Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bottlefeeding vs. Breastfeeding: My Formula for Success

Gabriel Joseph de Froment, Baron de Castille (1747 - 1826) and his wife Princess Hermine Aline Dorothée de Rohan (1785 - 1843) with their family - French School - 19th Century

When it comes to formula feeding vs. breastfeeding, we moms tend to take a very divisive stance on the issue. As someone with IGT and someone who is a lactavist at heart I truly see both sides of this story.
Last month, Mayor Bloomberg went a step farther and said that formula needs to be under lock and key. Formula is not a controlled substance and some moms thought that this step vilified their feeding choice.
My mother had insufficient supply in the 70s and my 2 month old brother was severely malnourished. Three of her sisters have had breast cancer and two of them died from the disease. Something is wrong, genetically, in my family with regards to breastfeeding. My grandmother did not breastfeed due to the strong marketing of formula in the 40s and 50s, plus her native ancestors passed down the knowledge of babies starving because of lack of supply. Then, there was a tribe to meet the needs of those mothers, they shared so the baby did not starve to death. That is how they survived without the formula. Our industrialized society is also partly to blame. There are endocrine disturbing chemicals by the tons that did not exist 200 years ago. Lack of supply is very VERY real.
Although I was determined to beat the odds of my genes, I did not. I have 4 daughters and I had to supplement every one. With each one I gained knowledge and understanding, and milk. I supplemented with a bottle with #1, with a syringe with #2 and an SNS with #3 and #4. With the first I was only able to pump out drops, and even then they barely left my nipple let alone broke enough surface tension to get through the pumpworks and into the storage bottle. The second I became better acquainted with how my body worked and I was able to hand express about 1/4 oz out of each side. By #4 I jumped for joy when I got to the 1 1/2 oz mark!!!
I used formula, but I hated it! I knew it was creating an imbalance in their gut flora and that the stuff curdles within 24 hours. I searched and found a donor mom for #4 and her milk sustained my babe for 5 months, until which time she decided she was staying home with her baby and would no longer pump.
I was beaten down by my pediatrician for choosing donor milk over formula. He handed me a can the company provided to him and with tears in my eyes I took it. Then, probably because I was using the SNS, I got a horrible case of nipple thrush.
I hate formula, but in my case it was needed. Had there been a better network of donors available and a system that my pediatrician would have encouraged instead of degraded, then things would have been different. Change does need to come, and Bloomberg’s is a step in the right direction… and this is coming from a 4 time low supply mama.

I pray that a more supportive network happens and that formula, which really isn't best, is replaced by the real thing. Research, such as this gut study and this milk protein study both point to type 2 diabetes risk of formula feeding and benefit of breastfeeding. And this study links early gluten based solids to type 1 diabetes!
Breastfeeding needs to be the standard. Let's work to this goal instead of wasting time blaming each other for making choices that, at the time, were the best choices we had available.