Musings of a Marfan Mom

Supporting Each Other

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On Wednesday, Similac formula company announced a recall. Beetles were found in their formula, formula that feeds thousands and thousands of babies. These bugs can irritate the babies’ stomaches and cause appetite problems.

Understandably, this made a lot of women really angry! I mean, here you have companies who make billions of dollars a year, charge an arm and a leg for formula, formula that so many families rely on to feed their children, and they’ve let dangerous beetles get into that formula. I thought about when I fed my son Similac, before I learned that all formulas are basically equal, and how I would have felt if the recall had happened then. Heck, it still makes my skin crawl even though he’s 19 months old and hasn’t had formula in awhile.

This seems like something all mothers could get behind. Big company lets bugs in their infant food. Spread the word! Support each other! Letter writing campaign!

Instead, I saw a lot of tweets that were just cruel. Women making fun of formula, women pointing out that “breastmilk has never been recalled.” I was dismayed. As someone who identifies as a lactivist, I like to think we’re all better than that.

A LOT of women use formula, for a variety of reasons. I don’t care why. Point is, there shouldn’t be any judgement. We’re all moms, we all love our kids, we’re all trying to do what is best for them. When I made the switch to formula, I felt bad about it. I knew breast is best. I loved nursing my son. But, I needed to switch medications and I didn’t see any other option than formula. Hearing comments like the ones above make me furious. What is their POINT?!

Yes, breastmilk doesn’t get recalled. It doesn’t have bugs in it. Is that supposed to enlighten formula feeding moms? Oh, I’ve been feeding my kid formula but now I’m going to go through the re-lactation process and stop because breastmilk hasn’t been recalled? As one woman said, “We [breastfeeding moms] often complain when we talk about breastfeeding and women turn it into a formula debate. Why is it ok when the issue is formula to turn it into a breastfeeding conversation?

The formula recall isn’t about breastfeeding. It’s about a formula company engaging in unclean practices that resulted in hurting babies. Instead of gloating that you were able to breastfeed for as long as you and your child wanted, here are some things you could do instead.

1) Let women know that since all formula has been shown to be basically equal, they can take their business to smaller, less pricey formula companies that might make safety a bigger priority.
2) Tweet information on how to complain to Similac. Consumers need to let the company know how angry and scared they are! Let’s facilitate that.
3) If women want an alternative to formula, let them know about milk banks and milk donation.

But PLEASE, lay off the guilt trips and holier-than-thou comments. It doesn’t help anyone and just makes YOU, and the breastfeeding advocacy movement, look bad.

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12 Comments

  1. love this post! I have to say that I was shocked an appalled when I heard that similac was being recalled for bugs… and that they didn’t detect it long before now… but as a mom who struggled with bf, I had to turn to formula for my son to get nutrients…

    I also know moms whose breast milk probably should have been recalled – those who drink alcohol or eat foods that irritate their children while bf…

    I agree – we need to express our concerns to where the problem is – unsafe and unsanitary conditions at Similac… not at the moms who need to ensure their children are fed.

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  2. I totally agree with Heather in the fact that many women dangerously breastfeed their babies by drinking alcohol or eating foods that irritate their babie’s stomachs while nursing. I personally know I over-caffinated my babies more than once….

    I was only able to nurse my son for 9 months, but had an extremely difficult time and had to switch to formula. I was blessed with being able to nurse my daughter for a year, but after my son, I clearly know not all kids or moms can do that! And I know many moms don’t want to – and that’s OK too. I feel we are very LUCKY to live in this day and age that we even have formula, which while not *as* healthy as breastmilk, it has made strides of advances and is really very healthy – healthier than most the food I eat anyway – lol. Both of my parents were formula fed and when I talk to my grandmothers about the ‘formula’ they used 50 years ago, I shudder!

    Of course we should let Similac know our frustration – they are supposed to be the ‘high quality’ and hopefully they will be there again, and we should be grateful that there is an affordable alternative when the mother can’t or doesn’t want to breastfeed!

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  3. I could not agree with this article more! Yes, shame on Similac for allowing that beetle to get in there but even MORE shame on the moms for saying those cruel tweets. I noticed a very influential blogger was saying that! I was appalled! Up until now I had really admired her values but this was a huge mistake. Talk about sounding like “I am better than you.”

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  4. I was embarrassed for so many of my fellow tweeps that were just downright cruel yesterday. Trust me…. I almost used my unfollow button.

    I am so fed up and tired of the breastfeeding vs forumla feeding crap that goes on. FED UP! I’m so tired of other moms judging each other.

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  5. Thanks for this post Maya! I think parts of the comments missed the point however. This is not about someone breastfeedin or formula feeding. It’s not about breast vs formula. It’s about a company that, because of their negligence, put babies at risk. Please let’s not point fingers at other mothers regardless of their choices. Let’s point our fingers and unite our voices against a company that claims to have the safety and best interest of our babies in mind and yet made an error so big it has the potential to make babies sick. Shame on you Similac. This is horrifying!

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  6. Thanks for this post. I wrote a similar post, but I think yours is better. I am unfollowing a few people because of this. People a previously respected. What I think is interesting about this, is that it is mostly the non-professional breastfeeding advocates who sent out such questionable tweets. Everyone could stand to learn a thing or two from Bettina (@BestforBabes) who responded to the recall notice with such concern and class.

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  7. Thank you for this! All day yesterday I kept thinking, “Sure, my breastmilk was never “recalled” but it did make my son poo blood…” (he developed a dairy allergy at 3 months of age, were able to nurse through it but still… it’s not like breastmilk is 100% perfect all the time and never has the potential to harm a child).

    Again, bravo for a wonderful post!

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  8. I purposely didn’t link to the recall on my FB page because I didn’t want the mess. And I purposely didn’t comment about it on other FB pages because I didn’t want to be getting the emails from people commenting after me. You’re very right about the whole “breastmilk has never been recalled” comment. I saw that too and got so frustrated about it. I just don’t know what to do though. Thanks for this post. Spot On.

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  9. Thank you so much for this post. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. I just recently had to make the agonizing decision to switch to formula. I was able to breastfeed for 11 months. I pumped when I returned to work but life just got so hectic and I was making myself sick. I have transitioned my son to soy formula and goats milk. I had felt so guilty to make the switch. I am very scared about what the formula is doing to him and now I have to be scared of unsafe food handling too. I never used that brand but am concered about all the major labels now. I like your suggestion for checking out smaller companies.
    Thank you again for your post.

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  10. You are so right. Most of us are just mothers who love our babies and are trying to do the best we can for them. I had twins, and yes I breastfed them, but they also had formula, and exclusively so after 9 months. As mothers and women it is important to support each other, not tear each other down. I hope someday women as a group will be able to feel good about our own choices without having to knock the choices of another.

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  11. Thank you for this amazing post. This recall brought back all the guilt I felt when I finally had to give up breastfeeding 2 months ago. The nasty Twitter posts and comments on websites just made me feel worse and also made me angry.

    Formula or breast, we are all moms trying to do the right thing. Motherhood is hard enough without the guilt trips from other moms. Instead of fighitng, we should be supporting each other.

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  12. I don’t have tons to offer except to say that this is awesome and you’re totally right. We should all support each other, not make the other party feel guilty or even ashamed about their feeding choices. I’m sickened for those babies who ingested those beetles. The last thing formula-feeding parents want to hear is another comment about breastmilk being superior. It’s time to stop fighting and start supporting!
    Awesome post, Maya.

    Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

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