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Common Sense and Sensibility

“At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed. It is not likely that I should now see or hear anything to change them.”–Marianne, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

This post is liable to make me some enemies in the breastfeeding community.  I’m kind of okay with that because I know what I believe and how I feel and I’m secure enough in those beliefs and feelings to handle the backlash.

Yesterday, a Twitter friend wrote an article about the Similac recall bringing out the Sancti-mommies (and, despite the fact that I am probably guilty of being a sancti-mommy, I find that term hilarious–and accurate–and plan on adopting it into my vocabulary.)  And then she received some backlash on Top Mommy Blogs and felt the need to write a follow-up about how she, herself, is a breastfeeding mom.

She shouldn’t have had to write that follow-up, y’all.

Those of you who’ve been around here know that I breastfed Joshua and I gave up dairy to do it.  I also supplemented with formula because I didn’t produce enough milk, or fatty enough milk, to keep him satisfied since I was off dairy.

I get a little judge-y sometimes when I feel like there’s more support for formula moms than breastfed moms.  I had some serious internal battles about deciding to stop pumping.  I felt like it was all I talked about for months.

I firmly believe that every mother who gives birth to her child should attempt to breastfeed.  And I will do everything in my power to support mothers in their attempts to breastfeed.  I will cheer them on when they need cheering and cry with them when they spill their milk (because spilling breastmilk is most certainly something to cry over.) I will answer the phone when they call and have questions.  I will research supplements and point them to the most helpful resources I know if I am not able to help.

Breastmilk is the ultimate health food.  It is biologically designed to give babies what they need when they need it.  Formula cannot adjust to the changing needs of a growing child. We all know that breastmilk is best for human babies. Because, well, it comes from humans.

(What animals in the animal kingdom do you know of that go to another animal for milk for their young?  None. Because they don’t. But we do. Weird, right?)

And let’s not forget to mention that it’s practically free.  Or totally free if you’re able to avoid all bottles and never need a pump.  (Free is good, right? We’re all in agreement there? Cool.)

Yes, “breast is best.”

But y’all, it’s time to sit this one out. 

The Similac recall is incredibly unfortunate.

(What’s most unfortunate is what the FDA deems “acceptable levels” of things like bug parts and…other stuff…in our food production facilities across this country.  A far cry from the days of Sinclair’s The Jungle, but still disgusting if you stop to think about it. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue.)

But, let’s think about those affected by this recall.

Let’s think for a minute about parents who adopt because having biological children poses serious health risks for the mother.

Let’s think for a minute about mothers who need to take medications in order to be able to care for their children.

(The mother I just linked, a good friend of mine, also gave birth to her daughter at 31 weeks gestation.  Her daughter needed milk fortifier to add calories so that she could leave the NICU (after 40 days!) weighing a teeny 4 pounds! Two reasons they needed formula in that family!)

Let’s think about fathers who are widowed and left to care for their children after their wives die in childbirth or shortly after.

Let’s think about the mothers of multiples whose husbands are deployed, fighting for our country, while the babies are infants.

Let’s think about the mothers who have had breast reduction surgery and for whom breastfeeding will be an incredibly difficult task, if it even works at all, that may require them to have more surgery in the future.

And I’m pretty sure we can all agree that we’d rather Teen Moms feed their children formula than abandon them in dumpsters. (That baby was found alive, thank God. Many are not.)

It is awful that the World Health Organization’s International Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes isn’t followed to the letter in this country (and others, I’m sure).

It’s awful that at most pediatric offices there are shelves of formula samples available, and sometimes in plain sight, and that they are freely handed out to parents.

It’s awful that formula companies stock the pantries of expectant mothers with samples that can and will threaten the new mother’s nursing relationship with her infant when the child is crying and she is crying and neither are sleeping and a parent or significant other who never breastfed says “Just give him/her a bottle. One won’t hurt.” and that one leads to nipple confusion and feeding strike and feelings of inadequacy in the new mother.

I cannot stand the fact that breastfeeding is such a taboo topic in this country and that breasts are so sexualized that we’re shocked and horrified to see mothers nursing in public. 

I cannot stand that information is not made readily available and mailed to the homes of expectant mothers about breastfeeding the same way formula is. That they have to search for it if they want it.

Those are travesties.  Truly.

But so is the outcry of mothers who, right now, instead of going “OMG. This is awful!  What can we do to help!?” are clutching their pearls and saying “Thank GOD I breastfeed.”

Yes, even that seemingly innocuous statement is inconceivably inappropriate to me right now.  It’s exactly the kind of thing that mothers flamed other mothers for saying after the Tylenol recall earlier this year–“Thank GOD we use Target brand!”

Really?  Good for you. 

And I don’t even think I have to get started on the women who say “Breastmilk is NEVER recalled” and “there aren’t bugs in my boobs!”

In case the above statements aren’t glaringly obvious and completely unnecessary, allow me to point it out for y’all.


So, as Mrs. Dashwood (in the movie, not the novel) says, and which I find appropriate for this moment,

“If you cannot think of anything appropriate to say you will please restrict your remarks to the weather.”

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