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Mamas Don’t Get Support for Feeding Formula

Posted Jul 22 2009 11:42pm

Many of the regulars at Eco Child’s Play chimed in to discuss a feminist’s disregard of breastfeeding.

Breastmilk’s benefits don’t outweigh that of formula, she claims, or at least there are only tiny benefits.

While almost 74 percent of babies in the U.S. are breastfed at birth, only about 21 percent are breastfed through the recommended year. That means many, many parents turn to formula at some point.

But a new comprehensive British study shows that formula-feeders are poorly informed and supported,

Mistakes in preparation of bottle feeds were common.

Now, while we could pull the, “Well, I never measure how much I breastfeed wrong”holier-than-thou stuff, we have to recognize that some parents will formula-feed. We don’t want them to do it wrong!

For me, it was around 3 months when I began to supplement for my older son. I was working full time as a single mama, and work became so stressful that I could only pump before and after hours. Sure, at first it was a cute joke at the resort hotel. I’d go to put the 6 oz I’d cranked out at break in the Pastry Chef’s ‘fridge, reminding them not to use the “liquid gold” in their sweet treats, but eventually I was putting in a measly ounce— if I was lucky.

So while we know that many blue- and even white-collar jobs don’t encourage pumping, now a new study shows that there’s not much support on how to formula-feed, period.

Researchers looked at 6 qualitative studies and 17 quantitative studies (involving 13,263 participants) to discover: Wow, we don’t teach people a whole lot about this!

Now, I believe in breastfeeding. But if a parent is to formula-feed, we want them to do it properly, no?

This study showed all the things we could expect: Mothers experienced negative emotions such as guilt, anger, worry, uncertainty and a sense of failure. (Now, if you subscribe to the Cate Nelson theory of the parenting world, you understand that we as parents—and especially mothers—feel these thing emotions for everything from percentiles to food choices to dealing with a teenager. It’s life. Deal with your own guilty feelings.)

But the study also showed that these mothers were poorly informed on how to mix the formula and how often to feed.

And the worry for researchers was that babies’ health could be at risk.

Should we encourage and support breastfeeding in every way that we can? Of course. But when some people inevitably turn to formula for their tots, they should in the very least get proper guidance.

Care for others, care for all, right?

Image: jonfeinstein on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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