV aimed at women without being barraged by formula commercials, and the shows themselves show babies fed only by bottle. In the hospital, I told them and told them I was going to breastfeed only, and I was still sent home with a dozen or more packets of formula, plus a pile of ads and coupons for it. And then of course the WIC program gives it out for free to millions of the women and babies who would benefity most from breastfeeding.
It just makes me mad.
It disturbs me, too. I remember back when I chose to breastfeed, I got a lot of flak about it. I read up on a lot of things including natural childbirth and breastfeeding before I had my first child. If a woman is capable of producing milk, why on earth would she not breastfeed? Here you have the perfect food, specifically manufactured for human infants, always delivered at the perfect temperature, always the right amount, etc. Plus there are a lot of antibodies in mothers’ milk which are not in infant formula.
Women get a lot of bull about “well if you havent started producing milk in a couple days, you probably cant’ feed” and “it’s impossible to breast feed and bottle feed at the same time” and so on. All that is horse-hockey.
If you’d like to make a difference, I suggest you look into joining La Leche Leauge.
Right. It makes more sense to work on outreach & education than to blanket the countryside with laws. You can’t legislate good sense, but you can help folks to better understand how to nourish their babies.
you need to find a cite to back your claim that the European Union will only allow formula sale by prescription. I’ve never heard of such a thing and I’m sure it would be all over lactnet if they brought it in. Googling it only brought up a site discussing the marketing of prescription formula for special conditions.
Personally I’m torn on the idea of prescription only formula. I don’t think it would work, it would just add money to doctors’ bank accounts because I don’t think women who view formula as equivalent or a necessary thing would change their minds based on a law change. We’d need a societal change where women are truly supported to breastfeed and given time to establish a bf’ing relationship and information and support.
Yikes. There’s an incredible amount of misinformation in that thread, which, in part, is the problem.
I had problems getting both my children to nurse properly, once at first and once at about 4-5 weeks, and in both cases the services of a lactation consultant was included with the birth at no cost to me. This is at two different hospitals in two different states. I had as much access by phone and in person as I could use. I got through it.
Some people can’t get through it. Some mothers’ bodies don’t work properly, (and sometimes there’s not a Mom in the picture anymore) and for their kids there should be help in the form of formula. No shame in that any more than there’s shame in having any other not-up-to-speed body part like a leg or liver.
What I have problems with is when someone doesn’t even bother to try to give their baby that best head start, and most of the time it’s due to that same ignorance of the facts about both forms of feeding. I have problems with my tax dollars going to help some poor uninformed teenage mom’s kid go to the doctor (again on my tax dollars) more often because she wasn’t encouraged to nurse her baby. I would far rather have those same tax dollars go to paying for a visiting lactation specialist’s gas.
Does anyone have any facts about how this works in other countries where formula is available by prescription only?
But the general consensus of the medical community isn’t that formula is harmful, rather that breast milk has certain benefits formula doesn’t. Even if we assume that all of these claims are accurate and directly attributable to the superiority of breast milk – which is a big assumption – a more accurate analogy would be comparing breast milk to a drug that makes babies more resistant to infections, raises their IQ, etc. Would you support forcing parents to give their child such a drug?
If the insurance companies are convinced that 4 weeks is enough time between delivery and a return to work date, then there’s not much hope, unless you get them to change their policy. Aside from my first (who wouldn’t latch on), my kids were fed by me for six weeks, and the only reason I stopped was because I had to return to work. I think I would welcome the prescription policy in theory. In practice, it would probably get abused, and then cause insurance costs to skyrocket even more. The people hurt by it even more would be those without insurance, and then by turn the taxpayer picking up the Medicare tab.
I think it’s easier to determine that an infant is getting all of the right nutrients from a formula, you can’t be sure that the mother is ingesting her vitamins or the right kinds of food. It is also easier to determine if a rash, wheeze or other allergy symptom comes from what was in the formula than to determine if it’s an allergy to what the mother’s been eating.
We already are forced to give them vaccinations if they want to enter day care or school.
Who is going to take responsibility for the first baby who dies because their mother didn’t put them to the breast enough?
I can’t see legislating a huge liability like that.
Now, if you want to put price locks on formula to keep the price low while make the standard for quality and cleanliness sky high to take the profit out the industry, go for it. I don’t think that’s legal, though.
I hadn’t thought about it that way. I don’t know. I approve of giving kids vaccines to make them more resistant to, say, chicken pox or polio. Would I approve of a vaccine against asthma, ear infection, and obesity? Yes, I think I would.
But I don’t think that’s an accurate analogy. Babies are designed to live on breastmilk and breastmilk is designed to nourish and protect babies. Therefore what children grow into when following this design must be considered to be their natural weight, IQ, and whatever else. A breastfed baby must be considered biologically the norm, and if there’s a widespread difference from the norm, then the change must be in the change.
As for studies, see my OP.
In our case, we did get free samples of formula in the hospital, but every nurse in the hospital and every child basics class we took through the hospital emphasized the importance of breast-feeding, and mentioned that formula should be a secondary choice. The hospital had a lactation consultant visiting the mothers/newborns every day to help them with problems in breastfeeding, and the hospital had a helpline (telephone) and lactation consultants for mothers that needed help after their return home.
This was in California, USA, in 2002.
Arrgh. I can’t find the cite. I think I may have misunderstood it, now that I re-read this:http://www.ibfan.org/english/resource/who/fullcode.html
Perhaps the prescription this is untenable in the US but I think not advertising breastmilk and not shoving it at pregnant women and new moms is a good idea.
I should qualify this. It would happen far less frequently than a baby dying because his mom forgets to feed him formula. Much less so, because if you don’t feed a baby for a few hours, your breasts get swollen and hurt A Lot. The best way to get them to stop hurting is to stick a baby on them. It’s a biologial alarm clock that the kid has gone longer than usual without milk. There is no biological drive with a bottle.
Would too happen. And there’s no quality control with breast milk.
Having said that, let me say that breast milk is far superior to formula. It is the preferred way of nourishing an infant. But in the olden days before formula or even regularly milked cows and goats, poor quality breastmilk due to malnutrition and illness was a common problem. Mothers dried up, or cut way back on milk production, and baby did poorly or died.
And formula is better than cow’s milk (or even goat’s milk) for infants. Less chance of inducing food allergies, infectious agents, bowel irritation, the whole nine yards.
Is formula marketed too hard? Yes. Should we do more to encourage nursing? Double yes. But nourishing food for infants should be easily obtainable for anyone.