Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby Talk: Feeding Babies (part 1)

We are going to start a new series called Baby Talk to share our experiences with Baby Girl.  I know this could get us into some dicey territory because babies and child rearing bring up all sorts of hot button issues. But this non-confrontational mama is not trying to start an argument, just share our experiences and observations. Please join us for a discussion of alternatives.

Baby Girl - one day old

Our daughter was jaundice after she was born, and had to spend a couple of days in the nursery under the lights to help normalize her bilirubin levels. Because of this, we spent a lot of time in the nursery. We saw family after family getting checked out and sent home with their new little bundle of joy. By the time it was our turn to be discharged we knew the routine well. The nurse checked the car seat, she showed the family how to give the baby a bath, she helped change the babies into their going home outfits and she gave the family a big care package to take home. Well our nurse went through the whole routine, and was ready to send us on our way, but she didn't even offer us a care package. I sheepishly mentioned that I had seen other families receive care packages when they were discharged. She said that she knew I wanted to breastfeed (and that I was struggling) and she didn't want to tempt me with formula. I said that I would take a care package without formula. She said that the formula companies pay for the care packages, so it wasn't possible to give them out without formula. I must have looked crushed (in my hormonal state I thought the care package would somehow fortify me for the challenge of taking our little one home).  The nurse said that she probably could give me something and rustled up a La Leche League brochure, a few samples of Lasinoh and the rest of the package of diapers that we had been using. She apologized and said that there just isn't as much money in nursing as there is in formula. The formula companies want to build brand loyalty, so they offer the care packages with the diapers, pacifiers, wipes, and all the other goodies plus formula. This was shocking to me!

I had never really considered until that moment how much money was involved in feeding babies. I had gotten multiple free boxes of formula while I was pregnant (which I stored away just in case - don't tell the nurse). But it wasn't until that day in the hospital that I really realized that feeding babies is big business.

Formula ads put on the hard sell. The ads are everywhere you turn as an expectant or new parent. They make it sound like formula might be a better choice than breastfeeding. They talk about how they have mimicked all of the great things about breast milk, but formula even has vitamin D and iron, so no additional supplementation is necessary. Unfortunately big business doesn't always have our best interest foremost in their minds (it's true - I'm cynical).

In the 7.5 months of baby girl's life, there has been more than one recall on formula because babies have gotten sick or worse. My heart goes out to those families. I can't even imagine their heartbreak. I have been lucky and been able to breast feed my baby all along (although it has been a rocky road and there will be more in a future post), but if it didn't work out I planned on making my own baby formula. I had read the Weston A Price website and thought that would be a good solution for our family.

If you are expecting or have a new baby, I would encourage you to go here to check out some alternatives to commercial formula. I still believe that breast milk is best (in spite of those formula ads trying to convince me otherwise), but homemade formula seems like a good back-up plan.

What did you feed your baby?

This post is part of Fight Back FridayMonday ManiaGratituesday and Real Food Wednesday.

10 comments:

Stealthy Mom said...

No goodie bag? That is harsh. What I got with the birth of our first son, in 2008 was sick, sick sick. It was a diaper bag from some formula company labeled "breastfeeding edition." They had a booklet on breastfeeding, complete with a page about how the formula was just as good. There were samples of "just like breast milk" formula and coupons for the same. It was a high pressure tactic to get me to take the samples home just in case.

Joanna said...

I had a home birth with my first, but started my care with a regular OB. I was shocked at all the formula junk I got in those first 20 weeks of pregnancy! And my doctor was pretty pro-breastfeeding. But breastfeeding doesn't make money, formula does! Thanks for this post.

Fresh Local and Best said...

recently arsenic was found in organic formula via the brown rice syrup that was added. I'm glad that I never capitulated to the lure of formula marketing.

Byn Always said...

Wow. Having five home births, starting 20 years ago, I was lost in the first couple of paragraphs. had no idea that a hospital birth resulted in so much... so much... oversight.

You've made me glad all over again that I didn't go to a hospital (and talk about controversial? I can totally give you topics:)

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

My baby is 32 now! I nursed him for six months and then he had a soy formula because he had digestive difficulties!

Cute pic...

Laura said...

Charlie was supplemented with formula because my breast milk supply never got up to what he needed, despite a very regimented schedule of pumping, herbs, and pharmaceuticals that help increase supply. I was also shocked at what felt like the circling sharks of formula manufacturers. In the end, we went with Earth's Best organic formula and then ended up switching to Wegman's house brand organic because it had the exact same ingredients and cost half as much. Organic formula is not perfect, either, as it uses some ingredients that are GMO but it was still better than most.

I try very hard not to judge but often find myself having a hard time with some of the reasons I hear for not breastfeeding. I worked so hard just to provide Charlie with what little breastmilk I could up until 7 months when I just couldn't produce any more. But I would do it all over again for him. Good for you for sticking it out!!

Cari_On said...

I formula fed because I had to, it made me heartsick, but we made it through. My little guy is healthy because of it. However, now that I know there are alternatives, I will remember that the next go round. You have made me one happy momma! Thank you!

You will never know how much you have helped me with this one article. Thank you so much!

City Share said...

I'm impressed with you sticking it out too. I had a less common problem of oversupply. More on that next week...

City Share said...

Clearly I'm having problems with delayed comments... where did my my little reply button go?

Jenny said...

I could never nurse and I was sad over that. Back in those days EVERYONE did. I'm always surprised how out-spoken people are on child rearing issues. I've always tried to embrace a more tolerant approach. We are all doing the best we can with what we know at the time. Gentle advice is always useful, but aggressive attack always makes me shut my ears off.

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