This morning in the tub, clem nursing, looking content after much fighting with her sister… i said to sean, “look at this look of ecstasy on her face.” to which she popped off and said in her tiny two year old voice, “i don hav eggz on ma face!”
Julie and I had a talk about nursing, breastfeeding (a strange name i think… because they are for ever-so-much more than food), and the peculiar advice given women– even by professionals. The root of much of the trouble lies with our culture– the generational gap of nursers, isolated women, poor maternal leave from the workplace, the loathing of the maternal role/prizing of the professional picture. But there is also such an acceptability of formula… an acceptable substitute, they think. Yet there is absolutely an appropriate use of formula in case of need. (In some lands formula is available exclusively by prescription.) I do not wish to dispute what is and is not need; i don’t know what is. Is it need when it is for the mother’s mental health? is it when a poor supply is from legitimate sources or also when its source is parenting philosophies (babywise/schedules, pediatricians or midwives demanding babies sleep through the night too young, not permitting the baby to pacify at the breast, etc.)?
In many cases here, locally too, women are being pointed to formula quickly by health care professionals– at times even before their milk comes in!!– or they turn to it themselves for convenience (when the alternatives are simple– highly attached ecological breastfeeding for at least 6 months or pumping). Beware of a formula recommendation before other avenues have been explored; lactation is an under-regulated profession. Anyone can call themselves a lactation expert, counselor, consultant, etc. IBCLC (international, board certified lactation consultant) is an educated, regulated professional, but does not insure that a woman has personal experience or non-medical perspectives on breastfeeding. I vote for the advice of women who have breastfed their children long and happily, La Leche League leaders, or IBCLCs.
Perhaps it is the knowledge of what formula is and is not that would steer more people away from this easy fix??
I have a friend who chose to combination feed (breast at home, formula in day care) her second child after having exclusively breastfed her first. This was awfully curious to me… but in watching her i learned that it is not the be-all of mothering to breastfeed. She is still an exceptional mother and continues to nurse into the second year with this baby. I have numerous friends who have used formula because of need and because of convenience, thus i wish not to hurt these mothers.
but seriously, formula is yucky.
for your reading pleasure: from The Ecologist, “Suck on This” article about formula, nursing, impact