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An Open Letter to Moms Who Think Formula Is 'Poison' - Do you think formula is poison?
May 15, 2013 at 9:22 AM

An Open Letter to Moms Who Think Formula Is 'Poison'

by Jeanne Sager


baby bottleDear Breastfeeding Advocate, I've heard you loud and clear. You say formula is poison. I understand that you're just really gung-ho about breastfeeding, and you're trying to make a point. You care about babies and moms.

But please, can you just take a moment and read those words out loud?

Formula is poison.

Is that what you really mean to say?

Do you think that moms who give their babies formula are trying to kill them? That's what poison does, right?

Do you think these moms should go to jail for child abuse? That's what happens to moms who feed their kids other poisons -- rat poison, pesticides ...

Would you tell that to a mother who just adopted a baby, who has no choice but to put a bottle in the mouth of her precious little girl? Is she selfish; is she abusive for choosing bottle over breast?

What about the mom who had a double mastectomy because she had breast cancer? Her milk ducts are gone, but thanks to the the miracle of egg harvesting, she's living her dream of being a mom. Is she a child abuser? An attempted murderer?

She is, after all, knowingly feeding her child -- as you call it -- poison.

Still standing behind your hyperbole?

If you haven't guessed by now, I too fed my daughter formula.

Not at first. I had every intention of breastfeeding from the moment I became pregnant. No, before that. I was breastfed. My husband was breastfed.

I think breastfeeding is far superior to bottlefeeding.

I say that now. I say that even though my daughter was raised primarily on formula.

I think breastfeeding is the best thing that can be done for a baby.

That is why, when I couldn't do it, it tore me in two. I spent hours crying. I was paralyzed by a fear so deep that I couldn't leave my house. Literally, stepping off the porch made me hyperventilate.

There was no one to help me. There are no lactation consultants where I live. There is no La Leche League. I didn't have a mother there to help me get the proper latch.

When I turned to the Internet for help, I found a lot of angry women like you, women who were quick to judge me for allowing my husband to give our daughter a bottle of formula, women who dismissed me and coldly told me how selfish and useless I was.

This was their way of "encouraging me to breastfeed."

I gave up after two weeks of crying and paralyzing fear and sore nipples and pumping one breast that quite simply never filled with milk, no matter how hard I tried to encourage it to produce.

I gave up and gave my daughter formula.

I gave up and gave my daughter something to sate her insatiable hunger.

You say I gave her poison. I say I gave her life.

I gave her a mother who could go on anti-depressants to fight the demons in her head. I gave her something to fill her tummy and help her grow big and strong.

She is almost 8 years old now, and still I feel guilty that she wasn't breastfed. I feel guilty even though she's never had an ear infection and, up until this year when a wicked virus made its way through her elementary school, never been sick for more than a day or two. I feel guilty even though she's an active soccer player and dancer who makes good grades and stays up late reading Pippi Longstocking and Ramona Quimby. I feel guilty even though her smile brightens a room and her laughter lights up my life.

I feel guilty in my heart even though my head tells me not to.

I feel guilty because every time I make the mistake of reading about breastfeeding and formula, I'm faced with you, dear breastfeeding advocate, telling me that the very thing that helped keep my daughter alive was poison.

So tell me, are you proud of yourself?

Do you still think formula is poison?


A mom just like you


  • DanaG70
    by DanaG70
    May 15, 2013 at 9:27 AM

     No mother should feel guilty for doing what she feels right for her children.

  • kzuehlk
    by kzuehlk
    May 15, 2013 at 9:28 AM
    Those breastfeeding nazi's are insane. As long as your baby is being fed, who cares?

    I breastfed both of my babies (my youngest is 2 months and nursing,) but I struggle to make enough to keep him happy. I pump often (even invested in what was supposed to be a great pump) and take fenugreek (what seems like a massive amount a day.) It helps, but it's still not enough to fill his belly. I usually have to resort to a bottle a couple of times a day. He's fat and healthy and that's all that matters to me
  • minimo77
    May 15, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    not poison, but not ideal either.

  • RADmomma
    May 15, 2013 at 10:58 AM
    This is a great article!!

    Thank you.
  • Seagodess
    May 15, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    When DS was born there was a guy at DH's work who had a baby a couple weeks before. When he found out that I was formula feeding he would always say that it is bad for babies and breast feeding makes them stronger and smarter. DH laughed at him when 3 months later DS was crawling and he said his baby was just discovering her hands.

  • Bmat
    by Bmat
    May 15, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    I formula fed one on the advice of the doctors and bf the other. Both grew up to be healthy adults.

  • goddiddlyumshis
    May 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM
    im all about breastfeeding, far from a nazi, though. but i think formula is disgusting, all that added junk in it. ick.
  • Big_Momma_X02
    May 15, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    No and to be honest I never knew that there was such an issue about bf vs ff until I became a member here,I think the whole arguement is insane and the bashing that goes on here is silly....

    both my children were formula fed

    I don't care how anyone else feeds there kids,they are not my children

  • babyspots17
    May 15, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    I am not a fan of formula unless absolutely necessary it is not something I would feed my children.

  • Kayla-Kay2
    May 15, 2013 at 4:06 PM
    I bf I cloth diaper I eat organic food and I'm a "crunchy" mama. But that is what fits MY family. NO two families are alike end of story some people really don't know that breast milk can be obtained for infants through donation centers where the milk is tested and then provided for baby. Just like some families don't relise the chemicals in diapers or in tampons or pads or the chemicals added to the food we eat or exposed to in everyday life. To each their own as for my family we breastfeed cloth diaper live organic it fits us :) I don't judge mothers who don't follow the same values life would be so boring if we all followed the same beat to the drum :)

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