Monday, November 16, 2009

Obesity and formula

Well, I'm up.  I'm not sure whether to blame it on the caffeinated coffee I drank at 4pm or the fact that my baby isn't in bed next to me for the first time in a while.  I keep checking the monitor to make sure she's...I don't know...still there?

Can I just say something?  Okay, thanks.  I mean, it is my blog, after all.

I recently saw a video trailer for some documentary about babies who are formula fed verus babies who are breastfed.  I'm not going to name the documentary or the website because I don't want to promote it in any way. 

I first saw the video around 9:30pm tonight and I literally can't get it off my mind.  The trailer for this documentary had some woman nursing what looked like a 3-year-old and as she nursed her kid she said (and I quote) "I have friends who say 'Oh, I wasn't breastfed and I turned out fine.'  That argument, with the obesity epidemic in this country, is no longer valid.  Our country is not fine.  Our country did not turn out fine by not having breastfeeding be the norm.  It is an absurd epidemic in this country how sick we are."   

Really, lady? 
I mean, seriously. 

Let's think this through.  Over the past 30ish years, let's name the things that have become more prevalent in our society.

- Video games
- Fast food restaurants on, literally, every corner
- Parents afraid to discipline their kids or "hurt their feelings" which leads to kids having a sense of entitlement

- Divorce
- More moms working outside the home
- Microwaveable meals in place of the homecooked meal

Oh, and "formula-fed babies".  Right.  Our entire society is fat because, as babies, we were all formula-fed. 
My baby gets formula, on average, less than one feeding a week so it's not that I'm defensive about this. 

Here's why this makes me so angry...

First of all, let's all agree that breastmilk is, in fact, the best for babies.  There's absolutely no disputing that.  God, in His infinite wisdom, provided along with the miracle of life the ability for that life to be sustained with the mother's milk.  It's a wonderful thing.  It's a natural thing.  That does not mean it is always an easy thing!  There are babies who come out of the womb Champion Nursers.  There are also babies who come out of the womb and take a little longer to get the hang of nursing and it takes a lot of patience on the part of the mom and the baby to get it figured out.  Some never really do. 

There are women who cannot breastfeed for health reasons on their part or on the part of their baby.  Legitimately, sincerely, cannot do it.  There are babies who are allergic to their mom's breastmilk or babies who have such severe reflux and/or eczema that, to breastfeed their babies, moms would have to go on a diet that would be detrimental to their health. 

Let's even forget about the legitimate reasons.  Let's just assume that a mom doesn't want to breastfeed her child.  Here's the thing... make a documentary, "educate" women all you want, but do not judge women who do not breastfeed.  Want to know why?  Because it's none of your business

I guess I should just laugh at the woman who said that formula-fed babies are the reason for the "obesity epidemic" in America.  Couldn't possibly be that we, as Americans...

We are served larger portions in restaurants than anywhere else in the world and we also have a hard time just putting down the cheeseburger

We allow our kids to sit on their rear-ends in front of video games or Spongebob Squarepants instead of getting outside and exercising. 

We have both the mom and dad working outside the home and thus not really monitoring what or how much the kids eat (among other things). 

Perhaps because of how little we actually see our children or are involved in their lives, are afraid to discipline them for fear it might hurt their self-esteem and instead we give them whatever they want.  Mr. Sense-of-Entitlement grows up and drowns his less-than-stellar childhood memories in a Super Size milkshake and a Big Mac. 

As kids we are more often getting Pop Tarts or Lucky Charms for breakfast, chicken nuggets at school for lunch, and McDonalds in the evening for dinner.  

The list goes on and on.  Yes, I get that she's saying that we are a sick society because, since the introduction of formula, many more mothers formula feed than breastfeed.  It's been my experience, just in being involved in several mothering forums online, that breastfeeding is becoming more the norm than formula-feeding.  Now, I won't start on the whole "breastfeeing your 5-year-old" debate, I'll just say that I admire any woman who can even make it a year breastfeeding.  As I said before, it's not always easy.  Most women who lobby for more women to breastfeed are the ones whose babies latched on from the get-go and gain weight beautifully from the start.

My baby lost a full pound within 3 days of her birth.  She was cranky and downright unhappy and, as a new mom, I couldn't figure out why.  Three days after she was born we went to a lactation consultant who told us of her weight loss and, after hearing about how irritable she was, told us that she was hungry.  Talk about breaking a mother's heart.  My milk didn't come in until 5 days after my daughter was born.  She was burning more calories eating than she was getting from the colostrum (the yellowish stuff babies get from the breast prior to the "real" milk coming in).  We had to supplement with Nutramigen and, let me tell you, I was THRILLED that such a product existed.  My baby didn't have to go hungry!  She also didn't latch very well.  I had to use a nipple shield for the first 3 weeks of her life before she finally latched on. Even then she would pop off while nursing for no apparent reason whatsoever.  She still does that. 

Around 8 weeks or so she would scream at night and cluster-feed (which basically means she was attached to my breast for hours trying to get as much food as she could).  She would cry (then I would cry) when nothing was there.  I would pump during the day but sometimes she needed a couple of ounces of formula to "top her off".  Again, I was so happy that such an option existed.  The thought of telling my baby, "Tough luck, kiddo" after my milk supply was gone and sending her to bed with not enough in her belly wasn't an option for me.  Before we even introduced formula at night I had someone tell me that I wasn't "exclusively breastfeeding" because my baby was also taking my milk through a bottle at night.  Since then I've wised up and realized what a bunch of nonsense that is.  It's my milk and, at the time, I was exclusively breastfeeding. 

Our breastfeeding trials remain, although I have come to realize that even though my kid is done nursing after 7-10 minutes, she's satisfied and doesn't seem to want any more.  She's never choked on the milk even when the supply is gushing so I just have to assume she's an efficient eater and gets the job done in less time which is fine with me.  Her weight is increasing beautifully and steadily so we are happy with that.  I have tried now to only give her formula if absolutely necessary.  My goal is to pump enough so that if David and I leave her with his parents then they will have breastmilk for her.  Lately she's been on a new eating routine where she gets a bottle of breastmilk before bed then a couple of hours after she goes to bed I pump and am able to get about 6 oz which we use the following evening to "stock her up".  By skipping the feeding at night and giving her the bottle I'm able to pump more.  The last couple of nights I've used a couple of ounces of breastmilk to mix with rice cereal and she loves it.

If you read this entire post, great job.  Sorry for rambling.  My baby's been in her own crib for 3 hours now which means she'll probably wake up in about 2 hours.  If she was in our bed with us she would more than likely sleep for 8-10 hours.  Oh, well.

Another late-night post brought to you by me, the girl with too much on her mind at bedtime.

Thanks for listening!

3 comments commented:

Jennifer said...

Coming from a formula-feeding mother....well said. It's refreshing to hear your perspective when so many out there literally condemn me for the choice I have made to not breastfeed.

Mainly a midwife said...

I'm with you on this one. There is no detriment to formula feeding.
And I am a huge breastfeeding advocate but it's not going to prevent my kids from getting obese. If I stopped going through the McDonald's drive-thru..that might help!

Diane said...

Amen sister! Very well said. I tried for 2 MONTHS to get my breast milk in - only to find out that I had fluid filled cysts that had choked off my milk ducts. I would pump for a whole hour and get only 2 drops out. It broke my heart. I cried. My baby received formula instead. I've learned that it's ok... she's ok and I'm ok. I did my best and that's all we can do. Judging "formula moms" helps no one!