Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding: Bring it!

Photo by Chris Richardson

Finally.

Just a few days ago, a brief, from The University of Kent, UK, was published, decrying the social and political arm twisting new mothers face in deciding how to feed their babies — breast, bottle (formula) or both. While breastfeeding is preferred, as supported by scientific evidence, infant formula is completely fine.

People, get a grip. The bullying that takes place, especially cyberbullying, over how a mother chooses to feed her baby, is nothing short of bullshit. There is nothing wrong with a mother choosing to formula feed.

On the flip side, nobody should give a flying squirrels butt if a mother loves to breastfeed but it’s not something that other mothers should be forced to admire either. I mean really. You breastfeed. What do ya want, a cookie?

advertisement

While I have been extolling the power of choice when it comes to infant feeding and dispelling hyperbolic claims when it comes to the significance of both feeding methods, I have to say that a brief like this one made me thankful for much needed advocacy for those outsiders who decide not to breastfeed for one reason or another.

The brief, penned by Dr. Lee, suggests that the current climate which tries to humiliate mothers into breastfeeding and dictating a political, social and lifestyle ideal is counterproductive. To me, it’s like saying, if you choose to formula feed, you might as well live in a trailer, eat dog food, beat your children and vote for David Duke (and oh, yeah, you can’t come to little Timmy’s birthday party either. Humph!). The insanity needs to stop.

Dr. Ellie Lee suggests:

Policy in this area should aim to support individual mothers to feed their babies in the way that makes most sense for them and their families. It should cease to connect mothers’ infant feeding practices with solving wider social and health problems. Doing so, evidence suggests, has failed to do much to increase breastfeeding rates; has generated a distorted picture of the causes of health and social problems; and has encouraged a situation where many mothers experience being placed under pressure to feed their baby according to priorities laid down by others.

Amen, sistah.

I think this is particularly important because there is so much bad information and the bad information being distributed in order to promote breastfeeding is downright dishonest and misleading. While there are undeniable benefits to breastfeeding, it is not a life or death decision for 99.9999% of people in industrialized nations. While many women view the whole breastfeeding vs. formula feeding as the biggest decisions in their lives, the older your children get, the more likely you are to look back and wonder why tears were shed over the equivalent of Wheaties vs. Shredded Wheat.

Dr. Lee goes onto say:

Active efforts need to be made to separate infant feeding from morally-charged ideas and rhetoric about motherhood. The moralisation of infant feeding is detrimental for mothers – however they feed their babies – and damaging for wider society. Policy needs to be disentangled from the promotion of a particular orientation towards motherhood and family life.

Can I get a hellz yeah?!?

I suppose some readers are starting to pick out a common theme here at the Imperfect Parent’s Hot Topics — why are people making their problems other people’s problems? Why should any woman’s goals and feelings towards society and the world be your cross to bear?

Bullshit, I tellsya.

More from the briefing:

Mothers feed their babies in a range of ways, yet as things stand, lip-service is paid to choice in infant feeding: alternatives to breastfeeding are routinely portrayed as inferior. As a result, tensions exist between mothers and health service staff. Policy makers need to work to change this situation. Mothers should be provided with properly balanced information about all feeding methods as a matter of course.

Balance. Oh yeah — that. Speaking as a mother who did both, breastfed and formula fed (but mostly formula fed), I can say that the iron fist which seeks to censor information about the safety and/or health validity of infant formula is unacceptable. While it’s not my intention to encourage women to formula feed over breastfeeding, it is my intention to preserve the balance. Choice means having facts from both sides, not political rhetoric or distorted statistics. My hope is that mothers trust their own ability to hash out the truth and common sense. How can we trust any of our parental decisions if we allow other moms or people to influence them based on their own, personal, social and political motives?

Think for yourself.