There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that breast milk is better than formula, yet many women don’t stick with it long enough.  After fathering 2 children myself, I’ve found out why.

Breastfeeding isn’t easy.  It’s very draining to women to have to continually be attached to their child.  A bottle takes significantly less time to feed.  You can be done in 10 minutes versus 30 or 40 on the breast.  Bottle feeding is also easy because everything you need to know about it is printed right there on the can.  With breastfeeding, help doesn’t come so easily.

The formula industry may have millions of dollars in marketing money to push their cause, but the breastfeeding advocates are able to use their positions in the health care industry to promote their side.  Unfortunately, they are taking their positions for granted.  Rather than build a supportive environment for new mothers, they use lies, misinformation and bullying to promote their cause.

The lies begin at the initial “howto” classes.  This class is taught by a “professional” who spends more time telling you how the formula industry is there to take your money than how to actually breastfeed.  They also tell you how magical breastmilk is as the mother gets feedback from the baby as to what nutrients it’s short on and the breast will then take that feedback and add those nutrients in.  Unless you believe in telepathic communication, you’ll know this to be false.  Once I heard that, they began to lose a lot of credibility and I wasn’t sure that I could trust what they were saying.

Of course, they don’t tell you everything at that class either.  They intentionally leave out a few key points so that breastfeeding won’t sound too bad.  They don’t tell you about the milk fever, and they don’t tell you that breast milk doesn’t contain vitamin D.  In fact, the lack of vitamin D is a serious problem as it is the main cause of jaundice in babies.  Our first child had really bad jaundice.  The billibed wasn’t available for us to use so the only advice they gave was to put him in the sun for a while.  This is rather difficult to do in February.  It wasn’t until we ran into a pediatrician and asked him about the jaundice that we were told about the vitamin D.  I’m not sure whether they misinformed us out of ignorance or malice.  Maybe the “lactation consultant” isn’t qualified enough to handle jaundice issues (despite the fact she’s supposed to be a nurse). Maybe she didn’t want breastfeeding to lose its magical wonder of suiting 100% of the baby’s needs.

So how else do they keep women breastfeeding? They bully and intimidate them.  Rather than trying to be supportive and objectively answer questions, they put women down if they ask about topping up with a bottle or using a soother.  This creates an atmosphere of fear between the mother and the lactation consultant which makes the mother reluctant to reach out for help.

Many of the other nurses in the ward don’t support what the lactation consultants are doing.  They believe that it is important for the mother to feel well rested and will actually respect the mothers wishes to not be woken up (well, most of them, we had a bad experience with a lactivist nurse ignoring instructions for child #2). They understand that there is more to raising a child then having it eat a single way.  They understand that the mother’s mental health is also important, otherwise we’d have more mothers drown their babies in the bathtub.

Until the pro-breast-feeding people stop creating a wall between them and new mothers, people won’t try to get the proper help that they need.  It’s just easier to switch to a bottle if you’re having problems.

So how did babies in the past survive without formula?  They didn’t.  Many of them died.  If you look at infant mortality rates over time, you’ll see a steady decrease.  Of course, you can’t credit formula for much of this, but the deaths caused by malnourishment have significantly decreased.  Couples used to have 10 kids and hope that 5 of them would make it out of infancy.  Now most of them survive so we don’t need to have too many spares.