Recently, I got into a discussion with some women who, like many women in this country, believe that when it comes to feeding a child, breast and bottle are equal. "Either is fine."

You know, I try to maintain some semblance of composure.

Really I do.

But really? Do intelligent, thinking women REALLY believe that? Or do they just say it to appease those that chose not to breastfeed? I really can't figure it out.

I can't comprehend how we can know the facts -- the unequivocal, scientific facts -- and yet still have this discussion.

The science has been done, ladies. The information is there.

And yet so many choose to ignore it. I know why. I blogged about it here.

I have so many precious patients and friends who honestly went way beyond what I could have done to make sure their children were breastfed. I know women who would have given their right arm to nurse, but for reasons such as glandular insufficiency or mammary hypoplasia just could not bring in a full milk supply. It is a slap in the face to these women to hear "either is fine."

I love to tell the story of the formula rep that came to me after delivering her first baby for help breastfeeding. She confided to me that there was "no way in hell" she was giving her child a drop of formula. (She went on to breastfeed for 2 years. And the child never got a drop of formula. And she quit her job, saying that she was ashamed of herself for having told the lie for years to women that, you guessed it, "either is fine".)

Imagine being able to feed your child organically grown fruits and vegetables year round. Imagine having access to free range eggs and grass fed beef. Imagine having your freezer filled with those healthy, delicious offerings. And imagine saying "no, Johnny, you can't have that. You get McDonald's for every meal."

That is precisely what you are doing when you make the choice to feed artificial, pharmaceutical formula.

That is not ok. It is not fine. It is in no way comparable to breastmilk.

The worst part, however, is the sexualization that these not
thinking women place on a woman's body, specifically her breasts. A relative of mine wrote:

I don't know when I was little these things were innocent and we were given bottles to feed the babies. Not every parent wants their kids to have that innocence taken away. I know that with my kids I would like them to not have to worry about that and asking me those questions at such a young age. Plus I have boys! I'm personally not for it but I also dont try to tell the little girls here that they have boobs when they are little & they dont. Let them enjoy this time... they get to deal with all that grown up stuff later on. I miss the innocence to things.


It made me want to literally sob to hear her (as do so many women) equating seeing a woman breastfeed to losing ones innocence. Really?

My children breastfed forever for 2 and 3 years each. They know what a woman's breasts are for. They aren't "boobs" or "titties" or whatever vulgarity you want to use. They are breasts and they make milk. That is what they were designed by God, the perfect Creator, to do.

My children have seen me breastfeed. They have seen other women breastfeed. They know it is the natural, normal way children are fed.

For my kids (and many others), bottles and formula are the freakish thing. They cannot comprehend why a woman would mix a powder with water and feed it to her kid.

The infant formula industry is an $8 billion per year business. Across the globe, huge advertising budgets are spent to convince women that it is better and more convenient to bottle-feed their babies.

Formula contains dioxins, PCBs and organochlorine pesticides. Water is often contaminated (yes, even in the US) by parasites and bacteria. Chlorine, weed killers, insecticides, solvents, lead and arsenic are common contaminants in public water supplies.

But you use bottled water, you say?

Bottled water may also contain contaminants.

Formula itself may have contaminants introduced in the manufacturing process. In the past, recalls have been ordered because of contamination with substances such as broken glass, fragments of metal and salmonella and other bacteria. The fungal toxin aflatoxin has also been detected in some commercial formulas. This toxin is known to cause cancer. Infant formulas also may contain excessive levels of metals, including aluminum, manganese, cadmium and lead. Soy formulas are a particular concern due to very high levels of plant-derived estrogens (phytoestrogens) in soy products. In fact, the concentrations of phytoestrogens detected in the blood of infants fed soy formula were 13,000 to 22,000 times greater than the concentrations of natural estrogens.

Some formula companies have been affiliated with pesticide or chemical companies that make hazardous chemicals. Others make products out of polyvinyl chloride plastic.

Formula is the product of a large and unnecessary industrial process, all of which adds to pollution in a variety of ways large and small. The list includes production plants that pollute, trucks that burn polluting diesel fuel, the use of harmful pesticides and genetically modified organisms to grow soy and cattle fodder, packaging that contributes to deforestation and pollution and more -- all in service of a product that is both nutritionally and developmentally inferior for infants.

So back to that familiar statement that "either is fine" --- your call. What do you think?

(Breastfeeding Exhibit A: 3 kids who were all exclusively breastfed well into their toddler years. Never been sick (except for a few colds and a flu once) and none of them have ever been on an antibiotic. All have above average IQ's and are classified as "gifted"):

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