I suspect this title will get a lot of attention, and I am glad. Let me share why...
I am an acupuncturist, nutritionist, holistic health practitioner, working on a website to join natural minded fertility, pregnancy, birthing, and baby practitioners. I know quite a bit about the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding as well as the downsides of formula. I have two sons, one is two, the other 9 1/2 months old. I am also the daughter of a lactation consultant...
I attended the showing of BOBB last night in Laguna Niguel, hosted by Milkalicious (they were fabulous, by the way, thank you), and before the film they showed a short video in support of breastfeeding, which is much needed. I support the push for breastfeeding and more education about why it is necessary to do all you can to breastfeed your baby for as long as possible. But, one thing I was disappointed about, was how bad it made me feel, as a mom who has had to resort to formula on occasion due to complications. Here's my story:
At 17 days old, my son had to be admitted to the NICU for elevated bilirubin levels. It was the highest level that anyone at our pediatric office and at the local hospital had ever seen in a newborn. I was forced to take my son off the breast for 48 hours and rely on formula while they tested him, and as much as I wanted to continue to breastfeed, they just would not let me. The bili went down after weeks of bili lights, herbs, homeopathy, and any other therapy I could find, but he still had to have formula for a couple days, and as much as that hurt me, I know I have done my best since he has gotten mostly breastmilk since then.
Another issue we have been dealing with is chronic thrush. Since he was about 3 months old, we have been fighting it any way I can think of. I have tried EVERYTHING! Probiotics, grapefruit seed extract, diet, homeopathy, chinese herbs... you name it, I've probably done it. I also did two 2 week rounds of diflucan.. it just came back. For those of you who have dealt with thrush, maybe you know how painful it can be. My nipples have been cracked, cut, bleeding, extremely painful when the baby latches on, and off, and on again (he gets distracted sometimes when feeding...). Pumping is just as painful. It has gotten to the point where many times I dread feeding him. That is NOT what I want my baby to sense from me! I fear him latching on and off, sometimes scream in pain, and I know that he is affected by this. I have been, and still am, close to giving up breastfeeding.
I'm not asking for sympathy, nor am I asking for support, though it is always appreciated. I am surrounded by support, but it does not help my situation. I cannot afford to buy breastmilk; therefore, I have, at times when my nipples are completely thrashed, used formula as a substitute. As much as I hate the thought, I still am considering switching completely to formula.
With that said, I feel that when promoting breastfeeding, just as when promoting natural birth, we need to understand that there are some mothers out there who have tried their best, but just might need to rely on formula or a C section for their baby's health. When sitting in the audience last night, I felt COMPLETELY horrible for having given my baby formula. I remember one mom in the video that Milkalicious showed said that it was sooo dangerous for a mother to be breastfeeding and supplementing with formula at the same time.
What are those dangers??? Is it the contaminants possibly found in formula? PLEASE be aware that breastmilk can contain contaminants as well!!! What we have in our bodies will be present in our breastmilk, and because we live in a contaminated environment, it is unavoidable! Most women do not do a deep detox before falling pregnant, and many women do not eat completely organic food, use all natural, organic products, skin care, make up, etc.. so rest assured we will find parabens, MSG, and other chemicals in our breastmilk!
In no way am I trying to compare formula to breastmilk. All I am trying to say is that, in my opinion, it gets the job done when all else fails. A mother should not be condemned for having to resort to formula. If she is educated on the facts about the benefits of breastmilk and what her baby is missing out on when he or she is not breastfed, as I am, then she will feel bad enough giving her baby formula.
I am in complete support for other mothers out there who have truly given their best to breastfeeding, but for one reason or another, made the decision to quit. I would never wish the difficulties and pain that I have been through with breastfeeding on another woman. I think that we need to support breastfeeding education, as well as natural therapies that can assist in problems that may arise in breastfeeding, but I also think we need to find a way to get better formula available to our mothers and babies, and support research for that cause as well.
Please, in the future, try to be a bit more sensitive to other mothers out there, who love their babies just as much as you love yours and have tried their best to support them and their health in every way they can. It is my opinion that making the statement that a mother is endangering her baby's health when she feeds him formula is a little too harsh. It might be better just to say that we all know breastmilk is best, but sometimes, formula can be ok too.