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Friday, 05 September 2014 00:00

Don't Shove the Formula

Much to my surprise, I received a package from Similac in the mail the other day. It was an 8 ounce sample of formula, along with some informational packets, and $20 worth of coupons.

I was amused at the brightly colored box’s claims, “Similac with OptiGRO Nutrition is “closer than ever to breast milk*”! Notice the *. In fine print, it read, “Reformulated to better match the average caloric density of breast milk…” What a stark reminder that nothing beats the nutritional content of breastmilk and trying to advertise in a way that makes a formula comparable to it simply makes a company look downright foolish.

I am not trying to put down formula feeding parents. Sometimes formula is the best or only choice for a family, and I support their informed decision to formula feed. What I do not support is formula companies trying to shove samples and tempting coupons down the throats of expectant mothers, actually undermining their chances of success for a healthy breastfeeding relationship.  

According to the International Code for Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes, “the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, including infant formula, discourages mothers from initiating and/or exclusively breastfeeding their infants.”

The importance of avoiding the advertisement of breast-milk substitutes is so important that it is directly addressed in the global initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Baby Friendly Health Initiative.

One of the provisions of this initiative is that, “Hospitals and birthing centers wishing to attain Baby-Friendly designation must abide by the provisions of the International Code on Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes.”

The strict criteria for this code is listed below: 

  1. No advertising of breast milk substitutes to families
  2. No free samples or supplies in the healthcare system.
  3. No promotion of products through healthcare facilities, including no free or low-cost formula.
  4. No contact between marketing personnel and mothers.
  5. No gifts or personal samples to health workers.
  6. No words or pictures idealizing artificial feeding, including pictures of infants, on the labels or product.
  7. Information to health workers should be scientific and factual only.
  8. All information on artificial feeding, including labels, should explain the benefits of breastfeeding and the costs and hazards associated with artificial feeding.
  9. Unsuitable products should not be promoted for babies.
  10. All products should be of high quality and take account of the climate and storage conditions of the country where they are used.

Many hospitals do abide by these rules, for which I am sincerely grateful, but an alarming number still do hand samples out--86% in 2007. Research has shown that free formula given to new moms tends to result in poorer breast-feeding outcomes.

It is because of this research (this known fact that having formula sitting around your house results in poorer breastfeeding outcomes) that I am upset by Similac sending me this package. I did not ask for it. I don’t know how they got my information. I don’t want the formula.

Let's imagine a new mother just home from the hospital. Say she chose a hospital that was certified baby friendly, so that she would have the support to initiate breastfeeding, and not send her home with formula samples. 

But, for whatever reason, this new mother is having trouble breastfeeding. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. Maybe it’s even painful. She feels like a failure as a mother because breastfeeding is not coming as easily or as naturally as she thought it would. She isn’t getting enough sleep. She is worried that her baby isn’t getting enough to eat. She is worn down by the stress of the situation.

She then remembers the samples that the formula companies so kindly mailed to her, in bright packages, full of tempting promises. In a moment of exhaustion and frustration, she uses some. She knows it isn’t what she wants, but in that moment it seems easier. Just. That. Once.

However from there, without the support she needs, she begins the downward cycle; as she resorts to formula feeding more and more often. Her supply begins to drop, and her baby, frustrated with the lack or speed of milk, no longer want to suckle at her breast. The mother, though saddened at this turn of events, doesn’t see any other choice and thus, the formula feeding relationship begins.

Allow me to reiterate that I fully support informed formula feeding! 

What makes my blood boil is how formula companies send out unsolicited samples. It would be one thing if they were available by request for parents that need to formula feed. It is quite another to distribute them to everyone before their baby is born.

Have you been sent formula samples? How did you feel about it? Share your story in the comments below!

Published in Feeding Baby

TBS has been a real learning curve for me on a daily basis at times. The way I stumble across new information is humbling. Today I learned that Autism is in fact Mercury poisoning! I could go on and on about the information I have learned that has caused me to feel VERY heavy feelings of sadness, anger, regret, stupidity, etc. When us admins post information to Facebook that women get mad and sad about...we feel it and we don't like being the bearer of bad news anymore than you enjoy hearing the news!

A few of you may be wonderfing why I am blabbing about this. The answer is simple. Modern society has done a huge disservice to mothers and babies where profits are the deciding factor on health...not geniune concern for humanity. I cannot wait for society to strike a balance, leaning away from patriarchy and moving towards a more matriarchal way of doing things. But until this happens we will be hurt by believing and trusting certain things in life regarding the wellbeing of our families and ourselves. We believe in parents, particularly mothers learning about factual, truthful information so they can learn from their mistakes and change how they do things. Because ultimately we are the ones with the power, making decisions for an entire household of poeple more often that not aren't we? 

I yearn for EVERYONE to see the goodness and the love in life's precious moments of birth whether it's the mom, dad, birth companion, doula, nurse or care provider. 

I also live for the day that doctor's offices stop taking funds from formula companies, formula companies start answering for health problems their product causes and breastfeeding to be seen as the NORMAL thing to do...boob hanging out and all if the mother chooses.

There will be a time when Big Pharma & the FDA will be mandated to have a conscience about killing innocent people systematically for profit and share price; when their schemes, cost benefit vs risk analysis and claims that you'll die of the "xyz" virus without this vaccine are no longer accepted as truthful information from a trusted source. 

I cannot WAIT for things to change and there not to be a need for TBS at all! Unless you ladies want to stick around...but I really hope we aren't making women mad and sad in 20 years. Let's do our best to save the next generation from these difficult struggles.

 

 

 

Published in Nicole's Blog

Your decision about how to feed your newborn doesn’t seem like it would have any bearing on birthing in a hospital. If you plan to breastfeed, it is essential to make this decision and stick to it once your baby is born in the hospital. Breast milk is far superior to formula, (watch this video to see why).

The key to successful breastfeeding after a hospital birth is making your choices known, and knowing how choices during labor may affect breastfeeding.  Here are some things to think about that may help you in the first few days while you’re getting the hang of nursing.

If you are planning to breastfeed, make sure you inform the staff and explicitly ask that they not give your baby ANY formula or pacifiers. It is also advisable to have the baby room in with you so that you can nurse on cue so that your milk comes in as quickly as possible. Artificial nipples are “easier” to suckle from than the natural nipple as the flow is immediate and constant. If you introduce artificial nipples before the nursing relationship is well established, the baby may become lazy or developnipple confusion when nursing from you since it requires a stronger suck.

Medications used during labor, including narcotics and epidurals, have the potential to cause a newborn to be drowsy and have some difficulties latching. These pain relief interventions can cross the placenta to your baby. I personally did not have this experience, and many moms don’t, but it should be a factor when weighing the risks and benefits of choosing pain relief during labor.

Immediate skin to skin contact and initiation of breastfeeding will facilitate the nursing relationship. Insist on immediate skin to skin contact (have your baby placed on your chest as soon as he/she is born) and initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible.  See if your baby does thebreast crawl . Your new baby may not suckle for long, but the sooner you start the sooner your little one will get the hang of it!

Utilize the lactation consultant. Most hospitals have acertified lactation consultant on staff during the day.  If you are a first time mom breastfeeding (or a mom who didn’t before and wants to now), it will likely help to have one of these wonderful women come give you a hand.  They will watch you nurse and give you suggestions about different holding positions, as well as how to get the baby to initially latch correctly.  Nursing shouldn’t hurt, but it can be uncomfortable at first.  They can help you figure out if difficulties are a problem with your technique. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if you need to ask multiple times.  The time I spent with the lactation consultant in the hospital after my first son was born helped IMMENSELY!

If you want to breastfeed but you can’t (such as baby is in the NICU), request a pump IMMEDIATELY. Hospitals havehospital grade pumps available.  If you can’t nurse your baby on demand, request a pump and start pumping as soon as possible.  While it may not be the way you’d like to feed the baby, it is the next best thing. Especially if your baby needs special care , your baby will benefit from having thecolostrum that was meant for him.  The colostrum has a number of health benefits and its natural origin is far superior to formula. Your baby does not need any more nutrition than colostrum the until your milk comes in, and then breastmilk is all your baby will need for atleast six months.

Let your baby nurse as much as s/he wants to. Let’s face it; you’re in the hospital with nurses to get you whatever you want, no laundry or dishes to do, and a remote controlled bed.  While most people don’t “enjoy” the hospital, take advantage of the time you have here to focus on your nursing relationship with the baby.  The more practice both of you get, the more quickly both of you will get the hang of it.  Keeping the baby on the breast as well as skin to skin will promote your milk production, as well as help facilitate your bonding. Here’s ahandy sign to put on your hospital door, or your front door.

If you are planning to return to work, here are some tips to consider.

Once you’re home, keep nursing on demand as much as you can. Everyone’s milk comes in at different times.  If your baby is 3 days old and your milk hasn’t come in, don’t stress when your best friend says she got her milk 36 hours after birth.  Everyone’s body is different.  If you are concerned about your supply for some reason (your baby isn’t gaining as much weight as the pediatrician is expecting, or your baby is not nursing for very long), consult a certified lactation consultant.  It is rare that a mom simply “doesn’t make enough milk.”  More often, mom’s supplies don’t build up enough (or drop) because the baby is not nursing properly.  Lactation consultants are trained to evaluate mom and baby, and identify a problem that is inhibiting supply. It is also important to keep a diaper log as that can give you and the consultant/physician a better idea of baby’s intake, and your supply.

Surround yourself with supportive people. This goes with everything birth related, but it is especially helpful when you have people who support your choices standing behind you.  Breastfeeding is natural and the best way to meet your baby’s nutritional needs.  Don’t let people with negative attitudes or snide comments about you pumping or nursing in public dissuade you.  If you begin to feel like it is too much work and frustration, join online or real life mom groups where nursing is supported and even promoted.  I found a great deal of support and courage when I connected with other moms who were nursing and facing similar challenges.  You are not alone; the more you support and inform yourself, the more likely you are to be successful.

Everyone knows that “Breast is Best,” but there are some reasons you may not be able to, (or may choose not to) breastfeed such as if you need to take certain medications that transfer to breast milk which are not safe for the baby, (such as antipsychotic medications.) While there are a number of medications deemed “safe” by the FDA and WHO, there are a number of medications that are not safe, or have not been studied enough for these organizations to claim that they are safe.  It is important to remember that even though many drugs are deemed safe, the safest choice is to not take medications unless absolutely necessary.  If you aren’t sure how necessary a medication is, you should discuss the necessity with your primary care doctor, OB/Midwife, AND the pediatrician.  All of them can provide valuable information and insight that will help you make the decision.<br><br> Everyone knows that “Breast is Best,” but there are some reasons you may not be able to, (or may choose not to) breastfeed such as if you need to take certain medications that transfer to breast milk which are not safe for the baby, (such as antipsychotic medications.) While there are a number of medications deemed “safe” by the FDA and WHO, there are a number of medications that are not safe, or have not been studied enough for these organizations to claim that they are safe.  It is important to remember that even though many drugs are deemed safe, the safest choice is to not take medications unless absolutely necessary.  If you aren’t sure how necessary a medication is, you should discuss the necessity with your primary care doctor, OB/Midwife, AND the pediatrician.  All of them can provide valuable information and insight that will help you make the decision.

If you are considering formula over nursing, I would encourage you to do as much research as possible before you finalize your decision. Despite popular belief, formula is not considered second best; formula is LAST on the list of recommended ways to feed a newborn, (behind pumping,making your own formula, or using donor milk).

Go back to Step #7: Planning for Labor

Go ahead to: Step #9: Postpartum Recovery

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Published in Feeding Baby

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