Do you really catch more flies with honey?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-18-2003
Do you really catch more flies with honey?
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Sun, 02-06-2011 - 5:37pm

In addition to the usual "it's wrong to make ff moms feel guilty", straightforward mention of the risks of FF (as opposed to the benefits of BF) is usually met with the attitude that this sort of thing is just counterproductive.

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Registered: 07-11-2006
Mon, 02-07-2011 - 6:48am

Well, first I think that the "risk" angle was developed by marketers who figured out that a whole lot of people knew that breast was better than formula, but that it was in consequential. So I think this is a place where, no, the honey wasn't working.

I think the people who were leaning toward bf anyway

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Registered: 05-02-2006
Mon, 02-07-2011 - 9:49am

I agree with Nisu.

2010 Siggy
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Registered: 04-05-2010
Mon, 02-07-2011 - 10:11am
I agree. I usually liken FF to c-sections. They are overused but also life-saving when necessary. When not necessary, the increased risk is not worth it.
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Registered: 03-16-2010
Mon, 02-07-2011 - 2:20pm
I'm definitely a you-catch-more-flies-with-honey believer, but I put the focus in a different place than you do. I think there are two aspects to BFing advocacy: motivation (why you should BF) and support (how you should make BFing work)

With respect to the motivation aspect, I don't think the honey vs. vinegar issue is particularly relevant. State the risks of formula that are supported by the science, and do so in a straightforward way. I have no problem with that, as long as the statements are accurate and not exaggerated beyond what the science supports. (That said, I'm skeptical about some people's suggestions that no one leaning toward FF is going to change their mind because of breast-is-best messages. We've been under a breast-is-best regime for a long time now; what's happened to breastfeeding rates during that time?)

With respect to the support aspect, that's where I think you catch more flies with honey. And, given how many people start out trying to BF (77%, I think?), there are a lot of flies to be caught during the support phase.

Even when I was the cliche of a failing and depressed nurse-pump-supplementer who was angry at BFing advocates, I had no objection to straightforward descriptions of the risks of formula, even if hearing those risks might be painful. What I DID have a problem with were people (LCs, nurses, doctors, people on the internet)--most of whom were well-meaning--who questioned my motivation to breastfeed, criticized my past actions as I attempted to make BFing work, criticized my existing support system, and dismissed the toll my BFing struggles were taking on me. I also experienced an LC who did not do these things (honey!), and she was far more effective, because I actually wanted to and did reach out to her for help whenever I needed it.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-01-2005
Mon, 02-07-2011 - 3:06pm
I agree with your post completely and look at it this way as well. By all means the risks of formula should be stated and presented without sugar coating or saying its "fine" or "just as good as BM." However, in my limited experience, it is much more appealing to hear from moms why they loved breast feeding and much easier to sell breast feeding to other people when facts about formula are paired with even more information on the positive aspects of breast feeding.

The only in person BFing advocate I had in my life when I was PG is a co-worker who raved about how wonderful BFing is, how great BM is...she called it magical and said that women were amazing creatures for being able to breast feed their babies. She said it was hard too and didnt sugar coat it. Further, I love the site Best for Babes and their articles. Those two things...my co-worker friend and the mom-made wonder food blog post by BfB tipped me over the edge to BF. The focus of the blog post isnt on the risks of formula but all the fabulous facts about breast milk and breast feeding. Tell people the risks of formula but sell them MORE on why they should breast feed their babies. When I talk about feeding choices in real life with girlfriends or my mom or family, I talk very little about formula and instead talk about breast feeding, BFing solutions to BFing problems, and the norms for breast fed babes. They still feel respected and supported for their decisions by this approach.

That said, I think that if the risks or negatives of formula feeding are going to be discussed at length then the negatives/not wonderful aspects of breast feeding should be presented as well. Obviously the negatives of breast feeding are not equal to the long-term risks of formula and Im not suggesting they are at all, but if there was real honesty from moms about engorgement, over supply, cluster feeding, painful, cracked nipples, plugged ducts, thrush, mastitis, babes with tongue tie, lack of support from the public for NIP, pumping, occasional bad feelings of the burden of being the primary feeder for the most part, breast feeding and sex, feeling touched out, biting babes, limiting alcohol consumption, limiting med choices, potential for limited diets/food choices due to baby sensitivities, etc etc etc. If someone had told me how completely emotionally and physically exhausting cluster feeding can be, I would have been much more prepared for it other than the pat statement of "the baby eats a lot in the beginning, and its normal." Further to this, if these things are to be stated, they should also be backed up with real solutions and support that all of the above is very temporary, can be solved without formula, some are usually related to the learning curve experienced by moms in the first 2-3 months, and that breast feeding is still a normal, healthy, wonderful, rewarding experience.

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Registered: 03-16-2010
Mon, 02-07-2011 - 8:37pm

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Mon, 02-07-2011 - 9:02pm

but if there was real honesty from moms about engorgement, over supply, cluster feeding, painful, cracked nipples, plugged ducts, thrush, mastitis, babes with tongue tie, lack of support from the public for NIP, pumping, occasional bad feelings of the burden of being the primary feeder for the most part, breast feeding and sex, feeling touched out, biting babes, limiting alcohol consumption, limiting med choices, potential for limited diets/food choices due to baby sensitivities, etc etc etc.

I think that this line of thinking has a tendency to be anti-breastfeeding. So I'll throw out an anti-formula list for balance:

Rotting formula stinks. It gets stuck on the bottom of the bottles. It stains infant's clothing. It is not fair that mom ends out washing and preparing bottles while dad only has to feed the baby, when baby is gassy/uncomfortalbe you have to try several different brands over the period of many weeks in search of something better which is frustrating because there are no good guidelines.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-16-2010
Tue, 02-08-2011 - 10:34am
"Mom can't take strong cold medications because she won't hear the baby crying."

What? Some of the things on your "anti-formula list" mystify me.

Anyway, I think there's nothing wrong with describing the downsides of formula generally, but I think you're missing the point. The point is not to provide an anti-whatever feeding method list. It's to *prepare* a mom for difficulties to lessen the chances that she will be shocked by those difficulties and decide to quit--something that doesn't apply to formula feeding. Given the high rates of moms trying to breastfeed and the high rates of quitting when these types of problems arise, I think that is a really important thing.

An analogy: if people had little sense of how painful labor would be, instead just hearing that it would involve some pain or discomfort but that it was totally natural and the pain could be managed with proper support, almost everyone would probably "choose" natural childbirth. Except that once they got into labor, most of them would think, "Oh my God, I can't do this. This is horrible. My situation must be abnormal. I need an epidural." I think that's often what happens when women aren't prepared, on a visceral level, for the difficulties of early nursing.
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Registered: 05-20-2008
Tue, 02-08-2011 - 11:00am

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Tue, 02-08-2011 - 1:36pm

"Mom can't take strong cold medications because she won't hear the baby crying."

What? Some of the things on your "anti-formula list" mystify me.

My point is that some of the things in your anti-bf list are about parenting, not about bfing. A mom who is zonked out by taking strong cold medications can't watch a baby. The same argument holds for alcohol. A mom who is trashed can't watch a baby and shouldn't be holding and feeding the baby a bottle. My point is that not being able to take medications or drink is not an important issue to bring up when discussing feeding choice, it is just anti-bf, IMO.

The point is not to provide an anti-whatever feeding method list. It's to *prepare* a mom for difficulties

Being prepared for difficulties is a good thing, but your list didn't do that, IMO. It was just a list of potential problems, some worthy, some not.

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