Boiling point

What’s that drumbeat you hear? It’s the war-cry of lactivists ready to march all over parents who use formula. While it’s always a hot-button issue, things heated up last week when the Similac recall was announced (certain batches tested positive for beetles — gross).

I’ve already talked about my feelings on breastfeeding but to quickly recap: I do it; I’m for it when it’s possible. But overall my view on it is that you have to do what’s best for your family, yourself and your baby. I am following the recommended guidelines to breastfeed exclusively through six months. That’s what is right and works for my family.

But I digress…

Apparently, after the Similac recall was announced some lactivists jumped on twitter, blogs and other web portals and really let formula-users have it with comments like, “What’s wrong with these people who use formula? Don’t they know BREAST IS BEST?” and “If you feed your baby formula, you get what you deserve.” Nice. Way to keep it classy. No wonder there are so many articles and blogs about the competition and judgement associated with parenthood!

Well, lactivist a-holes, you can suck it (and I don’t mean that as some kind of gross breastfeeding metaphor). You can take your judgemental, militant, closed-minded attitudes and fuck off. Are you really so mean-spirited that you would actually wish ill-will on formula-fed babies? Well, if your parents are too stupid to know that BREAST IS BEST, then you deserve nastiness. You know what? That’s just stupid. In fact, it’s not just stupid, it’s cruel.

Sure, breast is best. But there are many reasons why a woman might not be able to breastfeed including (but not limited to): an illness that could transmit to the baby; lack of milk production; medical issue with the baby (such as tongue-tie); a stay in the NICU (like my baby had — she didn’t breastfeed until she was a couple weeks old); having to work…or many other reasons. The truth is, as parents we all strive to do the best. But sometimes you have to do “good enough.” And by that, I mean that good is still pretty darn, well, good. What’s wrong with good? And what’s wrong with families who decide formula is best for them? Nothing!

And while we’re on the topic, let’s acknowledge that this whole business of choosing between breastfeeding and formula is a somewhat elitist one. If you’re one of America’s working poor, you might be holding down two jobs (or more!) just to get by. Maybe you don’t have time in your day to pump breastmilk. Maybe you can’t effectively store it until you get home because of a long commute on mass transit. Since the poor are disproportionately races other than white, all the sudden the breast v formula debate becomes a race issue. And what about gay couples or adoptive parents? Are they to be shunned as bad parents because no one in their household lactates? When you get down to it, all this war-mongering cuts a little too close to institutionalized racism and homophobia.

It may be best to breastfeed but it’s not wrong to formula feed. All this lactivism activism isn’t healthy for women, families or their babies.

2 thoughts on “Boiling point

  1. Wow. I didn’t realize the recall had caused so much furor. Jason works at Walgreens and we just happened to be out of formula when the recall was initially (and somewhat quietly) announced. He texted me to let me know there was a recall and that he would get some liquid formula the next day because his store was out of that, the alternative offered by Similac.
    Now, we use Similac because that’s what they gave us in the hospital when the lactation consultant realized Lyla couldn’t latch because she had such severe tongue-tie. Despite the fact I had every intention of breast feeding, Lyla simply could NOT do it, so we gave her formula using an SNS. And because I had every intention of breast feeding I had not researched formula, so, we went with Similac trusting that the hospital staff would give us what they deemed the best substitute for our brand new baby.
    Even though I tried and tried and tried for four weeks, including four different meetings with lactation consultations and a trip to see a lactation specialist to get her tongue-tie fixed, Lyla would not nurse. I wish she could have nursed but she would scream and resist any efforts 99 percent of the time.
    Eventually I realized that she was not gaining weight and that was because she simply wasn’t getting enough to eat. She tipped the scales at 6 pounds, 9 ounces at birth, but three weeks later she was a scant 6 pounds. I had to switch her to formula for her own well being. Within a week she had significant weight gain, getting up to 7 pounds five ounces, and she has thrived since then. She is a petite girl but she continues to grow at a steady rate, hit all of her developmental milestones, and is a happy, healthy 10 month old girl.

    • We had Similac, too. That’s what they gave her in the NICU and that’s what they sent us home with. Like I said, we used formula in the beginning. Our baby was in the NICU and had to eat! It looked like she might not take to the breast in the beginning. We worked through it with lactation counselors and patience. But we also felt that if it didn’t work that formula was perfectly fine. What matters is healthy, thriving, happy babies! Enough with the bullshit guilt-trips and judgement!

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