I got this email today but through the contact form on www.lactivist.net which didn’t show me the reply email address.
So I can reply I’ve cut and pasted it here. It was from G.
“With all due respect I cannot believe in the 21st century what a narrow minded view people seem to have regarding formula feeding and the effects that peer pressure regarding breast feeding has on new mums. Many mums, myself included, are well aware of the great benefits of breast feeding and I was lucky enough with my second child to be able to do such a wonderful thing however my first child was unable to breast feed due to a medical problem, and unfortunately I was unable to express enough milk to feed him therefore having to use formula, and despite having no choice I still was made to feel guilty.
Many babies are formula fed as their mothers have no other choice due to many varied reasons and to be honest without formula they would not be able to sustain life. I fully support breastfeeding where possible but when you have a tiny new born baby and your only interest is keeping them safe from harm, fed and well loved the last thing anyway needs is to be told that they are hurting their precious new bundle by doing the best they can under their circumstances.
Pressure from other mums, midwives and most of all the government is unfair and totally uncalled for, it really is easy to understand why their has been a substantial rise in the numbers of post natal depression in recent years. Quite frankly its about time people learn to back off and let new mothers make their own imformed choices without being made to feel as if they do not have their childs best interest at heart.”
This is what I would have emailed back if I had a return email address:
Firstly, in my limited experience of mothering (I’m the parent of one 9 year old) I think the whole process has guilt traps throughout. Whatever choices you make, informed or not there will be someone out there who thinks, strongly that you are doing the wrong thing. However, guilt is not something that anyone can make you feel, it is a feeling that we produce ourselves, an inward emotion that we heap upon ourselves far too often. There is a quick and interesting article about guilt and parenthood on the Psychology Today website that you might find interesting.
I fought hard to breastfeed, it wasn’t easy for me, it hurt, I was exhausted…….. I started Lactivist as a result of being criticised for breastfeeding my 4 month old, in a playgroup of all places. I also had health visitors suggesting topping up with formula (which I knew would mess up the breastfeeding relationship I worked so hard at). So I made my small son a tiny t-shirt with a pro breastfeeding slogan on it. The negative comments stopped and people started to ask me where I got the t-shirt from. Many people felt the same way that I did. We had all worked hard to do what we felt was best for our children, despite pressure to formula feed from peers, parents, health visitors, friends…..etc. We were all proud of our achievement despite the multitudes of people telling us we were doing the wrong thing.
If you see it from the Lactivist point of view, we have often felt pressure from other mums and midwives, and what about the enormous consumer pressure from companies who sell bottles and formula. The majority of us make our choices based on what we are familiar with, aisles of formula bottles are more often seen than public breastfeeding.
Infant formula is not as good as breastmilk, no one is trying to make you feel guilty by stating that fact. Infant formula is a substitute to keep babies alive when there is no way that they can breastfeed. The NCT gave a figure that less than 2% of mums and babies have a medical condition that prevents them from breastfeeding. Many mothers who didn’t breastfeed believe that they couldn’t but with support and help it is highly possible that they could. Unfortunatly the funding for that sort of support needed is just not there in many cases, and the last resort formula is seen as the only option.
I think we all have to do our best, and learn to deal with our guilty feelings the best we can. Lactivist.net has helped thousands of people over the years by giving them a place where they don’t feel like weirdos for breastfeeding. Before I die I would dearly love to see a world where places like Lactivist don’t need to exist, where we all tolerate each others decisions, where choices are properly informed (not just by product placement) and where support is in place to give babies what they were designed to have.
Facebook is a very resourceful place for social and business networking. However as most people have heard through the media lately, Facebook has removed profile pictures of breastfeeding.
While there are many opinions about repeated removals and no attempt by Facebook to accept the breastfeeding photos, I thought WHY?!? Why is it a big deal? Why would Facebook remove nursing photographs (most of which barley show any breast)?
The researched and factual answer is:
A Facebook Shareholder is the owner of an Infant Formula Company!
Billionaire Li Ka-Shang who is a Facebook Shareholder of 0.75% (an estimated $165 million value) owns Hutchison China MediTech Ltd.
This may not appear to be a substantial amount, however when you review the shareholder list for Facebook it is a substantial influence.
Hutchison China MediTech Ltd announced on May 26, 2011 that it will enter the Chinese infant-formula milk powder market through cooperation with Hain Celestial Group Inc, a leading US natural and organic products company.
“By launching Earth’s Best and Zhi Ling Tong co-branded organic infant formula in China, the companies are targeting the country’s premium market” … China “sees 15 million newborn infants every year, thus the market potential of baby milk powder is huge”.
“In the next five years, the company will strive to gain 2 percent market share, which equals some $123 million.”
A fast mention that Interpublic Group which is another Facebook Shareholder of less than 0.5% (an estimated $110 million value) is the parent company of Draftfcb, and Lowe + Partners.
Draftfcb client list includes Nestle and Pfizer. Both companies are known for infant formula. Lowe + Partners also list Nestle as a client.
You might ask what this has to do with breastfeeding photos on Facebook. That is a simple answer; however, you tell me why Facebook’s shareholders who invest in an infant formula company would want to stop the promotion of breastfeeding?
There are many debates and disagreements within our society of how to raise a child. But there is no synthetic substitute that can compare to true Organic Milk from a mother.
Society should be changed for the better, to a culture that promotes Formula Free babies and supports breastfeeding. What society seems to forget is that breastfeeding is normal! The more you see something, the more normal it becomes and the less people will relate a bottle to a baby before a breast.
It seems that Facebook while free to its users comes with a price. Social networking is controlled by those who can afford to control it. One thing the formula companies will never be able to market and never understand is the bond that breastfeeding creates. We do not breastfeed to save money (that is just a bonus), we breastfeed because it’s the best thing for our babies, ourselves, and our environment!
Breastfeeding moms make a difference! Keep up the great work and if you want to pass on the research we’ve done, feel free to Share on Facebook, Tweet it or pin it! We can all make a difference and you already have!
What do you think of this from Cow & Gate? It’s being emailed to mums across the country with the subject line “ Local part-time work for mums like you!”
“Being a mum is all the experience you need
Weaning. You probably remember it like it was yesterday – ‘Been there, done that, got the food-splattered t-shirt!’ You may also remember, as a new mum, how daunting it could be. But you got through it, you learnt day by day. And now you have the sympathy and experience that this year’s new mums would love to learn from.
That’s why we’re launching the brilliant new Cow & Gate Feeding Club. Relaxed, informal, and in need of mums like you!
What is the Feeding Club?
Run for mums by mums, it’s a fun, interactive session in handy nearby locations. Each session covers baby’s first spoonfuls, trying new flavours and how to make yummy, baby-friendly meals. By the end, mums feel confident and ready to tackle weaning. All hosted by an Ambassador Mum, professionally trained by Cow & Gate.
What’s the opportunity?
As a valued Baby Club Member, you’re an ideal candidate to become a Feeding Club Ambassador Mum. Having been through baby weaning yourself, you could be a natural at helping new mums near you.
We’re not looking for weaning experts, just everyday mums.
Are you passionate about being a mum? Happy talking in front of new people? Feel like a bit of a challenge? Then this is the job for you.
You’ll be specially trained in hosting feeding club sessions. Working locally, the role is part-time over a flexible schedule.
And, of course, we’ll pay you too!
When do I start?
Training begins week commencing 26th March 2012, followed by eight weeks of part-time work. The closing date for applications is Tuesday 7th February, so be quick!”
The British Journal of Midwifery (BJM) is supporting the Innovating for Life Awards, in conjunction with Cow & Gate and Infant journal. You can read about how Cow & Gate break the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes here – http://www.babymilkaction.org/CEM/cemdec05.html
The awards, were launched in September 2011 to recognize and celebrate innovative approaches to improvements in infant and maternal care in the midwifery and neonatal professions.
Alice Hall the editor of the journal has written:- “I’m happy to announce that the deadline for entries has been extended to Friday, 20 January 2012, to give you time for any last-minute entries over the Christmas break! We’d like to urge all of you to share your experiences or ideas for innovations in practice that could make a significant difference to maternal or infant care. The winners of the maternity care and neonatal care categories will be presented with £10,000 each to support their innovation. With an extended deadline, why not throw your hat into the ring?”
Thank you to Carol for this conflict of interest statement from IBFAN:
“Because health care workers and health professionals play an essential role in guiding infant and young child feeding practices; Because encouraging and facilitating breastfeeding and optimal infant and young child feeding practices and providing objective and consistent advice to parents about the superior value of breastfeeding is a major contribution to better public health and more particularly to improving child survival, health and development; Because most manufacturers of baby milks and foods, feeding bottles and teats have been using the health care system as promotional channels”http://www.ibfan.org/art/389-1.pdfwww.ibfan.org
“THIS IS NOT OK and I don’t think that I need to spell out why to you.
I have written the letter to Alice at email@example.com
It would be great if we could get midwives and other health professionals such as health visitors and neonatal nurses to respond.
I was shocked on receiving your email inviting me to apply for funding for the Innovating for Life awards to discover that this is a collaborative venture with an infant formula company. In light of all the current evidence that we have around the benefits of breastfeeding and the hazards of artificially feeding a baby with infant formula, this would seem to be a singularly inappropriate relationship. There is additionally a conflict of interest, how could a midwife promote breastfeeding when she is being funded by an artificial baby milk producer? This is endorsement by association and no self respecting midwifery journal should play any part in this ‘bedsharing’ exercise. I would be interested to know what your editorial board think of this association.
I would ask that you seriously reconsider this relationship which is ethically dubious and philosophically at odds with everything that midwifery represents in relation to infant feeding
New from The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute:
The World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Department of Health, even First Lady Michelle Obama are sold on the benefits of breastfeeding infants until they’re six months old. A host of scientific studies show that mother’s milk is best for infants, linked to both improved immunity and brain development. But one federal agency, WIC, still distributes more than half of all infant formula sold in the United States, funneling $627 million to formula makers each year.
WIC, formally known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, provides extra nutrition to nearly half of the nation’s infants and pregnant mothers, including vouchers for infant formula. While WIC officially promotes breastfeeding, its counselors are up against a PR juggernaut from formula makers. These companies, including Abbott Labs and Nestle, target low-income communities with ads claiming their formula, enhanced by chemical additives, is as good as or better than breast milk. But such claims are substantiated mostly by company-funded studies. Members of Congress with ties to the formula industry, led by notorious lobbyist Lanny Davis, succeeded in blocking government study of popular additives like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) when WIC was reauthorized in 2010.
Molly Ginty’s investigation, “Infant Formula Companies Milk U.S. Food Program,” was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and published by Women’s eNews. It is available online.
On the one hand, WIC was the first U.S. agency to join the global consensus on breastfeeding in 1997–far ahead of the Health Department or any White House programs. That year, it joined the American Academy of Pediatrics in formally recommending six months’ exclusive nursing. In 2004, WIC also began hiring breastfeeding peer counselors and in 2009, it began distributing more food to enrollees who breastfeed than those who do not.
On the other hand, WIC, which provides formula to low-income mothers who need it for health reasons or who choose not to breastfeed their babies, continues to funnel what critics say is too much money to infant-formula makers, propping up products its own counselors call second-best.
This contradiction is partly due to an extremely effective press blitz by formula companies, which have met official U.S. breastfeeding promotion with a barrage of ads and in-hospital promotions that health advocates have been unable, politically, to do much about.
Touting new chemical ingredients in their products, formula makers target many of the neighborhoods that WIC serves–low income communities of color–with ads claiming that their new, enhanced formulas offer the nutritional equivalent of mother’s milk. Manufacturers also offer mothers free hospital discharge packs, free product shipments to their doorsteps, and discount shopping coupons.
“Formulas containing [common additives] DHA and ARA have been shown to provide visual and mental development similar to that of the breastfed infant,” assert promotional materials from the International Formula Council, an industry trade group in Washington, D.C. The group describes these ingredients as backed by “years of research studying the clinical effects…in infants.”
Most of that promising research, the council neglects to point out, was industry funded.”
Saint Mary’s Hospital in Greater Manchester, will no longer give free infant formula to new mums from November 2011.
New mums who chose not to breastfeed will have to bring in cartons of milk, not powdered formula for health and safety reasons. The Manchester Evening News says that the hospital ‘stressed mums who were medically unable to breastfeed, or had babies too sick to be breastfed, would still receive free milk.’
I found this article on www.theglobeandmail.com which is a Canadian website. I’m not sure of the laws about promoting baby milk in Canada but over here in the UK any advertising or promotion of infant formula for babies under 6 months is illegal. It’s all about baby milk advertising and it asks if it should exist at all.
Quoting a quote from the article:
Influential Canadian blogger Catherine Connors characterized the anti-advertising stance this way:
“The message at the core of the ‘ban all formula advertising’ platform is simple: formula is bad. You should not use it. You should not even think about using it. You should not look at words or images that in any way suggest that you are not a terrible mother if you choose it. Giving your baby formula is akin to sticking a cigarette in her mouth. If you use formula, you are a bad, bad mother.
“This is nonsense. This is pernicious nonsense that is harmful to mothers, inasmuch as it undermines mothers’ powers of self-determination and calls into question their ability to make the best choices for themselves. It is harmful, because it shames mothers.”
Personally I don’t see it like that. I see it to be that formula companies make millions of pounds by tricking mothers who are not well informed into believing that formula is as good as breastmilk. I don’t think I’m stupid but I know for sure that I have been tricked by adverts; been persuaded that my hair will be shinier or my teeth cleaner because of some glossy image and some seductive words. If breastfeeding isn’t something that people see around them much but they do see adverts for formula what are they going to choose? The thing that is the most familiar. The ban on cigarette advertising made a difference to the numbers of non smokers who were encouraged to smoke, would a similar ban on formula advertising mean more breastfed babies?
I really think that formula really should be seen as a last resort if breastfeeding doesn’t work out.
What do you think? I like the idea of an advert for full term breastfeeding next to every advert for follow on formula myself but as breastfeeding does not bring in the big bucks that formula does it is unlikely to happen.
I’ve read that people who are breastfed are more likely to breastfeed their own children. But what if you don’t come from a family where breastfeeding is the norm? What if your partners’ parents hate the idea of you breastfeeding? What if you partner wants you to formula feed but you want to breastfeed? I’ve sold Lactivist t-shirts to many mums who say that they stop mother in laws negative comments but what else can you do to get support instead of critisism?
Here are some ideas – I’d love you to add to the list!
Tell them that you can only breastfeed naked, with the lights on bright and the curtains open whilst shouting ‘look at these big mamas’ unless they support your decision, in which case you will be able to nurse discreetly
Find breastfed role models and drop them into every conversation – Madonna was breastfed, Pelé the footballer was breastfed until he was 5……
She may be risking losing her milk supply, as breastmilk is supply and demand.
She may be risking her babies health as formula takes a lot of energy to digest (which could be why the baby is sleeping longer) and do you really want your babies digestive system working overtime if it can be avoided?
My 14-week-old baby Mabel is sleeping through the night. Not every night, but most nights she goes to bed in her moses basket at around 9pm and wakes at about 6am the next day.
Two things will happen, now that I have said that out loud: Mabel will wake up every five minutes tonight — and almost every woman with a new baby will hate me.
For I have broken the motherhood code of silence. The tacit agreement which decrees that even if you want to shout from the rooftops about getting nearly seven unbroken hours of sleep a night you shall not, in deference to the majority of parents who are not. It’s just not done, is it?
But before you make a voodoo doll of me (still in my maternity jeans) to stick pins in, I must point out that this sleep is a luxury we have never had before.
None of the other three ever slept through the night. The youngest was waking twice a night until he was three (he’s four now). The first one, aged nine, needed only four hours’ sleep and Mr C and I used to take it in turns wandering round the house or the streets with her after she’d woken at 4.30am (she wakes at 6.30am these days).
Gracie-in-the-middle had colic. She would howl all night, her little tummy tight with the pain of it. We lived in a fug of desperate exhaustion for nearly a year, as she was born 16 months after the first one.
A survey by Mother And Baby magazine found that new mothers now get two hours less sleep a night than their own parents did
I remember hallucinating with tiredness, the kitchen floor would shift from side to side in front of me and if I saw anyone in bed on television, I would stare at the screen with lust, longing to feel the pillows against my face.
I was once so tired after a long day at work on four hours’ broken sleep that I was physically sick. But we survived. No one died. And I am not complaining — if you have babies, you expect this.
Thus a sleeping Candy baby is a miracle, which is why I had to tell you about it. I am, of course, tempting fate by mentioning our guilty secret, but I am so surprised by Mabel’s nocturnal non-activity that I feel like going to confession (even though I’m not religious) or accosting strangers in the street with news of it.
I wish I could offer up a secret for all of you devouring every word related to the subject of sleep, but I can’t. There is no special trick; I’m not the baby whisperer.
We haven’t worked out a complicated formula on a huge blackboard in the manner of Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, eliminating all the things we did previously to arrive at a scientific conclusion that makes babies sleep through the night. Sorry all, but it’s probably just luck. Bummer, as my teenage goddaughter would say.
I used to hate those women who’d look at my scary hair, huge eye bags and buttons done up wrong, then calmly say: ‘Have you tried putting her in a routine? Mine sleeps from 8pm to 7am under the “smughausen” rules (or whatever new thing was they were reading).’
I wanted to grab them by the throat and yell: ‘Listen lady, I have tried it all. Everything you have read about, every old wives’ tale, every stranger’s ridiculous piece of advice. I’m calling a white witch next, because nothing has worked.’
OK, OK, I can hear those of you on your knees with tiredness so bad you’ve forgotten your own surname shouting: ‘Quit the column drivel, woman. You must have done something to Baby Mabel to make her sleep.’ Really, I’ve got nothing for you.
Oh all right, I do have one thing — but we’ll have to hide behind a bush like criminals in order to share this. And if you tell anyone else, I will have to kill you. Just remember me when you see my name on the so-called Breastapo’s hit list. Look away now, anyone who is maternally squeamish. I have started to mix formula feeds with breastfeeds.
I did this on the advice of a health visitor concerned about Mabel’s weight (she’s not a chubbo) and the fact it was taking all night to feed her myself.
So she now gets two, sometimes three, bottles of formula each day.
The day I started this she slept through and has done ever since. Most likely, this is a coincidence. And, of course, it may all change tomorrow; babies are notoriously unpredictable.
But it makes you think. With my other newborns I was advised against this, breast is best being the mantra. But several years of parenting later and the professionals are less hardline and I’m more relaxed. I am, after all, a formula baby myself.
LORRAINE CANDY is editor-in-chief at Elle Magazine.
Cow&Gate want mummy bloggers to do their marketing for them. They’re promoting a product – follow-on milk for 1 yr olds – in order to increase brand visibility of all their milks including infant formula.
It is illegal to promote infant formula (for babies under 6 months) but follow on formula has been created to get around that loophole. There is no need for the stuff at all. The world health organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months then continuing breastfeeding until at least the age of 2 while introducing solids. It doesn’t recommend fake milk.
This campaign kicks off with the UK’s first ‘Toddler Census’, aiming to explore what life is like for British toddlers, from the contents of their wardrobes to their diets and lifestyles and it focuses on Growing Up Milk, a milk specially made for toddlers.It is thought that the growing ‘mummy blogger’ community has been identified as a key target, given its growing importance as an information source for parents. The campaign will blend traditional media relations with digital, SEO and social media activity, as well as a ‘mum’ word-of-mouth campaign. The Baby Milk Action website says that Mothers with problems are more likely to phone Cow & Gate for advice than La Leche League or the National Childbirth Trust.
COMPLEMENTARY FEEDING by Gabrielle Palmer
New book on nutrition by the author of The Politics of Breastfeeding.
Gabrielle Palmer’s groundbreaking book The Politics of Breastfeeding highlighted the controversies surrounding the aggressive promotion of breastmilk substitutes. She now turns her attention to complementary feeding the first foods that a child eats besides milk.
For most of human existence, children went without industrially processed foods and branded food products. Can we applaud the progress of the way children are fed today? In our unequal world one billion people risk their health through overconsumption while two billion people are hungry. The health problems of both groups start in early childhood.
The power and influence of the food industry has increased dramatically in recent decades. Seductive and often unethical modern marketing methods have led to the promotion of unsuitable, unnecessary and sometimes harmful baby foods. Yet not all industrially processed foods are bad and not all natural foods are good. Both poor and rich children may be inappropriately fed.
What lessons can we learn from history? How do cultural and religious beliefs influence the choice of food? Can government initiatives have any effect? How can we provide good nutrition for all infants? This brief, compassionate and thought-provoking new book will be of interest to anyone who is curious about the world, its children and their nutrition, and will stimulate discussion and debate as part of the campaign to create a world where health for all is a true goal.
Pinter & Martin is an independent book publisher based in London, with distribution throughout the world. We specialise in psychology, pregnancy, birth and parenting, fiction and yoga, and publish authors who challenge the status quo, such as Elliot Aronson, Grantly Dick-Read, Ina May Gaskin, Stanley Milgram, Guillermo O’Joyce, Michel Odent, Gabrielle Palmer, Stuart Sutherland and Frank Zappa. www.pinterandmartin.com
The use of baby formula as the primary method of infant feeding has exploded in popularity over the past few decades. Formula has become increasingly healthier in recent years with the addition of chemicals like DHA and lutein, both of which are naturally found in human milk. In spite of these advancements, there is some information that the manufacturers aren’t advertising. Take a look at these ten little-known facts about infant formula.
1. The linings of formula cans contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a plastics chemical which mimics the female hormone estrogen. Exposure to BPA can potentially cause reproductive problems and early puberty. Experts are concerned that the chemical may leach into the formula and be ingested by infants, who are far more vulnerable to adverse effects from contaminants than adults. Liquid and ready-to-feed formulas are more susceptible to this leaching than powdered formulas. The FDA reports that they are currently accepting applications for alternative substances with which to line formula cans; however, they do not recommend changing a child’s feeding habits based solely on this concern.
2. Feeding an infant formula can increase the child’s risk of developing food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease, a disease which encompasses the chronic conditions ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, according to new research performed by nutritionist Sharon Donovan at the University of Illinois. The study also shows an increased risk for asthma in formula-fed infants. These conditions result from the formula’s inability to activate the appropriate immune system genes within the digestive tract. Without the activation of these genes, a child’s digestive system is left vulnerable to a lifetime of adverse effects.
3. It is impossible to produce sterile powdered infant formula. According to the World Health Organization, current technology does not allow for powdered formula to be manufactured in such a way that it is sterile, even when it is produced within current hygienic guidelines.
4. Baby formula may be contaminated with the harmful bacteria enterobacter sakazakii and salmonella enterica. Since powdered formula cannot be manufactured to be sterile, these bacteria can be present and cause severe illness in children. The WHO reports that, although these organisms cannot thrive in dry formula, they can survive in it for up to and possibly exceeding one year. Once the formula is mixed, it provides an ideal habitat for the growth of these illness-causing bacteria. In rare cases, infection with these pathogens can even cause a child’s death.
5. Formula feeding increases a child’s risk of childhood obesity and of developing diabetes. A White House study, released by first lady Michelle Obama in May 2010, explains that babies who are formula-fed are 22 percent more likely to be obese. Formula derived from cow’s milk contains about twice as much protein as human milk. This excess protein results in excess insulin production and prolonged insulin response. Even well into childhood, children who were formula-fed as infants show low levels of the hormon leptin, which is known to “inhibit appetite and control body fatness.”
6. Soy-based formulas contain plant estrogens which can cause a variety of reproductive issues. Soy formulas are an alternative for children with cow’s milk allergies and for vegan families. While studies have shown that obesity and diabetes risks are lower for children who consume soy-based formulas, they are not without their own set of dangers. A study published by The Society for the Study of Reproduction in March 2010 found that newborn mice who were fed a formula containing the soy plant estrogen genistein once daily developed various reproductive problems, as well as abnormalities of the thymus gland. The study mimicked the level of genistein that would be found in a human infant who was regularly fed soy formula. It raises serious questions about the safety and long-term effects of soy-based formulas in infants.
7. The FDA does not test infant formulas prior to their marketing and sale. While the FDA inspects manufacturing facilities and performs quality tests on formulas once a year, they do not test infant formula to ensure that it meets nutritional and quality requirements before it is allowed to be sold. Instead, the FDA relies solely on the manufacturers’ own reports that their products meet federal standards.
8. Infant formulas often contain perchlorate, the base chemical in solid rocket fuels. In March 2009, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study which found perchlorate in 15 brands of infant formula. The EPA insists that the levels of the chemical found in formula pose no threat to infants. However, according to the CDC, the drinking water in 26 states contains high levels of perchlorate. If tap water and powdered baby formula, both containing the hazardous chemical, are mixed together, the levels may be high enough to cause serious harm to infants.
9. FDA testing has revealed that some baby formulas also contain the chemicals melamine and cyanuric acid. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has stated that these chemicals “can cause renal failure by production of insoluble melamine cyanurate crystals in renal tubules and/or calculi in kidneys, ureter, urethra or the urinary bladder.” In other words, when these chemicals are present in baby formula, they can cause kidneys stones, kidney and urinary blockages and infections, and kidney failure. In extreme cases, complications of these conditions may result in the deaths of infants. The FDA performs tests for melamine and cyanuric acid in baby formulas, which can be viewed on their website.
10. Many brands of formula contain ingredients which are generally acknowledged to contain or produce monosodium glutamate, or MSG. The organization Truth in Labeling provides information from a Canadian study which found MSG, a dangerous neurotoxin, in at least five brands of baby formula. Although testing was performed only on Canadian products, all five companies manufacture and sell products in the United States as well. The organization also names ingredients from four different types of U.S. baby formula which are known to contain MSG or to produce it during processing. These ingredients include enzymatically hydrolyzed reduced minerals, casein hydrolysate, carrageenan, and maltodextrin.
Unfortunately, the companies that manufacture infant formula do not always tell the entire story. Strict guidelines are put in place to help ensure the safety of formula-fed infants, but unfortunately some problems have still arisen with these infant products. It is imperative that parents have all the information possible and that our society continues to demand higher and higher standards in the production of products for our children and babies.
This week that should be Breastfeeding Awareness Week , packed full of nationwide nurse ins and breastfeeding flashmobs organised by mums, not funded by the NHS, just mums independantly trying to do the right thing started with me feeling uplifted and happy but that mood has shifted.
Mumsnet have a depressing thread about breastfeeding flashmobs being ‘ smug’ and ‘alienating’, Lactivist has been described as ‘wacky’ (that is a first by the way) and mums attending breastfeeding events accused of having too much time on their hands.
I’ve been thinking hard about this, how is it possible to promote breastfeeding without alienating formula feeders.
When a baby is born mothers will generally go down one of these routes:
1. Choose to breastfeed exclusively because you believe that is the best for your child ( BF informed choice)
2. Choose to breastfeed exclusively because that is what people around you do (BF uninformed choice)
3. Choose to formula feed exclusively because you believe that is the best for your child (FF informed choice)
4. Choose to formula exclusively because that is what people around you do (FF uninformed choice)
5. Have to breastfeed (BF no choice)
6. Have to formula feed (FF no choice)
7. Choose to mix feed because you believe that is the best for your child (MF informed choice)
8. Choose to mix feed because that is what people around you do (MF uninformed choice)
This is what I believe.
Many women feel they have to formula feed because they have no choice when in fact, with proper support they would be able to breastfeed. The NCT say that less than 2% of women are medically unable to breastfeed.
Many women choose to formula feed without knowing the facts and risks associated with it.
Many women choose to formula feed for many different and sometimes incredibly valid reasons (sexual abuse for example), knowing that they are not doing the very best for their baby and justifying it by saying that they cannot breastfeed.
I am expecting to be thoroughly slated for stating what I believe and understandably so. The truth hurts.
I worked very hard to breastfeed, it was not easy and it hurt. I got help, despite health visitors suggesting formula, topping up, just one bottle….. I stuck to it and managed for almost 2 years. I was grimly determined. I didn’t enjoy it. The fact is that breastfeeding is good for babies and formula can be bad. If I was one of the 2% that couldn’t breastfeed I would have been gutted and it would have hurt to see women breastfeeding because it would tick many of my guilty, not good enough mum boxes of which I have many.
Just as after a miscarriage women notice all the pregnant women, just as when you are trying for a baby and it’s not happening, everyone around you is pregnant, anything that you are sensitive to seems bigger and brighter than the other things around it.
I believe that breastfeeding needs promoting, I think that the majority of women who choose to formula feed are not aware that there are risks associated with it. I think when it comes to baby milk we are stuck in a strange 50′s modernist time warp where artificial is seen as preferable to natural and hospital births are more of a lumpectomy than a celebration of a new life.
So, there must be a way forward, there must be a way to promote breastfeeding without upsetting people who formula feed.
Would people still be offended if it was National Babyfeeding Week? If events were about groups of mothers gathering to feed their babies in any way they chose (or didn’t choose). Would formula mums still be offended by breastfeeding mums?
I particularly like the closing sentence – “Shame on you Nestlé. The real comprehensive nutrition system? A pair of lactating breasts.”
Infant formula is a medical necessity for those who are unable to breastfeed their infants. There are a host of medically sound reasons why a mother, in conjunction with her physician would choose to utilize infant formula in lieu of breast milk. The regulated manufacturing of infant feeding products has come a long way in recent years, and has saved many lives. When viewed in this capacity, formula is a wonderful thing.
What is not so wonderful is the societal pressure on women to choose bottle feeding as an option of convenience. For years, women in industrialized nations were told that it was a more high tech, simpler solution than breastfeeding their infants. Bombarded with images of bottle feeding from childhood, our society has come to view it as the norm. Over the course of the last few decades,the “breast is best” mantra has been prevalently bestowed on new mothers, and fewer women are choosing elective formula feeding. Formula has been largely demonized by healthcare providers and better educated mothers, and is often viewed upon as downmarket.
The environmental toll of formula manufacturing is heavy: dairy production destroys land and pollutes air and water. The waste created by packaging, bottles and nipples is staggering. Artificial feeding means the use of more diapers, sanitary napkins and tampons. In developing nations, it increases the odds of an infant contracting food-bourne illness, and increases infant mortality rates. The multimillion dollar television ads that formula companies place during your prime-time viewing are always images of a cherubic caucasian baby, and a smiling mother – not of dying infants and destroyed agricultural property.
The increasing trend to return to breast feeding is not in the best interests of the large corporations who command vast profits from the production and sale of infant formula. Flagging sales and decreasing market segments require innovation and rebranding magic.
How do you create appeal for a product that is more and more becoming a virtual societal pariah?
You respin what has previously been spun successfully.
Meet Nestlé’s latest weapon in their war against breastfeeding:
That, dear friend, is NOT a Nespresso maker or Keurig.
Those are not pods of designer coffee.
It is a very costly formula making machine: BabyNes
Not only is it designed to appeal to the crowd who would already be buying similar products for themselves, but it bills itself as a revolutionary “comprehensive nutrition system.”
Comprehensive Nutrition System? Who are they trying to fool?
Apparently the wealthy and those caught up in gadgetry.
One of these units, which debuted for the first time in Switzerland today, will run you approximately $287 USD. Single serving pods of formula will roughly double existing formula costs, as they will come in at $56 – $64 for a pack of 26.
Can you picture the inevitable launch in North America, complete with contests in parenting magazines and on the internet, give aways by OBGYNS and peds who finance their golf club memberships via the push of formula on otherwise healthy nursing pairs? Television commercials that appeal to mothers who cannot afford these things, but will spend their money on them anyway, because of the media’s emphasis on convenience, safety and hygiene?
Shame on you Nestlé. The real comprehensive nutrition system? A pair of lactating breasts.
They are perfect for hospital bags, just pop one in the end of the crib when your baby is born to make it clear to anyone around that you do not want a bottle of formula to interfere with your breastfeeding relationship.
Aunty Lactivist is all of us so if you can help with ideas, experience, links or anything else please just leave a comment.
Dear Aunty LactivistI took my 4 yr old to preschool today, to be met my a row of dolls all waiting to be washed, talcumed, and bottle fed! There was a row of about 6 bottles all with milk in and the children were forcing the teats into the dolls faces to make the milk pour out all over them! I honestly didn’t know what to think or say, but actually felt quite cross!
At home we talked about the activity and I explained he didn’t have bottles when he was a baby, and that he had mummy milk.
Which then led into a deep conversation about why my body made milk for babies, and how his sister had the milk too and that he doesnt have milk anymore but still loves cuddles.
I just wondered if anyone else has seen this kind of activity happen and if and how they said anything. I dont want to upset people but more inform them on how they could structure activities like this better, setting a good example for our children, who may well be parents themselves one day.V
Aunty Lactivist is all of us, so if you can help at all with advice or encouragement or opinion please comment below.
Dear Aunty LactivistMy very large baby was born yesterday. She’s 11lbs, 9 1/2 oz! Her blood glucose levels are low and they’re urging me to top-up with formula. (They were good this morning, but only 2.4 just now – the options seem to be formula or hospital!)
What are your thoughts?L
This was BBC News at pm on Thursday 25th November 2010. When you get past all the depressing news, at about 15 minutes 21 seconds in there is more depressing stuff.
Ed Milibrand, who has recently been criticized for taking paternity leave is shown going back to work, they film a walkaround in Dudley Tescos where he points to a tin of infant formula and says ‘Yeah, this is the formula we use, Aptimil 0-3 months’. The camera then zooms in to the shelves and shows the product very clearly.
Words are about to fail me but irresponsible and unnecessary are two of them. Why do it Ed? It doesn’t matter to me that you are feeding your baby second rate milk but why endorse it on national television? It is vitally important for the future health of the nation that breastfeeding is accepted.
I would like to see Ed Miliband issue a statement to tell the nation that he knows that breastfeeding is best for our children, for their mothers and for the future of our health care system. If more babies were breastfed there would be less illness and less cost to the NHS.
On the 6pm news on BBC TV on the 25th November Ed Milibrand endorsed infant formula. The effects of infant formula are far ranging, from asthma to obesity, heart disease and allergies and lead to a huge cost to the NHS.
If more babies were breastfed the health or our nation would be improved radically.
Please could Ed MIlibrand issue a statement to lessen the damage of the promotion of Aptimil 0-3 months by stating that he knows that breastfeeding is best and that there are many help lines for people who are having difficulty.
Ed Milibrand was filmed in Dudley Tescos where he pointed to a tin of infant formula and said ‘Yeah, this is the formula we use, Aptimil 0-3 months’. The camera then zoomed in to the shelves and showed the product very clearly.
It is illegal to promote infant formula and irresponsible of the BBC to allow this to be shown.
It is important to the health of the nation that breastfeeding be seen as the norm and endorsements of brands of infant formula undermine the good work of midwives, health visitors and lactation supporters throughout the country.
Please be aware that lives and health depend on the feeding choices that parents make. Infant formula has links to many problems in later life including asthma, obesity, heart disease and allergies. Breastfeeding protects babies from all this and mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer.
This is not just the ranting of the milk mafia, this is important to the health of our nation.
Mr Miliband – I am really disappointed to see you endorsing infant formula. Are you not aware that there is a breastfeeding manifesto? Many of your colleagues have signed it with the hope that increased support would help more mothers breastfeed and lessen the cost of medical care for diseases directly related to infant formula such as asthma, obesity, heart disease and allergies. A public figure such as yourself seen naming and pointing out the formula you use on BBC news is unhelpful and irresponsible. Whatever choices you made in feeding your baby are your own business but the health of future generations depends on what they are fed at birth and beyond and you have the power to influence peoples choices. http://www.breastfeedingmanifesto.org.uk/
Recently Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths has come in for some stick for taking issue with breastfeeding advice posted in a blog piece on an internet site run by a bottle manufacturer.
Some of the advice given was incorrect and the post was brought to the attention of our group by a mother who felt it might affect the ability of some mums to sustain a good milk supply. At least two members of our group (myself and at least one other) commented on the blog itself saying this and there was also a discussion about the blog on our own board.
A thread ran for a day or so on the DBM facebook page, with contributions from the original blogger (who is a member of the company’s ‘Parent Panel’), and also the host-site’s management.
The whole exchange came to a pretty positive conclusion and we were assurred that it was not the intention of the website to mislead it’s readers. We later heard that a few regular readers of the website were upset about some of the comments made on our page – and it is this issue that I want to address now.
It is natural to feel upset when someone takes issue with something you’ve said. It happens to me all the time (and will probably happen to me again later when the responses to this article start coming in…). No-one likes to think that they’ve said something which upset someone else, and the issue of breast/ formula feeding is one of the most emotive ones around.
Our group has always been a forum where we seek to share knowledge and dispell myths. That is not the same thing as calling someone a bad parent or a bad mother, and it’s not the same thing as bullying. If you have time to read the exchanges fully you’ll see that in fact all parties directly involved in were courteous and respectful of each other.
No-one has any business saying otherwise.
Our group wants to empower mothers to make informed choices. Poorly informed choices are not choices at all.
So then, why did the members of DBM take such issue with the information being given out on this website?
It’s because the advice was given on a website selling products associated with bottle-feeding.
Following our discussion, the management of the website in question have told us they will include additional links & information from recognised breastfeeding resources on their website*.They say they recognise this information is important for mothers who may be struggling to breastfeed. We very much welcome this, and hope that they will support mothers to breastfeed by making it clear that introducing bottles can have a detrimental effect on a mother’s milk supply.
Information about good breastfeeding management as well as the risks associated with formula use is essential for mums who are considering introducing bottled milk. I accept that some women may find mix-feeding can helpful, but it requires an understanding of breastfeeding management to make it work.
Even the formula companies have to admit (by law) that ‘choosing to combine breast and bottle is not a decision that should be taken lightly and is a decision which is difficult to reverse [...] as your body will learn to produce less milk’ (aptamil.co.uk). There are also other implications.
In addition, companies are not allowed to offer ‘any gifts of articles or utensils which may promote the use of breast-milk substitutes or bottle-feeding’. I am concerned that this company in particular gives away their products freely (as ‘competition’ prizes mainly) on a regular basis.
Would you go to a dentist to buy your glasses?
I’m guessing not…
Historically – and right up to the present day – companies have used unethical methods to get around legislation and make the consumer behave in a certain way. Although this was apparently not the case with DBM’s most recent interaction, it is nonetheless something which we see all the time, both in other parts of the world and also on our own doorstep.
We all like to believe we are savvy enough not to be duped – but are we?
Do you really think that the mascara you saw advertised on the TV will make your lashes ‘up 70 % longer’ or give you ’130% more visible length’? Get real!
(I’m not sitting in judgement btw – I have a drawer full of those mascaras. I bought them when I was feeling crappy and they all look the same on me…)
When you’re feeling down about something and someone offers you a solution, you take it – and you believe that it will help because you want it to help. You need it to help.
Those of you who keep an eye on debates relating to infant feeding will know that there has been widespread concern recently about the introduction of breastfeeding ‘helplines’ run by many of the major formula companies - and it’s not just in the States.
In Britain, because we’re signed up to the WHO code, formula companies aren’t allowed to advertise milk for babies under 6 months old. They’re smart though, and they got around this rule years ago by inventing the ‘follow on’ milk. Even though it’s targeted at older babies, it keeps their brand name ‘out there’.
Now many of these formula companies have also opened up ‘Baby Clubs’ for excited mothers-to-be and are offering ‘Helplines‘ for those struggling and in need of advice.
Dig a little deeper, (and I joined a few of these clubs a while back..) and you might start to see what they’re really up to. Once they get your consent to contact you they can begin to subtly fill your head with myths and doubts without your even realising.
They send out regular mail shots to keep their brand in your mind. They hint at early weaning. The WHO counsels not to introduce food to your baby before 6 months, but the advice of these companies is quite different ~ ‘not before 17 weeks’ or ’from 4 months’. If you start feeding solids that little bit earlier then they can get you buying their baby food for longer – simples!
They hint that your child might not be getting enough iron and have whole pages dedicated to ‘feeding problems’ which reads like a liturgy of breastfeeding misery.
How many mothers have worried needlessly about their milk supply simply because their baby fussed or fed frequently (ok, constantly!)?
Many mothers worry hugely that their child might be hungry because they don’t know how to interpret normal newborn behaviour. They can’t ask their friends or their mothers because no-one they know ever breastfed, and they’ve never even heard of the La Leche League…
Aptamil lists night feeds under ‘problems’, and they suggest that after the magic 12 week mark, babies shouldn’t really need to be fed at night. This is total rubbish whether you breastfeed or formula feed.
Obviously the websites don’t give information about breastfeeding rights at work either – now that they’re unable to advertise milk for newborns they’re focusing more efforts on mums who have to go back to work - ‘if you decide to move on…‘.
They want to encourage you to combine feed, not because it’s convenient for you, but because it means they can target their campaigns towards mothers who are still breastfeeding. Although some babies don’t seem to experience problems with combined feeding before 6 months of age, the WHO, UNICEF (and a long list of others) recommend exclusive breastfeeding until this age in part because ‘gut closure’ has not usually taken place.
Formula companies don’t tell you this about combined feeding – you can read their advice here. If I tell you about it, I get called a bully.
But what’s the truth?
The truth is that your child might well be absolutely fine, and seem totally unaffected by drinking formula.
You might even call me the ‘breastapo’ for suggesting otherwise.
But there are many who are not fine (my own daughter included).
However, many desperate mums just reach the end of their tether and do turn to (some very reluctantly) to formula. Quite often it’ll be in the house already.
When you’re feeling down about something and someone offers you a solution, you take it – and you believe that it will help because you want it to help. You need it to help.
I’m not saying (by the way!) that there aren’t plenty of occasions where a mother makes an informed choice to mix feed to formula feed her baby, without being duped by anyone. When someone says ’I did the right thing for me’, who am I to question them? I’d much rather see a woman happy with her choices than regretful, but I’d also rather women were given enough information to allow them to make informed choices for themselves and their children.
I DOquestionhow many mums – had they been able to access proper breastfeeding support and knew their rights - would have chosen to exclusively breastfeed?
I know there are mums who fall into this category because they post on DBM.
Although the websites above seem to be giving helpful advice, they have no intention of pointing mothers in the direction of the genuinebreastfeeding experts elsewhere. That’s the last thing they want!
Nope, call the helpline or log on to live chat and you’ll be assisted by one of their experts. A ‘feeding advisor’ or a ‘baby care advisor’. Not one of these advisors will be an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, though – that I can promise you! I would be very interested to know exactly what breastfeeding training they HAVE received…
Just as DBM has an agenda (to dispell the myths about breastfeeding) – so do they. You can draw your own conclusions about what it might be.
By commenting on questionable advice in the way that DBM did this week we were not bashing the mother who wrote it. Far from it.
Mothers like her can be the strongest advocates since they are frequently the ones most passionate about breastfeeding support, and know how best to give it.
But given the ways in which so many companies try to undermine or curtail women’s breastfeeding experiences in order to make money – can you blame us for being cynical?
*nb - DBM originally complained about the information in the blog on 29th October. At the time of writing – apart from a comment below the original blogger’s post - I cannot see any additional links to breastfeeding advice or support on this community page. I’d love to be proven wrong though!
Milk Share are a recently founded site, set up with the intention of highlighting awareness to the fact that Infant Formulas are not the only option mothers have when they find themselves unable to breastfeed their children.
Our aim is to promote safe breastmilk sharing in the UK and to raise awareness that formula is not the only option for mothers who are unable to breastfeed. The Share Milk forum allows potential donors and recipients from all over the UK to connect and help each other. Milkshare is supporting mothers to make a positive change and improve the health of babies one drop at a time.
Many of you will already have heard about Eats on Feets, a growing facebook network, which promotes the same cause. It is becoming clear that women all over the world are rising up in their thousands to say no to infant formulas and are opening themselves up the possibility of other women’s breastmilk.
According to the World Health Organization, if you are unable to nurse your baby directly and you are unable to express your milk then the next option for your baby is the milk of a fellow lactating mother, before Infant Formula.
Anyone concerned about the already minimal risk of HIV infection and other infections should watch the following video about flash heating and how it kills the HIV virus:
So, if you or anyone else you know can donate then please get involved in the Milk Share forum and tell everyone you know, that way women who really need your help can find you. Together we can vastly reduce the need for Infant Formulas, smash the taboo that women’s breastmilk is an undesirable bodily fluid and unite mothers globally in the fight against the largest uncontrolled human experiment in history.