My mother still thinks it's healthy. What can I tell her is wrong with it and why breast milk is ideal?
As the mother of premature twins who breastfed for fourteen months, I feel qualified to say that formula is a godsend and quite literally saved my sanity.
My babies got tons and tons of good, healthy breast milk. But they got a decent amount of "poisonous" formula, too, and I will not sit back and allow anyone to make me, or any other mother, feel bad about that.
Breastfeeding in modern America is hard. It's not just producing milk. That is the easy part. Getting it out of your body and into the baby at the right times is the hard part. Until you have juggled the logistics of breastfeeding an infant while trying to, god forbid, hold down a job, sleep, and continue to be a human being, you have no right to tell a mother what she should or shouldn't do. Here is who you can lecture:
-business owners, politicians, law enforcement, and any other jackass who has the balls to ask a publicly breastfeeding mother to stop or be more discreet.
-employers who don't give paid maternity leave for at least six months
-legislators who won't mandate said maternity leave
-milk banks that solicit "donations" and they sell it for high profits
I know this doesn't directly answer the question, but I don't think any formula vs breast milk conversation that implies it is as simple as buying a different liquid at the store is realistic.
The NUMBER ONE Most important thing is that the baby gets fed. No matter how that happens.
No mother is less of a mother if they have problems breastfeeding. The attitude that you are poisoning your child is just a terrible one.
Breastfeeding came very easy to my son and I. I consider that we were very lucky - he thrived and I produced enough milk to feed a small army. But not everyone is like me. And who the hell am I (or anyone else for that matter) to judge them on what they need to do to feed their baby. Like the guilt associated with being unable to breastfeed isn't enough we have to tell the new mother that they are poisoning their child. Hello PPD!
Sure - I will be the first to say that Breast is Best - HOWEVER...S**t happens, and some women and babies just can't connect with the breast. And then it's not a choice it's what they have to do. I know many mom's and babies that had to switch to formula - they are all thriving and healthy. I myself was a preemie and was formula fed - I managed to survive, and thrive thank you very much.
There are SO MANY judgements that are thrust upon you as a parent by other people. This one just really gets my blood boiling.
Don't discuss the so-called benefits of breastmilk. Breastmilk is biologically normal. Discuss the risks of formula. Increased risk of Sids, weaker leg muscles, increased risk of asthma and respitory diseases, increased risk of ear infections, increased risk of obesity.
I'm sure others can chime in with more info, but my area of expertise is gut development and infant's fed formula have
It also effects brain development, but I don't have time to write everything about this ATM. I will suggest looking at the blog posts at Moral Landscapes, though don't share them with your mom because they are kind of shrill.
Some of the other posts are kind of proving what I was intended to tell you. Be careful how you present this information to your mother. It may feel as if you are accusing her of doing the wrong thing with you if she bottle fed you. It could lead to her feeling defensive and may be why she is so adamant that it's good even though there is plenty of evidence out there that breast is best - if you are able to do it.
I think the point made that breastfeeding is the norm needs to be clearer - breast isn't best, it's normal.
And, let's not forget that formula (usually cows) is for baby cows. Breastmilk is a living substance that contains immunoglobulins to help baby fight infections. A mother and baby dyad will release oxytocin (the "love" hormone) while nursing which encourages a stronger bond. And of course, there's also the fact that babies who are formula fed suffer more from allergies and disease than breastfed children.
It's contextual though. Although my son has some atopy and is breastfed, his atopy would be rather worse if he had been formula fed (especially as he has an intolerance/allery to dairy).
It's a complex issue, too complex that Gabrielle Palmer wrote a book about it "The Politics of Breastfeeding".
Another resource that I like is Kathy Dettwyler: http://www.kathydettwyler.org/dettwyler.html
There are two major points you can make, if you really feel like making an issue about it with your mother who I'm going to guess is unlikely to be having more babies to feed. Unless she's criticizing you for feeding your children the natural way...
Anyway, the first is the evolutionary argument. Breast milk has been formulated over millions of years to provide excellent nutrition for a growing infant. Those mammals, then apes, then hominids, then humans that produced highly (if not perfectly) nutritious breast milk for their own offspring would end up with stronger, healthier children who were more likely to grow up and reproduce multiple times, passing on the genes for better milk.
This process was repeated over untold thousands of generations leading to a highly refined "product" as near perfect for a growing kid as can be expected just by the simple process of natural selection. And breast milk is known to change in composition over time, suggesting that it accomodates different needs in different stages of development, which formula cannot do.
In addition to nutrition, other compounds are passed through breast milk, including antibodies which help the baby's immune system develop.The second is the argument for the harmfulness of modern formula. Now, I don't know much about cow's milk-based formulae, but soy is certainly harmful and you should have no problem finding sources for that. Like the studies which suggest feeding an infant on soy formula provides an estrogen load equivalent to five birth control pills per day. That kind of hormonal imbalance isn't something you'd want to expose a baby girl to, much less a baby boy.
Or how about known cases of contamination? Like the 2010 recall of Similac that was found contaminated with beetles? Or the 2008 case where Chinese milk that was contaminated with melamine was used in manufacture of formula, leading to illness of hundreds of thousands of babies and the death of at least a few? So long as the mother's not working in a chemical plant or taking drugs, you're not gonna find contamination like that in breast milk.
Here are a few links for her to read (shortish articles):
Why formula is bad: http://www.unhinderedliving.com/formula.html
Why Breastfeeding is good: http://www.breastfeeding.com/all_about/all_about_immune.html