Thursday, February 5, 2009

smell the sabotage

Rixa has a new post, *(please go read it first!)which brings into light a really messed up thing...very sneaky and insidious and I cant help but wonder what kind of fake public service this is supposed to perform or more upsettingly, how many mothers and their babies it will dupe and possibly end a beautiful and vital human relationship for...seems that Enfamil is providing a "breastfeeding support kit" which is cleverly designed to destroy your breastfeeding forays by, oh, about day 5. Maybe a teensy bit later. I know if I were alone and struggling with nursing a newborn, be it my first or my tenth baby, and this "helpful kit" were next to my bedside table, believe me, my chances of reaching for it would be exponentially higher than actually sending hubby out to the store to buy this crap. AND THEY KNOW IT.

Here is the deal. In reference to a mother and newborn who would like very much to breastfeed, here is the deal:
A newborn is born wanting to suckle. To hold this baby and keep him or her at your breast for most of the day and night, this is the intended set up. First the baby gets colostrum and this brings in the milk. It is alot, even after five babies, even after nursing non stop for 11 years, it is alot. Your nipples get sore. Your arms ache. Your body aches. The milk coming in aches. Your head aches. You ache for sleep. and all of this is without any complications. You really really want sleep. you have been through 9 months of pregnancy, climaxed it with a birth, and now BOOM time to...start a huge endeavor. The only thing keeping you from sleep is the boobs/baby situation. If you give a baby a rubber nipple and that formula just glugs down their throats and instantly fills their little bellies with no more suction that you need to do to a straw on a McDonalds' Coke, then this is what the newborn can learn. they can get lazy, they can try to nurse on you like that and then the colostrum doesnt come out and they cry and BAM you have an instant set up for the all too common as of the last 50 years "I just didnt have enough milk!" Mm-hmm. Like the Failure to Progress and all of that jazz, it is a very rare condition given proper circumstances, and there Is a great monetary profit in not only selling these mama-babies the latest in Savior-Kits a la cesareans and powdered milks, but in keeping them feeling GRATEFUL AND BROKEN. When women are kept feeling grateful and broken, the monetary profit potential is infinite.

In the absence of these insidious little kits, Mama aches and the baby works that little tongue and the Mama is exhausted but the baby is hungry and they stay up all day all night for many many days and many many nights and soon they get it and they doze in and out and the milk comes in and the nipples heal up and its Good good good. Hard and exhausting, but good. Like the pregnancy, like the labor, like it all, hard and exhausting, good good good. Worth It. Etc. Youll be soooooo glad later kind of a good.
like a nurse asking you hourly if you want a little something for the pain,
like an epidural on the nightstand at your homebirth,
or a make-it-stop-just-for-one-goddamned-night packet of formula at the foot of your bed,

The human temptation is too great. I think it is a sabotage and I will tell you why. NOT because I think one bottle of cow-powder will ruin anything. Not because I think it is poison or child abuse or bad or any of that doctrine/Mama bashing bullshit, no. Because the very nature of it, IT, just being given to you by the authorities, being called Breastfeeding Support, is just more confusion and marketing and of no help whatsoever.

Please leave Rixa some cool ideas and comments, she has proposed an alternative breastfeeding support basket/kit and she deserves the comments on this one, it is a wonderful idea. I did something like this for most of my friends who have had baby showers, including "fun" things like magazines and Red Bull or vitamin energy drinks and goodness yes the Lansinoh...

****One more time, this is NOT about me ripping on anyone for using formula. If you needed to. If you wanted to. Whatever. This is about setting women up in a sideways and very uncool way at an extremely vulnerable time and potentially ruining something for her and her baby and maybe even her future babies, in a disguise, under a ruse, through the backdoor, completely univited.****


Jill said...

Hear hear! I don't like it either. It's like breast pumps made by companies that ALSO make formula/baby food. The pumps hurt and they don't work very well, and they tend to leak and fall apart, and then mama thinks, "Well shoot, pumping is just too hard, I'm going to formula!" Mission accomplished.

I love your new layout! That background is very easy on the eyes. I love the combat Chucks too!

Rixa said...

Mm-hmm. Really, formula companies should have no business saying anything about breastfeeding--no "helpful tips," no breastfeeding kits, no pictures of nursing babies on their formula gift bags. It's (normal business) avarice combined with the sneaky insidious nature of formula marketing that really really gets to me. Of course we know that businesses by their very nature want to sell their products. But the problem with marketing formula is that IT HURTS MOTHERS AND BABIES--for real. This is not just brand A competing against brand B; it's a matter of public health, safety, often sickness, sometimes death (especially in less developed countries). And "choosing" formula necessitates a lifetime, in breastfeeding terms, of addiction/dependence on the product. There is no choice once you've chosen formula; you're locked into it for at least a year with no way out.

AzĂșcar said...

This THIS is what I've been saying--it's SABOTAGE.

It infuriates me to such an extent that my blood pressure rises and I'm just that much closer to having a heart attack.


What can we do? I want to DO something.

Anonymous said...

CG said...


Anonymous, this ISN'T about formula bad or formula good. This is about the underhanded tactics that the formula companies engage in that deliberately undermine breastfeeding--like, on purpose.

It's ridiculous that Enfamil can call this a 'breastfeeding kit' when that is not what it is. It's kits like these, distributed to mothers even if they don't want them, or didn't even ask, that are one of the proven reasons that women EVEN IF THEY WANT TO NURSE fail to meet the medically suggested 6mo/1yr/2yr.

Enfamil has some nerve claiming that these are breastfeeding kits. If they were to change the name or offer them to women who indicated they wanted to use formula that would be different, but that's NOT what they're doing.

AzĂșcar said...

Anon/Meg/my twitter follower,

These aren't breastfeeding kits. Enfamil needs to stop calling them breastfeeding kits.

Moms who chose or not chose formula are not the issue: the companies that use techniques like this, techniques that have been proven to shorten the duration of breastfeeding in this country, are the problem.

Dear Enfamil: BUTT OUT.

rookie cookie said...

I am a formula feeder. I swear on all my life that the ladies don't produce enough. Two babies in a row, one side stops producing all together. Kind of like a flat tire. My choice to formula feed is essential and I wasn't influenced by a formula company. Where do people get these Enfamil things anyways? I have never been given anything like that at the doctor or anywhere else.

Best pump on all the earth, the midevil looking one you rent from the hospital. That thing will suck milk from your soul.

Sgt Howie said...

I was glad that new regulations took effect banning the free swag drug companies give to medical practices and hospitals to put their advertising on every available surface. By the same token I think infant formula makers should be banned from providing free product to hospitals so they can't flog their wares to new mothers in this insidious fashion. If I were a breastfeeding activist (is there such a creature?) that ban would be one of my chief goals.

Housefairy said...

Hey all..glad you mostly get why this is innapropriate/infuriating.

SgtHowie, there is always LACTIVIST, a very cool term that I identify with :)

Rookie Cookie, if you want to use formula or if you had to use it, I do not and would not judge that. Ever ever ever. Please understand that in everything Mother-Baby-Family I am only for one thing: True Information, Truth, Informed Consent, Human and Humane treatment of mothers and babies. The closed minded folks who know it all and think only breastfeeding and only homebirth or whatever are the only way --that is not me. Life has smacked me down hundreds of stories off of those soapboxes, promise.

Now that you know that, please re read Rixa's and my post.
What I find rude (understatement) and what Rixa was pointing out was that this is no "Gift basket" and in fact, it is laden with opportunity to ruin a new breastfeeding relationship under a completly false pretense, and therefore addict the new family to their costly product. According to Rixa, they are being given out at some hospitals to new mothers and babies.

CNH said...

Sadly, at 3am at day five with my first born, with raw and bleeding nipples, a jaundiced baby, and a sobbing wife, my husband gave our baby a bottle of formula supplied in one of those nice take home bags. And then began the downward spiral. Le sigh.

I know there are plenty of breastfeeding haters, formula haters, etc etc but for us, formula was a bad thing. See, my second child suffered for almost a year with problems digesting formula and my attempts to relactate were sabotaged as well.

I nursed the next four exclusively.

Alexandra said...

I had this revelation the other day -- I can't even remember the train of thought that led to it: What if you needed a prescription to get formula? Because the normal way to feed a baby is breastfeeding, right? And if that system doesn't work for some reason, formula is a great safety net to have, right? So why not treat it as such? It could work like birth control, where you could still *choose* to get it, you just have to go through a health care provider to do it.

Think about the implications of this: a woman is frustrated with nursing, for any of the multitude of reasons you list in the post, so she decides to give up and try formula. But to get it, she has to go a doctor. The doctor (or midwife or naturopath or whatever) then asks her about what the problem is and can actually consult her about whether the problem can be solved first. She/he can refer her to a lactation consultant, give her support resources like LLL, open up a world of information that she may not have even known existed. Then, if the necessity is really there, or she simply still *chooses* to formula-feed, she can get a prescription for formula. If the formula companies are now marketing themselves as a breastfeeding safety net, they should agree to this, right? ;)

What do you all think? I realize this is a radical idea and would never really happen, but I thought it was an interesting thought experiment.

Anonymous said...

The perscription idea is the dumbest thing I've ever heard! Obviously you have never had a child who refuses to nurse and a mother is having severe PPD, so formula was the biggest blessing on earth, and it all started with the sample from the hospital. If I would have had to go to a doctor to get a perscription for formula, that probably would have really sent me over the edge. Formula let me still bond with my baby (yes breast feeders, you can still bond with your baby via bottle feeding), and I was also able to care for my other child, who was being put aside while I tried to deal with breast feeding and PPD. You asked for opinions, and feelings, and these are just mine. I don't judge anyone else for how they choose to feed their child, but some people on this blog and Rixa's as well make it sound like your child will die if you don't breastfeed!

Alexandra said...

Anonymous, thanks for your response. I'm sorry you had to go through that. You are right, I haven't been in that situation and I can't imagine how hard it must be.

Of course you're right in that there would be downsides to this idea! Like I said, it is just a "what if..." thought experiment. I don't claim to have weighed the implications of it in every situation or have decided it would ultimately be a good one.

I don't deny that formula's a huge blessing when you need it and I am really, really glad that it exists. The idea was never to deny formula to people who need it, but rather to provide a framework for seeking it out that offered women more information about the choice they were making (which, as Rixa so aptly pointed out, is rarely a one-off choice at all) and what (if any) their other options were. It could also be a way to get women more support, even if they ultimately chose to go with formula. It could even mean that formula might be covered by insurance. Maybe situations like yours mean that it would ultimately be a bad idea for the people who really need the formula, I don't know...

By the way, I have never thought that you couldn't bond with your baby while bottle-feeding, or that bottle-feeding would bring about some other sort of catastrophe, and I don't get the impression that anyone else here has either. If I came off as judgmental toward formula-feeding, I am sincerely sorry.