I like the way this guy thinks

After answering why he doesn’t like and thinks we shouldn’t say, “Breast is best,” (because it puts formula-feeding as the norm), he goes on to answer the following question:

Q. Okay, breast is normal. But surely infant formula is second-best isn’t it?
A. No, the second-best feeding option is obviously other breast milk, for example expressed milk from a child’s own mother or milk from another mother in good health, whether directly from the breast or a human-milk bank. And if there is no breast milk, infant formula, which we should never forget began as a crisis commodity for emergency use only, is the least-bad alternative.
To put this alimentary aberration into perspective, consider routine use of infant formula as the feeding equivalent of emergency devices on airplanes – for example overhead oxygen masks and under-the-seat life jackets – suddenly transformed into everyday must-have fashion accessories. Infant formula pitched as somehow suitable for routine non-emergency use is immediately denatured, thereby forfeiting its only claim to legitimacy – as a life-sustaining crisis commodity.
But no matter how appropriate infant formula might be when infants are denied access to breast milk, feeding an inert pediatric fast-food based on the milk of an alien species remains a deviation from the biological norm for the young of our species. I invite you to reflect on this not-so-rhetorical question: At what point should society begin to regard a routine deviation from the biological norm as deviant behavior?


5 Responses

  1. the use of formula as the only alternative to breast feeding should not be the norm in teaching. availability of alternative breast milk supplies may not be a viable option in some parts of the country. teaching parents to ‘feed the baby’ is the rule for my unit. promotion of breast -feeding is one of the ultimate goals of my unit,. a research project is under construction to determine methods of continued support of breast feeding. what is working what is not and how can we continue to enhance this idea of breast is best. ideas are welcome.

    • ‘feed the baby’ can mean put the baby back to the breast as much as it can mean, ‘give the baby a bottle.’

      As someone who struggled with a great deal of pain initially, nursing both of my little men, I know exactly how hard this is to say to a woman who is hurting.

      But when breastfeeding is going well, there is no need to stick to a schedule. I know newborns tend to be sleepy and accommodating, but they *can* be nursed quite frequently. One could also argue that nursing more in hospital will give her (and baby) more practice while she can still get questions easily answered.

      There’s obviously a point when *more* nursing won’t ‘feed the baby’ appropriately … but until then?

  2. Pumping is not pushed enough, but it’s also not supported in the U.S. when it comes to working women. Those new laws are a joke – pumping time doesn’t have to be paid time, etc.

    I definitely agree that women should be taught about milk banks, milk share groups, and the like, but the fact is that those things are no widespread enough (at least where I am) to meet the needs of everyone who has real trouble breastfeeding. Why are there so few milk banks? Why are people taught that the idea of letting their baby drink someone else’s milk is ickier than giving them something made of chemicals and cows?

    I’ve helped to feed two babies in addition to my own, and I’m proud of it!

  3. Kathy, Ick… Just Ick. I have literally broken my back and bent over backwards to help folks breast feed in the past. But there is no way I am breast feeding the baby for them. Just no!

  4. I would breastfeed another baby, and if my breasts cooperated with a pump, I’d gladly donate to a milk bank. What a great answer, I agree we should do more to make donor milk the optional second choice, with formula being a distant last.

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