“Baby formula milk should have cigarette-style health warnings”


“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?

7 thoughts on ““Baby formula milk should have cigarette-style health warnings”

  • 21st February 2013 at 11:08 am

    It’s colostrum which is the most important , our baby had lots of that . He had jaundice so we where told to feed formula in the hospital to help flush his system out and after that breast feeding became a lot more difficult the baby wouldn’t latch on , but she worked hard to get him back and after a lot of pain and tryng was able to feed some milk .Gosia combination fed for as long as possible but soon it stopped working and breasts produced less and less so now we exclusively formula feed . I have read up on the subject lots and have realised that a lot of the breast is best research is predates genetic research that has a lot more to do with a baby’s adult health . In fact beyond colostrum it can now be disputed that breast has hardly any benefit at all. And if you dig beyond the propaganda less than 30% of women breast feed till 6 months. I thinkits scandalous that Gosia was advised to be fed formula by doctors and midwife whilst at the same time receiving leaflets from the hospital that made her guilty for dong it. Nowhere in the leaflet did it say if you can’t breast feed formula is ok….if doctors and hospitals have a policy of formula feeding how can the department of health demonise it so much !

  • 21st February 2013 at 11:22 am

    Exactly very conflicting messages and also this “hush hush” mentality regarding formula feeding is very concerning. They have very little information for women who are formula feeding its all breastfeeding this and breastfeeding that. My hospital was a breastfeeding hotspot and the midwife proudly told me “we don’t ALLOW bottles in the hospital – if anyone asks we say we dont have the facilities” WTF?

    I always feel like shit when I go into Boots to get Formula – they ask for my clubcard and then always point out (with a sneer – but maybe that’s just me being defensive) you don’t get points for “that” LOL I always feel I want to say “hey!! I’m not a bad mother! I did breastfeed OK!!” also If you look on Aptamil’s FB page they aren’t even legally allowed to REPLY to women that ask them questions..!! Even cigarette brands don’t get those kind of legislations!! Anyone would think it was poison. I like the fact they worry about formula but yet don’t put these kind of legislation on the things that cause real problems for children (obesity, health etc) why don’t they do this with fizzy drinks, sweet, crisps and crap from Iceland..? LOL

  • 23rd February 2013 at 3:21 pm

    We will be judged as mothers constantly throughout our children’s lives. Every decision we make is unique to our situation and results in a world of individuals. It is OK to make difficult choices that are good for you and good for your baby. And the whole Happy parent= happy baby thing is true. The lifelong damage we can do to our children from being too stressed, nervous or anxious far out-weighs the benefits of breast milk, or no screen time, or whatever it is you choose for your child that may be somewhat controversial.
    My friend is horrified for not being able to nurse her daughter (she nursed her first two), but the baby is literally bleeding abdominally from the breast milk. And yet she is still feeling the tremendous load of guilt that is out there, thrown around as if everyone is making the choice willy nilly. Ease up people!
    The key is having a balance to the dialogues, like this one, that supports mothers for being strong enough to make these difficult decisions, resulting in what is best for their family. Because BEST is actually best.

  • 17th June 2013 at 7:42 am

    Happy mum = happy baby. Ah yes, the one statement that gets a guilty formula feeder off the hook. Your baby (and her health for life) would be a lot happier of she was breastfed! Stop justifying formula use. Very few women ‘can’t breastfeed although some do find it harder than others, often through lack of support. If the amount of women who ‘can’t’ breastfeed in 2013 ( but who can nip to tesco for a big expensive tub of man-made formula full of yummy additives) was replicated throughout history then I don’t think the human race would have survived.

  • 18th June 2013 at 1:12 pm

    My baby was breastfed Laura so I assume that comment was directed at me. I personally don’t really understand women who “don’t feel like it” But I sympathise with those who can’t or those who have trouble because of no/lack of support – its not actually THAT easy esp if you are having trouble.

    I think it would be better for women to show support and camaraderie with other women rather than being judgemental. Pointing fingers and trying to make someone feel like sh*t for formula feeding really isn’t that constructive and all it does it make someone dig their heels in even more on their decision. One thing I do know – breastfed or not.. My children will 100% be brought up not to judge people for their decisions but rather to concentrate on her own and get on with that.


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