Breastfeeding, Formula and Freedom Of Choice

So I work in a pharmacy and one of the rules there is that we cannot promote baby formula, it’s actually the law. We’re not allowed to discount it either or put it on special offer. The law states:

(1) No person shall at any place where any infant formula is sold by retail—
(a) advertise any infant formula;
(b) make any special display of an infant formula designed to promote
(d) promote the sale of an infant formula by means of premiums, special sales, loss-leaders or tie-in sales; or
(e) undertake any other promotional activity to induce the sale of an infant formula.

Which is fine, most of the time. I don’t promote it, most I give out information, nothing you can’t find out by reading the tin or looking online. Again, fine.

I do think it does make it hard for some women to ask for advice though, if they know we’re not allowed to promote it do they think we’re not allowed to give out advice either? I do wonder. Because people should be able to ask whatever they like, and we should be able to help people regardless of their choices.

Because it is their choice.

Once, while I was working in the shop (I’m mostly in the dispensary now), a young woman came up to me – around four months pregnant, nice little bump going on, very pleasant – and asked me about the baby formula because she didn’t know a single thing about it. The question came with a qualifier – “I’m not breast feeding for family reasons,” and said so quickly and sharply that I wasn’t offended but I did feel sorry for her.

She’s obviously already had a lot of grief about her decision not to breastfeed and she was barely half way through her pregnancy.

So I just told her what I knew, what she needed to know, and let her get on with it. I saw her again a few months later, close to the due date buying all the things she needed including the milk for her baby and I was happy to see her sticking to her guns.

Cause that’s the thing – it’s her choice.

Breast is not best. What’s best for your baby is whatever it will take, whatever it likes, whatever if needs, whatever you want to feed it.

We plan to breast feed, we hope of breast feed. Hopefully there won’t be any problems, but if the baby doesn’t take to it, or there is some other complication then we’ll give them formula. As long as they’re getting fed, getting what they need, then that’s all that matters and that is my choice.

If you’ve chosen to skip trying to breastfeed altogether then that’s fine too. That’s your choice and that’s fine as long as they’re getting what they need.

People who judge you for choosing one or the other are definitely not concentrating on the right things – like their own baby. Anyone who is concentrating that much on your choices, your baby should be pitied, their children should be pitied. Their own parents are so wrapped up on stupid things like this that they can’t even see what’s important. That’s what makes me the angriest.

Please don’t let anyone make you feel bad for whatever choice you’ve made for your child. And, well, if you have any trouble, send them my way. I do not suffer fools nor bullies gladly.

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14 Comments

  1. It definitely is a choice & most people where I live choose formula. I think the idea behind limiting what can be advertised & promoted is to help people make that choice without feeling that formula is the better way to go as traditionally it has been thought to be healthier for baby. It’s tough for both sides of the breastfeeding camp. It’d be nice if we could all just support each other & honour each other’s choices! #momsterlink
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  2. Great post. I absolutely agree. I work as an RN in a neonatal unit and am consistently seeing the pressures Mums put on themselves to try to follow the ‘breast is best’ slogan our hospital has adopted. While I am pro breastfeeding to a certain extent, having breast fed four babies, I do think it is so unfair that so many Mums are judged and often made to feel less of a mother for choosing formula. In the end if their baby is fed, cuddled cared for and loved then that’s all that matters.

    1. My sister got really mixed messages about breast-feeding, some people even told she couldn’t any more (she had a breast reduction). Her kids are healthy, so formula didn’t do any hard and it as her choice.

  3. Wow, can’t believe a pharmacy is treating formula like contraband. That is how we sell cigarettes here in Canada,(though not in pharmacies) hidden behind plastic displays behind a counter. You are absolutely right – feeding the baby is best, no matter how that happens.

    1. It’s the law, we’re bound by a lot of different regulations for most of what we sell. Also we sell cigarettes like that too (not at the pharmacy, in the country).

  4. I totally agree with this!
    A parent should be so wrapped up in what’s going on with their children, that they just don’t have the time or energy to critique someone else’s parenting.
    There are parents out there who are legitimately abusing and starving their children-and all some people can focus on is those who choose formula. Sad, really. #BloggerClubUK
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