Here we go again, a surge of documentaries and online articles that will state the good vs. bad, the natural vs. artificial. This will undoubtedly awaken the lactation trolls and make them feel their views are reinforced. A week where ableism is accepted and actively encouraged with biological ideals being portrayed as normal.
Formula milk has taken a huge fall from grace over the decades. The safe, regulated and nourishing food source has been labelled the root of all our health problems in recent years. It’s a health crisis no less. Obesity, allergies, and intelligence are just some of the conditions that are used as reasons to deter mothers from using the white powered stuff.
In fact, the powers-that-be are so passionate about us not using it that they limit any information of bottle feeding, prohibit marketing and actively ban any promotions within retail outlets: no store bonus points or discounts for you formula woman. I’m not here to disagree that there are benefits to breast milk. There have been links to the reduction in the risk of developing certain maternal cancers, which is wonderful, but cancers can’t be avoided by breastfeeding. There are multiple environmental and lifestyle risk factors that result in the mutation of cells. In fact, along with genetics, there are a wealth of variables/chemicals/lifestyle choices we expose our bodies to on a daily basis, and it is a combination of all these factors that determine our fate. Not the milk we were fed for such a brief moment in our life, or when considering maternal health, the milk we could lactate as a mother.
We all realise breastfeeding is wonderful when it works and if it is possible to successfully breastfeed a baby, it can only be a good thing. There is no need to use scare tactics and outdated scientific data as a way to intimidate women into breastfeeding. As women who have grown and developed this precious life within our miraculous body, we understand that anything we can produce for our baby after the birth is sure to be the ideal scenario. However, like with most social ideologies, they are often not achievable due to personal circumstances. Physical, emotional, financial, cultural and societal influences affect the way we feed our children.
It is almost as though we are trying to reverse progression in science when it comes to baby nutrition. Wet nursing is an ancient practice, common to many cultures. It is referred to in both Greek and Roman scriptures as well as the Bible. Again, there are numerous reasons why wet nurses were relied upon, including the inability to lactate, or to lactate to the babies requirements. Recognising this in 1867, Justus von Liebig developed the world’s first commercial infant formula. This leads me again to query why the life-saving intervention created in the 19th century is now being condemned in modern society. Not only condemned, but vilified and classed as dangerous.
Thanks to the extreme lactation professionals and organisations, it’s not the babies that are suffering from the use of formula. All the current research debunks the claims that obesity, allergies and intelligence are exacerbated by formula use. It is mothers like myself who are suffering the consequences. We are shamed and criticised. We are judged on our ability to be a good parent. It’s not the nicest environment for anyone to be in, let alone a vulnerable new mother.
The World Health Organisation recognise maternal mental health (MMH) as a major problem, they have initiated programmes in an attempt to improve MMH. Hopefully one day in the near future, they will correlate that their own Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is a direct cause of millions of MMH cases in developed countries. Maybe this realisation will help encourage a new approach, one that doesn’t berate or penalise women who rely on formula, because there are millions of women who need it to nourish their baby. Women and babies who have physical inabilities, lactation issues, physiological issues, aversion issues. Women who know that breastfeeding and the benefits are exaggerated health organisations and therefore choose to formula feed. These women should not be made to feel inferior for using a method of nutrition that suits their family.
Seeing as this week hasn’t been changed to “Infant Feeding Week” as I proposed this time last year, I will be continuing to provide support and respect for the women who are exposed to a serious amount of shade this week. To all you beautiful bottle-feeding and formula feeding mothers out there; you are amazing and deserve to bottle bond with pride. Come and join us over at my support network if you need to be reminded about just how incredible you are.