Sometimes I need a filter between my brain and my mouth.
This is not the way to get one.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Prescription or Persecution?

I woke up in a parallell universe yesterday. And it was rubbish. Either that, or the man-flu germs from the Guru and the cold germs from the Toddler mixed together, flew up my nose and caused me to have a day long halucination of craziness.

So, with this concern for my mental health I thought this morning I should check it out.

Nope. Sadly, it's reality.

Good Golly Miss Holly has posted about it here.

But suffice to say, a lunatic woman, also known as Dr Jennifer James from RMIT University, thinks baby formula should be prescription.

The Guru had to hold me back from the TV to stop me from lurching it off the wall and on to the floor in a rage. I also wanted to hunt this idiot woman down and beat her senseless with her degree in stupidity.

Yeah - just to clarify - this kind of shit get's me on my soap box, baby.

Now, I am a Mum. And I breastfed for the first few weeks of my tiny daughters life. But when my milk dried up and I kept persevering, regardless of how many times an hour she had to feed or how cracked and bleeding and PAINFUL my nipples were, it never occurred to me right away to leap on the formula bandwagon.

My Mum and the Guru practically had to slap me into reality that our baby was starving and needed sustenance and that no amount of continuing to feed her was going to bring back my milk supply (and it's most likely fair to say I never had one - I spent a week in hospital trying to establish good feeding, but my milk never came in, I never got a let down, leaking or anything and in the end I was sent home because they couldn't find anything 'wrong'). So, I piled on my backpack of mother's guilt and shame and gave our baby a bottle.

And for the first time in 2 weeks she slept. Peacefully. And had a normal nappy. And woke up, not screaming with hunger, but just looking around at a world that had finally delivered.

When I went to my Mums and Babies group and was feeding her a bottle, I got a dressing down from the midwife there that I obviously wasn't trying hard enough to brestfeed and that's why I failed. And she had me sit there for 30 minutes trying to feed my baby from breasts that had nothing - and my baby screamed because she was hungry, and I cried because it was heartbreaking to hear my baby cry because I was a failure.

Needless to say this was NOT the support I needed at the time. And while I had the Guru and my Mum and everyone around me telling me it would be okay, I had a 'professional' tell me I had failed. And that's all I could focus on.

And it's here that I think everything Miss Holly said is very important - because if I'd had the correct support, knowledge and information things may have been less distressing and more hopeful. Maybe not any different in the end, but certainly more positive. And encouraging for the next time around.

Now, Dr James - please tell me how you would have handled this situation? Would you have just hooked me up to a milking machine because YOU think it's the right thing to do?

How is it that just because someone has a certain level of education we accept their ideas for consideration?

Giselle Bundchen made the silly mistake of saying in an interview that she thought breastfeeding should be mandatory for the first 6 months of a baby's life. She got shot down in flames. Why? Becuase she's just a model - she's not got a 65 letter anagram after her name describing all the time she's spent in a laboroatory studying mice. Oh, and her main focus was actually getting her figure back so she can go back to spending time strutting on catwalks and letting her Nanny earn some money.

But this Dr James comes out of nowhere, with all her experience of mice who breastfeed (and those who don't are probably given a talking to and then hooked up to a mouse milking machine) and decides it's time to tell all the parents out there that, to make you feel even worse, to just reinforce the idea that you truly have hit rock bottom, you have to go and beg your GP for a prescription to feed your child.

If someone came and said to you "oh, I see you're doing your weekly food shop - well, just to let you know, anything that's not organic will need to be prescribed by your GP" you'd look at them like they'd lost the plot and tell them to go jump.

This is the same principle - just because it didn't come from a breast it makes it the "wrong choice". And because it's a "wrong choice" you need to have someone with letters after their name write you a nice piece of paper to tell you it's okay to be "wrong".

Well, how about this, then? Bite. Me.

The day that someone tells me what I can and can't do to help my child thrive will be the day I'm dead. And I plan to live forever.

Let's face it, this debate could go on forever - and technically it has already. There are staunch pro-breastfeeding opinions and staunch pro-forumla opinions out there and there always will be. There will always be someone out there to tell you you're right or wrong.

Personally, I am pro-choice. Whatever works for your baby and you is what's best.

I would have loved to keep breastfeeding - if I had a magic wand I would have chosen successful breastfeeding over bottles and sterilizers and formulas and heating bottles etc etc. But it wasn't meant to be and I can only hope that for our next child I will be more successful, having experienced what I have.

But Dr James needs to go back to her lab and stop opening her big mouth. Making formula more traumatic to obtain will only mean more parents avoid it, possibly to the detriment of their child, for fear of being labelled a failure. And tell me how it would feel to come up against a GP who is a staunch pro-breastfeeding person, who refuses to allow formula to be given? When you try to find a GP who will listen to your concerns and help you, will you be accused of ' GP shopping' like a drug addict looking for a clinic who will allow them to get their morphine prescription, although they don't actually need it?

I agree that it's terrible that there is competition from companies in the baby formula market, and from what happened in China we all know how it can go horribly wrong if quality and care aren't taken seriously. Really high standards for formula need to be met and regulated and scrutinised frequently to ensure quality and consistency, if they aren't already.

However, making formula a bigger taboo will NOT help the breastfeeding situation. It will only increase the stress and guilt on new parents, which isn't healthy for baby, for Mum or for the family as a unit.

Being a parent is a big enough challenge on it's own without adding this kind of  verbal diarrohea 'expert opinion' to the mix.

If a child is healthy and happy and so is the family, I honestly don't think anyone has the right to judge.


  1. Great post Kel, and well done for you on making the right choice for you and your gorgeous little woman.

    Making the tough choices for the best is what makes you a great Mama, not breastfeeding!

  2. Great post xxx

    Seen so much shit flying thanks to that woman plus a formula recall in America.

  3. i truley believe not enough preparation is given to first time pregnant mums about Breast feeding. Was the biggest shock to my system!

    Good Post xo

  4. Brilliant post. This is an issue close to my heart- support for mums trying to bf. I got there, in the end, with my son, but I was just lucky to get good help when I needed it.

    Good on you, for making the right choice for you and your baby. Don't let the mummy guilt get in the way ;)

  5. i was one of those mums that had every intention to breastfeed. but for both me and my babies, it didnt work. i would try for weeks. meetings with midwifes didnt help, so i did feed them formula, and they grew and they slept and they were SATISFIED. And there were a few paople that did make me feel guilty for choosing formula over breast. the choice to make is one that is going to keep your baby happy and healthy and not make you feel guilty.

  6. You took the words right outta my mouth! I could only breast feed for 10 days. Then I was told I should persevere but, if I didn't start feeding my baby she would starve. Hmmmm?! No choice there! No brainer - hello Miss Karicare, Mr S26 and Mrs Nan. Welcome to my world!

    PS - they never told you that breast feeding was more painful than labour!

  7. Hey, I found you through Flog Yo Blog Friday.

    I'm a breastfeeding mother and I love it, and I think that everyone should give it a try. But a try is just that, if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work.

    It s bullshit that this doctor thinks that forula should be perscription. What are you supposed to do if you need it on the weekend? Let your chld starve until Monday? Sit in the ER for hours with a starving kid? I'm thinking not.

    I'm really tired of listening to people tell others what is best and how to raise ther children. It's gettng so old.

    So good you for tryiing and trying and trying. I probably would not have survived for as long as you did. You did what was best for you and your family, and that's all you can do.


Thanks for the comment - it helps validate the fact that I'm not just talking to myself.

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