If You Go Down To The Woods Today!

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We were invited to a Teddy Bear’s picnic in Postman’s Park yesterday. Postman’s Park is very close to St Paul’s Cathedral and inside it (small as the park is it’s one of the largest in the city) is a memorial wall dedicated to ordinary people who died saving the lives of others in heroic self sacrifice. Part of the film ‘Closer’, a favourite of mine, was filmed in the park and I was very interested to see it.

A slightly damp day wasn’t going to ruin a teddy bears picnic for us and despite the odd light shower we showed our true British side and carried on picnicing regardless! It was lovely with a puppet show, face painting and story time for the children as well as yummy food and hot chocolate. At the end of the picnic we were even sent away with goodie bags, weren’t we lucky. A fun Saturday afternoon in an interesting location and with our teddy bears and friends old and new. Lovely and thanks to Growing Up Milk for inviting us. (As you may know, I don’t really use formula but do read on as to why I chose to go.)

TeddyBearsPicnic TeddyBearsPinic1 TeddyBearsPicnic2


What a fun Teddy Bear’s Picnic!

So… Formula. Where do I stand? Well, I’m a breast feeder and I know breast is best but that’s for me and for my children. Personally I couldn’t care less what anyone else does and have no more interest in other people’s feeding choices than I do in how they decorate their houses. Just because I wouldn’t personally choose net curtains and pink walls doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate that it’s not my house and not my decision. I also credit others with the intelligence to make their own decisions without feeling like they should make a big ‘no advertising policy’ on NOT using pink paint. I feel that just because it’s being advertised it doesn’t mean it will sway my ideas about what makes a home look good! We all know that white walls and neutral decor sell houses just as we all know breast is nutritionally best but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the right to choose otherwise and go with the bright walls should we so wish!

And I think therein lies my problem with formula. I was talking about it with a fellow breast feeding friend at the picnic and we discussed how we don’t actually have a problem with formula but that because they’re not allowed to advertise it for new babies they have to call it follow on milk. I don’t believe in that I’m afraid. I believe in just feeding your babies and children in the healthiest way possible and in the best way for you and your family, just as I do mine. I used to be very militant about breast feeding. When I first had Florence I’d go so far as to say I was quite preachy and judgemental. What a waste of energy! Nowadays I just think why would I care? And how dare I have judged in the first place… We grow, we learn, we evolve. Each to their own and live and let live after all!

Society makes women feel bad if they choose not to breast feed and with the banning of advertising infant formula it can only serve to make that feeling worse. As if it’s so disgustingly bad it can’t be seen in public? I mean, it’s not cigarettes for crying out loud just a different way of feeding a baby and hundreds of babies are healthily fed on formula every single day. I was a formula fed baby and managed to grow up fine…

The advertising ban is odd because I don’t think it changes peoples minds about it, I just think it makes them hide their choices. Just like smokers still smoke but they do it in hiding, women who don’t breast feed often have an ‘excuse’ when really they just need to say ‘no thanks, t’wasn’t for me’! One of my pet peeves is women saying ‘I couldn’t’ or ‘my milk dried up’. Unlikely actually and although sure, it does happen, it’s so rare that probably they’re just not given enough help to keep trying long enough and perhaps didn’t have the resolve to keep working at it because it wasn’t that important to them – their choice and let me just state again, I know this doesn’t apply to EVERYBODY. I’d much rather women would just stand up and own the right to choose. Everyone is perfectly entitled to use formula if they want to. Or follow on milk. Or cows milk once their baby reaches a year. Or of course the right to breast feed wherever and whenever they like! The most important thing I feel, is for new parents to be fully informed about all options and given the help they need.

I like breastfeeding because it’s easy, it’s sterile, it’s on tap, it’s FREE, it contains everything my baby needs including helping pass on my immunities and it brings a closeness and a time with my baby that’s too special to even be able to fully translate into words. I chose not to formula feed but if you choose something else and you’re happy with it then why not?! I was obsessed with doing the right thing with Florence and she NEVER had formula. By the time Jimmy came along I knew I could relax a bit. He had a bottle of formula every night for about a month when he was 4-5 months old and it gave me a chance to have a break, something I never got with Florence as she wouldn’t even drink breast milk from a bottle. As it happens Jimmy started to refuse the formula after that but still had a bottle of breast milk now and then – that was HIM making the decision.

So that’s my stance on formula and I’m kind of of the opinion that at 1 year they can have cows milk so why bother with follow on milk but I’m also of the opinion remember, that you do what works best for you. Growing Up Milk certainly seem to just be trying to do the right thing, they don’t seem to me to be trying to upset anyone, sabotage breast feeders or take over the world, they’re just selling formula to people who want it for older children. And offering loads of invaluable advice (including nutritional) on their website. I think in general companies should be able to advertise their infant formula without fear of brainwashing perfectly capable Mothers but that’s just me, you don’t have to agree…

I was not paid to write this post. I was asked to the picnic by Cow and Gate Growing Up Milk but told that I was under no obligation to mention their brand in my write up of the picnic. 


7 thoughts on “If You Go Down To The Woods Today!

  1. I agree. Mums should do what they feel is best for them as a family but like you it riles me when someone says ‘I couldn’t’ when they just don’t want to or it’s too difficult. It’s not easy at first but the perserverance is worth it!! I didn’t breast feed my eldest. Didn’t want to. But wanted to experience it next time round and breasted my daughter for a year. I also breasted my twins. They had a bottle too and I managed about 5 months but I’m glad I did it. There is also absolutely no difference between the ones i breastfed and the one I didnt health wise. My eldest wasnt ill more as some people believe, if anything the others put on more weight as babies but that definitely doesn’t mean anything now as 14 yr old is almost 6 foot lol!! Great post xx

  2. The criticisms of the marketing of artificial baby milks is not one of formula Vs breast, or bashing mothers for whatever route they end up taking (for 1000 different and complicated reasons see booby traps for more details http://www.bestforbabes.org/what-are-the-booby-traps).

    It is about unethical and unsafe marketing practices in the UK and worldwide. These sharp practices:

    1 – undermine breastfeeding, for example dannone undermining nursing mother’s confidence in their milk supply [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/after-nestl-aptamil-manufacturer-danone-is-now-hit-by-breast-milk-scandal-8679226.html]

    2 – don’t fully protect babies fed with artificial milk. Example; HIPP not providing proper instructions about how to safely prepare formula – here [http://boycottnestle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/hipp-irresponsible.html]

    3 – to put it bluntly, has been responsible for killing babies. Example; where baby milk is marketed to mothers who have neither the money or facilities to prepare it safely [http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/a_generation_on_1.pdf].

    Formula companies provide and essential product for billions of babies and they have a legitimate right to market them. The issue is HOW they market it.

    The WHO Code is designed to protect mothers and babies from inaccurate and unsafe information that idealises formula feeding and undermines breastfeeding.

    If it were implemented fully in more countries more babies lives would be saved. http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/News-and-Research/News/Take-action-on-child-stunting/. It’s really as simple as that.

    I’d be interested to know if you felt the same way about them once you’ve had time to digest the information I’ve linked to above. Jxx

  3. I didn’t breast feed. It might seem selfish to some (maybe?) but I just didn’t and still do not feel comfortable enough with my body… These are my own issues, not my babies. But I do not feel any the less connected with my angel face or do not feel that she missed out on anything. I also feel advertising would not have swayed me in either direction. I just made a choice that made me calm and able to be the happiest mum I can… Never really thought about the issue that much before I met other mums though tbh. And am glad for all those that made their own choices and are happy with them. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. I did breast feed but like Ruth said, while I do feel it’s the best start for my baby, how can I pass judgement on what works for others- I can’t.
    Jo, I absolutely agree breast feeding may save the lives of children world wide but this is a separate issue and encompasses so much more than the advertising of formula. It is about third world access to decent health care and the stats mentioned are global.
    A change in advertising would have made no difference to me and my choices. And the aggressive advertising you mention is often direct and not of the type I presume Ruth was talking about. Formula feeding, carried out correctly is perfectly healthy. A woman skimping on milk powder is probably skimping on food for herself and other children- a hideous situation. But better health education And governmental backing are what’s lacking. I suspect if these fundamental changes were made then they too, would be able to make the right choices , whether that’s correct formula feeding or breast, regardless of advertising.

  5. This is a first world issue, not just something mothers in developing countries need to be concerned about. I urge you, please, read the links above, google “babymilk action uk” and do your own research.

    Parents need accurate, impartial and reliable information about their feeding options both breast and formula milk and this does not come from the likes of Nestle or Danonne.

  6. A fantastic post. Good for you for having the self-esteem and confidence to criticise your own previously “militant” views. That’s shows real class!
    (You’re going to love my book!)

    Dr Ellie x x x

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