Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Warning: formula feeding is dangerous to your health

What!?! No not really. It's not dangerous at all. There is nothing bad about formula feeding a child, there is only everything good about breast feeding.
I heard something on the radio today that has inspired this post. I was at the chemist so I heard it very vaguely but from what a caught some politician wants to put warnings on baby formula so that parents are away that breast milk is best. Thanks mr politician, because I assumed formula was the best thing for my son as well as cheaper and much more convenient, which is why I made the choice to formula feed my son. Not!

So as I have mentioned in previous posts, after my son was born I bled- a lot. I lost 3 litres of blood and had a blood transfusion. I was also cut from my belly button to my- well lets just say there were a lot of stitches going on down there. My body was under an enormous amount of stress and I was pretty sick.
The day that Oliver was born he managed to wiggle across my chest to get onto my breast, I'm not even kidding. James saw it too so it wasn't an illusion- it really did happen.
The day we left the hospital I was feeling pretty awful but I put on a happy face so that I could be discharged. Oliver had latched perfectly and I thought to myself, 'what's all this who ha about the difficulties of breast feeding, I got this.'

Oliver was also crying, a lot. The midwife told us it was a good thing, "it will bring on your milk" they informed me. I had no idea that my milk was supposed to be there already. I had always been educated how to breast feed, how to get them to latch, how to encourage the milk to come down. I had never been informed that some people can simply not breast feed.

So Oliver cried and I fed and tried to recover and fed some more and he cried and he kept trying to suck so we got a dummy. And then the nurse came for a house visit.

"That's a hungry cry, when was he last fed?" She asked as soon as she entered.
Five minutes ago.
"And when was his last poo?"
He hadn't pooed since the hospital.
"Let's weigh him."
He had lost 15% of his birth weight.
"You should go get some formula, I don't think your milk is in."
We told her we'd rather breast feed.
"Is your mum free, she should go get some formula NOW!"

And that's when I learnt that breast feeding is not always the best thing for your child. Nutrition is the best thing. Being fed is the best thing.

I borrowed a pump from my local hospital and kept pumping in order to bring on my milk. When we returned to Sydney I kept pumping and feeding and making bottles and feeding and I was so stressed he wasn't getting enough. Then came time for our maternal health centre appointment for our four week old baby. I was nervous excited.

"How often do you feed him?"
I fed him every 15 mins to half an hour with breast and three hours a bottle.
"Your over feeding him, he's a little fatty!"
Fat, yes! Over weight. This is fantastic. I don't care if he's over fed he is healthy.
"You can probably go down to one formula bottle a day, your milk seems to be in. And stop falling for those crocodile years from little fatty."
We never went back to her. Four week olds can't be fat!

Any way we continued to mix fed on and off until Oliver was about 7 months and then we decided it was time to go full time formula. I'd been diagnosed with a thyroid condition and we just thought it would be easier as my supply was always a little shaky.

So whilst I loved breast feeding, I 100% support breast feeding in public and I hope to be able to breast feed exclusively for number two, I do not feel that formula is dangerous. In fact I feel it saved the health of my son.

As a mother all you want is the best for your child. Sometimes breast milk is not the best thing, simply because you have none. Yes I cried a river if tears, 'why me, I so want to breast feed.' Yes I felt like failure 'if only my stupid body hadn't bleed.' Yes I felt embarrassed purchasing newborn formula and yes I felt so proud pulling my boobs out in public and putting my son on it knowing that he was getting a full tummy on my milk.
The first time he spewed on my milk I called my mum, "I had enough to over flow him." She was excited for me.

So no Mr politician we do not need to be reminded that we can not provide our child with the best start in life. We do not need to be reminded of the days, weeks, months spent dedicated to trying to breast feed. We do not need warnings on formula tins!

What we do need is more awareness on the true reasons some people can't breast feed and the alternatives such as exclusive formula or mixed feeding. We need to know that just because we formula fed we are not failures, and we need to know that we are not bad parents. As new parents you question and doubt yourself so much. We don't need an obnoxious warning sign insisting we are poisoning our children.

In the wise words of my husband, "they don't put breast fed on your résumé!"

*Edit. I posted this only a few hours ago and the response on my Facebook and Instagram has been huge, so many women go through such a similar thing and feel the same way. As I said to Jess over at My heart your home it's sad that others go through it but nice to know your not alone.

To read her story on her journey with breastfeeding click Here.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot believe that there is someone out there actually peddling the idea of putting a warning on a tin of formula! Are you kidding me! This infuriates me! As if it isnt hard enough! As if making a bottle for you baby out of a tin isnt heart breaking enough!

    And of course, its a man wanting to do this!

    There are SO many reasons why people cant breastfeed. And, even if they can but they just chose not to, that is THEIR decision and no one needs some stupid ill educated know it all making that decision even harder than it already is!

    I am so sorry you went through what you did but in the end you made the decision that was right for you and your body and your baby. THAT is the most important thing.

    Formula is dangerous? My aunt fanny!