December 1, 2008

I would be NAK, but I type faster with two hands.

Posted in Baby Talk, Things That Tick Me Off tagged , , , at 4:32 pm by junecleaverwouldbeshocked

Something recently happened on my favorite mommy forum that really burned my bottom. A good friend posted a link to the horrifying revelations about melamine in infant formula that is now surfacing in the U.S. Missed that story? Here’s a recap: babies in China have been dying because of melamine in formula. Our FDA slammed those formula manufacturers, mandating that there is no safe level of melamine for human consumption. Weeks later – surprise! There’s melamine in U.S. formula too. “Trace amounts”, but that’s still melamine. (There are “trace amounts” of mercury left in vaccines too, and look at all the damage that it’s still capable of.) The FDA quickly changed their tune, stating now that this amount of melamine is safe. And then – wonder of wonders – it’s revealed that the FDA is simply covering their giant lying arses, as they’ve known about the melamine for some time now, but preferred to go to the formula manufacturers with the news rather than alerting the poor, unsuspecting formula-feeding public that they’re happily shoving poison down their babies’ throats.

So, this was the news story that was posted. Just a link – not the full detail as I’ve shared it here, although I did (somewhat more nicely) share more of the details myself. Needless to say, this horribly offended at least one formula-feeding mommy, who promply reported the post and had it closed. God forbid actual facts be shared that stomp on her decision to use formula. Other mommies certainly don’t deserve to know. She (whoever she is) should never, ever be reminded that there is anything wrong with her decision to use formula.

I’ll admit, I am a lactivist in the truest sense of the word. I breastfed my first daughter until past her second birthday. She was supplemented with formula when she was less than a month old, when I had to have surgery, and I will never forget the pain of lying in that hospital bed watching my mom and husband shoving that bottle of nasty pseudo-milk into my poor, defenseless baby’s face. That hurt so much more than the pain from the gallstones. Thank goodness she was only too happy to be done with the bottle and have her mommy back when all was said and done. Boogie has never, ever tasted formula and, one week shy of her first birthday, I dare say now that she never will. I breastfeed because it’s what’s best for my children – best for all children – and yes, it offends me that people choose not to breastfeed for selfish reasons. Some women can’t, just can’t, and I respect that (and feel sorry for them, and in some cases, wonder if they did everything that they could…) It’s the ones who just plain don’t want to breastfeed, don’t want the commitment, don’t want to be tied to their baby, want freedom from their baby, are worried about sagging boobs, etc. – that I have a very hard time finding ample respect for. Motherhood is nothing but one big commitment, and a commitment to always do the absolute best that you can for your baby at that.

Is breastmilk really better? You bet your bippy it is. Want to know why?

  • It is nature’s perfect food for a baby (this is why it forms in your breasts during pregnancy and comes in just after your baby is born. It ain’t coincidence, people.) It contains *exactly* what your baby needs in terms of fat, sugar, water and protein, and changes to meet baby’s nutritional needs as your baby grows. Can formula do that? I think not.
  • Breastmilk is much easier for a baby to digest than formula. A baby’s digestive system isn’t fully formed – thus the sometimes alarming amount of spit-up. Just compare the consistencies of formula to breastmilk – formula is thick, almost like gravy, whereas breastmilk is thin and watery. Even adults reach for thinner liquids if they have an upset stomach – it just settles more easily. The same is true for babies.
  • Breastfeed babies are less likely to be overweight later in life – although they do tend to be chunkier as babies. And chunky babies are just darned cute.
  • Breastfed babies are healthier – they receive so many awesome antibodies from mama’s milk, and as a result are less likely to have colds, ear infections and respiratory illnesses. Some studies suggest that infants who are not breastfed have higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life, and higher rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol and asthma. Also, infants who are not breastfed have a 21% higher postneonatal infant mortality rate in the U.S. 21%, people. You could reduce your baby’s chance of death by 21%, just by feeding them the food that God intended.
  • No bottles and nipples to sterilize. Not only are they just a general pain in the arse, but do a quick Google search about BPA in bottles. Yet another chemical that you could spare your baby from, were you so inclined. Breastmilk is always available, sterilized and at the perfect temperature – I dare you to explain to me how bottles are more convenient!
  • It’s not just about nutrition – breastfeeding equals bonding, and bonding with your baby is a very, very good thing.
  • Why throw your money away on sub-par nutrition for the most important little person in your life? Breastmilk is not only far superior, but it’s free.
  • Last but not least – breastfed babies are prettier. Nope, I’m not just biased – Google that too. Studies have found that breastfeeding promotes the development of a well-shaped jaw and (later on) straight teeth. Sucking on a bottle as opposed to a breast are, after all, very different techniques. Don’t hate my baby because breastfeeding helped her become even more beautiful.

There are plenty of benefits to be had for the breastfeeding mother, as well – less blood loss after childbirth, faster weight loss, delayed return of ovulation and menstruation, increased protection against osteoporosis and ovarian and breast cancers, and that awesome hormone prolactin, which has the potential to just bliss you out while nursing.

If knowing all of the benefits of breastfeeding doesn’t inspire you to at least give it a try, then nothing will. Even if you try and decide to stop later on, any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial to your baby – even the colustrum produced before your milk comes in is full of antibodies and helps prevent jaundice.

However, if you just don’t care…well, I can’t make you. If second-best (which isn’t nearly good enough) is okay for the precious little gift you’ve been given, okay. But don’t think that the formula you’re feeding your baby is good for them – it provides essential nutrients, sure, but it also provides things you probably wouldn’t otherwise choose to put into your baby’s body. And even though some formulas claim to be “the most like breastmilk”, there isn’t a formula made that will boost your baby’s immune system the way that breastmilk does.

Second-best is not, and never will be, good enough for my children. So formula-feed if you must, but know that you are going to read things about formula that will make you uncomfortable. Know that you can cry “I’m offended!” all you want, but that it still won’t change the facts. Know that you can have one post closed, but you will not stop me from talking about how wonderful breastfeeding is. And know that if you have another child someday, the choice is yours to do so much better next time…