A Breastfeeding Bee In My Bonnet

Let me preface this by saying I am NOT going to rant about the superiority of breast milk or formula. That is not what I want to do. I want all women to be aware of the differences between breast milk and formula, and then make an educated decision of which to use. Then, for those who choose to nurse their child, I want to make sure they have access to all of the support, encouragement and information they need. Because I can say from personal experience, it can be VERY hard to find!

And formula companies? Not a good place for breastfeeding info. Surprise surprise.

I could go on and on about different strategies these companies use that are a bit… sketchy. But I’m going to focus on some information from Enfamil.

A friend pointed me to a screen shot in Facebook from Woman Uncensored. I can’t say I’m familiar with the blog, but I know of others who read it. Anyway, it showed some “information” (I use that term loosely) that Enfamil has out to new moms. The one that disturbed me the most read like this:

Your milk may not come in for a day or so after you give birth. If this is the case, you may want to supplement with a bottle.

Let’s break this down. First:

Your milk may not come in for a day or so after you give birth.

Well, yes, that is true. No arguments from me there. But they’re forgetting one thing. While you don’t have what most people consider “milk”, you have something even more perfect for your child: colostrum. (Also know as “white gold”!) What is this? According to Dr. William Sears’ “The Baby Book”, “… colostrum, the premilk that is very rich in protein, immune factors, and other ingredients that are beneficial to your newly born baby.”

Another section taken from “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” states this: “Early feedings of colostrum prepare the digestive system for future feedings. Researchers have found that the presence of IgA in human milk stimulates the infant’s own gastrointestinal production of IgA. This is one of many reasons for insisting that your baby get noting but your colostrum and milk in the first days of life. Those first doses of colostrum are designed to gently introduce baby’s immune system to the world outside the womb.” The book goes on to talk about the antibodies from the mother that go into the milk (baby’s first immunization isn’t from a shot!) and the live cells that are also in there. Yes, LIVE cells! They “have the ability to destroy or thwart the bacteria and viruses that can cause serious disease.”

WOW! So why wouldn’t you want your baby to have that?! Please remember, your baby does not need ounces of food at this point. This link to breastfeedingbasics.com says, “His immature kidneys are not equipped to handle large amounts of fluid during this time. The small amount of colostrum (the sticky yellow fluid that comes out of the breast before the milk “comes in’) is perfect for his newborn system to digest, and provides important antibodies. During the first 24 hours after birth, you usually produce about 37 ml of colostrum (30ml is an ounce). The baby will get 7-14ml at each feeding, 1/3 to 1/2 ounce each time you nurse.” (Let me just say, personally, I wouldn’t describe my colostrum as yellow or sticky!)

So, we’ve determined that not only is it perfectly fine that your milk doesn’t come in right away, but that what you DO produce is MORE then adequate. (And really, we want more the just adequate for our babies, right?!!)

But let’s look at the second part of Enfamil’s “advice”.

If this is the case, you may want to supplement with a bottle.

First off, they make it sound unusual that your milk does not come in. “If this is the case” Verrry sneaky Enfamil. You know darn well a bunch of first time moms will be getting nervous when that milk isn’t coming in. And then what do you suggest to them?

…you may want to supplement with a bottle.

There you go. Done. Another breastfeeding relationship at risk. Why? Because – as Enfamil knows – the best way to make milk is to have the baby at the breast. And if they’re at the bottle, they’re not at the breast. So mom will struggle to make enough milk, and need to give more formula, leading to less time at the breast, leading to lower milk supply, leading to more supplementing… and of course, all the while mom is getting stressed out. Which does nothing but hurt her supply. Not to mention the fact that getting milk from an artificial nipple is much different then from a human nipple, and at that young of an age, you are MUCH MUCH more likely to experience “nipple confusion”. (Need sources? I can get them. I just figured I bored you all with the colostrum facts!)

OK gentle readers, here is the thing. Enfamil is a company. Companies need to make money. I get that, really I do! And we all know that companies get creative with their marketing. But this? THIS? There is no doubt that they are giving out this information in order to sabotage moms out there so that they HAVE to turn to formula. And again, if you made the decision to formula feed, that’s fine! But for the moms out there who WANT to nurse, to have that tricked away from them… Heartbreaking. Disgusting. Infuriating.

I know this is not the only example of immoral marketing practices. And I’m not even just talking about formula companies! But it’s one that touches close to home. I know how close I was to losing my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter due to misinformation. I know of far too many women who stopped much sooner then they wanted to because of lack of *accurate* information and support. And if ranting on this blog helps one person to question what they are told by advertisers (or well meaning doctors/nurses/family/friends), or gives you some information to share to a new mom then I will be THRILLED!

So thank you for listening, erm, reading this. This is a near and dear to me issue. (Maybe someday I’ll start sharing my birth stories on here!) And as always, any questions, comments, and silly statements are welcome!

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About growingintome

Oh goodness... where to start! I am a preschool teacher with three little rugrats. A loving (usually!) wife. A Flybaby-in-training. Fascinated by natural childbirth and breastfeeding. Working on improving my knitting and crocheting. Would love to learn to play the piano and guitar. Dreaming of being a sign language interpreter. Totally amateur blogger. In case you didn't guess.
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10 Responses to A Breastfeeding Bee In My Bonnet

  1. crunchymommy says:

    You go!!!!! Love it!!

  2. Jean says:

    Shall we mention the risks of bacterial encephalitis to infants fed formula in their first 28 days? Or virgin guts? *sigh* There’s just SO MUCH wrong with that one little tiny, teeny statement that you can’t even begin to cover it all.

    I heard colostrum being called “first milk” and I think I prefer that rather than “waiting for your milk to come”. Mature milk is then called just that – mature milk. I think for many new moms that sounds better than “waiting for milk to come” because it doesn’t sound like baby is being “starved” then.

    • VERY true. Something for Childbirth/Breastfeeding Educators and Supporters to think about. Also, the information about how much milk a baby actually needs is VITAL. You see forumla fed babies chugging ounces at a time and get worried because you’re not producing that much. Which is not only normal it’s HEALTHIER!

  3. ~Kris says:

    excellent post my dear friend!

    As reference to something in another comment, I’ve always heard colostrum being referred to as first milk. Surprisingly, I knew babies didn’t need ounces upon ounces of milk for the first few days after birth, long before I had children of my own. I wish my 30+ yr old mind could remember how my teenager self knew something some vital decades ago… if nothing else so that others could learn it before they are in the thick of learning to breastfeed too.

  4. Meg says:

    I really enjoyed this article, you raised excellent points. I was pretty laid back about nursing when I started and count myself lucky that I have been successful in ebf for 11 weeks now. I had very little/no help in hospital and am greatful to have been determined to stay off formula, even though I was given formula on the NHS when my newborn’s weight dropped 12% after birth. They gave me a breastpump and left me to work out why I needed to use it. Had my mum not been around to tell me that they were trying to get my milk in, I would have felt like I wasn’t producing enough and as a result, failed at breastfeeding. (Nothing came out while pumping – I didn’t know that actually, that didn’t mean a thing)

    My point is this: before I had my baby I knew very little about nursing, now I’m an established nursing mum, I know the ins and outs of benefits of bf because nursing mums write blogs about the benefits and other nursing mums read and comment. Lactivists need to strike while the iron is hot. This means getting this standard of article out to mums TO BE, letting them understand that bfing isn’t easy to start with if you don’t have a little bit of education about it. Too many new mums think that their supply isn’t good enough, which is rubbish! Total horse****! we need to let m2bs know that if you supplement, your body won’t ever know that it needs to up it’s supply. We need to educate before failure to nurse, rather than make them feel bad for giving in to formula.

    • First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on your nursing, and give your mom a hug! You’re doing great!

      Second, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to read and respond. I agree 110%. My first time, I didn’t know most of this either, just like I didn’t know how my labor/birth choices would have a negative affect on my breastfeeding start. Education is KEY. When you hear what these moms are told, it’s no wonder they felt their only option was formula. The only blame should go to those who could help but didn’t or – worse – gave out false information.

      Being a mom is the most incredible thing… but it’s HARD! I love surrounding myself with moms who don’t judge, but who are always willing to help out. I love what you said, “We need to educate before failure to nurse, rather than make them feel bad for giving in to formula.”

      Thanks again!!

  5. Pingback: Jumping Back On My Breastfeeding Soapbox « GrowingIntoMe's Blog

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