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Why I Rarely Discuss Formula on my Blog and the WHO CODE

This may seem crazy but I was criticized recently by another blogger for saying I don't discuss or promote formula on my blog. I had shared this information in a private blogging group when going over subjects we do not write about. She then used my words in a blog post of her own as an example of breastfeeding elitism and what's wrong with breastfeeding mothers. I spent some time wondering how and if I should respond. It hurt to see my own words used in another blogger's post in a negative way. After some time passed I decided I am not going to link to her blog or share her post. I didn't comment on it either because it felt pointless.

I have my reasons I don't write about formula and I am sure any breastfeeding advocate can understand them. Now, I must go back a bit. It's not that I do not write about formula at all, I have written about it. My first baby, my daughter, received formula when she was in the NICU. She also received some when we came home before I absolutely committed to making breastfeeding work. I have written about it in a few different posts. I understand the struggle of those early days and how easy it is to turn to formula. I also understand when it is needed and must be used. I know mothers who have had preemies who rejected breastmilk, who pumped for their babies, and still had to supplement with formula.

WHO Code and formula

My first baby. I was using a hospital pump (in the background) to try and get breastfeeding going since we had a rocky start.

I am not against formula. What I am against is the marketing machine behind formula companies, some of their shady marketing tactics, and the fact that they pit mothers against each other and make it seem breastfeeding mothers are the problem. The fact is formula is given to us before our babies even arrive in an attempt to undermine breastfeeding. When we receive those free samples during pregnancy and from the hospital, they are banking on us reaching for them in the middle of the night in desperation.

We have all heard breast is best. I don't love this saying, the truth is breastfeeding should be the norm. Not something better to attain. The norm which we should support and encourage if possible. Saying breast is best makes it seem like formula is the norm and breastfeeding is a special benefit if we can achieve it. Formula companies have done a great job encouraging mommy wars and having it seem as if mothers are the ones shaming each other and it works well. Remember they gain when mothers do not breastfeed.

Most women who are giving birth now know that they want to breastfeed ahead of time. The goal of my blog is to help these women. To give them my advice and recommendations based on my experiences as one of them. I am not here to shame you or tell you what to feed your baby. If you already know what you want to do, and you need support, that's where a blog like mine comes in. I struggled to get off to a good start breastfeeding my first baby. I have become passionate about it since and enjoy learning about it, talking about it, and encouraging it. But, feed your baby however you must. We are all doing the best we can and I know it.

Hopefully this gives a bit of background on why I don't write about formula much. Yes, I write about it once in awhile, but in general it does not have much of a presence on my blog. I am not bashing it either, it's just not a big factor. That's not elitism, it's sticking to my niche. As for why I don't promote it via my blog? Well, why would I? This blogger questioned why another blogger would turn down a sponsored opportunity for formula and described it again as elitism. No, of course not! As bloggers I am sure we all turn down sponsored opps from time to time. I like to write about items I love and use and can help my readers. I think it would be pretty weird if I was being paid to write about formula wouldn't you? Formula companies don't need my help... they have plenty of advertising as it is.

Then there is the WHO Code. What is the WHO Code? WHO stands for the World Health Organization. You can read all about The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes here but it's a long read. I don't think I could even begin to describe the reason for it and what it does better than Best For Babes here.

"The primary purpose of the “WHO-CODE” is to protect mothers and babies from the highly effective, aggressive and predatory marketing of substitutes for breastfeeding (i.e. infant formula, bottles, artificial nipples) at the most vulnerable period of their lives, the birth of a new baby."

I highly encourage anyone curious about the WHO code to read the Best For Babes article.

I try to support the WHO code in my blogging. I don't always adhere 100%. I have shared information and even product reviews about items I have used (bottles and pumps) whose companies may not always be compliant. I try in general to support it though, and I am definitely not going to promote some of the biggest WHO Code offenders. The WHO code is directed at the marketing of these items though, not the use.

world breastfeeding week

I am not sure this post needed to be written. I was shocked that I was criticized to begin with. I am sure that was an anomaly and most people can understand why a blog about breastfeeding would not promote certain products. It's been bothering me though, and what do bloggers do when something bothers them? They write about it of course. I also thought it was a good opportunity to bring attention to the WHO Code and the reason for its existence and what it does. So, please go read about it and educate yourself.. sometimes it's shocking to learn how marketing affects us and can cause problems in the breastfeeding relationship. It's definitely not always obvious, but it's there and it's not something I want to contribute to if I can help it.

And, it goes to show that sometimes I do delve into this topic. You can see some related posts below where I did write about formula after all..