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#1 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't come to this thread often but I have had some thoughts lately and was wondering what all you ladies think:

I don't understand why doctors don't flat out tell women the dangers of formula feeding. Why don't they have posters in their office? Why don't they give "the speech" when new moms come in? Why do they even have free formula samples in their office?

I remember clearly when I smoked as a teenager. Every time I went to the doctor their were posters like a dog with a cigarette in his mouth saying how stupid it looks when humans do it too. I remember getting "the speech" every time about how bad smoking is, how I should quit, how they would help me, blah blah blah.

I am in no way comparing smoking to formula feeding...it's just my examples. I don't understand why the dangers of not breastfeeding isn't talked about more.

Wouldn't it be great to see some billboards that say the dangers of formula feeding? Maybe that is too bold since some moms really do need formula.

Just some thoughts. Sorry if this has been discussed before
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#2 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 02:39 PM
 
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I would rather promote the benefits of breastfeeding. Pointing out FFing dangers had the potential to put FFing moms on the defensive, and that accomplishes nothing.

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#3 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 02:48 PM
 
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I believe that was attempted in the past - commercials that said something like "You wouldn't put your baby at risk like this... (pregnant lady bull riding?!) so why put your baby at risk after he's born?" Something like that. The campaign offended people & didn't last long, I'm sure there's posts about it here if you search.

I think it all comes down to the almighty dollar, unfortunately.

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#4 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 02:49 PM
 
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I would rather promote the benefits of breastfeeding. Pointing out FFing dangers had the potential to put FFing moms on the defensive, and that accomplishes nothing.
I like that idea in theory, but I think it doesn't work in practice.

Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
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#5 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 02:50 PM
 
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I believe that was attempted in the past - commercials that said something like "You wouldn't put your baby at risk like this... (pregnant lady bull riding?!) so why put your baby at risk after he's born?" Something like that. The campaign offended people & didn't last long, I'm sure there's posts about it here if you search.

I think it all comes down to the almighty dollar, unfortunately.
BTW, the people who were offended were the formula company representatives that had the campaign killed. It is about money - not about the health and well-being of the babies.

Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
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#6 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 03:09 PM
 
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I would rather promote the benefits of breastfeeding. Pointing out FFing dangers had the potential to put FFing moms on the defensive, and that accomplishes nothing.

I actually disagree, because I think it is better for BFing to be considered normal, rather than being "special" or "better" than FFing. That article about the language of breastfeeding summed it up well for me. I think it should be pointed out that FF babies have higher risk of obesity, SIDS, sickness, etc because it is fact. If it is put that way rather than harping on about the benefits of BFing, I think it would make more people stop and think about their choices.
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#7 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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I actually disagree, because I think it is better for BFing to be considered normal, rather than being "special" or "better" than FFing. That article about the language of breastfeeding summed it up well for me. I think it should be pointed out that FF babies have higher risk of obesity, SIDS, sickness, etc because it is fact. If it is put that way rather than harping on about the benefits of BFing, I think it would make more people stop and think about their choices.
Amen, sister. I think BF language is very important.

No one lactivist can do everything, so we all do what we can in our own spheres, right? BF language is my special project. In my career (editing parenting and children's books), I've stuck my neck out dozens of times in defense of accurate language about BF and other health/parenting issues. I've gotten a lot of cr@p for it too -- particularly from a certain health professional/author who is desperately afraid of "making moms feel guilty" (Don't get me started on the true nature of guilt!)

I know language makes a difference because a few readers have told me that the unvarnished truth in these books opened their eyes. One even said it changed her life. Most readers keep their thoughts to themselves, of course....so I figure plenty more out there are quietly paying attention.

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#8 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 04:51 PM
 
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Well, it's not secret that Bfing really needs some "ooomph" to come back into the norm, but I what I think OBs should do is compare the risks and benefits of both. Even though this isn't what some of us would like to see, at least we know breastfeeding would aways win out. Breastfeeding IS always the best choice when applicable. I really think that society needs to stop touting formula feeding as a "choice" and start focusing on formula feeding as a choice that should be made when they are no other realistic options. Formula isn't poison or anything, and I know some babies can't help but be formula feed, and I certainly wouldn't want those mamas who can't breastfeed their babies to feel like dirt because their kids aren't getting breast milk. The things is however I do believe that many women who are fully capable of breastfeeding end up not doing for many reasons, and one of the main ones I think is the US's widely spread underestimation and misinformation about breast milk, plus sometimes an even condescending attitude about breastfeeding. The general public is less apt to accept a happily breastfeeding mother sitting in a restaurant than a mother who is feeding her baby a bottle. Also, the lack of breastfeeding-friendly laws in the workplace as a slap in the face mothers who only want the best nutritional options for their child.

What I'm getting at is that it's a gradual progression that needs to take place on many levels here, and we need people working on each front, not only with the formula companies, but also with doctors, society, and the workplace. It's a huge problem that will take years and years to unwind.

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#9 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 04:56 PM
 
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I'm shocked that so many people think it's okay to offend others in such ways. Yes, breastfeeding is best. But I'm confused about what people think it accomplishes when you say "your kid is going to be obese and sick because you feed him formula." It's really not going to change anything except perhaps formula feeders feel even more strongly that breastfeeders are rude and pushy.
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#10 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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I don't think the *danger* approach is necessary. I think education can be very effective without making formula dangerous. It's food. Not the perfect food, not the best, but it is food.
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#11 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 05:15 PM
 
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I'm shocked that so many people think it's okay to offend others in such ways. Yes, breastfeeding is best. But I'm confused about what people think it accomplishes when you say "your kid is going to be obese and sick because you feed him formula." It's really not going to change anything except perhaps formula feeders feel even more strongly that breastfeeders are rude and pushy.
Letting moms know up front that FFing increases the risk for health issues like asthma, diabetes and obesity (facts which are well documented) is NOT the same as saying that if you FF your child WILL have these problems. People should know the facts and the risks before they make their choices. Merely saying that BFing is better without the public truly understanding WHY FFing is inferior is not helping anyone. I don't judge any mom for FFing. But it is sad to think of moms who do not try to BF because they think formula is just as good.
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#12 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 05:30 PM
 
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Letting moms know up front that FFing increases the risk for health issues like asthma, diabetes and obesity (facts which are well documented) is NOT the same as saying that if you FF your child WILL have these problems. People should know the facts and the risks before they make their choices. Merely saying that BFing is better without the public truly understanding WHY FFing is inferior is not helping anyone. I don't judge any mom for FFing. But it is sad to think of moms who do not try to BF because they think formula is just as good.
Yes, that's exactly it! Why is stating the facts so often construed as judgment when in comes to BF?

Parents need to make the best possible decisions they can for their own families. They both need and deserve the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate info available, ESPECIALLY from healthcare professionals and other "authoritative" sources. Sadly, these sources often don't provide good information.

In my work, it's simple, neutral presentation of the scientific evidence --not rhetoric -- that has gotten me in hot water. WTH?

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#13 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 05:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm shocked that so many people think it's okay to offend others in such ways. Yes, breastfeeding is best. But I'm confused about what people think it accomplishes when you say "your kid is going to be obese and sick because you feed him formula." It's really not going to change anything except perhaps formula feeders feel even more strongly that breastfeeders are rude and pushy.
I don't think that people should say that your kid is going to be obese and sick because of formula but I do believe that it is proven through studies that they are at higher risk for certain things. I don't see why people are so offended when others talk negatively about formula.

Doctors are on TV programs all the time saying "smoking causes cancer", "obesity causes diabetes and heart disease", etc. These are well known facts. I don't think a lot of moms really know that formula feeding has risks for the mother and infant but maybe if it was pointed out then they would try bfing a little longer.

I wouldn't see an ad campaign pointing out these risks as offensive if it was done respectfully and factually.
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#14 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 05:49 PM
 
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Letting moms know up front that FFing increases the risk for health issues like asthma, diabetes and obesity (facts which are well documented) is NOT the same as saying that if you FF your child WILL have these problems. People should know the facts and the risks before they make their choices. Merely saying that BFing is better without the public truly understanding WHY FFing is inferior is not helping anyone. I don't judge any mom for FFing. But it is sad to think of moms who do not try to BF because they think formula is just as good.
Exactly, and I'd bet you all would be surprised as to how many people DON'T know that about formula, and really do assume it is "just as good". Did you guys know that some infant formula also contains MSG, which is linked to heart conditions and obesity? I never knew that until recently, and I'd like to consider myself fairly well-informed. It's all about informed consent. People NEED to know the very real risks before choosing to use formula for their babies. Pr-breastfeeding professionals don't just make those stats up, they are very real, and very scary, and people need to know.

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#15 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 06:07 PM
 
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Why would it be any different from educating people about the risks of cigarettes? Why aren't we concerned about offending smokers?

Personally, I'd rather run the risk of offending a few people if a public health campaign actually helped to promote the health of our children.

It seems that educating people about the dangers of FF may be necessary, because right now, the consensus seems to be "yeah, yeah, I know breast is best, but formula is good enough." The attitude seems to be, sure, we give breastfeeding an A+ but if formula is an A-, that works fine! Your average consumer does not seem to be aware of the RISKS of formula.

Also, nobody says that "if you smoke cigarettes you WILL get lung cancer etc. and DIE." So why is it assumed that educating people about the risks of formula would include saying "your kid WILL wind up an obese, asthmatic diabetic"?

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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How do you do this with out offending?

I am Mom to 4 children who joined my family through adoption in a very quick fashion. BF was simply not an option.

My FF fed children are healthy, if anything lower weight (if having to buy slim sized pants for everyone is any indication) kiddos. Two are school age and their report cards indicate that they are doing quite well there too.

Had I had to hear a compaigne while my children were on formula on how much damage I was doing to them I would have been offended. I would have been hurt and angry.

I do think BF is best but it is NOT the only way. There are lots of healthy ways to feed your kiddos that hopefully, if you are physically able to, include BF

?
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#17 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 06:17 PM
 
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I'm shocked that so many people think it's okay to offend others in such ways. Yes, breastfeeding is best. But I'm confused about what people think it accomplishes when you say "your kid is going to be obese and sick because you feed him formula." It's really not going to change anything except perhaps formula feeders feel even more strongly that breastfeeders are rude and pushy.
There's a huge difference between attacking a mother and saying "Your child is going to be obese and sick because you chose to feed him formula" and generally educating using language of risk rather than language of benefits. Why is OK to use that tact for other public health issues (drugs, drunk driving, vaccinations, smoking, SIDS, etc) and not breastfeeding?

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We all agree on the need for education. But this thread started about the dangers of FF. Not the *increased possibility somewhere down the line of.......*
I think this approach is unlikely to win many converts.

I am on the front lines of moms trying to establish bf'ing every day. We give them encouragement, support, tout the many benefits of breastfeeding. Fluff their pillows, get them water, whatever it takes to keep them going. Threatening women with the possibility of a diabetic young adult wouldn't go very far.

Fortunately, in my area, BF'ing is the default, at least in the beginning. I think the trick now is better support for the continuation of BF'ing.
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#19 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 06:58 PM
 
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I am sure the message is out that BF is best, as 80-90% of American mamas attempt to BF their newborns. Then by 6 weeks only 30% remain. These mothers are being failed by someone. The babies are losing. How can we turn the tide?
Formula can be dangerous. I know adults with chronic illness that can be directly traced to FF, gluten allergies, extreme food allergies, IBS, etc. Plus the runaway breast cancer rates of all those women who were not fed breast milk from 1940-1970.
How did the tide turn against cigarettes? A few nasty lawsuits? Reputable scientific studies?
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#20 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 07:16 PM
 
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The problem with comparing formula to cigarrettes is that formula is FOOD. It does actually nourish babies. Cigarettes do not provide any nutritional benefit; quite the opposite.

Here's one area where I see a hang-up: my insurance company does not cover lactation consultants. They are only concerned with my good health in the short term; they are not concerned with my continued good health (higher risk of breast cancer) or with the good health of my children in the future (more doctor visits, more obesity, asthma, food allergies, etc). They make more money from partnering with drug companies TODAY than they will ever SPEND tomorrow on sick people. They aren't particularly concerned with the bottom line for tomorrow; Joe Executive won't get a bonus for stuff that happens in the future.
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#21 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 07:25 PM
 
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Why is OK to use that tact for other public health issues (drugs, drunk driving, vaccinations, smoking, SIDS, etc) and not breastfeeding?
Good question!
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#22 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 08:02 PM
 
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Honestly? That kind of inflammatory statement (re: the "dangers" of formula) will only serve to alienate and malign mothers who have had to choose formula over what they KNOW is best -- breastmilk.

There are a million ways to promote the benefits of breastmilk. But making the mothers the bad guys in all this is incredibly short-sighted. I'm sure you know that there are a number of valid reasons why a mother can't BF or supply BM to her child. And it's not always about selfishness or lack of willpower.

So how about contacting your congressman about BF-friendly workplaces ... or extending short-term disability (like here in NJ) terms to longer than 6 weeks so that a better BFing relationship builds between mother and baby ... or eliminating "freebies" in doctors offices and hospitals so that moms that are on the fence about whether they want to BF are encouraged to at least try breastfeeding first? For women to choose BFing first, and to continue to BF longer, our society needs to take some serious steps in creating a BF-friendly environment.

That's my opinion, anyway. I breastfed my son for 22 months, and am still BFing my 15mo daughter because that is what I chose to do after educating myself ... but I might have made a different choice if I was not a SAHM or if I had a medical condition that required me to stop BFing.

And even after all my research on the subject, if someone told me how "dangerous" formula is to babies, I would have rolled my eyes at them. Formula is second best, for sure, but dangerous? Come on.
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#23 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 08:11 PM
 
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I am sure the message is out that BF is best, as 80-90% of American mamas attempt to BF their newborns. Then by 6 weeks only 30% remain. These mothers are being failed by someone. The babies are losing. How can we turn the tide?
Formula can be dangerous. I know adults with chronic illness that can be directly traced to FF, gluten allergies, extreme food allergies, IBS, etc. Plus the runaway breast cancer rates of all those women who were not fed breast milk from 1940-1970.
How did the tide turn against cigarettes? A few nasty lawsuits? Reputable scientific studies?
The main problem, IMO, is that many women have to go back to work at 6-8 weeks. If women got a paid year off (yes, in dream land ), I think that breastfeeding rates would skyrocket.

Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
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#24 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 08:22 PM
 
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And even after all my research on the subject, if someone told me how "dangerous" formula is to babies, I would have rolled my eyes at them. Formula is second best, for sure, but dangerous? Come on.
Then why is formula second best? (Actually according to the WHO it is 4th best.) If it isn't adding a risk of any kind, then we should be looking at it as equal to breastmilk. Even the formula companies know that isn't true.

I think that Diane Weissinger's article on the power of language has so much to teach us here. Breastfeeding is the biological norm. Formula is the intervention. If the intervention is better than the norm, then it is a beneficial intervention. If it is worse than the norm, then it is a detrimental intervention, and those exposed to it are at higher risk than the those exposed to the norm.

For example, studies have shown that babies who are formula fed have a higher risk of gastrointestinal tract infections than those who are breastfed.

I think it is a mother's right to know that information, just as it is her right to know the risks of smoking for her infant. What she decides to do with that information is up to her - but in no way do I think that it should be hidden from her!

And I agree wholeheartedly that we need to support breastfeeding in all aspects of society - from breastfeeding friendly birthing practices to maternity leave to breastfeeding images in the media.
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#25 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 08:31 PM
 
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I actually disagree, because I think it is better for BFing to be considered normal, rather than being "special" or "better" than FFing. That article about the language of breastfeeding summed it up well for me. I think it should be pointed out that FF babies have higher risk of obesity, SIDS, sickness, etc because it is fact. If it is put that way rather than harping on about the benefits of BFing, I think it would make more people stop and think about their choices.
I wouldn't even compare it to FFing. Just point out the wonderfulness of BFing. Period.

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I'm shocked that so many people think it's okay to offend others in such ways. Yes, breastfeeding is best. But I'm confused about what people think it accomplishes when you say "your kid is going to be obese and sick because you feed him formula." It's really not going to change anything except perhaps formula feeders feel even more strongly that breastfeeders are rude and pushy.


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#27 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 08:33 PM
 
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Why would it be any different from educating people about the risks of cigarettes? Why aren't we concerned about offending smokers?

Because it's apples and oranges.

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#28 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 08:34 PM
 
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We all agree on the need for education. But this thread started about the dangers of FF. Not the *increased possibility somewhere down the line of.......*
I think this approach is unlikely to win many converts.
Exactly.

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#29 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 08:42 PM
 
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I just cannot fathom telling a mom that was having difficulty breastfeeding that she'd better keep it up because her baby might someday get asthma.

What I do say is that it's a learning experience for both of you. There are so many wonderful benefits to breastfeeding including immunity, bonding, weight loss, cost, convenience etc. It does takes a commitment (then I throw in examples of micro-preemies who learn to breastfeed) but it's worth it.

Being positive usually works better than being negative IME.
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#30 of 209 Old 12-10-2007, 08:43 PM
 
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I wouldn't even compare it to FFing. Just point out the wonderfulness of BFing. Period.
But I think this is where the paradigm shift needs to occur. Breastfeeding isn't wonderful. It isn't magical or miraculous or super special. It's the biological norm. Formula isn't. And the formula industry has convinced the public that it is.

In a vacuum, I wouldn't really have an issue with your position. But in a society that says "Breastfeeding is the gold standard, but hey, we all do what we can, and formula feeding is fine too" we need to speak the truth. The truth is, there are dangers that come with using formula. The truth is, that when a mother chooses not to breastfeed, her baby is more likely to have certain health issues, and is more likely to die.

Do I think we should attack individual women with these facts? Absolutely not. But I think we need to start getting them out there in the broader arena of ideas, because they're true. I can't imagine a doctor withholding information on the importance of putting babies in carseats because not every mother can afford a carseat, or it might make a mother who chooses not to use a carseat feel guilty, or using a carseat might be less convenient to her then just holding the baby.

I think it's going to take a balance of positive and negative to turn the tide back towards the biological norm of breastfeeding.

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