Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tova's got a beef with Enfamil

(Do people still say "got a beef"?) (Let me preface this by saying that I am aware that some women HAVE to give their babies formula. My mom breastfed my siblings and I as long as she could, but when she went back to work, her milk dried up even though she pumped, and she had to give us formula. I totally get that for some women, formula is a necessity. However, I think that for some* women, formula is something that they use because they are under-educated about breastfeeding  - either about how much better it is for babies or about how it works. One of my family members said repeatedly that she was unable to breastfeed her son because she "never made enough milk." Recently, I had a conversation with her and realized that she thought she wasn't making enough because her milk didn't come in the FIRST day at the hospital [milk doesn't normally come in until days 3-5], so she started giving her baby formula on day two.)

Anyway, this is something that I've ranted about to various friends and family members but have never actually put into writing. I really dislike the company that makes Enfamil. I think they are shady and take advantage of women when they are in a very vulnerable state. There. I said it. 

Here's part of my reasoning. I was 100% bound and determined that, no matter what, I was going to breastfeed Baby D. Breast milk is much better for babies than formula. For a list of just some of the reasons it's better, click here. One of the many things listed there is the following statement: "Children who are exclusively breast-fed during the first three months of their lives are 34 percent less likely to develop juvenile, insulin-dependent diabetes than children who are fed formula." My husband has type 1 (juvenile) diabetes. He was not breastfed. Do I know for sure that's why he has it? No, of course not. But statistically speaking, children who aren't breastfed run a greater risk of developing it. That fact alone would've convinced me to breastfeed come hell or high water, but there are also many, many more reasons to breastfeed.

So, I was absolutely going to breastfeed. I told my obstetrician. I told all of the nurses in the hospital. I made sure that everyone knew absolutely, 100% that under no circumstances was my baby to be given formula. I had a c-section, so I was in the hospital for four days, and my milk came in during that time. Breastfeeding was going well. When we were ready to leave the hospital, a nurse came in with a gift bag from Enfamil (and to be fair, she said they also had similar gift bags available from Similac.) On the outside of the bag, it said something along the lines of "Congratulations! Here's our gift for breastfeeding moms!" 

"Oh, how sweet!" I naively thought. "Maybe it's lanolin or gel pads for my very sore nipples! Maybe it's nursing pads! Maybe it's vitamin D drops for my baby!" It was none of those things. Inside was a can of formula and two pre-mixed bottles of baby formula with a nipple that screwed right on. (The only things even remotely helpful for a breastfeeding mom were a bottle holder and two small containers to store breast milk in. Since lactation consultants do not recommend giving breastfed babies a bottle for 4-6 weeks to avoid nipple confusion, neither of those things would be helpful for at least a month.) Basically, what Enfamil is banking on is that you will be exhausted; your baby will be nursing ALL the time (totally normal at the beginning); you will be sleep-deprived, hormonal, and very emotional; it will be 3am, and your husband or mom or friend will say, "Is there anything I can do to help??" And you'll have those handy pre-mixed bottles. You won't even have to mix anything! Just screw on the nipple, and someone else can feed your baby while you sleep. And that is shady. Because they KNOW that breastfeeding is better for your baby. It says so right on all of their formula containers! But you doing what is best for your child doesn't make them any money, and so they try to make it really easy for you NOT to do what is best for your child so that they can make money even if it means your child might be less healthy.

I was never even slightly tempted to use those bottles. I was, however, often tempted to hurl them against the wall. I was exhausted and overwhelmed, and it made me really angry that Enfamil would try to take advantage of that. I ended up donating them to a local food bank instead of throwing them, but Enfamil still makes me mad. 

And that is why Tova has a beef with Enfamil. (And Similac, but theirs didn't happen to be the bottles I wanted to take my anger out on.)

*originally, I had the word "MORE" here in place of "some." I removed it because I don't actually know if it is more, and I realize that could be offensive to women who can't breastfeed. Where I currently live, there is a pretty low percentage of women who breastfeed, and it seems to correlate with a lack of education. However, I realize that may not be the same everywhere.


Jen said...

Thanks so much for the millionth guilt trip that those of us who could NOT breast feed feel. And, yes, my reason was extremely low milk supply. As in almost nothing, even after multiple sessions with a lactation consultant, herbal supplements and mothers milk tea for weeks. My first daughter wanted to nurse and latched and sucked very well. I pumped my boobs off and never got more than an ounce at one time. I cried and cried and CRIED for the first month of her life...all because I knew I'd be judged as a bad mother for giving her formula from a bottle. But guess what? She's a beautiful, HEALTHY, brilliant child who will be 4 in August.

And for my second daughter. Guess what? Low supply again. Did all the same tricks again. Nothing. Except this time I didn't let all the breast feeding "advocates" get to me. I gladly gave my daughter a bottle of Similac formula, because I wasn't able to produce enough breast milk. Does that make me a bad mother??

Yes, I truly wanted (with all my heart) to breast feed and I couldn't! Why do all the "advocates" have to be so judgmental and hurtful with their "help"???

Now then, I'm sorrry to come off so strongly, but this is a hurtful subject for many mothers who feel this guilt. Please don't be so judgmental. Think, also, of all the adoptive mothers who never had the opportunity either. Are they less of a mother? Did they care any less? Are their children any less intelligent or healthy?

Tova Darling said...

I am absolutely, positively not judgmental of mothers who cannot breastfeed, and I'm so sorry if it came across that way!

As I mentioned in my disclaimer, my mom was unable to breastfeed me and my siblings for very long (I think about six weeks). My husband is the smartest man I know, and he wasn't breastfed at all, so I definitely don't think formula fed babies are less intelligent. I know women who had a low milk supply, and I know that it was very frustrating for them. I also know women who weren't educated about breastfeeding and thought they couldn't breastfeed when in reality, they may have been able to. The phrase "never made enough milk" being in quotes was not intended as sarcasm - it was an actual quote. In her case, it may not have been true, she simply didn't know enough about breastfeeding, but I do know that it is true for other women. Upon re-reading part of my disclaimer, I realize that it sounds like I think the majority of women who didn't breastfeed didn't because of ignorance, and that was unfair. I sincerely apologize for that, and I'm really, really sorry if I upset you.

The point I was attempting to make here (perhaps poorly), was that I don't think it's particularly ethical for Enfamil to specifically market to women who are breastfeeding by giving them free samples of formula in the hopes that it will be used because a mom is simply overwhelmed or exhausted rather than because it is actually necessary. Women who use it because they are tired and need more sleep may find that an otherwise healthy supply is diminished (or is never established) because their body doesn't get the message that they need to produce more milk, and I think Enfamil is banking on that. Obviously, that was not the case in your situation.

Jen said...

Thank you for the clarification and apology, I really do appreciate that. I'll go on to say that, while I'm sure it sounds selfish or lazy, I felt a sense of relief when I stopped trying so hard. I could relax and ENJOY being a mom. I felt like a better mom when I wasn't breastfeeding. I was more confident, even with the underlying guilt.

Now that both of my girls are past that stage, I feel the guilt about not staying at home with them. I have a coworker who is taking a sabbatical next year and so many people commented that she is "making the best decision for her child". So am I NOT making a good choice for my kids because I work? I'm sure we might be able to "survive" if I didn't, and completely have to restructure our finances and living arrangements, but would that make me the best mom. Both receive the BEST child care in our city! I truly feel like I'm the best mom I can be BECAUSE I don't stay home. I'm sure I would get blasted by many for saying that, huh? ;)

Sorry for hijacking your comments here. Guess we mommies can get opinionated and emotional sometimes! It always catches me by surprise! :)

Tova Darling said...

Jen - Oh man, I have been a mom for a whopping four months, and I already feel like I will be spending the rest of my life asking myself "Am I doing what's best for my child??" When Dr. D and I were trying to decide whether or not to get Baby D's tongue-tie clipped, I said to Dr. D's coworker (whose children are teens), "I didn't know I'd have to make hard decisions this early!" He just laughed at me and said, "I hate to break it to you, but this isn't even a hard decision."

It definitely doesn't sound selfish or lazy for you to have been relieved when you stopped trying so hard to make breastfeeding work. You tried really hard, and that had to have been very stressful. It makes sense that it would be a relief to let that go.

Random story that I think I shared on my blog before - when I was little, I was getting stomach aches every day, so my mom took me to the pediatrician. The ped made a huge point of asking me (in front of my mom) if the reason my stomach hurt was because my mommy "left me" to go to work. My mom about died of guilt. It turned out that I was lactose intolerant.

{ Nina Designs } said...

I totally agree with you. I still breastfeed my baby, and she's already 1 year old. Of course she eats other things too, but breastfeeding is still her best food. In spain I also hear a lot of things, most of all out of ignorance, but I'm 100% sure of what I'm doing. It's the best experience I can possibly have with my child and I'm sorry other people are missing on that for not being open-minded.

Auntie Em said...

My turn to chime in. I <3 your post. I do believe that MANY not all, moms that use formula are doing so because they really honestly don't have a clue HOW to breastfeed. Also I think those that do, lack the support. It takes support to do it!

My son was born with a rare birth defect known as Pierre Robin that prevented me from breastfeeding I honestly tried for a FULL YEAR- in which time I pumped for a FULL year, he didnt ever have formula, I have done all the herbal things to help with production, its HARD to breastfeed, its hard to pump for 12 months without getting that warm fuzzy bonding feeling but its what's best for the baby, if you can do it. I know I had to FIGHT to keep my supply up.

I wish women were given the right information about breastfeeding, its going to hurt! Its going to be hard,(sometimes) but its soooo much better for the baby, and its SOOOO much cheaper ;)

That said, its a personal choice but seriously, I completely agree with what you said about making formula an easy way out, so to speak.

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