I was texting with a good friend the other day and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about our conversation since then. She had shared with me about a breastfeeding mom who had returned to work and was pumping full time to feed her child who was now in daycare. Good for her! Her supply is great, the baby is well fed and taking the bottle beautifully. Then she takes her child to the well check up at her pediatrician’s office and what does he say? That it’s wonderful that she’s doing this, but she has a lot on her plate, so don’t be a martyr about it. He tells her that he is interested in everyone’s physical and mental health, soooooooo just in case…… here’s some free formula!!! What??? I’m told that now the mother is concerned that maybe she is not making enough milk for her baby after all, when there is no indication that this is true. The baby is perfectly healthy. This mother’s breastfeeding relationship has been sabotaged and her confidence as a new mother has been shaken and that saddens me greatly! I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and guess that this new mom’s mental health was not better off upon leaving the doctor’s office that day. She walked in a confident young mother who was taking wonderful care of her child, and she left doubting her ability to adequately care for her baby.
The pediatrician in this situation claims to be concerned about the health and wellness of the child, and I’m sure that in a general sense he is, but do you care to know what the first two ingredients are in the formula that he so freely gave to the mother? Corn Syrup and Sugar. That’s right- Corn Syrup and Sugar, because obviously this must be better for babies than breastmilk. Are you kidding me? Please don’t take this the wrong way. I know that there are mothers out there that choose not to breastfeed or who are not able to breastfeed, and I am fully supportive of their right to choose how they feed their babies, but to believe the lie that formula is equal to or superior to breastmilk in nutrition is just ridiculous. Formula will never be equal to breastmilk in any way, shape, or form. For a doctor to act like taking a bottle of formula is better for a baby than being fed breastmilk should raise serious red flags in a parent’s mind. I would be seeking another doctor’s care immediately.
According to a study in Pediatrics (February 2011), formula fed babies who started solids earlier than 4 months are 6 times more likely to become obese by age three, compared to formula fed babies who started solids later. This study followed 847 babies. Well, you may say, babies aren’t supposed to start solids that early! True, but although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents not introduce solid foods into their baby’s diet until between 4 to 6 months of age, 26% start their babies on solids by four months old.
Interestingly enough, breastfed babies are at no higher risk of obesity, regardless of when solid foods are introduced into the diet, according to the same study. In 2005 a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that the childhood obesity rate could be cut by 15-20%, simply by switching formula fed babies to breast milk. That is amazing! And yet medical doctors are constantly pushing formula on mothers and babies, all in the name of the health of the baby!
Pediatricians are wonderful people and we love the pediatricians who take care of our children, but I have the final say in my child’s health and well-being. Whether you want to admit it or not, doctors are influenced by pharmaceutical companies and YES, formula companies too! Why do you think they push the stuff on us from the moment babies are born in the hospital?
Your body was created to provide for and nourish your child. Your breasts are not for show, they have a function and a purpose… they are amazing! Lactating mothers were meant to be the sole source of nourishment for their children, so please do not doubt your ability to be this for your child.
If you would like more information on breastfeeding your child, please read my Breastfeeding 101 Series.