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Formula is poison?

Posted by on May. 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM
  • 21 Replies
3 moms liked this

An Open Letter to Moms Who Think Formula Is 'Poison'

by Jeanne Sager

baby bottleDear Breastfeeding Advocate, I've heard you loud and clear. You say formula is poison. I understand that you're just really gung-ho about breastfeeding, and you're trying to make a point. You care about babies and moms.

But please, can you just take a moment and read those words out loud?

Formula is poison.

Is that what you really mean to say?

Do you think that moms who give their babies formula are trying to kill them? That's what poison does, right?

Do you think these moms should go to jail for child abuse? That's what happens to moms who feed their kids other poisons -- rat poison, pesticides ...

More from The Stir: Breastfeeding Moms Could Need Formula More Than They Know

Would you tell that to a mother who just adopted a baby, who has no choice but to put a bottle in the mouth of her precious little girl? Is she selfish; is she abusive for choosing bottle over breast?

What about the mom who had a double mastectomy because she had breast cancer? Her milk ducts are gone, but thanks to the the miracle of egg harvesting, she's living her dream of being a mom. Is she a child abuser? An attempted murderer?

She is, after all, knowingly feeding her child -- as you call it -- poison.

Still standing behind your hyperbole?

If you haven't guessed by now, I too fed my daughter formula.

Not at first. I had every intention of breastfeeding from the moment I became pregnant. No, before that. I was breastfed. My husband was breastfed.

I think breastfeeding is far superior to bottlefeeding.

I say that now. I say that even though my daughter was raised primarily on formula.

I think breastfeeding is the best thing that can be done for a baby.

That is why, when I couldn't do it, it tore me in two. I spent hours crying. I was paralyzed by a fear so deep that I couldn't leave my house. Literally, stepping off the porch made me hyperventilate.

There was no one to help me. There are no lactation consultants where I live. There is no La Leche League. I didn't have a mother there to help me get the proper latch.

When I turned to the Internet for help, I found a lot of angry women like you, women who were quick to judge me for allowing my husband to give our daughter a bottle of formula, women who dismissed me and coldly told me how selfish and useless I was.

This was their way of "encouraging me to breastfeed."

I gave up after two weeks of crying and paralyzing fear and sore nipples and pumping one breast that quite simply never filled with milk, no matter how hard I tried to encourage it to produce.

I gave up and gave my daughter formula.

I gave up and gave my daughter something to sate her insatiable hunger.

You say I gave her poison. I say I gave her life.

I gave her a mother who could go on anti-depressants to fight the demons in her head. I gave her something to fill her tummy and help her grow big and strong.

She is almost 8 years old now, and still I feel guilty that she wasn't breastfed. I feel guilty even though she's never had an ear infection and, up until this year when a wicked virus made its way through her elementary school, never been sick for more than a day or two. I feel guilty even though she's an active soccer player and dancer who makes good grades and stays up late reading Pippi Longstocking and Ramona Quimby. I feel guilty even though her smile brightens a room and her laughter lights up my life.

I feel guilty in my heart even though my head tells me not to.

I feel guilty because every time I make the mistake of reading about breastfeeding and formula, I'm faced with you, dear breastfeeding advocate, telling me that the very thing that helped keep my daughter alive was poison. 

So tell me, are you proud of yourself?

Do you still think formula is poison?


A mom just like you

by on May. 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by on May. 16, 2013 at 10:17 AM
This is kind of silly. I breastfed my dd for a year and will hopefully bf my future children until 2ish, but I truely sincerly from the bottom of my heart do not give a shit what other moms feed their kids.
by on May. 16, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Breastfeeding was the worst experience for me. Not just sore, but severe sharp pain in my whole chest and back as my baby nursed. I had gall stones and my gall bladder removed and the pain with gall stones didn't compare with the pain of breastfeeding. And the kicker, because I felt so guilty about it I've had to go on anti-depressants.So.. though your post is a little extreme, I am there with you.

by on May. 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM
Formula isn't poison.

It's an (albeit inferior) alternative for those who cannot or do not want to breast feed.
by on May. 16, 2013 at 11:34 AM
1 mom liked this

Ive never met anyone in real life who has said this to me, just on cafemom and mommy related forums. . . blah.

by on May. 16, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Formula isn't poison. I also attempted to breastfeed and will still try again with any future babies even though I failed at it this time. I only lasted 4 days, which I'm sure people think is ridiculous. By the end of those 4 days both of my nipples were scabbed over and bleeding and I cried everytime I had to bf her because it hurt so bad. Because my milk didn't come in fast enough and my child was hungry. So I gave her formula, because I couldn't give her milk. I cried for months over this, it took me a long time to get over it. Dd is 9 months and I still get upset about it. So I know exactly where this post is coming from.

by on May. 16, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Surprisingly where I am from the women that advocate bf are way too extreme. I went to a bfing class(mandatory by WIC in order for them not to discontinue with help) just "in case" I changed my mind. Worst experience ever. I was barated by the bfing consultant in front of 30 soon to be moms that were going to be bfing. 20 minutes in I was bawling and walked out. Even though I had a horrible experience with bfing advocates I don't think 'ALL' of them are extreme. I have respect for the women who are for it but don't demean or belittle women who can't or choose not to bf. I formula fed and my son is happy and healthy. Just as a child who was bf. IMHO, there is no right or wrong way to feed a child. As long as they are being fed,growing, happy, and healthy who cares? I don't.
by on May. 16, 2013 at 12:50 PM

CM is the only place I've ever really heard moms say horrible things about moms who formula can be pretty crappy.  I don't see the big deal and saying horrible things is not a way of encouragement!

by on May. 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM
I personally don't care if u bfed or ff as long as the child is being cared for.
My first born I bfed not a drop of formula, lots of issues we went through. I was determined & had success.

6 yrs later our 2nd one was born. Hes a CHD baby, with ptt,tt and lots if medical issues. I'm bfing him but he gets 5oz of formula a day for weight reasons.

I'm not thrilled about it but that is why formula is there. It will never come close o as healthy bm is but its an healthier alternative then what was used in the 50,60,70,80s.
I will never feel guilty for putting my son first.
by on May. 16, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Formula isn't poison. It's just not the best thing to feed your growing baby. Your breast milk is.

Why wouldn't you want to give your growing child the best?

by Bronze Member on May. 16, 2013 at 3:02 PM
Formula certainly isn't healthy by any means. It also can easily be contaminated during manufacturing. There's also healthier alternatives for those who can't breastfeed such as donor milk. Before formula women used wet nurses and now safe donor milk is widely available. People just need to get over the stigma.
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