Formula Feeding Myth #3 – We’re Stupid

In a blog post entitled “Is Pushing Formula Evil?“, Dr. Darcia Narvaez makes the following statement regarding formula-feeding moms:

Too many [moms] have fallen for the hype from the pharmaceutical companies (who make formula) telling them that formula is good enough for normal babies and best for digestive problems. These are ignorant mistruths.

Even if it’s not overtly stated, this is a common accusation made of formula-feeding moms. The assumption is that we’re misinformed and somehow didn’t get the message that breast-feeding is recommended for our babies. Take a read through the comments section of any formula-feeding support post on Facebook, and you’ll see countless people spouting, “Breast is best!” and detailing the benefits of breast milk over formula.

Of all of the misconceptions regarding moms who don’t breast-feed, this one is the least true, if only for the reason that in this day it is virtually impossible to not get the “breast is best” message. From the time that we find out that we’re pregnant, the advice that we should be breast-feeding is transmitted loud and clear: on parenting websites, in pregnancy books, in our prenatal classes, from our health-care providers, and from our friends and family. Hell, it’s even written on the side of the formula containers. When I sent away for my free diaper bag from Nestlé, they sent me a barrage of pamphlets, each of them prominently displaying the message that I should be breast-feeding. And if we somehow didn’t get the information before we started formula-feeding, there’s a lineup of people to tell us now.

I think I can speak for most formula-feeding moms when I say: we get it. We’ve heard the arguments for breast-feeding. When you lecture us that breast-feeding is best, or inform us of the supposed dangers of formula, it’s insulting. It implies that the decision on how we feed our babies was made out of ignorance rather than necessity or choice. We aren’t stupid. We made an informed decision that works for us and our families, and that’s the best that we can do for our babies.

This, along with being labelled as lazy and selfish, are the three most common misconceptions that I have heard about formula-feeding moms. Are there any others that you’ve encountered?

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2 thoughts on “Formula Feeding Myth #3 – We’re Stupid

  1. Great post — thanks for another excellent installment in this series. As for myths that I’ve encountered, it’s not specifically something leveled at formula-feeding moms, but I’m really bothered by the tendency to exaggerate the risks of formula, to the point of calling it “evil” or comparing it to tobacco or AIDS or whatever other ridiculous thing. Breast may be better, but exactly how much better is something I feel needs to be discussed with a lot more honesty and clarity and perspective.

    • I couldn’t agree more. When I hear that lobbyists want to make formula available only by prescription, or to slap big warning labels on it like they do with cigarettes, I think that’s taking it too far. To include it in the category of controlled substances along with tobacco or alcohol seems ridiculous.

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