Breast Is Best, But ..

Hell hath no fury like a mommy blogger scorned.

They bond together more quickly and strongly than any other political group in history – and they are political. Women who have social media bonds tend to be more outspoken and active in debates that go against their collective wisdom.

Witness the furor that is whipped any time breast feeding is debated.

There’s the Nestle Family fiasco. There’s Gisele Bundchen speaking out. The latest is a logo on a onesie at Old Navy.

The simple stylized phrase “Formula Powered” has the social media moms whipped into a boycotting frenzy.

Cate Nelson of the green parenting blog ecochildsplay.com wrote about the outfit on Sept. 13: “As if the formula industry didn’t have enough power … now your baby can empower it with this adorable onesie. Yuck, right?”

She and others are posting both the Old Navy corporate contact information for complaints and the form letters they have received back from the company.

Canadian breastfeeding expert Jack Newman has also waded into the controversy. A letter he wrote last week about being “shocked” by the logo is being circulated on websites including drmomma.org.

One ecochildsplay.com commenter, Alexx, called formula feeding “risky.” “What would you say if a pregnant mom had a maternity shirt that said ‘CIGARETTE POWERED!’ ?! You would probably freak out,” she wrote.
[source]

formula poweredWell guess what, Moms, not everyone can breast feed. My wife tried it with Zacharie. He couldnt latch. We saw a lactation consultant, did all the exercises, positions and it just. didn’t. work. So she pumped. For SIX MONTHS. This turned the normal feeding process into a task twice the length because it meant sitting in a chair for 30 minutes 4 times a day to pump.

My mother (a nurse) called Jen a hero for putting up with the extra 2 hours of labour each day to try and squeeze out every drop she could for her son. Finally, she was convinced she had done her best and was just exhausting herself with the pumping. We switched to formula.

With baby number 2, we had the same problem. Charlie was tongue tied which prevented him from latching properly. We snipped his frenulum to help the process. For another 5 months, my wife spent an extra two hours a day hooked up like a dairy cow.

She would look longingly at women who were able to just “whip it out” in a food court or park. When our sons needed to be fed she had to pack along extra bottles and seek out a way to heat them – it was a process.

So for us to see women get on a pedestal and absolutely blast those who don’t have boobs that work as being part of the problem, we get defensive.

Is a “Formula Powered” onesie propaganda? Hell, no. It’s cute. It’s fun.

The self-righteousness that accompanies the breastfeeding debate is embarassing. And why is there a “debate?” Breast is best. Full stop, end of discussion. BUT – not everyone can do it, and those women need to be supported, not chastized.

We’re dads, we don’t really have a say in the matter other than to offer support and help where we can. As one father commented to me “my wife chose formula. Great side effect was that I instantly became a complete equal in the ability to care for & feed infant.”

What about you? Was your family successful at breastfeeding? Did you have a choice?

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Buzz

Buzz Bishop is a Dad. Broadcaster. Writer from Calgary, Alberta. He is married to Jennifer and has 2 sons. Zacharie was born in 2007 and Charles in 2010.

35 Comments

  1. In addition to my #FB comment where I couldn’t breastfeed/pump b/c of severe trauma suffered in recovery & I had no milk come in, I’d like to add that when we would go to the hospital to visit KJ&C in the NICU, there would be women coming in, spending time with their babies while pumping breast milk, leaving for a while and they’d be back a few hours later to do it all over again. It was hard for them to enjoy the time with their babies b/c of having to pump as well.

    For us, we could just sit there for hours holding the boys and we’d feed them their bottle of formula based on their schedule. I am so blessed by having that opportunity as I watched the other moms race in & out all day long.

  2. Thanks Lorraine. That’s my point.

    Breast is best .. but .. we all can’t make it work. So why can’t we, as parents, support each other with education and information and trust that the decisions that are made are with the best interests of the child (and family) at heart.

    Education is the key here, not name calling.

  3. Isn’t it just a fun logo? And aren’t the lactators essentially scolding formula users? It’s hilarious to me that parenting is a political movement.

  4. For me, breastfeeding was easy. There was nothing I did “right” or “wrong” it just fell into place and to this day I feel so very grateful for that.

    PUMPING was hard. Painful for me and incredibly inconvenient all around. If I had been pressured to pump for say, reasons of political correctness, in order to feed my babies in public I would have been a complete mess.

    So I have to express my gratitude for the women who fight on behalf of breastfeeding moms and therefore make it easier for some of us to breastfeed in public.

    But EVERY woman, EVERY family, needs to be completely free from judgement in this area. To be a loving, attentive parent is heroic in itself. It is completely unacceptable and even hypocritical that a woman should have to defend her right to formula feed her child or even explain the circumstances which led her to that decision.

  5. “Yes, Moms can choose whether to breast or formula feed their baby, but that doesn’t mean they really know what the BEST choice really is.”

    Seija, you are entitled to your opinion but I would beg differ on this comment. What we are debating here is moms (breast-feeders) telling other moms (formula-feeders) that they know better what’s best for our children than we do. I’m sorry, but that’s ignorant. I know better than anyone what’s best for my children.

  6. We will be new parents in just a few months. We plan and hope to breast feed (well, my partner) for the obvious health benefits. Unfortunately there’s no guarantee we will be able to.

    Regardless, I don’t see the point of this uproar – it’s a clothing company – and this is simply a fun, little piece of clothing… not a political statement.

    So I’ve created a onesie for the pro-boob mom’s out there. Would you rather see your baby in one of these??

    (click my name above to see)

  7. I don’t understand when people use the explanation for formula feeding that then Daddy (or others) can feed the baby. My husband (and again other family members as well) has fed all 3 of our children with bottles I’ve pumped.

    I have breastfed all 3 of our children (our 4 month old still nursing) and have never used formula to ‘supplement’. Though I still get at least 5 formula ads & coupons EVERYDAY in the mail! I was 20 years old and a full-time working Mom when my son was born and I didn’t even consider that the ‘easy’ thing would be to formula feed him. I knew, even as young as I was, that breastfeeding him was the best thing I could feed him – that my body would give him all the supplementing he needed!

    I applaud your wife for pumping like she did! I knew every time I pumped (2x during the work day & every time on the breast the baby wasn’t nursing) that no matter how hard or taxing on me it was, it was what was right for my baby. I found it as part of my job as their Mother to give them what my body had made specifically for them and I thought it would be very selfish of myself to do otherwise. Also, interesting that your son couldn’t nurse because he was tongue-tied; 2 of my children are as well and we did not have any problems.

    I have several friends who have chosen to formula feed and when we’ve talked about why they didn’t breastfeed, they said they felt they were not educated enough on how easy breastfeeding actually was! That right after their baby was born, they were just given cans of formula and the breastfeeding option wasn’t discussed passed the initial question. No, formula is NOT the same as breast milk, and you are fooling yourself if your really believe that. Look on the package – do you honestly know what half the ingredients are?

    Yes, Moms can choose whether to breast or formula feed their baby, but that doesn’t mean they really know what the BEST choice really is.

  8. Lucky that it was easy for you. Agree that it’s all about being judgment free. Thanks for the comment.

  9. If the first time you’ve thought about breast/bottle is when you’re leaving the hospital – you’re doing it wrong. Regardless of the samples, you should have a plan and implement it.

    My newspaper is filled with coupons for products I don’t use. Just because there is a coupon or sample doesn’t mean you have to use it. Time for your friends to own up and grab some personal responsibility and take control of their actions without blaming others.

    So disappointed in the litigious attitude of society where bad things are always someone else’s fault.

  10. Apologies for my replies not being nested properly .. I’m looking into it.

  11. I agree about not taking responsibility for however you choose to feed your baby and I have had those discussions with friends. One friend said that coming up with excuses is hard for her because she said she gave up on breastfeeding and into the ‘formula is so much easier’ plan. When sadly, the cost & accessibility came back to get her a few months into it.

    On a side note, can I ask why your Pediatrician cut your son’s frenulum? When our daughter was born, they said they would not do just that procedure unless it causes speech delay when she was a toddler. (she ended up having it done when she had tubes put in her ears) But our 4 month old is tongue-tied as well and they will not do it. So, I was just curious how they decided to do it.

    Thanks for your feedback on all of the above comments as well!

  12. Wow, you are your wife went through a lot! Personally, I support women making whatever choice they need to for their family, but I don’t support companies advocating formula to the exclusion of breastfeeding. I think formula should absolutely be available for families who need it, and that formula should be as safe and healthy as possible. But I really don’t think criticizing a company who seems to have picked a side is at all the same as criticizing individual families.

  13. @Maman by that logic, the shirts that say “boob man” or “milk powered” would be just as offensive.

    I appreciate that some of the tactics used by formula companies are not always ethical and border on some of the methods used by tobacco companies of the past.

    That said, when my wife feels too embarassed to buy a shirt that says “formula powered” because of the stigma the rest of society places on her for not being able to breast feed – something is wrong.

    The pulpit preaching from the lactivists and the name calling by breast feeding enthusiasts needs to calm down.

    Your boobs worked, awesome. Good for you. Not everyone else is so lucky.

    It’s kinda like Marie Antoinette saying to the paupers of France “let them eat cake.” For those of us with nothing, it’s not that simple.

  14. I am a breast-feeding, cloth diaper-using, organic-eating, attachment parenting mom. My opinion on the t-shirt? It’s cute. Some babies are formula fed. Some are breast fed. Parenting has gotten way too political. The most important thing is that children are loved by their parents and know they are loved regardless of parenting style.

  15. Thanks Melissa. It’s appreciated when people with different beliefs realize that all that matters is the finish line. We can take different routes, but when the kids come first, there is no room for judgment on how they got there.

  16. Please don’t tar all the Mommy Bloggers with the same brush. We’re not all condemning the formula companies, cheering about beetles in formula and thrusting our breasts in your face.

    I am actually sitting here writing my next blog post on the very same subject as the recent battleground on blogs and twitter has appalled me (well, I should be, but I’ve been distracted by Twitter again).

    Why can’t we just agree that breastfeeding is great and if it doesn’t work out, or if it’s not for you for WHATEVER reason, formula is also great? All moms should have the right to CHOOSE how they feed their baby and not be judged on their choice.

    By the way, your wife is a hero without a doubt for pumping for 6 months. Breastfeeding is a highly efficient way to feed your baby, pumping and feeding the baby is certainly not. I admire her dedication.

  17. The shirt is cute.

    We’re breast fed. It was a long and exhausting road. I won’t criticize anyone for getting on formula because if our family didn’t have the time it took to train the little munchkin (three straight weeks, 24/7 it seemed), we’d be on the formula too.

    Even while training the little teet eater, the nights we stayed up till 5AM passing her back and forth made me seriously consider slipping the munchkin formula. Especially after I found out there was a sedative of some kind in most formula that could knock her out.

    But wifey said NO and her stubbornness paid off. Though wifey is ultimately in charge, I think I made it easier for her to stick with it because I was there after every single feeding. And when she’s not feeling super tired, she pumps a bottle for me just so that I can feed her myself at least a couple times a week :)

  18. “I applaud your wife for pumping like she did! I knew every time I pumped (2x during the work day & every time on the breast the baby wasn’t nursing) that no matter how hard or taxing on me it was, it was what was right for my baby. I found it as part of my job as their Mother to give them what my body had made specifically for them and I thought it would be very selfish of myself to do otherwise.

    Also, interesting that your son couldn’t nurse because he was tongue-tied; 2 of my children are as well and we did not have any problems.”

    @Seija: Never judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins… It sounds like you’ve been drinking from the fountain of self-righteousness. I find the tone of your post incredible patronizing, as if you are so much better than every other mother out there- young mom, working, still digging deep to do what’s best for your child, no matter how hard it is, because that’s your job as a mother, and any other choice a woman makes means that she is selfish.

    I’d like you to take my twins for two months, one of whom had a significant suck/swallow feeding delay, try nursing for an hour every two hours, then pumping for a half hour, while trying to feed yourself and get enough sleep to keep your supply up, while your partner is working full time and you are alone at home each day.

    And remember that baby with the feeding delay? After you do all of that, he still is starving, so you also have to sit with him for another 40 minutes coaxing him to drink a bottle of anything you can get in him… while you are trying to nurse your other baby. Yes- we went through a ton of formula in their first year. I feel bad that my boys have such a selfish mother….

  19. I am so happy to have found this blog – it’s always refreshing to hear a like-minded perspective, but even cooler when it comes from a dad. We don’t hear from you guys nearly enough in the mommyblogosphere, especially on this topic.

    Glad your wife had a supportive and understanding husband when she was struggling. My husband was kind of a brat about the whole thing until he saw the light, and now he’s become a huge formula feeding defender.

    I agree with your opinion on the onesie – I think the whole thing is utterly ridiculous. I wrote about it on my blog too…http://fearlessformulafeeder.blogspot.com/2010/08/onesie-that-shocked-nation.html. Check it out, if you want.

  20. Just for the record- Breastfeeding is NOT supposed to hurt. And to me, it’s very sad that women believe it should, and that they believe they can’t do anything about it.
    There shouldn’t be a battle formula vs. bottle, but many women/familes do not understand that when a woman desires to breastfeed, she is normally taken down, starting from the hospital the second the baby is born. Most likely formula is given to her child without her consent, and she is discouraged to nurse.
    Bottle feeding is NOT the norm. Breastfeeding is. No one is out to make a formula feeding baby feel bad. That’s not the case. The case is that formula companies market it up the wazoo and make it hard for mother’s who wish to breastfeed. Because they tell your nurses, your doctor’s and your pedi’s it is just the same. It’s not, and when a mother hears that, she thinks it’s okay to supplement which causes her milk supply to go down. Not only that, mother’s who wish to breastfeed are criticized by hospital staff and are most likely never given the proper support.
    You can call us boob nazi’s or whatever names you have, but I find it sad most mother’s who wish to breastfeed have a horrible experience, and when it comes down to it, marketing is to blame.

  21. Breastfeeding is the most natural and beneficial feeding system for a baby. Everyone knows that.

    Yet not everyone does that. And that’s OKAY. When did it become okay for other moms to become such judgemental beasts?

    Of anyone in all of the planet, even above doctors and geniuses, all moms share one thing: a supernatural, beyond comparable, inerrant pure love for their children. As women who possess this unconditional love that could unite the world, why are we so quick to pull another mom down?

    I have three kids. I have breastfed my first two till about 18 months, and my youngest is almost 2 months old and being nursed as well. With my first, well, I almost gave up. He couldn’t latch, I would cry (he would cry louder!), my nipples hurt and we saw every consultant under the sun. At about three weeks, I was ready to quit. Then a nurse came over and gave me the best advice: Your baby needs to eat, he doesn’t care how. Love him. Feed him.

    I relaxed, and eventually nursing worked. Really well. My second baby was really easy to feed! My third was 5 weeks early and in the NICU for 12 days, and tube fed for the first 4. I pumped, but it wasn’t a burden. If I didn’t leave enough at the NICU, they gave him formula. It was okay – my baby needed to eat.

    Babies need to eat, and it’s up to moms how they want to do that. Period.

  22. I find it hilarious that moms get their knickers in a twist over the right to breastfeed publicly without hassle, ridicule, or discrimination. Holy hell, all my friends breastfeed/fed and not one of them has ever told a story of discrimination. I chose, yes I said CHOSE (I expect the posse to show up in my front garden with flaming bottles any minute now) to bottle feed with formula and I got nothing but rude comments and discrimination from strangers and so called friends alike. If anyone needs legal protection these days it’s not the breastfeeding mother, it’s the bottle feeding mothers. I am an educated, intelligent woman who knows the pros and cons of both sides and chose for personal reasons to bottle feed. So hear this lactivists – Leave me, and others like me, the hell alone and mind your own business. I am not abusing my child so put your energy into something more positive and support each and every mother for the hard work they do, regardless of whether that hard work involves breast milk or formula.

  23. Thanks Buzz! I think it’s important we support every woman in her choices when it comes to feeding. There are breastfeeding shirts that say things like “Got Milk” and “My super power is making milk, what’s yours?”. Why shouldn’t formula feeders be able to buy a cute onsie?

  24. I support both breast feeding and formula feeding…I gave up breastfeeding with my first and I’m hoping to be able to breastfeed my son that I am expecting soon!

    Everyone made me feel guilty about not breastfeeding from my bestfriend, mother in law, husband, even my family doctor! Then a public health nurse told me just this!;

    “Walk into a kindergarten class and tell me which kids were breastfed babies and which were formula fed babies.”

    Tell me if you can tell the difference!

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