The rhetoric about formula feeding - Page 6 - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-31-2008, 08:40 PM
 
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That's too bad. I wonder why you are engaging primarily and most immediately with the one person who chose to respond to you with skepticism? You have had several thoughtful and respectful responses to your very valid points. Why not engage with those (with us) instead?
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by momofamiracle View Post
If we start leaving it to medical necessity...who decides on whether or not it is necessary?
Sorry - I sort of explained this in a previous post and forgot to explain again here. I would love to see donor milk as the alternative to breastfeeding, so 'medically necessary' would mean when baby couldn't have donor milk or when the parents were opposed to donor milk. I'd love to see a world where in a situation where a mom wasn't able to meet the supply needs of her baby, or who had health issues etc, that there would be an option to have donor milk at the same cost as formula.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:42 PM
 
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LLL has a horrible track record. I have boycotted their meetings for five years now and that last year I did go, it was because I didn't want the women of color who did show, to feel alone because the leaders certainly didn't make the effort. ... Does WHO want all women to breastfeed, or only the ones who speak "their" language?
LLL drops the ball on class as well as race -- and race and class are hopeless intertwined. After reading a chapter of the LLL book on "working and nursing" that consisted of a bunch of professional women saying they found out they didn't need the money they earned from working because their professionl husbands made more than enough, I threw the book across the room and went and got something useful. Making the last answer to encouraging breastfeeding be "You can quit your job to nurse." isn't gaining any converts either.

FWIW, WHO's primary concern is not getting people in the Global North to breastfeed. WHO wants people in the Global South, for whom formula (homemade or industrial) is a true killer, to breastfeed.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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Old 03-31-2008, 08:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by savithny View Post
How would this be done, while appropriately compensating the women who provide it?

There's not enough donor breastmilk out there now for everyone who would us it if they could. If we're proposing to make it available at an affordable cost to everyone....

Lets just say that I forsee a system a bit like the wet nursing system getting discussed below, or like the villages in India that are full of women acting as surrogates for rich (white) Americans. Coercing poor women into providing what is literally the fruit of their body. Back in the day of "baby farming," the women nursing the children of rich families would often deprive their own child of nourishment to have more for the paying customer. I wouldn't take that kind of "donor" milk in a million years.
Nor would I! But there are ways to bring prices down -- economies of scale, government subsidies, insurance plans. If ease of access to donor milk was viewed as a necessary social good, the economics could be made much more favorable than the current system allows for.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
Sorry - I sort of explained this in a previous post and forgot to explain again here. I would love to see donor milk as the alternative to breastfeeding, so 'medically necessary' would mean when baby couldn't have donor milk or when the parents were opposed to donor milk. I'd love to see a world where in a situation where a mom wasn't able to meet the supply needs of her baby, or who had health issues etc, that there would be an option to have donor milk at the same cost as formula.
I don't have a philosophical problem with donor milk but rather just a personal primal reaction against it under my particular circumstances. I had provided 9 months of breastmilk to my son already, so he received the vast majority of the health benefits. My reasons for going to formula and not donor milk were visceral.

There was a lot of grief and PTSD from my childbirth experience and bfing/pumping was the last tangible thing I held onto as a mother throughout the first weeks of his NICU experience. It would simply have been too hard on me emotionally to have another woman providing something for my child that I couldn't.

I think if he would have needed donor milk in the NICU, however, I would gladly have done that.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by savithny View Post
How would this be done, while appropriately compensating the women who provide it?

There's not enough donor breastmilk out there now for everyone who would us it if they could. If we're proposing to make it available at an affordable cost to everyone....

Lets just say that I forsee a system a bit like the wet nursing system getting discussed below, or like the villages in India that are full of women acting as surrogates for rich (white) Americans. Coercing poor women into providing what is literally the fruit of their body. Back in the day of "baby farming," the women nursing the children of rich families would often deprive their own child of nourishment to have more for the paying customer. I wouldn't take that kind of "donor" milk in a million years.
I live in Canada, and I forsee a donor milk bank system that mirrors our (now revamped) blood bank system. Moms donate milk, and are provided with all the necessary supplies at no cost.

I'm also working towards a medical system where breastfeeding is not just supported, but seen as normal, where IBCLCs are on call for all births, where doctors inform mothers of the risks of formula feeding just the same as they speak of the risks of smoking and not using a car seat, and where direct to consumer formula marketing is banned.

Sure it is a lot to ask for, but worth working for, IMO.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by momofamiracle View Post
There was a lot of grief and PTSD from my childbirth experience and bfing/pumping was the last tangible thing I held onto as a mother throughout the first weeks of his NICU experience. It would simply have been too hard on me emotionally to have another woman providing something for my child that I couldn't.

I think if he would have needed donor milk in the NICU, however, I would gladly have done that.
We all make decisions based on our own lives and our own experiences. We take in information and decide what is best for ourselves at that time under those circumstances. That is why I want to see donor milk as an option, not the only option. From your explanation above, formula was obviously the right choice for you at that time. I would hope that if you baby needed donor milk in the NICU, that would have been an option as well.

(off topic: Welcome to MDC and congratulations for pumping for 9 months! EP is hard - way to go!)
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
I live in Canada, and I forsee a donor milk bank system that mirrors our (now revamped) blood bank system. Moms donate milk, and are provided with all the necessary supplies at no cost.

I'm also working towards a medical system where breastfeeding is not just supported, but seen as normal, where IBCLCs are on call for all births, where doctors inform mothers of the risks of formula feeding just the same as they speak of the risks of smoking and not using a car seat, and where direct to consumer formula marketing is banned.

Sure it is a lot to ask for, but worth working for, IMO.
I loved the LCs who helped me in the NICU. In fact, in my son's NICU there were 2 LCs just for NICU moms. They were very helpful to me, including clueing me in to getting domperidone to up my supply.

As far as informing about risks, I think we part ways. It really isn't fair to equate using formula with not using a car seat. We are talking about the very real possibility of death when not using a car seat. In the US, when using a good water supply the possibility of death when using formula is pretty much nonexistent.

Are you really trying to tell me that giving my son formula from age 9 mos to age 1 year was like letting him ride in our car without a car seat? That is comparing apples to oranges.
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:04 PM
 
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I wanted to say that I posted early on in this thread and have been following it since. I have learned a lot from you particularly YummyYarn and hope that you will keep posting. You have said some things that have opened my eyes and helped me to see a different perspective.

I know I don't have all the answers to the problem of breastfeeding advocacy but am always open minded and always trying to learn. Thanks for sharing your perspectives on this subject.

Wendi
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by YummyYarnAddict View Post
Actually, from what I just researched, milk was not canned and pasteurized until the mid-1800s so it's not possible that there was information about it going back to the 1700s. Also, people can make their own evaporated milk; there are recipes all over the web. I'm not confident that siobhang and I were talking about the same thing.
In general, homemade formulas from the turn of the century on referred generally to evaporated milk and sugar/corn syrup - because Carnation and Karo are both brand names that were not available to everyone and could not be afforded by everyone (side note: the insistence on it being Carnation/Karo is probably a historic remnant of people using those words in pride, to point out that they could give their babies the *prime* stuff - the quality brand name with the better quality control.

My copy of Dr. Spock from 1940 has instructions on preparing multiple formulas, most made with canned milk and sweeteners -- "formula" in fact first meant recipe, not "factory created baby milk substitute." And I bet, if you're looking for the earliest explanations of why baby milk substitutes are preferable to canned milk options (if not preferable to human milk), that copies of baby care manual like Spock and others are the first place to start, because they would have presented the argument in a way designed to convince moms who grew up on Carnation/Karo themselves.

Unfortunately, those passages are unlikely to include an argument for why breastmilk is superior to Carnation/Karo, because by that time, the big decision was "homemade formula vs. packaged."

(My 1935 copy of the Settlement Cookbook, written to help teach immigrant women how to keep house the modern American way, says simply "Breast milk is the best food for the young infant." I think it is generally stated without research backup because it was common knowledge that babies did better on breastmilk than on "cows milk modifications" (which is what the Settlement Cookbook calls formulas).

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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Old 03-31-2008, 09:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
I live in Canada, and I forsee a donor milk bank system that mirrors our (now revamped) blood bank system. Moms donate milk, and are provided with all the necessary supplies at no cost.

I'm also working towards a medical system where breastfeeding is not just supported, but seen as normal, where IBCLCs are on call for all births, where doctors inform mothers of the risks of formula feeding just the same as they speak of the risks of smoking and not using a car seat, and where direct to consumer formula marketing is banned.

Sure it is a lot to ask for, but worth working for, IMO.
I think generally speaking, though, a lot of mothers wouldn't accept donor milk unless it was subject to testing similar to that that blood goes through. That's a hefty added expense - who would bear it?

Next -- blood isn't free. It costs quite a bit of money, mostly paid for by insurance. And demand is lower for blood than it could be for milk.

And while blood is handled on a donation basis, plasma and plasma products are still paid for. And the blood shortages continually prompt calls for the creation of artificial blood substitutes (blood formula!) or for going back to allowing paid blood donors.

In addition, donating milk is far more -- everything -- than donating blood. I can go down to the blood bank every 8 weeks, lie down for 15 minutes, get up, have a cookie and be done. Milk would be needed in quantities far beyond that to meet the needs of everyone who really needs formula. Yes, people donate now, but how many moms really could pump multiple times a day while nursing their own LO, caring for their LO and any other kids, etc. Its an admirable thing and I really appreciate women who do it, but I know that, for instance, I could not have done it - I don't respond well to the pump (and I had to pump 1x a day for my first year back at work, working part time), and with my first, trying to pump for a second baby would have been the straw that broke my back.

So it is a wonderful ideal to work for, but I think in the real world that ideal is awfully far away, and there are a lot of issues of race and class to be worked out in the implementation. I forsee, in our current social structure, a large danger of any donor milk system becoming hierarchical and abusive.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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Old 03-31-2008, 10:11 PM
 
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As far as informing about risks, I think we part ways. It really isn't fair to equate using formula with not using a car seat. We are talking about the very real possibility of death when not using a car seat. In the US, when using a good water supply the possibility of death when using formula is pretty much nonexistent.

Are you really trying to tell me that giving my son formula from age 9 mos to age 1 year was like letting him ride in our car without a car seat? That is comparing apples to oranges.
First let me be very clear - I'm not trying to tell you anything about you and your son at all. I'm sorry it came across that way - I didn't mean to. I'm talking about society and population wide changes to how formula is used and perceived. And I am not comparing the use of formula to riding without a car seat. I'm talking about public health risks and informed consent. And I'm talking about doctors educating moms about the risks of formula during prenatal visits (sorry - should have been more specific about that) just as they inform them of other health risks.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:18 PM
 
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:29 PM
 
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This thread is closed pending review.

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Old 04-01-2008, 12:01 AM
 
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OK, all. There are several things happening in this thread that need to be addressed if we want the thread to stay open.

First of all, from the "Breastfeeding Boards: What We Are About" sticky:
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Mothering Magazine supports and advocates Breastfeeding and all the benefits to both mother and child that result from breastfeeding. As an extension of Mothering Magazing, MotheringDotCommune (MDC) upholds this as an integral part of its community purpose. MDC is a platform for SUPPORT and ADVOCACY to mothers and babies who are passionate about their right to breastfeed. As such it is a valuable and safe place for those who seek advice, support, and action when it comes to the many challenges, obstacles, and societal conditions they experience as breastfeeding mothers.

Members who formula feed out of necessity should not take posts critical of formula feeding personally. Members are reminded to post within the parameters of the User Agreement and refrain from personal attacks. If you feel concern about a post or discussion, please contact the moderator of the forum.

It must be clear that although we certainly do not encourage formula use we do support mothers who are doing the best they can for their children. It is very possible to find oneself compelled to use formula due to personal or family circumstances; such a mother can still be a Lactivist while seeking out support and information for her child's nutritional needs from the MDC community.
Secondly, if you feel a post violates the User Agreement, please report it rather than attempting to take on another poster.
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Reopening. This is a very spirited and informative discussion, and I'd love to see it stay.

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Old 04-01-2008, 12:02 AM
 
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Forgot to say, if you have any questions or concerns, please PM me rather than discussing them on the thread. Thanks!

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Old 04-01-2008, 01:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by momofamiracle View Post

Here is where another question comes up, however. Who defines medically necessary? Could I have decided I was going to persevere through the thrush and mastitis? Could I have continued down the path of physical exhaustion in pumping and feeding (which feels like feeding twice) and taking care of a fragile preemie? I suppose medically it would have been possible. But, was it good for me? For my sleep? For my mental state? And to take it further for the health of my child if his mom is going to ridiculous lengths to maintain it?

If we start leaving it to medical necessity...who decides on whether or not it is necessary?
I'm glad you came out of lurkdom and shared your story.

I appreciate this question a lot. You are awesome for pumping for 9 months. I could not have done that and I did not do that. But that does not mean that you made the "right" decision and I made the "wrong" one.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I don't like the whole "medical necessity" thing. Yeah, it probably needs to be used for those moms who think formula should be the first option when faced with adversity in establishing breastfeeding: but for moms like yourself and for me, it would probably not have killed us or our babies to keep pumping so is formula "medically necessary" in our situations? Maybe not. BUT we are more than just a pair of breasts and our babies are more than a mouth to feed. We need to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally to give our babies what they deserve - moms who are able to gear into them and pour all of ourselves into developing a relationship with them, giving them the affection and attention they need and desire. And I will forever be grateful to my LC who told me that sometimes the price of the milk is too high...

All that to say - you decide.

I am enjoying this thread so much. It's a lot of food for thought and I'm appreciating everyone's input!

Casey, wife to Danny, mom to Olive : and Darcy : .
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by YummyYarnAddict View Post
Thanks for the info. Do you have any idea what groups (demographically speaking) would have had access to that information? I know that blacks wouldn't have been reading Spock or The Settlement Cookbook. A lot of the "carnation and karo" comes from what was available at the stores and Carnation was the specific brand available in the south at the time (many brands are available regionally). Other brands like Milnot weren't available until later and I recall that we just didn't trust them for some reason and I was always cautioned not to buy those "other brands" regardless of the price point.
I recommend the book "Don't Kill Your baby" about the public health campaigns in the 1900s around breastfeeding and pasturization. If you liked "from breast to bottle", you'll like "don't kill your baby".

You are right, I wasn't talking about canned milk before the turn of the century. Pasturization and canning of milk did bring the death rates of babies down (a lot - which is what the "don't kill your baby" book gets into, the push towards pasturization plus home made formulas recommended by doctors, etc.).

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:20 AM
 
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on the original topic.

I think the language of "inferior", "4th option", etc are appropriate for PUBLIC HEALTH contexts - i.e. folks directly addressing public health concerns, etc. NOT marketing campaigns, necessarily, but rather campaigns addressing medical service providers and the advice they give their patients.

On an individual support basis, I think "breastmilk is default", "artificial baby milk" (as they say in the UK), or even using "human milk" vs "cows milk based formula" (which draws the comparison - which should humans ingest? )

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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Old 04-01-2008, 11:12 AM
 
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Old 04-01-2008, 04:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
Breastfeeding is the biological norm. We have many good studies that show that infants who are fed formula are at a higher risk of a variety of different illnesses...Now, if formula is medically necessary, then obviously the increased risk of those illness from formula feeding is completely outweighed by the risks of not formula feeding.
ITA. That's the bottom line.

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Well I agree that comparing formula to things like rat poison (something I've seen on this and other forums) is both untrue and harmful to the cause but going along with the idea that formula is "just as good" has been harmful to breastfeeding in the past.
The rat poison thing is a story for mommy board old timers. The condensed version is a mom had these formula samples lying around, so she thought she might get rid of it and help out at the same time by feeding it to the neighborhood stray cats. That night, she mixes up some formula and leaves it out for the cats. The next morning, she finds a dead rat in the empty bowl. The story has been taken to the extreme and is probably on Snopes by now, but that was the gist of it. Some anti-formula mamas picked up the story and used it to describe how dangerous they really felt that formula was. Nowadays, the story is all but lost, and in it's wake, there are pro-formula blinkies that say "It's not rat poison, it's formula!".

And you're right. It is important to note that saying formula is "just as good" is harmful to breastfeeding rates. It's not "just as good" and it never will be. Science cannot recreate human milk.

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We have been counciously trying to change the language to breastfeeding is normal and formula is an inferior substitute. Because this is true.
Right! Breastfeeding is normal. It's not better, it's not best, it's not going to earn a mother a gold medal. It's just normal. It's the biological default, what babies are supposed to eat.

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Now having said that, I've always felt that the focus of lactivism should be less about convincing individual moms to breastfeed and more about breaking down the social/political/leagal/medical barriors to breastfeeding so that the choice becomes easier.
ITA!!

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I've posted in other similar threads here that lactivism isn't really about persuading mothers to breastfeed; it's about changing the culture and society to make breastfeeding easier. So instead of talking about how a FFing mother might feel if she reads the MDC lactivism forum, we should be talking about what language will make the most effective messages in letters to editors, elected representatives, healthcare professionals, corporate managers, etc. -- what phrasing would be most effective in billboards and TV spots -- what approaches would be most effective in banning the bags, reforming childbirth practices, pushing for longer/paid maternity leave for all mothers, getting breastfeeding into health-education curriculums, etc.
Yup!

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Having recently "auditioned" a new pediatrician, I was shocked to see the sheer number of formula advertisements. They were EVERYWHERE! In addition to a flier that said that people with a certain income (which my family would qualify for) they could be provided free formula. THAT is what needs to change. Families are being manipulated by formula advertising.
Sure!

And it's really disconcerting that some mothers see anti-formula marketing as bashing of individual mothers. What do we do to rectify that?

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I think that as long as we continue to compare breastmilk (a substance) with formula (also a substance) BFers are going to come up short. BFers know that BFing is not just about delivering a substance to a baby. It's an intimate relationship, a deep bond. While formula may be "almost as good" or "good enough" as breastMILK, breastFEEDING is a whole different subject.
Exactly! There's so much more to breastfeeding than the milk.
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:55 PM
 
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as for those who would choose formula anyway, there is no need for guilt. i assume if you do what you think is right for your situation, you would not experience guilt. i don't feel guilty for having a c-section, for example. i feel disappointed and regretful, but not guilty because i did the best i could.

but i would never say c-section is as normal and as healthy a way to birth. it's not. it's necessary in some cases, and lifesaving because of that, but in most cases it's not necessary and it can be harmful. just like formula feeding. and even though i had and needed a section, it doesn't mean i can't say they are an inferior, less normal way to birth.

for me it comes down to not taking the facts personally. if you need to use formula, that is fine, and thank goodness it exists!--but it doesn't change the fact that it is typically not necessary and is biologically inferior to breastmilk.


Absolutely!
I am expecting my 3rd baby in about 4 months, and due to medical reasons I will be unable to nurse this time. This is a very hard thing at times to deal with. I have 6 years of nursing behind me with my first two and this will be so different. But I am not feeling guilty about it, but I do feel disappointed and regretful as pp readytobedone said about her c-section exp.

I am absolutely a "lactivist" and know breastfeeding to be the very best thing for all babies if at all possible for a variety of reasons.
I realize fully that formula IS biologically inferior, how could it not be? But it's what I have to do and not a decision made lightly, so I am ok with this. I will still encourage ANY mother to breastfeed if at all humanly possible, and be there to help with resources, advice, and an ear to listen if that means helping to create a positive bf-ing relationship for another mother and child.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:30 PM
 
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This thread seems to have moved past the intent of the OP and into several interesting and important new topics. We're going to go ahead and close this, but leave it on the boards. Please feel free to start spin-offs as you see fit. Thanks for an awesome discussion, mamas!

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