Confessions of a Lactivist – Part 2: In which I explain the no formula recommendations policy

To fully understand this post, you’ll probably be better off reading this one first.

So, why don’t we allow formula recommendations on our Facebook group? Let’s lay some of these assumptions and issues to rest.

“Why are you anti-formula?”

We aren’t anti-formula. We are a breastfeeding support organization. Let us do what we do best – help moms with breastfeeding. I have no idea what formula is best for your baby because I don’t know your baby and I’m not his/her doctor and I have not done extensive research on formula. Neither have any of the other admins or moderators. Go to your health care professional to talk about your formula decisions – they are way better equipped to help you through that choice.

“I’m just looking for the advice from other moms who have been through this.”

I totally get that, but can you imagine a new mom going to a breastfeeding support group and hearing a bunch of moms discussing the intricacies of formula selection? Moderating nightmare, let me tell you. Join any other mom group on the internet and you will find that discussion. We also don’t host questions about cloth diapers, vaccinations, circumcision or baby toy mega sales. (I’d like to point out that no one has ever accused me of being anti- baby toy mega sales.)

“What right do you have to control what people say? This is a free country!”

We are a breastfeeding support organization. You wouldn’t join a vegetarian group and ask for advice on the best all-beef hamburger recipe, right? Without being too snarky (though I’m sure it sounds that way), it’s our group and we get to design the focus of the group. There are MANY other places for moms to find information on other topics.

“You’re making formula-feeding moms feel guilty.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down. Last time I checked, I can’t *make* anyone feel anything. Yeah, if I said, “You’re a terrible mother for not buying toys from that mega sale,” that’s a super mean thing to say, but you would just tell me to eff off and go along with your business. Lucky for us, we at Breastfeed Chicago would never call anyone a terrible mother for doing or not doing anything, but for some reason, folks like to conflate things. Supporting something is not the same as degrading something else. We don’t degrade anyone. We never have. The feelings you feel are yours. Own them, and if they are not helpful to you, let them go.

“I don’t understand what the big deal is.”

The big deal is that we know that breastfeeding is the biological norm for us and our children, and we want to encourage moms to do it, to the extent of their ability, situation and interest in doing so. Moms already get negative reactions to breastfeeding from all sorts of places. Formula companies already have insiduous and predatory marketing practices, making hospitals and doctors complicit in their “booby traps.” And the internet is chock full of bad information and advice. We like to think of ourselves as an oasis of positive breastfeeding support for moms, and we’re going to fight to maintain that status.

“But some moms can’t breastfeed.”

That is true. And thank goodness we have milk banks or milk sharing or formula for those moms. Once again, we can’t possibly be all things to all people.

Mamas, let me make this perfectly clear: I support you. I, too, have been in the deepest, darkest holes of motherhood, not sure my life would ever return to normal. Breastfeed Chicago is our way of extending our experience and empathy to you. If we help you, great. If our help is not helpful, we hope that you find a source that is better suited to your needs.

Either way, rock your mama self and give that baby of yours a big smootch for us.kiss

Katrina Pavlik is the founder and board chair of Breastfeed Chicago. She is a mom of two – one received breastmilk through a bottle for a year; one breastfed (and refused a bottle!!!) for nearly 3 years. Both are perfect and imperfect and absolutely amazing in every way. 

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