formula EXPOSED!!!

by humanmama on March 12, 2013

I had Helena (#1) in 2006 when those really cute (then) polyester empire-waist shirts were popular with new moms. All the Toys R Usses (Useses? Us’s? Us’?) around here turned to Babies R Uses (Uss). About a million Motherhood: Maternity stores cropped up, celebs everywhere were sporting their baby bump and it was cool again to be pregnant. Or maybe it was cool for the first time. I knew I wanted to nurse, since my mom had nursed me and Carp’s mom nursed him. For a long time. For a La Leche League long time. I was going to do it and it was going to be PERFECT. I can be heard on video when we finally got her (after labor upon labor upon c-section) saying “can I nurse her? When can I nurse her?” I wasn’t excited, actually, I was nervous. But I’m a “let’s get this out of the way” kind of gal, and I wanted to learn it and become an expert. ASAP.

It worked. Kind-of. It was painful (like, excruciating). I didn’t ask for help (not really, we asked for the Lactation Consultant to come in when we were in the hospital and she basically grabbed my boob, gave us a once-over, and was on her way). But we got there, and Helena would not take a bottle or anything for 10 months.

That almost killed me. She nursed around the clock for 10 months. Partly my fault, but mostly the fault of stubbornness and inexperience, I would exhaustively (and bitterly, I admit) snatch her out of the Carp’s arms and huff her upstairs every time she cried. I had the magic key. Or, at least, the magic breast. Finally I got her to a sippee cup for water (MY KINGDOM FOR ANYONE GETTING HER TO DRINK WATER!) and transitioned her to milk and water after she was 1.

Lilly was different. I noticed about 2 months in that she was writhing and wretching and not wanting to nurse, and after a lot of doctors and ridiculousness, we decided she had acid reflux. It made me cringe every time I said it, since I think it’s really over diagnosed right now, but at the same time, who is to say that it isn’t acid reflux causing millions of kids that horrible colic for parents worldwide and it’s only now that it’s come to light? Anyway, I nursed for three months. I felt like a total failure but with meds and formula her coughing, choking, congested breathing and angry pushing away of a food source was solved.

Then came the boy. I wanted to nurse for as long as I could this time. Partially because I didn’t want anyone to think I was lazy (that is actually true). Partly because it’s cheaper. Mostly because it’s so much better for the kid. (And, partly, because where it was just too much to add before, this time it was actually the only time I could sit down, all day. So I didn’t feel that my time was being, literally, sucked away.) So I did it and pumped (which is a horrible, bovine experience), and we got through about 5 months. Before he began doing something so horrible I can’t mention it here but let’s just say it involved sucking and pulling away at the same time. I was frustrated. I was hurting. And I thought, let’s try a bottle more often. Once that kid caught wind of the instantly gratifying bottle, he didn’t want much to do with me anymore, so I weaned.

I felt so guilty. I still do. But I felt much, much more guilty when I realized what was in formula. Have you ever read the can? Because I have. Recently (probably because I didn’t want to know–and that’s pretty bad–I knew it wouldn’t be good). Let me say–it’s not good. Enfamil and Similac, the big brands often given away by hospitals in the last few years, both have beautiful websites–but you can’t find the ingredient list anywhere on there. So, I had to do a little research on my own. I began with Enfamil Gentlease, since that’s what we were given in the pediatrician’s office. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE FIRST INGREDIENT IS? Corn syrup solids. CORN SYRUP?!? Oh no–all those months of nursing were being oblitherated by feeding my baby an evil sugary filler. Okay, we bought some Similac. And then some Similac ADVANCE ORGANIC! Yesss, I thought, this is going to be great. It’s okay that it costs more–it’s worth it to feed my baby. But when I got home and was feeding him a bottle for the first time, I flipped the can over. Ingredients: ORGANIC nonfat milk (obviously). ORGANIC maltodextrin (Hmm, I should research that:

Maltodextrin is a white powder often used in processed foods as a thickener or a filler since it’s fairly inexpensive, as well as in pharmaceuticals as a binding agent. You’ll find it in canned fruits, snacks, cereal, desserts, instant pudding, sauces, and salad dressings. Since it contains fewer calories than sugar, it’s also found in sugar substitutes, such as Splenda or Equal.

Maltodextrin is usually used in such small amounts that it doesn’t have a significant impact in terms of the amount of protein, fat, carbohydrate, or fiber it adds to foods. Although maltodextrin is processed and it’s not the healthiest thing to put in our bodies, at least we know it’s made from real food, not some nasty chemicals.

Ew. A thickener? A filler? Inexpensive? Maltodextrin is an oligosaccharide, a simple sugar. Well, moving on: the next ingredient was even worse. ORGANIC sugar. What?! Why? Can’t they derive sweetener out of the lactose in milk? Or out of the maltodextrin? Okay, now I was mad. I’m feeding my baby a formula bottle 5, maybe 6 times per day and I’m trying so hard to regulate my big kids’ sugar intake, allthewhile feeding the BABY sugar?! Or corn syrup?!

Well, for now, we’ve settled on Gerber Good Start. Like Enfamil, it’s supposed to be “easy to digest” but its first four ingredients are whey protein, vegetable oils [for fat, they all have vegetable oils], maltodextrin (aargh!), and lactose. NOT corn syrup. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. And for now that’s the best.

Do I regret not nursing anymore? YOU BET. It hurt, it wasn’t pleasant, and it took up a lot of time, but it was so much better. At least I had a free one-ingredient totally organic substance. And I knew the source! But in the meantime, I’ll keep reading labels. You’d think for a nation that spends so much money on so many things, we’d have a better way to feed our babies. So yes, breast is best. But since it’s not always an option, can’t we make something almost as good?

Don’t do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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