When it comes to feeding baby, breast milk is clearly the ideal and most nutritious choice. The benefits are immense for baby and mom alike. In our efforts to support and encourage moms to accomplish their breastfeeding goals, is an attack on formula necessary? Read on to find out why I think it’s hurting more than helping and what we should be doing instead.

From the recent AAP resolution to NYC Mayor Bloomberg's Latch On NYC initiative, it seems we have somehow lost our way in our efforts to support and encourage breastfeeding among women.

Do I think the idea behind these resolutions and initiatives are important? Absolutely. Should formula be routinely handed out to expectant and new moms in clinics and hospitals across the U.S.? No.

Should formula be kept under lock and key and moms asked to sign an "informed consent"? Goodess no.

What's missing... is actual support and knowledgeable medical personnel properly trained to diagnose and treat barriers to breastfeeding.

But honestly, formula is the red herring here. What's missing from these attempts to increase our breastfeeding numbers is actual support and knowledgeable medical personnel properly trained to diagnose and treat barriers to breastfeeding.

Barriers such as IGT, latch issues, pain and maternal depression to name a few. Some obstacles are surmountable with proper support in place. Others are not and many moms are faced with chronic low milk supply. And still many will choose not to breastfeed for various personal reasons.

Aside from human donor milk which is not easy to come by (and can be quite costly), formula has actually helped many babies thrive and grow in these situations. Crazy, I know. But it's true.

The truth is not every woman can breastfeed. Every woman has a story. Every woman has the right to feed her baby in peace without callous judgment in the name of breastfeeding advocacy. This current backlash against formula marketing is only being felt by formula-feeding mamas -- whether they're doing so by choice or necessity.

So when I hear others celebrating these initiatives as victories for breastfeeding moms everywhere and some even proclaiming that formula should be made available by prescription only, I worry that we have indeed missed the mark entirely.

What we need are more certified lactation consultants (IBCLCs) made accessible to mothers, more positive breastfeeding messages, less barriers to breastfeeding, and less stigmatization of bottle and formula feeding mothers.

In our current cultural climate of breast is best but don't let me see you breastfeed in public, and for heaven's sake, why are you breastfeeding your 3-year-old? -- coupled with the ever increasing stigma that bottle and formula feeding moms face, what you have is a culture that shames the majority of mamas for simply feeding their babies.

This has got to stop.

Let's get back to the real business of helping women in their breastfeeding goals. Because I'll tell you this: The only ones feeling the sting of this backlash against formula marketing are the mothers (and fathers) who formula feed their babies. And feeding your baby beneath a cloak of shame and guilt is no small price to pay.

More on feeding your baby

Not breastfeeding? Bond with your baby while bottle-feeding
Making breastfeeding work
Benefits of breastfeeding beyond infancy

Topics: formula feeding

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