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 Friday, Monday Mania, Gratituesday and Real Food Wednesday.