What a priveleged country we live in here in Australia to ask ourselves, how are we going to feed our baby? Bottle or breast? And when I say bottle, I mean formula. This should not even be a question, or a choice. It should not be as simple as; shall I use huggies or cloth? Puree or BLW? Stroller or carrier? This is a choice you are making which affects your child’s short term and long term health. However in developed countries such as Australia, we do have that choice. I may sound judgemental but believe me, I do not blame the parents. I blame the multi-million dollar Formula companies marketing Formula, insinuating that formula is as beneficial as breastmilk. I blame health professionals telling mothers they are not making enough milk and baby needs a “top up” of formula. I blame society for the sexualisation of the female breast, making woman uncomfortable to breastfeed in public or even at all.
In this post I’m going to express exactly why this choice needs to STOP! We need to get back to basics and breastfeed our babies without thinking twice!
I decided to breastfeed Fin from the word go. It never occurred to me that I could formula feed. Picturing my baby at my breast just felt so natural. At 16 weeks pregnant I told my GP I wanted to breastfeed and I asked her if my antidepressants were safe to take while breastfeeding. She told me I was getting ahead of myself and we would just wait and see. Looking back I see she was so wrong. Being prepared is the best thing you can do in regards to birth, post part and breastfeeding.
When I was in hospital, post C-section with my son, the midwives would quiz me every shift on how much he had nursed. How long for? What times? How many wet nappies? I answered with 9am, 1pm and 5pm. half an hour each breast and yes plenty of wet nappies. “He may need a top up” WHAT ON EARTH? “We don’t want him to become jaundice” How do they come up with this shit? Had my answer have been “He nursed at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm and he nursed for 15 minutes each breast and yes TONS of wet nappies!” She probably would have replied with, “Wow he seems hungry a lot, maybe he needs a top up, you might not be making enough milk!” Health professionals DO NOT always know best. If baby is happy at the breast, good latch, wet nappies and if YOU feel ok, then baby is fine. MOTHER knows best! It might not feel like it at first but you do and you always will. Midwives told me Fin was a “big baby” (4970g / 10b 15oz) and there was a possibility I would not make enough milk for him and because I’d had a C-section, my milk would take longer to come in. But day 3, ready to be discharged, and there it was. Breastmilk in all its glory.
When I say “In all its glory” I definitely mean it! Take a look at the poster below, developed as a student project for the Breastfeeding Course For Health Care Providers, Douglas College, Canada.
That says it all to me. Even if your diet is not perfect, your body still makes perfect milk for your baby, you will be left deficient yourself to give your baby the vitamins and minerals it needs in your breastmilk, just as your body did when you were pregnant. My iron levels are always borderline low, my GP keeps a close eye on my bloods regularly for many reasons. When I was pregnant with Fin, I became anaemic, because Fin needed Iron, and my body gave it to him, leaving me deficient. It is actually very common during pregnancy.
Over the months following Fins birth and my experience with post natal care and how my health professionals had spoken of breastfeeding and formula I began to research. I found out that Australia actually has ways of regulating the sale and promotion of Breastmilk substitutes (formula).This is referred to as The WHO code. The following is taken directly from the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
“The aim of the WHO Code is:
To contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by the protection and promotion of breastfeeding, and by ensuring the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.
The main elements of the WHO Code are as follows:
-There should be no advertising or other promotion to the general public of products within the scope of the Code; ie, breastmilk substitutes (including infant formula and complementary foods), bottles or teats
-Health facilities and health professionals do not have a role in promoting breastmilk substitutes
-Free samples of breastmilk substitutes or items that promote breastmilk substitutes should not be provided to pregnant women, new mothers, or health facilities
-Health risks to infants who are artificially fed, or who are not exclusively breastfed, should be highlighted through appropriate warnings and labelling
-Labelling of breastmilk substitutes should contain instructions on how to use the product to minimise the risks of use.
-Pictures or text that idealise the use of breastmilk substitutes should not be used.”
Now tell me why would something that is “just as beneficial as breastmilk” need this? Because it is not. It also needs regulating because Formula companies are greedy, money hungry and they DO NOT care about your child. I was speaking to a friend about this topic the other day, as you may be able to tell, I am quite passionate about it and I said “Formula is evil” I’d like to retract that statement and instead say “Formula companies are evil.” For those who disagree with me check out this article, it explains in detail why I hate formula companies and why they are just after money.
The more I researched, The more I found out facts that cemented my decision to breastfeed. There are many health risks associated with infants not recieving breastmilk. The following text is taken from an article in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/
“Health outcomes differ substantially for mothers and infants who formula feed compared with those who breastfeed, even in developed countries such as the United States. A recent meta-analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reviewed this evidence in detail1:
For infants, not being breastfed is associated with an increased incidence of infectious morbidity, including otitis media, gastroenteritis, and pneumonia, as well as elevated risks of childhood obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Among premature infants, not receiving breast milk is associated with an increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
For mothers, failure to breastfeed is associated with an increased incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome.”
I couldn’t believe it at first. Everyone should know this! This information needs to be widely promoted, maybe our breastfeeding figures would rise. Part of the reason I want to become an IBCLC, a breastfeeding educator and I am writing this post. I want to raise awareness of the wonder that is breastfeeding and breastmilk. I could go on for hours and hours, pages and pages. I dream of a world where Formula is only available on prescription and is not advertised anywhere or anytime. I dream of a world where everyone looks kindly upon a nursing mother and baby and offers her a chair, a drink, hell even just a friendly smile from afar.
I am on a mission. I will help normalise breastfeeding.