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Weird question for this board...

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
Being pregnant with my first, I really notice the parenting decisions of those around me with newborns. I've seen several women choose to put their babies on formula right away. I DO NOT understand this, and it honestly makes me so mad and sorry for the poor kids. I've spent time with both breast- and formula-fed babies, and have yet to meet a formula-fed one that seems really healthy.

There's a couple younger moms I know with newborns that are not in a good situation financially, but are not planning on going back to work until Baby is older, yet they're dishing out the money for formula. I know a few who are well-off financially, stay-at-home moms, and they've got their newborns on formula. I know some who are all into "natural", going on and on about their awesome parenting decisions - Baby's on formula.

Obviously, this board is about breastfeeding, but maybe someone here can tell me why on earth, unless you're physically incapable of nursing, you would put your baby on formula in any of the above situations.

Am I really so sheltered that I don't realize this is still a fashionable decision? I thought that was something that went out of style in the 70's and 80's. Does seeing a woman who is perfectly capable of breastfeeding her baby hauling around a sickly formula-fed kid make anybody else mad?
post #2 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by leappiah View Post
Being pregnant with my first, I really notice the parenting decisions of those around me with newborns. I've seen several women choose to put their babies on formula right away. I DO NOT understand this, and it honestly makes me so mad and sorry for the poor kids. I've spent time with both breast- and formula-fed babies, and have yet to meet a formula-fed one that seems really healthy.

There's a couple younger moms I know with newborns that are not in a good situation financially, but are not planning on going back to work until Baby is older, yet they're dishing out the money for formula. I know a few who are well-off financially, stay-at-home moms, and they've got their newborns on formula. I know some who are all into "natural", going on and on about their awesome parenting decisions - Baby's on formula.

Obviously, this board is about breastfeeding, but maybe someone here can tell me why on earth, unless you're physically incapable of nursing, you would put your baby on formula in any of the above situations.

Am I really so sheltered that I don't realize this is still a fashionable decision? I thought that was something that went out of style in the 70's and 80's. Does seeing a woman who is perfectly capable of breastfeeding her baby hauling around a sickly formula-fed kid make anybody else mad?
No, seeing a sick (or well) formula-fed child doesn't anger me. Why would it? The parent is feeding their child and children get sick, whether breastfed or formula-fed. What's to get angry about?

I used to wonder why people would spend money on formula when breastmilk is free. Then I started to breastfeed. It has not been easy. Am I capable? Yes. Would formula be much easier? Yes! I think it's very easy to cast judgment on people when you a) haven't breastfed, b) haven't had a difficult time breastfeeding, and/or c) enjoy breastfeeding and cannot understand why others wouldn't do it.

Formula is not poison; it is food for a baby. Is breastmilk better? Yes, but it does not make formula feeding a bad choice. It also doesn't mean a mother that chooses to formula feed should be judged on this parenting decision. There are plenty of parenting choices people make that may be different than what you would choose. I see no reason to get angry provided the parents are not abusive.

FTR, I haven't fed my DS formula and do not plan to do so. At the same time, I really find the attitude (oftentimes found on natural parenting boards/communities) that formula feeding is somehow a horrible choice really discouraging. Why do mothers feel the need to tear other mothers down? I think we should just try and believe everyone is doing the best they can because more often than not, they are!
post #3 of 46
Once upon a time I would have, but not any more. Breastfeeding has been a Herculean task. It has been the most painful, spirit-breaking and emotionally hard thing I have ever done. I am still going, but I have full understanding of why anyone might quit. My DH, my mom, and my best friend are the only ones who really know what I've been through with nursing. My midwife, LLL, and playgroup know quite a bit. Anyone else (including my entire group of friends) has no idea. They would have either seen me breastfeeding or formula feeding and made their own assumptions.

I guess what I'm saying is that unless you're their #1 confidant, you can only guess at their reasons for not BFing.
post #4 of 46
I agree with PPs. There is so much misinformation and not enough knowledgeable support out there for breastfeeding women, and SO many nursing relationships fall victim to this. I nearly had to give up nursing my DD because of misinformation and some inherent problems she had with nursing. I also wanted to add that not all bottles are filled with formula--I had to pump and bottlefeed my milk to my DD for three months (and I was always worried that people would think it was formula, though that was likely my PPD talking).

If you are as deadset on nursing as it seems you are (and I commend you for that), I would really get involved in La Leche League or a similar support network *now*, while you are still pregnant. That way, if and when you are 5 days postpartum and breastfeeding problems have you near tears (or in tears, as was the case for me), you will 1) have more knowledge about what to do and 2) know your leaders well enough to feel comfortable calling them right away for help.
post #5 of 46
You know - I think that if I want to have the right to breastfeed in public without someone being a jerk to me about it, I need to extend the same courtesy to other families about how they feed their babies. And frankly, I get kind of tired of crunchy moms soliciting support for looking down on families who feed their babies formula.

There are many reasons a family might feed their kid formula:

*tried hard to breastfeed, but it didn't work for any of a number of reasons.

*had little modeling for breastfeeding.

*inaccurate information about breastfeeding.

*no marital/medical/family support.

*had to go back to work almost immediately.

*no cultural support for breastfeeding. (I think this is a big one.)

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

If none of that is true for you, that's great, but maybe it just makes you luckier than that mom with the bottle, not better.

Breastmilk is the optimum food for a human baby. Formula is an attempt to mimic that food. It's not the perfect food breastmilk is, but it certainly isn't made of cyanide. Babies who are fed formula are not all sickly. The ruddiest infant I know is formula-fed. Feeding it to your baby doesn't make you a bad person. I think it's divisive and hurtful to assume otherwise.

PS: I am really into breastfeeding. I do it myself, and I have the highest-possible levels of support for it. I can't imagine anyone getting more support and more help from husband/parents/in-laws/random strangers (I have had many people come up to me and tell me how great it is that I'm breastfeeding in public. Those horror stories you see of people being jerks to a nursing mom? It's like I live in the bizarro-world version of that.) And I have ample supply.

And STILL, breastfeeding was harder than I thought it was going to be. Definitely a relationship, definitely a learned thing for both of us. I understand why people quit breastfeeding. I bet most nursing moms do, if they're honest.
post #6 of 46
I do get bothered when I know that a mom isn't even considering breastfeeding her baby-to-be. I know that there are a million reasons why a baby might be on formula after it's born, but unless there is a medical or psychological reason (like sexual abuse) why the mother cannot breastfeeding, I think it is unfair to the baby to not even try.

And I say that as someone who didn't have an easy start breastfeeding her kids - both were preemies, and #1 spent 6 weeks in the NICU. I was still able to nurse him to 22 months with no formula. I educated myself on what I needed to do to be able to breastfeed him, and never considered giving up. Was it hard? Heck yeah. But it was the right thing to do.
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by zwitterion View Post
I also wanted to add that not all bottles are filled with formula--I had to pump and bottlefeed my milk to my DD for three months (and I was always worried that people would think it was formula, though that was likely my PPD talking).
I had to EP the first 8 weeks, and I did NOT have PPD and I worried about this!! You work SO FREAKING HARD to pump and you know there are still people out there making snap judgments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zwitterion View Post
If you are as deadset on nursing as it seems you are (and I commend you for that), I would really get involved in La Leche League or a similar support network *now*, while you are still pregnant. That way, if and when you are 5 days postpartum and breastfeeding problems have you near tears (or in tears, as was the case for me), you will 1) have more knowledge about what to do and 2) know your leaders well enough to feel comfortable calling them right away for help.
We had a mama there yesterday 5 days PP. Baby refuses to latch entirely. She was just bawling - at the end of her rope, almost done. I second the LLL before giving birth. I thought it was a stupid idea when I was pregnant, but now I don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lalemma View Post
There are many reasons a family might feed their kid formula:

*inaccurate information about breastfeeding.
I want to second and even add to this one. I've been to 7 LLL meetings now. At every single one, there is at least one, and often two or more moms there struggling with breastfeeding because of awful information from their pediatricians! It's always the ped! Makes me so angry.
post #8 of 46
I was often irked by this as well, then I gave birth and experienced a failed attempt at breastfeeding my son.

I had no LLL group or support groups around my area, no family with any type of breastfeeding experience or knowledge, no friends who could help and the "lactation consultant" at the hospital was even less help than the people who had no idea what they were talking about.

It hurt a bit when he latched on at the hospital. When I told the LC/Nurse this she told me, "Sometimes mom and baby just aren't compatible."

I'd read numerous books on nursing but in the end, a serious lack of support and education from women who had been there and done that was what did me in. No one told me that the first few weeks ARE painful and that there ARE issues and mountains you have to climb sometimes. I thought that his latch was just bad and I was clueless as to how to fix it or what to do to help me through the transition.

So I stopped nursing him. After that I realized that many women have a serious lack of education and resources. It's HARD when everyone you're surrounded with isn't supportive. My family said, "Oh, good for you." but just shrugged and acted skeptical. My MIL laughed when I stopped nursing and was pleased because now I'd have to "do things how she did them".

I don't know the details of anyone's situation and from my own experience with my first, I learned that no net of support can really be detrimental to a new mom trying to breastfeed.
post #9 of 46
One of my close girlfriends just didn't like the feeling of nursing, said it felt sexual put her baby on formula at 1 day old.
post #10 of 46
You're not in a mainstream group!

The perception I see in our society is that formula is normal. Bottles are normal. This is what most women see (how many of us saw babies breastfeed on a regular basis before we had our own children?). This is what baby wrapping paper has on it, what advertisements pregnant women get in the mail, what the mainstream magazines show, what the hospitals give away as a "welcome" gift.

Most women get little to no information about the risks of formula feeding. Most get little to no information about how to breastfeed. How to overcome common and not-so-common challenges. Most babies are born with medication in their bodies that makes normal behavior, like breastfeeding, difficult if not impossible. And most hospital staff has no idea how to help. Most hospital staff doesn't believe that it matters! So most women end up formula feeding, or at best, combining breastfeeding with formula (until supply and demand takes effect and their milk dries up).

Breastfeeding my twins was amazingly difficult. And I thought I was prepared and ready. I'd done my homework - went to La Leche League meetings, read about breastfeeding in general and breastfeeding twins specifically, met other moms who breastfed. Then I had a "normal" (not physiologically normal, but sociologically normal) C-section birth in a "normal" hospital. And next thing I knew, my babies were losing too much weight and getting formula supplements. It was devastating. Now, we made it through. It was one of the hardest challenges I've faced, and successfully breastfeeding is one of the things I'm proudest of - not just as a mother, but in my whole life.

My third child was born at home. No medicine, no interventions, no separation. I had a community surrounding me who expected that we would breastfeed. My midwives were here daily. My friends are either breastfeeding moms, LLL Leaders, or IBCLCs (or all 3). We STILL struggled. I hated breastfeeding her for at least the first few days. It hurt. It was hard. So how would a "normal" women in a "normal" situation, for our society, actually manage to keep breastfeeding?

I tell myself that the bottle has breastmilk in it (hey, sometimes it does). I feel sad for the mom and the baby. I blame society. And I try to be there for my friends and family when they're expecting a baby, and in the early days postpartum. I hope for the future, when my own babies are having babies. And I have no idea if my 8-year olds' friends were breastfed or not!
post #11 of 46
I agree with so much of what pp have said but I DO feel disappointed when I know women who do not even try bfing. I don't think that's a bad thing. Am I being judgemental - maybe a little but it's in my head - I would never actually say anything. I'm not going to pretend I don't make judgements about other mother's choices - I do & I'm not alone in that. I keep my mouth closed about it though & that's a lot more than I can say about many of the people I know irl.
post #12 of 46
I don't know. I get spanked by the Mods when I start in why people choose formula when they are capable of breastfeeding. It is also still a trend in the parenting in my community (I don't live in Crunchy Town), too. I think it is bizarre, and it bothers me. I do not think that formula feeding would be easier. I was really lucky, I guess. Put babe to boob, feed babe. Yes, my nips cracked, yes I got mastitis, yes I was tired being the only one up at night, yes my kid bit me, yes I got tired of being the human pacifier all night long for ever . . . I still don't think it was that hard or that the drawbacks of doing it even came close to the drawbacks of not doing it. I don't get it either.
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by zwitterion View Post
If you are as deadset on nursing as it seems you are (and I commend you for that), I would really get involved in La Leche League or a similar support network *now*, while you are still pregnant. That way, if and when you are 5 days postpartum and breastfeeding problems have you near tears (or in tears, as was the case for me), you will 1) have more knowledge about what to do and 2) know your leaders well enough to feel comfortable calling them right away for help.
I agree whole-heartedly! I didn't have anyone to call with BF issues postpartum and ended up calling my midwives a lot. They helped as much as they could, but all they have is their experiences as mothers. They aren't lactation consultants.
post #14 of 46
yes, i think formula feeding is still "fashionable" to some people(like my entire extended family) they actually believe its *better* for the baby to get formula than it is to bf. i was laughed at(by my dad) for "wasting my time" pumping in the hospital (when they didn't *let* me nurse DS (NICU baby), but thats another story for another time )

also, in the beginning(first week or so?), most women experience pain from bad latch. if you have a terrible latch, and don't have a good LC, or other good bf resources, you may never fix your latch, and give up.

there were(are?) times i want/ed to stop bf, and STILL, bf feels TOO weird to me, but i can't, because i KNOW the benefits of bf, and I HATE formula(i hate the smell of it, i hate how ds acts after drinking it, i hate the spit up from it, and i'd really rather NOT wash bottles, or have to search for a clean bottle) I also love the 'magical powers' that bm has. it calms ds down, it takes away his pain(like the time he got a shot and i nursed him through it) he'll take the breast even when he wont take a bottle, i can just "pop it out" at night when he's crying. also, i believe that bf is a right that my child has on me. as his mom, and the ONLY person(short of a wet nurse) who can BF him, i OWE it to him to bf.

so, to me, its tough, but even though bf is very uncomfortable, i've stuck with it for almost 8 months now, because my motivation for bf is so high, and my "new" goal(from my "fake" 6 mo goal" baby steps ) is 12 months. i'd love to be a great mama who nurses their kid longer, but i really don't think i'm going to make it.

if i didn't have a such a huge motivation, and if my friends didn't also bf, i dont think i would have even bf for a few days
post #15 of 46
I'm a totally formula-fed baby, myself. And, I had a lot of ear infections as a kid, and still suffer from allergies. You know what? My daughter never had ONE DROP of formula, and nursed until she turned four. And, she still had ear infections and suffers from allergies.

I think that, especially when you're pregnant with your first, you are really idealistic and tend to project that idealism to the world (I know that I did). And when you see people making mainstream decisions, especially when it's people close to you (siblings, friends, cousins), it can make you really angry. But remember, you've only got so much energy. Use it to make the right decisions for YOUR family, and be a model through your actions and decisions for the type of life that you think other kids should have. My sis is still nursing her 9 month old son, at least part of the time, which is 7 months longer than she nursed her first. And, I think part of that came from the example I set. My sister and cousins all got into babywearing, too. And, we live in a pretty mainstream area.
post #16 of 46
People use formula for as many reasons as there are babies.

I have a friend who formula fed all 3 of hers almost from birth. With #1 she had a forceps delivery, a vaginal haematoma, massive bleeding, 3 surgeries to try to remove/close the haematoma, almost a week in intensive care and 15units of blood transfused. She was severely anaemic despite the transfusions and her milk never came in (milk is a blood product, if you are very compromised in that area you will need a lot of help to get a good supply going). Her #2 she BF for a few days, but her #1 is ASD and would stand screaming about 1 foot from her whenever she nursed, she ended up putting him in front of the tv in a stroller while she fed, which was obviously NOT the best thing for him, nor for her because it made her feel like crap, nor for the family with exhausted self-hating mum and square-eyes #1.... With #3 she began, but since her #2 is only 1 and #1 is only 3 she has a LOT on her plate. And so she went to FF quite quickly because pumping was too time consuming and BFing wasn't realistic with 2 other tiny kids, one of whom is SN, when she COULD NOT afford to be the only one who can feed the baby.

She is one of my closest mama-friends, and i love her (very healthy, certainly as healthy as mine) kids.

Another friend was definitely going to BF no matter what. Her boy was born with a cleft palate and hair lip and could not physically latch. She pumped and fed him from a special bottle for 4 months, until he had his surgeries, hoping he would feed from her after them. He never wanted to latch and by 7 months his bottles had formula in them as her supply had dried up.

Another mum i know wanted to BF but her whole family and her DH brow beat her about it. Both the grandma's wanted a "go" at feeding. Her DH felt he wouldn't be able to bond properly without feeding the baby. Her best friends all formula fed and looked at her like she had 2 heads when she suggested she might BF. She tried for a day. It was hard (it IS hard for a lot, possibly most, women, especially in our culture where it is not the "norm") and instead of supporting her everyone told her to get over herself and FF. And she did.

I am a sex abuse survivor and i know another woman who didn't BF because of the flashbacks of abuse it gave her. She was a child/young teen when she suffered the abuse, she has gotten a good life together for herself, but despite many years of therapy the flashbacks don't stop. Should she BF and associate her tiny babe with molestation, fear and guilt? Should she have waited, possibly indefinitely, for the flashbacks to be "cured" before she had a baby? She did neither. She FF instead.

I had very strong ideals going into motherhood, and i too flexed them by projecting them onto the world. BFing went great for us, i was so lucky, until DD hit 4 months and my thyroid gland, which had been under attack from my immune system (undiagnosed) since before my pregnancy, suddenly all but gave up. My milk dried up. I pumped. I took herbs. I rested. I saw about 5 different people from hospitals, LLL, NCT, anywhere i could think of. I did everything i could think of at the time. My milk dried up anyway. By 7 months DD was on FF. And it nearly killed me. But you know what? No-one died. It wasn't the holy holy ideal i had set for myself, but in the event it turned out to be a perfectly acceptable REALITY to live in.

This time i am braced for similar, i have a massive support network in place, including a few pregnant friends who with luck will be able to provide EBM should we need it, but if i have to face using formula again i will. It is fine to judge inside your head, but be careful you don't let it colour your opinions of someone's whole life. If i had looked at the bottle of FF and dismissed people as potential friends because of it i would be missing out on knowing one of the most gentle, loving, HAPPY families i know. And it would be all my loss.

Very few people get through their entire parenting career with their original ideas and ideals intact. You might have any number of plans, but you have to parent the kid you get, and that might mean that your ideas of discipline don't work at all. You might plan the incredibly healthy lunch boxes your kids will take to school, but you probably won't bin the majority of them for many years before you revisit what you CHILD thinks is good for lunch. You might have a nearby play park you can't wait to visit, only to find your child is very into stories, crayons and dolls and NOT at all into getting dirty and climbing on things. You might decide you will absolutely BF no matter what and get a baby who for any number of reasons finds it very difficult to do so.
post #17 of 46
No, it doesn't bother me to see babies fed formula for any reason. If I want the right to BF anywhere, as long as I want, and how I see fit, I think it's only fair to extend that same courtesy to FF Moms. To be fair, as pps have pointed out, the deck is stacked against BFing and it can take a lot to overcome those obstacles.

One issue that I have not seen raised has to do with wealth. In a lot of communities and families, BFing is seen as "for poor people," while the rich and affluent FF, because they can afford it. So in order to appear well-off, people FF. I think this attitude is a hold-over from the 1950s. My Dad was FF for this reason and my grandmother made all his formula out of whole milk and Caro syrup. Yikes!
post #18 of 46
I'll be honest. It does make me angry. The more I learn about it, though, the more I blame our culture and even the medical community for making bottles the norm, and making women question their ability to feed their babies. Here I think we need to differentiate between those who, for one reason or another, cannot breastfeed, and those who choose not to.

In my view, a lot of things are "a pain." It's a pain to take my daughter out of her sling and put her in the carseat to drive a block when I'm out shopping. But I do it to protect my daughter. Would you consider driving your child around town, without putting him/her in a carseat? You're conscientiously taking a risk. The same goes with choosing to formula feed. The benefits of breastfeeding are well-documented. Choosing not to BF is choosing to put your child at a higher risk. (Again, I'm talking here about CHOOSING, not being unable to.)

And guess what? Sometimes what's best isn't what's easy. And I know A TON of people who quit BFing because they were "tired"/"sick of getting up at night." And these women had babies that were a few weeks old, had great breastfeeding relationships, no supply issues, etc.
post #19 of 46
It might make me a little sad, but not angry. New mothers get so much bad information, discouragement, and faulty advice, it is not surprising a lot of them go with formula.
My DDIL, who is nursing her 18-month son, gets just furious about infants who are fed formula from the beginning; she rants to me about it: "That poor little baby!" She tends to see things from the baby's point of view, while I tend to identify with the mothers.

I do get angry at the sources of the misinformation.
post #20 of 46
Thread Starter 
Looks like I may not have come across clearly in my original post. I do not ever act judgementaly or talk down to anybody I see formula feeding as I realize there are times when breast feeding is simply not a possibility (situations many of you pointed out). I just cannot understand why these mothers I know would decide to formula feed without even considering or trying breastfeeding (and yes, I know that the bottle has formula in it and that the baby has been on it from the beginning). It seems that I live in an abnormal community. Breastfeeding is expected and encouraged, by my family and most of my extended circle of influence, by the local hospital/medical clinic and staff, and by the "old timers" in the city I live in. My teen years were spent in a different community where, again, breastfeeding was expected and encouraged.

I fully intend to breastfeed unless my body fails me and I am, for some reason, incapable. I know full-well that it may not be easy or comfortable for me, but also know that it's the best thing for my baby. I didn't mean to come across as a wacked-out idealist who pushes my opinions on every new mother I see, I just wanted to understand why this decision is made in a society that seems, to me (a view which is apparently incorrect), to encourage and expect breastfeeding. Thanks for those of you who have helped me to understand a little better.
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