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.)
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.