Formula Companies: Hands Off My Breasts!

If you were to walk into a KFC as a vegetarian looking for nutrition advice, most people would call you a little bit insane. Or waltz into a hair salon and ask for advice on how to cut your own hair. Dumb, right? They all want to sell you things that are the exact opposite of what you want.

So why is it that some formula companies seem to think that it's acceptable to give out breastfeeding advice?

Talk about a wolf in sheep's clothing. Especially when that information isn't good information.


For example, Similac says:

"To keep a steady milk supply in each breast, it’s important to switch breasts during feedings. Begin feeding on the breast that was not used last. After five or 10 minutes, try burping your baby, and then offer the second breast for as long as he wants."

However, this isn't a good idea. La Leche League says:

"Limiting baby's nursing on each side to only five or ten minutes can be counterproductive when viewed in terms of the change in milk composition. For some mothers, nursing on both breasts at each feeding is important in terms of keeping up milk production and relieving engorgement, but the baby should be finished with the first breast before being switched to the other side."

Gotta ask ... who are you going to trust? The people who exist off donations from nursing mothers, breastfeeding accessories, and researchers, or the people who produce a product that needs mothers to NOT breastfeed to use? Would you go to a liquor store for an A.A. meeting?

All of these supposed breastfeeding guides done by formula companies really play up the struggles of nursing -- as if you can BARELY get through the pain that is obviously the worst thing you'll ever experienced in your entire life, you'll certainly have to give up at six weeks when you go back to work since pumping is hard, and if you make it past there, the three-month growth spurt will CERTAINLY do you in, and babies don't have nursing strikes, they just "lose interest". Tell me, when is the last time YOU just "lost interest" in eating and drinking?

It's good they've got your backs. *cough*

Are you a working mom? Enfamil makes sure you know that most working moms don't breastfeed:

"Based on your milk supply, pumping opportunities and energy levels, you may decide to supplement your breast milk with infant formula. Most women do.

"Being a working mom is two hard jobs in one. For this reason among others, many women decide that formula-feeding is the way to go. You can feel confident in choosing an infant formula that is closest to breast milk, with all the nutrients your baby needs to support her health and development during the first year."

Isn't that supportive? "Don't worry! WE know that working is hard and most women in your situation give up on nursing too ... so why even try?" The language is very defeating to anyone looking to exclusively breastfeed, pump and work.

Need a little reminder of why you're nursing in the first place? Well, nursing is recommended. "But our products are amazing! They're closer than ever to breast milk!" Except they're, well, NOT ... and if our country would adopt the Code of Ethics many other countries have, statements like that would be illegal ... but the AAP won't adopt the Code because they get millions of dollars annually from formula companies.

Now before anyone accuses me of attacking anyone who suggests that breastfeeding is hard, that's certainly not my goal. But the thing is, the language used can be supportive or defeating. To use yet another analogy, imagine you wanted to run a marathon. When you talked about how hard the training was going, how much you were struggling, and how much you hurt, would you rather hear:

A. "You're doing fantastic! I know it's tough but imagine how proud you will be when you run the 5K! Imagine how great you'll feel and look too! It is so worth it and you'll never regret it."


B. "I trained for a marathon once. I know a lot of people try but I don't know many people who succeed. I know you want to do it, but don't beat yourself up over it. It's not really that important. No one will care if you give up."

Frankly, if someone told me the second one, I'd kindly tell them where to shove it and that if they couldn't support me, I didn't want to hear it. It's as if they wanted ME to fail at my goal because they did and misery loves company. But formula companies are telling you exactly that and sometimes so are "well-meaning" family and friends.

Let's just take a second to remind people that if you're going to go for breastfeeding advice, go to a website or source that actually has an interest and benefits from your breastfeeding success. La Leche League or Kellymom, for example. You can call La Leche League any time or even attend meetings and/or call your local La Leche League Leader whenever you need help.

If you pull up a breastfeeding page and see formula advertisements, go somewhere else. Don't even read the mentally sabotaging bull they've written. Go to someone who actually wants you to succeed. The goal of the people helping you should be the same as your own.

After all, you wouldn't go to PETA's website for advice on how to cook a steak, right?


Image via space-man/Flickr

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