“Baby formula milk should come with a health warning” That is the message this week from Save the Children, the children’s charity. I’m really hoping that this quote has been taken out of context by the media.
Formula already carries the message that “breast is best” but they want formula packaging to carry a much bigger (at least a third of the packaging) “cigarette” style warning on the labels. If it hasn’t been taken out of context – then planet are these people on? Seriously…? I feel incredibly angry on reading this. Women in the UK are already put on a massive guilt trip regarding breast feeding and statements like this only go to make things worse. We all now KNOW the health benefits of BFing as its rammed down your throat as soon as the that second blue line shows up on your pregnancy test. But this isn’t enough – we are made to feel like lepers if we even say the dirty word “formula”
Some mothers CAN’T breastfeed – some mum’s want to so badly and try so hard, but end up having a very painful latch, mastitis, low milk supply, or tongue tied baby… Imagine if you’d tried as hard as you can.. You are already feeling like sh*t and you read this? its disgraceful.. bring on the Post Natal Depression! What Save the Children should be campaigning about is for every woman to be allocated a breast feeding counsellor from birth. Saying that though – even then a lot STILL wouldn’t be able to do it.
I also think the Government need to rethink their PR campaign when it comes to breastfeeding (sorry this is the PR girl in me!) stop with the guilt trip – start with the benefits that – esp young girls – will sit up and listen to – firstly: WEIGHT LOSS! secondly – ITS FREE!! thirdly - sterilising bottles in the beginning in the middle of the night is MASSIVE HASSLE! Much easier to just breastfeed if you can. When you have younger women in the lowest rates for breastfeeding you need to think about why… These girls look up to people like those on TOWIE or Katie Price so i’m sorry the “breast is best” message isn’t really going to get through to them – you need another angle.
I was lucky to be able to do it very easily after I got those (very) painful first few weeks out the way – I nearly changed my mind so many times though initially as it hurt so much. Every single time i felt this wave of guilt rushing over me – thought people would judge me… I remember I’d been crying for about 3 hours from the pain and frustration one night and sitting on Google looking at internet forums, just looking for help from other women that it was “ok” to rethink it. All I saw was formula feeding mum getting on the defensive and breastfeeding mum’s being horrible and judgemental.. Where’s the love and support for the sisterhood ladies?
We started combination feeding (1 bottle at night) at about 1 month – I just needed a break as she was feeding every 1 or 2 hours 24 hours a day, and I felt like CRAP about it. I remember going to get babby’s BCG and almost lied to the health visitor as I was SO ashamed – I really thought she was going to tell me off. My partner told her and I was so relieved that she was fine about it. We ended up switching to formula exclusively at 3 months – my milk supply dried up (and yes I know that’s because I combination fed!) and my god I tore myself to pieces for weeks. I kept asking my partner if he was angry with me for giving up, I felt I had to “explain myself” to everyone but d’you know what – no one cared!! Most women I spoke to were really impressed I did it for 3 months. After a month of formula feeding I knew it was the right decision for us to do it at that time… My body started healing better and more quickly from child birth (they don’t tell you that of course), baby was sleeping at night, I was happier, we could go to places easier and – sorry this may sound selfish – I could have curry! I could have wine! I could have orange juice! I could have broccoli and all those other vegetables and fruit that made baby windy and cranky! Happy mummy – happy baby! At the end of the day its about choice and the NHS, and Save the Children could do with laying off women in the UK at a time when they are already very emotional and very vulnerable.
On the flipside this the same week that we have learnt of formula companies aggressively pushing formula products to women in Indonesia. The companies are hiring midwives so they then go into the slums to push the products, the women who live there get hooked on the idea of this as these see it as a way to gain “status” in their very poor communities – the reality is that they can’t afford the formula and they don’t have the facilities required to sterilise bottles and use clean water to make up the feed.. This means some very sick babies and some very distressed women – obviously by this point they can no longer breastfeed either. If Save the Children are stating that labels should be put on formula for these countries then that is another matter altogether – however also a very blinkered one as the formula comes from the UK and the labels are in English.
What are your thoughts on this statement from the charity? Were you put on a guilt trip by the UK government after birth?