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August 07, 2007



I've said this before and I'll say it again, mothers know what's best for their babies and themselves.

So, that being said... I'm really glad that you posted a portion of your paper. It's good to be well informed about the benefits of breast milk. Beyond the benefits of breast feeding, I chose to do this because I had a physical urge to. It felt so natural to me. I know it's not like this for everyone but I'm happy to be able to experience this with Max. Also out of sheer laziness breast feeding is great for me. I just whip the boob out and there's the food within seconds! I agree that BF is becoming trendy which is excellent news because it is so good for the baby.

I believe it's important to be well informed on both sides of this discussion.


While I definitely agree that the substance of breastmilk cannot be replaced by any chemical formula, no matter how close they come to it, I think that the experience (besides the cost!) of breastfeeding and the experience of formula feeding are the same- the bond is the same, your desire to do what is best for your baby is the same. BF was far from natural to me, even though it's supposed to be the most natural thing. I was too lazy to BF, too lazy to take the extra time to get over my frustration. One day, when Gab was about a week old, I literally thought I was going to throw him out of the window because he just wouldn't latch on! It was then that I decided that I wanted to do both formula and BF so that Etienne could feed him from time to time and so that my boobs could have a break. I first contacted La Leche League, thinking that they would support nursing no matter how often, and rather than support, I was shocked to basically to learn that supplementing was wrong. That made me wonder- wouldn't they rather have someone nurse a little than not at all? Gab's first month was spent getting unasked for prescriptions from the pediatrician (when I expressed my desire to formula feed) to get my milk back in, a friend calling from her international vacation saying that stopping BF is wrong, and the PMI also telling me to stop formula feeding. All of these people were telling me that I was being a bad mother by not giving Gab 'the best thing possible' but at the same time, I deeply felt that by stopping BF, our life would be better and that the post partum depression that was creeping up on me would be better. So, I felt torn and with the hormones on top of that, it was a nightmare that I'll always remember. With Louise, well, not now but when she was born, I've gotten comments 'Why aren't you BF?' and it doesn't matter now, I know that even though my kids don't get the best milk that mother nature produces, they are getting more love than they'd get if I did BF. Hell, they probably wouldn't even be here by now if I continued BF because I probably would have either committed suicide or thrown one of them out the window! I wish, at the time of Gab's birth, I had found support in my choice to formula feed because I had to do a lot of research and spent a lot of time- can you believe I even looked up articles about being a bad mother for not BF? If I had just gotten once (well, besides from Etienne who supported whatever I chose) from the slew of professionals I encountered when Gab was born 'You need to do what is best for you and if that means formula feeding, then that is what is the healthiest for the baby', then my whole attitude about BF and propaganda for BF would be completely different. But, I had such a negative experience with propaganda in the wrong way that it's unfortunate that anything having to do with BF now I just cringe.

Something like Worldwide BF Week just reminds me of the division I feel exists between women on their feeding choices. There are two choices out there and neither is the better because each choice is adapted to each circumstance, there is no overall global better choice because each person, each baby, each circumstance is different. Trying to globalize such a personal choice almost seems like it is trying to force a choice onto someone. I feel that BF has become more of a moral issue rather than a personal issue and if Worldwide BF week is to celebrate mother nature's best substance, then let's go for it. But, if it's to celebrate the actual experience or to say 'I BF, I'm better than everyone else', I do think it creates division. And, I would support the idea of a Worldwide Formula week for the sheer fact that babies who are unable to tolerate their mother's milk have been saved from possible death (we had friends whose daughter was hospitalized recently because of a severe allergic reaction to human milk and if Formula hadn't existed, she might not be living)

It's just all in the attitude. Also, now when I hear something like 'I have this and this experience because I BF', I do like to chime in and say that us Formula Feeding mothers go through the exact same thing in order to share instead of exclude experiences. We're all mommas and we're all in this together, besides the actual substance, it's all the same and let's celebrate that we even have young infants to feed and nourish- that in itself is a wonderful thing. And, let's share our feeding experiences together. A mother bottlefeeding her child on a park bench is just as beautiful as a mother breastfeeding and whether the substance in the bottle is natural or artificial, that baby is being fed and nourished by his or her momma.


Aimee and Andie,

Thanks for sharing your personal perspective. I completely agree that all feeding techniques have their ups and downs and as long as they are delivered with love then that is what counts.

I think what is important to remember here, and I tried to express this above is that 1) in some countries it is actually dangerous for women to use formula. The WHO/Unicef recognize that in areas of the world with high levels of malnutrition, breastfeeding can make or break it for a baby. What I discovered when writing my paper was that basically a mother's diet has very little influence over the quality of her milk.I was surprised by this but it makes a lot of sense in terms of nature taking care of its self. If a mother eats poorly while breastfeeding, she will experience a deficiency of some sort but the baby will still get everything it needs. Our bodies are pretty incredible. A lot of the movement of breastfeeding awareness campaigns is to promote breastfeeding in developing nations.

2) Like I said above, it seems like breastfeeding is everywhere and Andie I think you have a unique experience. In most places formula feeding is much more supported than breastfeeding. The goal of promoting breastfeeding is helping women to at least initiate breastfeeding and then hopefully continue if they want to. While you don't feel comfortable with breastfeeding, you also have an income that supports formula feeding. Many poor people could save a lot of money with breastfeeding not only in terms of formula but in long term health care costs. Those struggling to make ends meet aren't going to buy high quality formula so their baby might actually suffer. By teaching women about the benefits of breastfeeding they might be able to give their babies a better start in life.

Some other reasons for promoting breastfeeding is that there are still many workplaces that don't support moms who want to pump. This means that in the United States, which has a very short maternity leave, mothers are often obligated to give up breastfeeding. Through breastfeeding campaigns, companies can begin to realize that they need to support their female employees.

I don't feel that any breastfeeding campaign aims to denounce formula feeding. Especially not towards those women who feel so confident in their choices like you, Andie. I don't think anyone is trying to force breastfeeding. I know it doesn't seem this way to you but breastfeeding is not as commonplace in the society although that is changing rapidly.

As far as experiences, I don't think anyone is excluding anyone when they say that they experienced something related to breastfeeding. Those of us who only breastfeed can only speak from our experiences. We don't know the other end. And it is a different experience in the long run. Not exclusive, just different. Holding a bottle and having a baby suckle on your nipple is not the same sensation. One is not better than the other, they are just different.


BF needs to be adapted to each individual situation. In countries where high-quality formula and water are not readily available, of course BF should be promoted because individual situations call for its necessity.

And, in all honesty, if I didn't have the pressures that our Western society creates (even just having to do all of the administrative paperwork just weeks after Gab was born caused a breakdown) on a daily basis and that I also add to my life being a member of Western society (we have way too much choice and way too many choices to make), then I probably would have given BF a much better chance. But I couldn't handle that as yet another source of pressure. So, I do commend women who can get past all the pressure we have to go through nowadays being the modern women we are PLUS take the time and energy it takes to BF- that is an accomplishment. And, like you say, women don't get maternity leaves in a lot of countries so there is just another pressure to go back to work. I can also say that with Louise, it was even less of a question to BF than with Gab- having a 2 year old to take care of wouldn't allow me to spend every hour of the day trying to get her to feed when it was just so easy to say to Etienne 'can you go feed her?' But, some women have time to do that and the energy but I think that not only you but your family needs to be willing to commit to BF because it also has an impact on the whole family. I enjoy the relationship Gab and Lousie have created- he has never been jealous once of his sister- and I wonder had I spent more time feeding her, with her on me, would they have the same relationship?

I also don't know in the US, but in France formula adapted to babies under the age of 4 months is forbidden by law to be advertised. You see lots of formula ads, but if you look closely, not one if for 'Premier Age'. I also chose the formula (in the Premier Age version) that had the ad with a woman breastfeeding because I liked the harmony the ad created between BF and formula feeding mothers.

We also talk about 'breastfeeding' but a baby can be completely and 100 percent BF from a bottle. I know of many women who pump completely, from day 1. It would be wonderful for Breast Milk to be available, frozen, in grocery stores! (i thought about pumping but it just seemed too overwhelming, the whole process, and they all say never to give a baby a bottle before a month anyway so there is very little info out there on pumping from birth- maybe along with BF, information about pumping from birth should be readily available so that those who don't desire to use the boob as the means of providing the milk can still BF) After all, breast or bottle, it's the substance that counts.



I think that is a really good point. There are human milk banks where women can donate extra milk for premature babies. I've always thought that was a great idea. And if employers were more supportive of a women's choice to pump more women might be willing to give it a try.

I just have to add though that once again BFing is not associated with psychological ramifications for the child. Jealousy for a sibling is no more associated with BFing as it is for bottle feeding. Most likely if a child is going to be jealous he or she will be whether the new baby is bottle or breastfed. So much of it is about your attitude and how you prepare the first child for the new baby and it sounds like you did a good job!

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