I had been feeling a little ambivalent about breastfeeding Punkin lately. Many times over the past couple weeks I have found myself daydreaming about taking an overnight trip with my husband or simply being able to spend an entire day by myself.... how wonderful would that be?! Today, I feel completely different. I am back on the breastfeeding bandwagon and will be here until Punkin decides she is ready to jump off. Having a friend and new mom's breastfeeding efforts almost sabotaged by medical professionals was the wake up call I needed to remember that I am doing the absolute right thing for my daughter. Nothing like having a friend go through a traumatic hospital experience to reignite the lactivist fire.
The one place that a woman wants to believe she is going to be given the most up-to-date and accurate advice when it comes to breastfeeding most often sets the same woman up for failure. As I mentioned in my breastfeeding story a few weeks ago, Punkin was given formula for "low blood sugar" before I had the chance to nurse her. I was also sent home with a very thoughtful "gift" from the hospital of free formula even though I was breastfeeding just fine. Both of these events undermined my decision to breastfeed my daughter.
Let's face it, the whole "Breast is Best" mantra it purely lip service. This is evident just by looking at how few hospitals in the US are certified "Baby Friendly", every time a new mother is offered formula for her newborn so she can "get some rest" while still in the hospital or when a mother is advised to supplement with formula or quit breastfeeding completely if her baby develops jaundice or some other common medical condition. A new mother may be led to believe that one bottle won't hurt when in fact, we know quite the opposite is true. In their effort to not make mothers feel guilty, pediatricians often times fail to advise mothers who may be struggling with breastfeeding to the dangers of formula and the risks they are taking by choosing to introduce that bottle of artificial food.
As women we should all take offense to this attitude and treatment. When doctors fail to give us all the necessary information they are taking away our right to make an informed decision. We are not frail or stupid; nor do we need to be protected from the facts. We need to be told the truth so we can make the best decisions for our children. When given all the information and necessary support I truly believe that most women would choose breast over formula, hands down.
I don't say this to make women who formula feed feel guilty in any way. I do believe all of us make the best decision with the information we have at the time. I care about women and think we all deserve honest and supportive medical care. Formula feeding doesn't reduce a women's risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis the way breastfeeding does. It doesn't help with natural child spacing or reducing the risk of postpartum depression. When it comes to babies, formula doesn't help to prevent allergies, obesity or SIDS the way breastmilk has been shown to do. My heart hurts for both Mother and Baby when breastfeeding is sabotaged due to inaccurate or outdated medical advice. (Or advice influenced by the perks some doctors may receive from formula companies...)
Medical professionals need to stop treating women with kid gloves and give it to us straight when it comes to infant feeding. Forget "Breast is Best" and just tell us the truth. Based on the facts, breast will win every time.