The politics of formula
Carla Sapsford Newman examines why so many mums are conflicted about making the switch from breast milk to formula
Politics and formula don’t normally go together, but in the case of new mums sorting out how to best feed their infant they definitely do. So what do we mean by ‘politics’? These infant nutritional ‘hunger games’ often put young mums who make nonmainstream choices in the crosshairs, leaving many feeling defensive and incompetent in their new roles. In many ways, young mums feel damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
The feeding of an infant has gotten political. Thirty or 40 years ago, a mum was praised for giving her baby ‘superior’ nutrition in a formula. Now, she is often judged at best and criticised at worst for choosing formula over breastfeeding.
Here, we go through the reasons mums might feel forced to start off with formula, or switch to formula, before the six-month mark. We speak to the ever-practical Jennifer Hor, a lactation educator and nurse-midwife of Jenlia Maternal Services. And we’ll let you decide.
The important thing to remember, maintains Hor, is that breastfeeding is a choice. It’s a mother’s right to choose. ‘Mothers who choose to not breastfeed their babies shouldn’t feel guilty about it and others shouldn’t judge them. They can choose to feed their baby however they want.’ So with that in mind, let’s look at the options.