In the weeks after my first baby was born, he was struggling to gain weight. I was trying to exclusively breastfeed him, but it was not going as planned. My pediatrician recommended I supplement with formula, and he presented me with some free samples. These samples made it really easy to give to my little guy, since they came in ready-to-feed bottles.
I remember thinking–wow! These formula companies are so generous. Not only am I getting free samples, but I don’t even need to do anything like prepare a bottle! It seemed totally harmless. Now I know better, and I’m going to share some information with you that I wish I had known.
One quick note: this is not at all an anti-formula message. My own son was partially formula fed, and judgement has no place at Mighty Milk, nor should it anywhere else. Making sure your baby is fed is absolutely important, no matter how you feed them. But we can affirm the important role of formula while also questioning sketchy marketing tactics employed by some of the biggest formula companies. Why is this important?
Six out of ten mothers give up on breastfeeding before they’d wanted to. The formula industry bares responsibility for this statistic.
Here’s the problem. If you want to breastfeed your baby for any period of time, and especially if you want to exclusively breastfeed your baby, you should know that these samples are designed to interfere with breastfeeding.
The formula company isn’t giving this to you out of the goodness of their hearts — formula is a multi-billion dollar, highly profitable industry. The fact those tiny samples make it so easy for you to give to your baby that you don’t even need to buy a bottle or nipple? This effortless process is well planned and entirely by design.
When you feed your baby one of these samples, two things can happen. One of them is that it means you aren’t removing milk from your breasts (unless you are pumping at the same time). Skipping even a few nursing sessions will have a detrimental effect on your supply. Another thing that can happen is that your baby can come to prefer bottles over the breast. This happened to me, and I can tell you from experience, it was not fun.
Once either or both of these things happen, the formula companies have succeeded in gaining a new customer: you. And notice how easy they make it for you to make the switch.
The reality is, it’s so hard to succeed with breastfeeding in our culture that making it through even a few days, or a few months, is a big achievement. Because formula is the predominant way babies have been fed in the US for much of our history, we’ve entirely lost generational knowledge of how breastfeeding is designed to work. A century’s worth of aggressive formula marketing tactics have left their mark, and it continues today.
If you care about breastfeeding for any reason–whether it’s because you are aware of the many health benefits, or just because it feels like it matters to you–making even a small time investment in prenatal education can leave you feeling much more prepared and more confident by the time your baby arrives. And we’ve made it extra easy for you to get there. And all you have to do to get started is grab some snacks and a cup of tea, get comfy on your couch, and watch Mighty Milk’s Breastfeeding for Expectant Parents class.
Led by Lex Beach, an amazing International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), you’ll learn:
- How often to feed your baby throughout the day and night
- How to maximize your milk supply
- How to tell if your baby is hungry
- How to position your baby for a pain-free latch
- How to tell if your baby is swallowing
- How to tell if breastfeeding is going well, and when to get help
- What you should be aware of with swaddles, the pump, and pacifiers
- And so much more
Want to feel even more prepared? Getting the Breastfeeding Your Baby (0-12 Weeks class) is an excellent way to support our small woman owned biz while also boosting your breastfeeding confidence in a big way. This class covers lots of topics not included in the Expectant Parents class:
- Getting started with pumping and bottle feeding
- Establishing realistic expectations for your breastfed baby (this alone is worth the entire class)
- What you should know about latch, gassy babies, self-soothing and other common questions
- How to make life easier with a breastfed baby
- Nutrition, coffee, alcohol, medication
- Products that are, and are not, recommended
- So much more
Plus, Lex teaches you what to do if you are struggling with low milk supply, nipple pain, and other common challenges. Formula can be supportive of breastfeeding in some instances. She also shows you how to supplement with breast milk or formula in a way that helps protect your at-the-breast relationship. The class is FSA/HSA eligible and backed by a 30 day guarantee. Here’s that link again.