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Why did formula become the rage back in the day?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I was only vaguely aware of formula once being a norm  before I started planning for a baby.  Since then, I've observed there was a big chunk of time in the last century where formula was the norm and touted as the healthiest choice.


Now, I have nothing against formula and figure a nourished baby is a nourished baby, but out of pure curiosity I have to wonder how this trend came about. 

post #2 of 30
I think the trend came about because drug companies wanted to make money. They did a lot of advertising to convice everyone that formula was the bee's knees. This became a problem when they started advertising heavily in less developed nations. When formula was mixed with contaminated water and fed to babies instead of breastmilk, babies started dying more frequently. There was a movement to make the companies stop advertising formula in less developed countries.
post #3 of 30

It fit in with the broad trend of modernization based on scientific progress, with the women's liberation movement, with medical advancements, with the advent of the professional Expert (there's no money in telling mothers to follow their natural instincts), and with the modern commercialization and commodification of every good thing under the sun.  It was around this time that birth places really shifted from home to hospital, with formula feeding in prescribed quantities at prescribed schedules as the norm there.  


Also, after Freud, I'm guessing that breastfeeding became regarded as more sexual than not.

post #4 of 30

I have wondered if the rise in popularity of infant formula was not due in part to the women's rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s.  It think it was a way for women to kind of throw off that domestic duty and flex their independence.  They were told that it was just as good as breast milk so no harm no foul. I think it is also interesting that now that women have become more comfortable with their power the breastfeeding rate has increased.  Hmmm I'd be interested in reading research on that to see if they are interrelated.

post #5 of 30
Well put, Vaske!
You make some excellent points too, Simonsez2u. Early feminism was all about rescuing women from the burden of motherhood and being able to feed your baby formula could free you up to go out and work instead of being at home nursing all day. Today things seem to have shifted. There are a lot more pro-motherhood feminists than there were even 20 years ago.
post #6 of 30
I remember my grandmothers telling me that their babies were on regular milk way before a year old. Seems to me that breast feeding was already in decline, and formula was an improvement over the other nourishment bring given to non-breast feeding infants.
post #7 of 30
I've always understood that many women viewed breastfeeding as something poor or uneducated women did. Going way back wealthy women would hire wet nurses as breastfeeding was seen as below them and they wanted large families without waiting for fertility to return after weaning. Advertising wouldn't have started the initial change as formula was just that, a formula a doctor gave to a woman. It would be something like three parts evaporated milk, four parts water, one part karo syrup with cereal starting at two weeks old and cow's milk plus table food by six months.
post #8 of 30
I think a lot of it has roots in sexuality as well. Like a lot of men get this feeling of ownership and don't want to share what they perceive as their personal toys. I've known many women who see it as sexual as well and are freaked out to breastfeed because its too sexual of an act in their minds. And who get *very* offended when I've nursed my baby in front of them or even worse their husbands. Then of course you have the women who don't want to "ruin" their breasts by doing exactly what they were created to do...
I know SO MANY women who tried but say they weren't making enough milk, or couldn't deal with the frequent wakings at night, or it hurt too much.
So I do think formula is way too convient and BFing education too hard or expensive to come by.
post #9 of 30

I had my first when I was 18, and I can tell you what the word is in the young crowd.  I breastfed, of course, and never let formula even touch the lips of my babes.  I'll never forget this one day when a girl that I worked with asked why I breastfed and that her mom said breastfeeding was gross.  This wasn't the first time that I heard that either.  The general consensus of the young crowd is that it is gross and boobs are for playing with.  AHH!! I was very shocked to hear all of this.  I grew up in a family of seven and I can barely remember a time my mother wasn't nursing (slight over exaggeration).  So I asked my sister a few years later whom I met five years ago, why she didn't nurse.  And she told me it was way too sexual, those are her fun bags.  I too wonder where this wildly perverse line of thinking comes from.  In other parts of the world it is the norm to sit down on a park bench and nurse your baby without people staring or thinking you are "odd"

post #10 of 30
I had a 13 yr old girl tell me if I want my baby to have that milk then I should put it in a bottle! And at least 50% of people seem to think if you do nurse it should only be for a month or two. I cannt even tell you how many people have asked me when I'm putting LO on formula...
post #11 of 30

Oh my, that is absolutely outrageous!  When I was 13 I couldn't even imagine talking to an adult that way, but then again I was raised with honor, respect, and manners for goodness sake!!  I remember when my oldest was a few months old I was researching statistics and found that only six percent of women in Wisconsin attempt to breastfeed (2 month period) and only four percent succeed (six months of nursing qualifies as succeeding).  I was totally blown away with these statistics.  This was seven years ago, and I have no idea what the stats are now. 

post #12 of 30

Overall my experience with breastfeeding and other peoples comments has been positive.  However, I have also heard the opinion that breastfeeding is somehow gross or has a yuck factor from a couple people.  My reply is "so a human infant drinking milk from an animal boob, a cow udder is acceptable, but feeding a human baby from a human breast is somehow distasteful?" How does that make sense?

post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 

This past summer I went with my in-laws on a family party to the zoo.  Now, my two sisters-in-law and I all had baby girls within a 6-week window.  Our babies were about 3-4 months at this time.  Well, the day went on as days go and we moms found ourselves gathered at a picnic bench for baby feeding.  I had brought a bottle of pumped milk, but my daughter wasn't feeling the bottle that day, so I pulled out the boob while my sisters-in-law pulled out formula.  Once again, I have no beef against formula, but I did feel the odd one out here.  I felt it was easier--one sister had water prepared, but the other had to run to a snack bar for water--seemed irritating.  My niece (aged 4) kept asking why I wasn't using a bottle and I one sister-in-law observed with some surprise that I was still nursing.  I don't think anyone was weirded out or anything, just didn't understand why I'd still be breastfeeding at this point. 

post #14 of 30

I always thought that the breast was so much easier, except for me, in public...  I am very shy and it is hard for me to nurse in public or around people that are uncomfortable with it.  With my next baby I am going to invest in some good nursing shirts to make this easier for me.  I can't imagine having to get up and prepare a bottle of formula at 2 a.m.  It is so much easier to cuddle up with baby and nurse.  It is already the right temperature and perfectly made for baby.  There are no worries about spoilage (unless pumping of course), temperature, taste etc.

post #15 of 30
Yea it seems like people are more ok with newborns BFing but then infants should be transferred to formula.... I don't get it. My eldest brother is 20 yrs older than me and his wife nursed their DS until he was 3, I was a teen then, so extended BFing is just normal in my mind.
I've always felt pretty comfortable nursing whenever and wherever my baby needed it, but after a year old people really do think its inappropriate. I would discretely nurse DD in a pew at church (she was probably 16 mos...maybe, IDK it was so long ago) and the pastors wife had the nerve to say something to me. I mean she wasn't rude. But she was undoubtedly uncomfortable with it.
Its always funny to me when little kids aren't raised around BFing. They're so uninhibited. They sincerely ask what your doing while nursing your LO. My 2 yr old nephew is a formula baby and he watched me nurse LO, then went over to his mama peaked into her shirt, then stuck his little hands down her shirt and started feeling around. My sister was like "um excuse me!" She thought it was cute. I wonder what was going through his head. LOL
post #16 of 30

LOL little boys are so darn cute.  My sister in law just had a baby girl and my son is 4 1/2.  She asked if it was okay to nurse in front of him, and I said absolutely.  I already addressed the issue with him and explained how babies eat.  My kids believe that is pretty much how babies eat; they don't know about formula.  But we are extremely pro breastfeeding.  When my son was born my daughter was almost three and one morning when I was nursing the boy my daughter asked if she could have a taste of his milk.  I let her of course have a taste and she took a little taste and was satisfied.  She never asked again, just wanted to see what the hype was about.  I have told friends and family that story and many people thought it was weird.  How could that be weird?  She also tasted many of his baby foods and cereals.

post #17 of 30
I don't understand why people would think you should swith to formula after a few months. If you aren't having any problems and, if you work, you have a place and time to pump, why would you change horses in midstream? A baby needs bm or formula for the first year. The hard part of bf'ing is at the beginning. Once you get going, why would you stop after you've gotten to the easy part? Then you have to buy more bottles and figure out which formula to feed baby. What if baby has trouble digesting formula?
I have heard that people used to believe bf'ing was only important for the first 6 weeks of life. One woman I know suffered through the first 6 weeks and then switched to formula because she couldn't take the pain.
My sister didn't bf her kids, but they did catch my niece nursing one of her dolls.
post #18 of 30
Lol that's really cute about the girl nursing her doll!

I can't understand why people think you should switch either! I'm 100% with ya! After the first 6-8 weeks its smooth sailing.
post #19 of 30
With maybe a few bumps when teeth come in. Ouch.
post #20 of 30
Somewhere I had heard that formula had its first surge of popularity during WW2 when women were entering the work force en masse for the first time. Alternate feeding methods - as well as child care - became necessary as women took over the jobs men once had while the men were off to war.

However, my dad was born in 1934 during the Great Depression. His mother was from a well-to-do family who had lost everything and became homeless in the economy crash. She breastfed him for 6 months before weaning him onto cows milk (directly milked from a farm cow, not bought from a store), because she couldn't afford formula. She saw breastfeeding as something only dirty or lower class people did. She was so embarrassed at having to stoop so low that she didn't even tell him he was breastfed until he was an adult. Even then, she couldn't actually say the word. She (and my dad too) called it "milk from the mother".

Ironically, my dad isn't embarrassed at all about having been born in a barn unassisted (they couldn't affored a midwife) behind the house of the people who took his homeless parents in. Jesus was born in a stable to temporarily-homeless parents, so my dad wears that as a badge of pride. But he still retains his mother's embarrassment over having to breastfeed, something she thought she was too good for.
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