Q and A with Mike Brady from Baby Milk Action

(327 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Dec-10 14:05:33

We're inviting you to send in your questions to Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action.

Mike graduated in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and has worked in Africa as an engineer and science teacher. At Baby Milk Action, he monitors the baby food industry and campaigns to hold them to account.

Baby Milk Action is a non-profit organisation which aims to save lives and to end the avoidable suffering caused by inappropriate infant feeding. It is the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), a network of over 200 citizens groups in more than 100 countries.

Baby Milk Action's slogan is: "Protecting breastfeeding - Protecting babies fed on formula". It is perhaps best known for promoting a boycott of Nestlé, but also works with national governments and international bodies on regulations and marketing standards.

Mike was seen earlier this year outside Nestlé (UK) HQ in the guise of Mr. Henry Nastie, explaining Nestlé's marketing practices.

Send your questions in to Mike before midday on Friday 9th December and we'll link through to his answers from this thread later the following week.

lyns12 Mon 06-Dec-10 16:15:31

Hi Mike.
My question is what you would suggest to a mother who does not want to use formula but still requires, for whatever reason, milk to supplement her own?

Hi Mike,

I've come across some health care professionals who aren't as clued up on breastfeeding as what they are on formula feeding. It seems that the information is so readily available to those who want to find it, do you think there is any way of correcting the inbalance that seems to exist in some quarters?

scrappydappydoo Mon 06-Dec-10 18:10:21

Do you think the boycott of nestle is having an impact. I haven't brought nestle products for 10 years but sometimes wonder if its worth it as they are such a huge company - not sure if little old me makes much of dent (not that I'll stop the boycott)..

Lactivist Mon 06-Dec-10 18:12:43

Hi Mike - How can I get across to people that it is important to boycott Nestle - my sons school seem to think it is something that happens abroad and nothing to do with us.
Lisa Lactivist

marzipananimal Mon 06-Dec-10 18:21:57

Doesn't the advertising of follow on milk (from 6 months) break the Code given that it's a breastmilk substitute? How come companies get away with doing this in the UK?

sungirltan Mon 06-Dec-10 18:33:26

being about to finish reading 'the politics of breastfeeding' i am all about the nestle boycott.

my question is, do you think the dangers of formula feeding are actively downplayed by the media/health profession?

MilaMae Mon 06-Dec-10 19:01:12

Hi Mike

Do you think the use of formula in developed countries is over demonized in order to protest against it's use in 3rd world countries?

Can you see how this alienates many parents and do you think a different approach would be more beneficial?

MissLouby Mon 06-Dec-10 20:29:17

Hi Mike,

As a breastfeeding mother and also a breastfeeding peer supporter in my local area, the lack of knowledge about formula seems commonplace for many mothers.

What concerns me most isn't what is in formula milk but what isn't in formula milk. For example, there is no lipase, DHA, cholesterol etc.

My question is, do you think the differences between breast milk and formula should this be labelled near the ingredients on formula cartons so mothers know what their babies are missing if they choose not to breastfeed?

RJandA Mon 06-Dec-10 20:38:08

Hi Mike

Here on mumsnet, there are regular threads from new mums seeking advice on how to make up powdered formula, and they are regularly advised that it's fine to mix powder with cooled boiled water instead of water at 70 degrees. I believe many mums here in the UK are unaware that formula powder is not sterile (including myself, until I started reading these threads).

I feel sure that if this fact was printed on labels, then many children in the UK and worldwide would be healthier. Is this one of your current campaigns, or one that you would consider in the future?

Lulumaam Mon 06-Dec-10 20:40:21

Hi Mike ! Great to see you on MN. I have contacted you several times in the past for advice on reporting discounted baby milk etc.. you are a hero !

Anyhoo.... I am a boycotter of Nestlé and as many of its brands and subsidiaries that I know of via Baby milk action.

When I explain to people why I don't buy certain lipsticks/ coffee/ pet foods etc.. I often get the , ' oh well, people have been boycotting Nestlé for years it makes no difference.. ' or ' What difference does buying one bottle of shampoo / coffee etc.. make '

I need a condensed answer, rather than feeling like I am going on and on and on!

Can you sum up the value of the boycott and why it is worthwhile and should continue in a brief synopsis please ?

thank you very very much

Blatherskite Mon 06-Dec-10 21:12:23

Not very many people seem to know about the boycott, the reasons behind it or the products affected - even while Mumsnet carried the Nestle Boycott logo (what happened about that by the way?) any thread regarding the boycott would inevitably get multiple posts asking what it was all about.

Do you think there is a better way of bringing the boycott to peoples attention?

JeanKelly Mon 06-Dec-10 21:34:25

Hey Mike I have two questions:

1. Why do you think our food safety authorities don't test and approve formula? Surely it should be regulated so it doesn't contain such harmful things; bisphenol-A, aluminum, enterobacter sakazakii and salmonella enterica.

2. A lot of people are unaware of the risks of using formula so cant make an informed decision when deciding how to feed their babies. Do you think formula should be labeled with the health risks like tobacco boxes are?

lowercase Mon 06-Dec-10 23:00:18

Hi Mike,

what drives you to carry on campaigning?

what has been the single most posotive/encouraging change you have seen during your campaign?


WelshCerys Mon 06-Dec-10 23:58:59

Hi Mike
Saw unmarked bottles of water being delivered to my high street bank a while ago - but taken from a Nestle container. Clearly the bank is sensitive to the campaign, else why the unmarked bottles?
Is this worth doing much about? Writing to the head of social responsibility, or something?
It's mineral water, but it's still Nestle.
Best wishes.

snugglepops Tue 07-Dec-10 05:10:26

Hi Mike,

I am interested in inappropriate formula feeding during disasters and the aftermath, such as Haiti.

How do we ensure that aid money we give is not used to provide formula and thereby increase the suffering or babies and children at such a difficult point of their lives?

Is formula safe only in countries with good water supply, good standard of living, hygiene etc?

HarkTheHeraldEverything Tue 07-Dec-10 10:29:59

Getting on this thread to watch. No questions at the moment but interested in all those already posted, especially combatting the 'formula is as good - happy mummy happy baby' mantra.

Gracie123 Tue 07-Dec-10 12:33:17

just bookmarking along with HarkTheHerald for similar reasons blush

CuppaTeaJanice Tue 07-Dec-10 12:58:40

Powdered formula is impossible to make and store in a sterile manner, and therefore liquid formula is theoretically 'safer' in terms of potential hazardous contents.

Why, then, is there no concentrated sterile liquid formula product available on the market which can be diluted with cooled boiled water to provide a safer drink for babies.

Are current liquid sterilization/pasteurisation etc. techniques effective enough to allow a bottle of concentrated liquid formula to be kept in a fridge and used safely for a number of days? Are any formula companies looking into such a product or would it not be viable?

TruthSweet Tue 07-Dec-10 14:16:52

CuppaTeaJAnice - liquid concentrate is currently available in the US, it is generally available in 13oz containers and can be kept in a fridge for 48 hours.

This paper discusses how to increase the calorific content of formula with out increasing the renal solute loads (the amount of Na, Cl, K & P that the kidneys can process safely) and part of the paper looks into the variations in formula powder amounts in each scoop (range of 40.5 - 50.9kcals per scoop so the actual amount in the scoop was not consistent). The author recommended using liquid formula when accuracy was needed (so that's all the time then?) as it is easy to prepare (1:1 ratio of concentrate to water)

Himalaya Tue 07-Dec-10 15:07:53

Do you think that the other baby milk companies that also violate the marketing code are relieved that the singular focus of the campaign on Nestle takes the heat off them?

Is there any competition amongst baby milk companies to be recognised and seen as the most ethical in marketing, or do they all keep their heads down to stay out of the way of bad publicity?

Trubert Tue 07-Dec-10 16:03:59

I try so hard to engage positively with breastfeeding, including boycotting Nestle and being a source of encouragement and information for mothers who are breastfeeding.

Then I read a comment like this

'combatting the 'formula is as good - happy mummy happy baby' mantra'

and find myself unable to read any more of the thread.

I will leave you to it. I don't want hear any more of this sort of thinking.

CuppaTeaJanice Tue 07-Dec-10 16:20:14

Thanks Truthsweet. Why is concentrated liquid formula not available in the UK then? I would have found it very useful, both in large fridge packs and individual sachets when out and about.

TruthSweet Tue 07-Dec-10 16:30:36

CuppaTeaJanice - I suppose it's because it is more expensive to manufacture/ship/store and the formula market in the UK isn't as massive as in the US (only 1% of babies exclusively bf to 6m. not withstanding). It is also marketed (along with RTF formula) as more suitable for newborns. The biggest risk with it is that a caregiver may accidentally not dilute it before feeding it to a baby.

Individual sachets of conc. formula would be really handy to have in a change bag along with a bottle of sterile water and a disposable baby bottle in case of emergencies/staying out later than planned.

As an epileptic mother that would have been really useful to have knocking about in the change bag in case of a seizure meaning I couldn't feed baby. Touch wood I've never been in that position with an under 6m baby so have never needed it but still would have been useful (can you imagine how much EBM I'd have thrown away if I took out a pumped bottle each tome I went outshock)

lagrandissima Tue 07-Dec-10 16:32:27

My question is:
Do you work with schools to raise awareness of issues around the formula industry? Do you think it might be useful to educate future parents at an early age about the pros/cons of formula/BFing?

Also, just wanted to say thank you for standing up to the big corporations. Shame our politicians don't have the balls to.

Zimm Tue 07-Dec-10 17:32:06

Bookmarking the thread.

Caz10 Tue 07-Dec-10 18:59:26

lagrandissima clearly I am not Mike Brady grin

But just thought you would be interested to know that breastfeeding is mentioned, albeit fleetingly, in the new Scottish curriculum!

Have never seen nor heard of this translating to actual lessons, but the curriculum is just new, so over time it might filter through. I would imagine that many teachers (including myself) wouldn't be sure where to start teaching?

moondog Tue 07-Dec-10 19:29:51

Fantastic.What an absolute honour and coup for MN to have Mike along.
I've been a member of BMA for many years now.The work they do as a tiny operation against a huge machine that just wants to sell, sell sell and undermine women's most fundamental gift to their children is nothing short of awe inspiring.

Thank you-on behalf of all the women and children you have fought and continue to fight so hard for.


confuddledDOTcom Tue 07-Dec-10 20:45:55

Marking my place too.

One of the things I find hard is that some people can't separate formula feeding in our nice cosy UK (or US etc) homes with all the mod cons from the poor of Africa and make it a breastfeeding debate. Any tips on dealing with it?

Oooh, brilliant. DH is giving me a Baby Milk Action membership for Christmas.

My question is this: if there is one message you would like the 18-21 year old mums / dads of the future to receive about breastfeeding, what would it be?

(I'll pass it on in January to my undergrads during their infant feeding lecture. It'd be great to have something from the horse's mouth, as it were - no insult intended there grin)

ohanotherone Tue 07-Dec-10 20:52:24

Hi, seeing this thread. I just sent an e-mail to Nestle. Keep on the campaigning! It's not just the undeveloped world. Formula feeding is costing this country a huge amount in baby hospital admissions, and acute and chronic illnesses. The power of the formula companies is huge and I feel that formula shoulad not be available as a food product in supermarkets.

PS - ditto what moondog said

HarkTheHeraldEverything Tue 07-Dec-10 21:23:14

Trubert I'm sorry if my comment upset you, but I can't take it back, I really believe that babies are being let down by the general belief that formula is as good.

Mumfun Tue 07-Dec-10 21:31:09

Hi delighted to see Mike on here and looking forward to hearing about the current effects on baby milk selling companies of the actions and boycotts

bb99 Tue 07-Dec-10 22:01:13


How could the benefits of breast feeding for the mother be promoted (ie some evidence of a reduced risk of some female cancers, loss of 'baby weight', hormonal support of sleep disruption when feeding at night)?

How honest does/could the health profession be about the potential risks and dangers of formula feeding in order to encourage breast feeding? (ie formula milk companies continually promote the 'benfits' of their products)

Has the 'breast is best' campaign damaged breast feeding by promoting it as NOT the average/normal way to feed babies (with the normal / average health benefits), but an optimal method of super feeding babies which could be merely aspirational, therefore enabling women to feel it is beyond their reach to BF and preventing them from feeling confident in their BFing abilities?

MilaMae Tue 07-Dec-10 22:18:04

"formula should not be available as a food product in supermarkets"-what a truly awful thing to say shock.

I for one won't bother to read this discussion.I can see the extremist,scaremongering,formula feeding bashing way it's going. Shame I thought it would be interesting.

FunnysInTheGarden Tue 07-Dec-10 22:34:26

Along with other posters, I too am uncomfortable with this discussion. I'm afraid that BMA and it's followers really do appear to be anti formula, and to me that is unacceptable.

I am not sure if politically it is wise for Mumsnet to host a chat with an organisation which holds such one sided views. Of course they say they support both types of infant feeding, but a glance at their site would suggest otherwise.

Suffice to say I won't be posting a question.

Incidentally, why is a man fronting this campaign. Surely there are many women who would be better placed to do so?

PuzzleRocks Tue 07-Dec-10 22:37:59

God you're so right Funnys, really unwise of Mumsnet to host a Q & A with someone who is tirelessly looking out for the interests of babies. Silly Mumsnet.

Mike, I applaud your work.

FunnysInTheGarden Tue 07-Dec-10 22:41:43

really PR I don't care what you think. I am uncomfortable with it, and so felt compelled to say so. I don't like the angle of BMA and never have.

EldonAve Tue 07-Dec-10 22:42:40

Is the Nestle boycott having any effect?

What can be done to reduce the influence of formula marketing on HCPs?

Caz10 Tue 07-Dec-10 22:45:36

funnys what is it you don't like? (genuine question btw, i am trying to figure out where i sit on this, interesting to hear all the viewpoints)

FunnysInTheGarden Tue 07-Dec-10 22:55:31

Caz10 what I don't like is that BMA appear to say that they support both BF and FF mothers. One look at their site indicates that while they wholly support BF mothers, they whip everyone up into a frenzy to boycott Nestle. I don't have an issue with that per se, but wouldn't it be more constructive to lobby Nestle and not boycott?

By suggesting a boycott, I think they alienate FF mothers.
Formula is a good baby food and very necessary to many mothers.

Incidentally, I am also very uncomfortable with the many campaigns here on MN which seek to demonise formula and the companies which make it.

MilaMae Tue 07-Dec-10 22:58:50

If Mike Brady has the same views as some I've read on this thread then I don't think he should be doing a Q&A on Mumsnet either.

Mumsnet is supposed to support both breast and ffeeding mums, I'm very disappointed with this thread.

And for the million time we all know the pros and cons of formula feeding v breast,more support is what is needed not some of the total nonsense I've read on here.

I'm totally against formula being pushed in 3rd world countries but I refuse to learn more if I'm going to be subjected to this anti formula, scaremongering witch hunt towards the use of formula in this country. They are 2 different scenarios.

Many,many mothers start bfeeding(myself included) but they give up due to lack of support not a pretty picture on a tin that isn't allowed to be advertised,sold cheaply or even discussed in detail with health professionals.

By all means boycott Nestle(I do) but don't use it's wrong doings in the 3rd world as an excuse to push extremist anti formula views in this country.It does the whole cause a total disservice.

FunnysInTheGarden Tue 07-Dec-10 23:03:47

MilaMae totally agree with your post.

lowercase Tue 07-Dec-10 23:04:37


confuddledDOTcom Tue 07-Dec-10 23:05:11

Funnys, are you African and living in a shack with no electricity?

FunnysInTheGarden Tue 07-Dec-10 23:06:20

confuddled there is no need to be glib.

tabouleh Tue 07-Dec-10 23:07:16

Hi Mike! Really glad MN took up my suggestion to invite you here. blush <preen>

Before I ask a Q - I'd like to make it clear to people here that I had problems with BF and had to move to formula. Lots of people will know that I am passionate about sharing the information on how to safely prepare formula. Those of you here who don't "like" BMA etc and who are upset at "formula bashing" - you do realise do you that BMA is practically the only bloody organisation looking out for your DCs safety wrt to formula hmm. They campaigned to get the labels changed and to make sure the hotlines are giving out the NHS/WHO advice! BMA are not anti-baby milk they "protect all mothers and infants from irresponsible marketing". I totally "get" how hacked off you can get as a FFing mother who is hearing about problems with formula and "how hard" other mothers worked to "succeed" etc - but although I would not criticise any mother for FFing for whatever reason I believe that many FF due to a lack of support which is a direct result of the FF culture and advertising from formula companies. Anyone FFing deserves to have access to independent advice about formula and how to prepare it.

Question 1: Mike how did you get involved with BMA?

Question 2: What practical actions can MNers do to support BMA and are there any tasks which MNers could volunteer to help out with?

Question 3: How can we launch an effective campaign to ensure HCPs know/understand and communicate the safe methods of preparing formula?

My favourite formula links:

UNICEF formula leaflet
DoH leaflet
WHO leaflet
Irish guidance note - click on note 22 - very very comprehensive and well explained leaflet

Earplugs Tue 07-Dec-10 23:08:54

I don't think Mike Brady should be doing a Q&A on here either.

I'm assuming Mike has no personal experience of the difficulties of bf himself so I'm really not interested, electrical engineering qualification or not!!!!

HarkTheHeraldEverything Tue 07-Dec-10 23:14:07

Earplugs I don't think breastfeeding is an essential qualification for running successful campaigns and holding companies to account when they break the law. hmm

MilaMae Tue 07-Dec-10 23:15:37

The lack of support when bf is due to money and money alone, not formula advertising.

There aren't enough midwives/bfeeding experts on wards New mums need consistent support as and when it's needed not their boob shoved in babies mouth once or twice when the midwife floats past. That kind of care costs.

It has absolutely nothing to do with advertising from formula companies.

lowercase Tue 07-Dec-10 23:17:24


maisyandpandulce Tue 07-Dec-10 23:20:15

I live overseas. Nestle is ubiquitous - in the way that, oh I don't know, bread, is in the UK. Any hints for boycotting things here?

MilaMae Tue 07-Dec-10 23:21:22

And yes until Mike Brady has had his nipples shredded by a voracious chomping baby I think he is slightly hampered in understanding many areas of breast feeding.

lowercase Tue 07-Dec-10 23:30:04

you are missing the point here mila

confuddledDOTcom Tue 07-Dec-10 23:36:40

It's not a breast v formula issue, Mike's not campaigning to get all women breastfeeding, telling them how to breastfeed or telling people they shouldn't be formula feeding. If he was then I'd be amongst the people saying "what would he know?" and yes I have done that before about men who think they know all when it comes to birth and breastfeeding. This is about the unethical practices of certain companies that put babies at risk, certainly British babies but particularly African babies.

I find it disgusting that people are so wrapped up in their own infant feeding experiences that they don't believe African babies should be protected!

And seriously, if you think this is a breast v formula issue, go and read the boycott list and see how many times formula comes up on there.

Hopelesslydisorganised Wed 08-Dec-10 06:19:21

Well said confuddled - am actuallt staggered that so many posters are spectacularly missing the point of Baby Milk Action. Just look at how they break the code every single day in advertising to see why we need Baby Milk action.

As a midwife and a health visitor I am exposed to their stuff everyday from offered diary covers to pens as they try and find ways of getting their products into peoples homes. In many cases they have got wise to the "cover up the name or scratch it off" ploy. Now they have dedicated colours or symbols which are instantly recognisable. Anyway of getting HCPs to take their advertising into YOUR home without your consent or knowledge. They are not stupid.

And know this - apart from one or two specialised milks the formulas are largely all the same - slight differences in make up but otherwise do exactly the same thing. If one milk doesn't suit (C+G did not suit my son) you choose another - Simples.

Forget all the prebiotics/probiotics/LCPs stuff - the companies increasingly get into trouble for some of their claims. So if you choose to bottlefeed - choose a milk (check out the companie's websites for advice if you need to look at what is largely the same information and claims). Feed your baby with formula (as I did too) and if it doesn;t suit try a different formula.

Hopelesslydisorganised Wed 08-Dec-10 06:20:58

* apologies for typos and spellings - tis too early for me.

marzipananimal Wed 08-Dec-10 07:17:26

MilaMae I agree that int this country, lack of skilled support for bf mothers (especially at the start) is the main problem.
However, formula companies wouldn't spend loads of money on advertising if it didn't work. If they manage to lead people to believe that bf is difficult and not the norm and not really worth bothering with anyway, then more people are likely to have difficulties bfing and the support needed is less likely to be available.

cantthinkofagoodname Wed 08-Dec-10 09:40:48

Hi Mike,

in my local branch of a well known chemist chain hmm there are always promotional shelf labels with the first stage baby milks, advertising extra reward points for baby items for parenting club members. They don't say that first stage formulas are excluded, and so imply that first stage baby milk is part of the promotion.

I tried to point out to the store manager that this was misleading people as they are not allowed to give points on first stage formula. He didn't seem to know what I was talking about and said that if anyone complained about the lack of reward points for the formula, they would honour the promotion and give reward points on the first stage formula.

Is there any legal requirement for people selling formula to be aware of the rules surrounding promotion? What can I do to ensure that my local branch of this chemist chain are obeying the law when they don't seem to even acknowledge its existance?

HarkTheHeraldEverything Wed 08-Dec-10 10:22:05

This fictional Mad Men script explains why BMA is so essential.

SarahAggie Wed 08-Dec-10 11:52:22

I very rarely post on MN but I had to respond to "Formula feeding is costing this country a huge amount in baby hospital admissions, and acute and chronic illnesses."

I am a new mother who has just been through a very traumatic first few weeks with my son.
We were readmitted to Neo Natal 6 days after birth due to severe weight loss. If it wasn't for formula my little boy would be a very sick baby.

I continue to persevere with breast feeding, expressing and topping up with formula and will continue to do so. I am unable to produce enough to feed my baby and this is incredibly upsetting.

To imply that formula is evil is very damaging to mothers who have no choice.
Far more babies are readmitted to Neo Natal now that breastfeeding is on the rise.

Far more support is needed for those of us that want to breast feed but need formula as well.
It takes a great deal of time and commitment to continue to breastfeed when you are in my situation and being judged in this way will only encourage more of us to give up breastfeeding all together.

confuddledDOTcom Wed 08-Dec-10 12:16:33

Sadly though SarahAggie, it is correct. There are some conditions not seen in breastfed babies and some that are more likely to be seen in formula fed babies. Formula fed babies are more likely to spend longer in hospital for the same visit as a breastfed baby and more likely to be put on a drip for the same condition.

Yes formula plays a vital role in a world where breastfeeding support is hard to find but that doesn't change that it is not a living substance, it doesn't adapt to each feed, it isn't a complete meal, it is contaminated (the recent beetle contamination is the obvious one but as I've already said there are conditions only found in formula fed babies, you also have the fact that formula is not sterile and rarely made up following the new instructions to ensure it's sterilised), is not bio-available so includes an incredible surplus to make sure baby gets enough, has ingredients that have no place in a baby's diet (MSG, Free aspartic acid, BPA, Fluorosis, DHA/ARA, Hexane, Mercury, Melamine, Cyanuric acid, Formaldehyde, Antinutrients/soy, Bacteria).

If you were on a long journey (works more if you think about those long roads in the US or Australia that have no civilisation for days) and were hungry and the only place you found to stop was McDonald's, you'd stop there. You'd get your fill and leave satisfied. Does that change the fact McDonald's is not the healthiest diet? Do you defend McDonald's because it kept you alive on that journey?

Guess what? My children were formula fed before I met them. They were 5 and 3 hours old before I could see them and they already had tubes down their noses. The first (5 hours old) was on formula pretty much for her first two weeks and had a lot of top ups after that because of bad HV advice. I was grateful for all the times we had to take her back to hospital and could breastfeed her knowing I was keeping her off a drip (yes, I've been told "She'd be on a drip if you weren't breastfeeding") and going home early (been told that too "As you're breastfeeding we're happy to let you go home today as she will get fluids, if she was formula fed we'd have to keep her in so she could be on a drip")

I'm grateful my children had formula when there was nothing else available to them but I will never pretend it's anything other than it is.

Ceidlihgirl Wed 08-Dec-10 12:58:43

Bottlefeeding mums perceive Baby Milk Action to be anti formula. Whilst this may not be the case, that perception will affect the credibility of anything you say. Does your organisation need a makeover?

Beveridge Wed 08-Dec-10 13:07:50

Earplugs so would you object to any male doing a Q&A on breastfeeding on the grounds that they (presumably!) have never lactated?

What an odd thing to say. Does that mean Jack Newman wouldn't be allowed on either?!

crikeybadger Wed 08-Dec-10 13:20:26

Ceilidhgirl- I'm not sure many of the bottlefeeding mums who have said that have actually looked at the BMA website.

In bold letters across the top, their strap line reads: Protecting breastfeeding- Protecting babies fed on formula.

SarahAggie- sorry you've had a hard time. Formula (or donated bm) is certainly a godsend for sick babies. No one is saying that formula is evil and no one is judging you.

Ceidlihgirl Wed 08-Dec-10 13:36:51

crikey that is exactly my point smile. If one of Baby Milk Action's aims is to get info across on formula to mums in the UK who use it, then it is a lost cause if your image is such that your target market think you're bonkers extremists and won't even look at your website.

Ceidlihgirl Wed 08-Dec-10 13:43:41

Just to be clear, I am not saying that I think Mike is anything of the kind blush, just trying to explain the point I was trying to make. <digs hole>

BertieBottlesOfMulledWine Wed 08-Dec-10 13:44:17

Yes agree totally with Ciedlihgirl. I don't know what BMA could do about it though. If you look at their site it's clear they aren't extremists and they care about breastfed and bottlefed babies and want to promote GOOD information going out there. Getting upset over the Nestle boycott is misguided IMO - it's not about stopping formula from being made available, it's about stopping awful marketing practices in the third world, where (incorrectly made) formula IS a very real danger to babies.

crikeybadger Wed 08-Dec-10 13:49:52

grin Ceilidh- I take your point.

I think some people just wade in grinding their axes without really looking at the whole issue that BMA is talking about.

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 14:22:23

So now formula is being compared to McDonalds-totally and utterly appalling shock. Just waiting for it to be likened to smoking,called poison etc,etc.

This is exactly my point why BMA shouldn't have been invited on here-extremist views being expressed under the guise of looking out for African mothers.

I do boycott Nestle thankyou very much.I most certainly am not missing the point either. How patronizing and fundamentally incorrect.

I simply don't take kindly to posters who claim that anybody not partial to extremist anti formula comments don't give a monkey's about 3rd world mothers because many do.

HarkTheHeraldEverything Wed 08-Dec-10 14:45:52

I have never understood the outrage at formula milk being compared to fast food. Many people eat fast food, it's not poison, it will sustain you and satisfy.

a) The health outcomes are demonstrably different from eating it to those from fresh food
b) It is expensive, which may lead to less money for other items
c) Some fast food can be badly prepared, leading to stomach upsets.

Surely that is EXACTLY the same as formula milk. If someone can explain why it is offensive, please do.

And incidentally, there were campaigns to make fast food healthier, and these have succeeded: There is now less salt and fat than there used to be, for example, and healthier options.

BertieBottlesOfMulledWine Wed 08-Dec-10 14:47:49

Mila, that's not what I said at all confused FF and BF is a contentious topic and it is going to attract extremists - but BMA are not an extremist group. And FWIW I wasn't referring to your post about the nestle boycott, but the one above yours which stated that boycotting nestle alienates FF mothers because they need to buy formula.

I'll be interested to see in fact how Mike responds to the more "extreme" views because in all I've seen of him he's always been very neutral in terms of FF vs BF and keen to promote safe, informed FF for those who want or need to use it.

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 15:06:11

Feeding, however it's done, is so emotional, and a good thing too! How we feed our babies is part of our relationship with them and part of our 'identity' as mothers.

That does not excuse out-and-out hallucinating about concerns around formula safety and unethical promotion. To be concerned about breastfeeding and the lack of knowledge and support to make it a happy experience is not to 'demonise' formula or to judge formula feeding mothers.

Formula companies make their profits at the expense of breastfeeding - more breastfeeding = less formula feeding. As businesses, their prime duty is to their shareholders. The public health agenda needs to combat this. There will always be a need for a safe, appropriate substitute, and it should be cheap, easily available and of good quality.

I would like to ask Mike how Baby Milk Action can explain that concern about formula is not the same as judging mothers who use it.

Caz10 Wed 08-Dec-10 15:11:12

MilaMae have you been on the BMA website?

A couple of quotes:

When babies do not receive breastmilk, for whatever reason, they have a right to nutrition that is as safe as possible and will cause the least possible harm. For this reason, Baby Milk Action campaigns to make formula feeding safer. This is is line with the aim of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes:...

...We monitor the baby food industry and campaign for them to fulfil their obligations under the International Code, which is set out in Article 11.3:

Independently of any other measures taken for implementation of this Code, manufacturers and distributors of products within the scope of this Code should regard themselves as responsible for monitoring their marketing practices according to the principles and aim of this Code, and for taking steps to ensure that their conduct at every level conforms to them.

We also work with and train health workers so they understand their responsibilities under the Code and Resolutions. Through our partnerships with professional bodies and mother support groups, we campaign for better information and support for parents and other carers.

This work aims to protect breastfeeding and to make formula feeding safer.

Baby Milk Action believes it is a mother's choice how she feeds her child and no-one should attempt to make her feel guilty over the decision she takes.

No "African babies" (hmm) anywhere!

Bubbles1066 Wed 08-Dec-10 16:09:35

Harktheheraldeverything - And I will never understand why junk food is compared to formula. Junk food contains empty calories and not all the nutrients necessary for human health - eat it all the time and you may well be at risk of malnutrition. This is not true of formula, which is a complete food until 6 months and then necessary nutritionally alongside solids to 1 year. Yes it's not as good as the mighty BM but it's definitely not a junk good in any way either.

HarkTheHeraldEverything Wed 08-Dec-10 16:15:21

Thanks Bubbles, that's helped me. I suppose I see fast food as adequate in terms of nutrition, but obviously, most adults don't exclusively have that, unlike sub 6 month olds who exclusively have formula. Going to sit on my hands now and just watch thread and discussion.

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 16:15:36

A diet made up totally of fast food will kill you eventually,formula won't.In my 3 dc's case it actually saved their lives.

Fast food is trash, formula isn't.It may not be breast milk but it's a perfectly decent temporary food far more healthy I hasten to add than the vast amount of trashy foods many mothers(breast feeders included) choose to wean their babies on to,foods said babies are often subjected to for life.

Babies in this country thrive on formula,children don't thrive on a diet of fast food.

So enough already of the fastfood comparison,it's insulting,spiteful and totally wrong.

Poor Mike - I hope he can see past all the posts on here that seem to entirely misjudge his motives and the purpose of his tireless work.

For all of those that are 'not comfortable' with this webchat, that is your right. I would urge you to read the BMA website before you conclude that there is anything wrong with what it is doing. If, after reading it, you STILL feel that the BMA is bad for ffing parents then please come back and explain why. From a historical point of view, BMA has undeniably done a lot to make ffing safer, in this country and elsewhere.

Otherwise, let's not turn this into just another bf vs ff debate. There's plenty of those around elsewhere and they go down a sad and predictable path. The genuine purposes of BMA, and the people who still need its help, deserve more than this.

PuzzleRocks Wed 08-Dec-10 16:31:35

Hear, hear

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 16:37:42

I don't have a bug to bare with Mike Brady and BMA if he/it sticks to the remit but if it turns into yet another demonizing formula thread which it already has done as predicted sorry but I'm not comfortable with it.

Frozen you seem to be laying blame at those of us who refuse to go down the predictable formula witch hunt path.

I also think Mumsnet should be inviting a spokesperson in favor of supporting formula feeding mothers to do a Q&A to even things up a bit.

crikeybadger Wed 08-Dec-10 16:41:01


TruthSweet Wed 08-Dec-10 16:59:14

I wonder if people would be so NIMBY/I'm alright Jack about formula feeding safety if this was the scenario on having your baby:-

A sales person nurse tells you about this amazing formula and sends you home with some cans of formula. Breastfeeding is not mentioned.

On finishing the cans of formula, you go to the local supermarket and head to the baby food aisle where you see row upon row of formula. You have brought the can of formula the nurse said you were to use with you so you can by the right product. You need to bring the can with you because all the writing on the can is in Russian and German not English and you can't read English very well anyway.

You spot the brand you were told to buy but can't afford it as it's 35% of your monthly income for 1 month supply. Instead you plump for another brand on the same display stand which is much cheaper, there are other brands but they are not quite so affordable. It has a nice picture of a breastfeeding bear and baby bear on the front so it must be baby milk - it's on the shelf next to the other formulas as well. It has a symbol of a bottle with a circle/line through it on the back but you think 'great I can't really afford to buy new teats & bottles so I'll just cup feed the formula'.

One small problem - it's not baby formula it's non-dairy coffee creamer and if you feed it to your baby they will get kwashiorkor and might even die.

Does that sound like the average experience of a wealthy (on a worldwide scale) formula feeding UK family? No luckily it's not, but it is an experience that is had by many families the world over because of Nestle and other companies who put profit before lives.

That is what BMA is interested in. Not about disparaging ffing mothers but protecting babies from unscrupulous companies who don't care one way or another if they die or are ill because their mothers have been coerced into formula feeding, when they just can't afford to do it safely like we can here in the UK (for the most part)

TruthSweet Wed 08-Dec-10 17:03:56

I should add I am really glad that ff is on the whole a safe way to feed babies (not the safest but it's a reasonable choice for mothers to make) here in the UK/Western countries, it's babies in developing nations who's families have to chose between feeding theor baby formula or feeding the rest of the family that concerns me.

Caz10 Wed 08-Dec-10 17:18:32

I also think Mumsnet should be inviting a spokesperson in favor of supporting formula feeding mothers to do a Q&A to even things up a bit.


MilaMae, again, since you didn't answer me before, have you read the BMA website? Another quote:

Protecting babies fed on formula

Breastmilk substitutes are legitimate products for when a child is not breastfed and does not have access to expressed or donor breastmilk. Companies should comply with composition and labelling requirements and other Code requirements to reduce risks - independently of government measures. Parents have a right to accurate, independent information.

Baby Milk Action is not anti-*baby* milk. Our work protects all mothers and infants from irresponsible marketing.

Caz10 Wed 08-Dec-10 17:21:23

Oops that was my bolding obviously, didn't quite work!

And apologies to FunnysInTheGarden as I didn't reply to you! blush. I will hold up my hands and say I had only glanced at the BMA site before now - having looked at bit more closely it seems clearly to not be anti-formula!

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 17:38:05

Caz have you read my posts?

Yes I have looked at the site.

My concerns are with this thread and the Q&A session not what's written or quoted on the site. Quotes are very easy to write,so far many posts on here are very anti supporting formula feeding mothers. We're now not even supposed to be able to buy our baby's food from supermarkets. shock

And Truth I'll say it yet again I'm all for supporting mothers in 3rd world countries but not if it means demonizing the use of formula in our country with threads like this.

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 17:45:26

And re where one should buy formula from,if not supermarkets.

Should we be buying it from some dodgy corner shop hidden out of view or even better make our own???? hmm.

No thanks,we don't actually live in the 3rd world but in a developed country with clean water and sterilizing facilities aplenty so to have easy access to formula in a supermarket isn't exactly unreasonable to expect is it?

TruthSweet Wed 08-Dec-10 17:53:58

But without the support of people in places like this country how do you propose that changes are made to companies practices elsewhere?

It won't matter much to Nestle if a dirt poor farmer from Laos won't buy Nestle products if they're on US$1000 a year but it will if a affluent person in the West chooses different brands of coffee/chocolate/pet food/etc/etc. My family is not well off by any means but if I went back to buying Nestle products I'd estimate I'd spend upwards of £300 a year on them.

If we shouldn't support BMA, what should we do to help those less able to protect themselves and their babies from unscrupulous companies? I'd really like to hear your suggestions and I'm honestly not being sarcastic, if there is a better way to enact change then I'm all ears.

TruthSweet Wed 08-Dec-10 18:01:17

MilaMae - DH and I actually had the same conv. last night re. formula in supermarkets. DH thought it should be pharmacy only as in a bfing culture there would be support 24hr a day and I posited that it should be available in supermarkets/cornershops/etc because we don't live in a bfing culture so don't have 24hr wet nurses in the Yellow Pages wink.

I had to remind DH about me being carted off in an ambulance when DD1 was 2 weeks old at 12am on a Friday night. Luckily hmm DD1 was being mostly bottle fed due to jaundice so we had lots of formula in the house. If we hadn't he'd have had to go out to Tesco with the baby and how lucky we are to live in a big town with two 24hr supermarkets.

He then agreed it was a good thing that formula is relatively easy to get hold of in an emergency grin.

Caz10 Wed 08-Dec-10 18:18:40

MilaMae if you don't have a problem with the BMA why don't you support the webchat then?

It is the BMA that MN are hosting, not some of the posters on here.

Apologies this is meant to be a thread for questions, so mine is the same as someone above:

What do you think about the fact that so many people think you are completely anti-formula? Do you think this is something the BMA should/will address?

I would like to ask why he thinks it is so difficult to discuss the issue without ff-ers popping up and throwing words like "nazi" and "propaganda" around.

I have yet to see any harsh words come from a breastfeeding mother to one who bottle feeds. I've seen plenty go the other way.

confuddledDOTcom Wed 08-Dec-10 19:41:52

So I was insulting myself??? I stated that my children had formula but that does not mean I am going to be blind to the negatives of it. My children would have starved without it because I was too ill to even see them for hours after birth and too ill to pump for days. I'm grateful it kept them alive that does not mean I will ignore the fact it contains many things it should not (MSG, Free aspartic acid, BPA, Fluorosis, DHA/ARA, Hexane, Mercury, Melamine, Cyanuric acid, Formaldehyde, Antinutrients/soy, Bacteria) it is not sterile and more babies end up in hospital who are formula fed than are breastfed. And don't tell me your children were healthy (mine aren't BTW) because the plural of anecdote is not data.

I wasn't comparing formula to 6 months of McDonald's, I was comparing it to ONE meal. One meal at McDonald's might not be the healthiest choice but it's generally not going to harm you. If for that one meal you would starve without it, it is the best meal on the planet.

"I also think Mumsnet should be inviting a spokesperson in favor of supporting formula feeding mothers to do a Q&A to even things up a bit."

But that's what BMA and Mike Brady are doing hmm

nickytwotimes Wed 08-Dec-10 19:55:45

Jesus, I cannoy believe that some people would be against Mike Brady!

AS loads of people have said, BMA acts in the interests of ALL BABIES.

If you feel 'got at' for ffing, firstly that is a reflection of your own issues and secondly boo flipping hoo. At least in this country you have the opportunity to safely formula feed your child (as i did ds1). Millions do not and their babies die. I reckon their needs take priority over our pampered western sensibilities.

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 19:59:51

One poster has said formula should not be available in supermarkets.

One poster.

This is a mad idea.

Of course formula should be available in supermarkets.

It should be cheap, easily available and marketed ethically.

No one sensible is 'anti formula'.No one sensible judges formula feeding mothers.

On a site as big as this, you will get weird views - but they are not typical.

Please don't let this thread be derailed by one person making a daft comment which is then responded to with outrage - rolled eyes is more appropriate.

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 20:02:16

And please stop with the demonising formula stuff. It is tedious and gets in the way of discussion.

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 20:02:51

I meant with the accusations of demonising formula.

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 20:08:58

"Nazi" and "propaganda" haven't appeared on here hmm.

Mrsgorden I think you'll find plenty of breastfeeders hurl harsh words-just read this thread.

"ffeeders popping up" so we're not allowed now to discuss the use of formula even though we(the vast majority of mothers sadly) actually use it.

I think you'll find ffeeders generally "pop" up to disagree with ridiculous statements such as formula needing to be banned from supermarkets and likened to McDonalds.

Oh I get it,we shouldn't dare to "pop" up and say anything,our voices simply aren't worthy or valid.


MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 20:15:03

Oh now we get the usual"issues" comment,I wondered how long it would be before it appeared. How thoroughly patronising.

The stock comment designed to make any statement from a ffeeder seem to have little substance -as whatever we say is a result of having "issues".

I have no issues whatsoever,why on earth would I ?

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 20:20:03

I think the suggestion was that popping up is fine - it's the harsh words that aren't fine. Always helpful to read to the end of the sentence, I would say

No one thinks formula feeders - the majority of mothers - should not discuss the topic....again, crazy to think this is what is being suggested! Yes, disagree with the supermarket thing - but then move on, yes? You've brought your outrage up five flippin' times - enough already!

The poster who drew the McD analogy has explained her reasons - I don't think it's a good analogy as no one has to live on McDonalds, ever, and it could never be a necessity for anyone, but babies who are not breastfed have to have formula...and as such it is a necessary product. But the analogy is not worth this persistent outrage, IMO.

nickytwotimes Wed 08-Dec-10 20:21:28

Glad to oblige.

I was also a formula feeder so chill.

Again the BMA is there for all babies.

I say issues because you mention formula being demonised. It is anything but. I used to feel guilty for ffing ds1 but that came entirely from me. The whole of society supported me ffing him. I have had to seek out help to bf ds2.

nickytwotimes Wed 08-Dec-10 20:24:05

and aye, tiktok is spot on with the rolling eyes at crazy suggestions wrt the sale of formula.

MilaMae: I have read the thread. I have now re-read it and seen no harsh words. Maybe some silly comments.

The only conclusion I can reach is that you take all criticisms of formula as a personal insult and a judgment on how you fed your baby.

Which, ps, you shouldn't do. How you feed your baby is your own business.

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 20:31:54

I don't feel guilty what so ever,you're putting your issues on me.

And Tiktok I'll be as outraged as I much as I like thanks,it's an open forum.

I have mentioned my "outrage" as you put it several times to illustrate the point that this thread instead of being a forum to put questions to Mike Brady is being used as a vehicle to demonize(yes I will use that word again as it's appropriate)formula with statements totally uncalled for. It's wrong and I'm not comfortable with it.

Sorry if that makes uncomfortable reading but personally I think any new and vulnerable ffeeders should be able to read about Nestle without the usual rather nasty formula comments so I'll post what I like thanks.

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 20:39:15

Oh, FGS, MilaMae.

Yes, be as outraged as you want to be. Go ahead and think that any discussion about how formula can be marketed ethically is a personal criticism of you and a 'demonisation' (ha!) of formula itself.

But don't use your outrage to derail this thread. In fact, surely to goodness you have been outraged enough today? Are you not a bit tired?

Why would reading about Nestle upset 'new and vulnerable ffeeders'? Would not 'new and vulnerable' ffeeders be interested in the products they are using, and how they are sold?

Where has there been a 'nasty' comment about formula?

(I do hope you are not going to mention supermarkets again.)

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 20:47:08

Not entirely sure what you're on about Tiktok.

If you read my last post you'll see I'm all for info on Nestle but not the normal anti formula crap which I hasten to add I'm not alone on feeling uncomfortable with.

I find your tone rather aggressive.

Lulumaam Wed 08-Dec-10 20:47:54

I formula fed both my children from birth.

I am a supported of BMA and have boycotted Nestle for years

I support other women to breastfeeed

I support other women to bottle feed safely

no agenda or demonisisng here

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 20:56:17

Don't intend to sound aggresive, and I don't think I have been - exasperated, a bit, yes

MilaMae - you are the one who entered the thread complaining of an "anti formula, scaremongering witch hunt" ...and that uppped the temperature somewhat.

Not sure what you mean by 'anti formula crap' - you can't assume that 'anti formula marketing' means someone is 'anti formula'.

A question for Mike Brady: how can this distinction be made clearer?

ohanotherone Wed 08-Dec-10 21:06:48

I would like to clarify my views on formula and supermarkets. Firstly, I would like to point out that my baby would have died without initially having formula although I sucessfully went onto breastfeed.

Formula companies consistently ignore laws on advertising and agressively promote their products without due regard for public health. Formula has been clinically proven to be not as good as breastmilk and there is ample research to support the short and long term health risks to both a baby and a mother of using formula. The reality is in this country, that people are unaware of the research or if they are aware because of their own experiences (clearly awful ones in many instances, where people don't receive proper help and support and get told all sorts of rubbish by HCPs) they get very defensive and view people who promote breastfeeding as nazi's etc. There is a public health issue at the heart of this problem which should be addressed and people should be looking at the wider evidence based picture.

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 21:11:31

I agree with you, ohanotherone. It is possible for formula to be on sale openly and to be widely available, and for all those concerns about advertising and health to be met - no need for its sale to be banned from supermarkets.

The mark up on formula is massive, too. No reason for it not to be consistently low priced and it could be, because there would be no money spent on marketing.

Himalaya Wed 08-Dec-10 21:35:15

A question for Mike:

As I understand it from "UNICEF stats www.childinfo.org/breastfeeding_infantfeeding.html etc..the majority of babies in the developing world who are not exclusively breastfed are not given other milk or given formula, but water or complimentary foods traditional in that community such as maize meal porridge.

So the challenge of enabling more women to exlusively breast feed for longer and save the lives of 140 million children a year is not simply one of breastmilk vs formula (or of poor people vs big corporates) it is also about challenging some of the traditional practices handed down from Grandmas etc...

So the question is, do you think that there is any hope, that a company such a Nestle could be a force for good. They have has so much marketing expertise, scientific research and global reach, and an interest in selling products to children and families throughout their lives - do you think there is any hope that they might become a force for good in promoting sound nutrition, from breastfeeding to eventual weening and beyond. Do you see any sign of companies doing this?

MilaMae Wed 08-Dec-10 21:40:03

I don't think people are against promoting breast feeding and I do think people are well aware of research which is why most mums like myself at least try to breastfeed.

If I hadn't been inundated with the pro bf literature which I was I wouldn't have bf my twin boys and dd at all let alone the 6 weeks I did manage. Believe you me I didn't battle at it for any other reason than it was best for them. No the reason I gave up was lack of support which I really think the emphasis needs to be shifted towards.

The info is out there,mums don't want anymore. They know only too well what is best.I'd be amazed if you could find any mother who didn't know.To be frank it's all pretty pointless in this country when the systems really aren't in place to ensure mums continue to bf.

You can campaign all you like but it isn't going to make a jot of difference until mothers get more support-how can it? They'll still give up if it becomes impossible to continue. A info leaflet doesn't suddenly make everything easy.

I would imagine in Africa things are different. Do mothers still have more support from their mothers and the wider community? Also obviously campaigning is crucial for such countries as it simply saves lives.

ohanotherone Wed 08-Dec-10 21:49:41

Perhaps a better idea would be for formula products to be in plain packaging with similar typefaces and the instructions on how to prepare in much bigger and clearer writing so that more space is given to ensuring that parents can safely prepare the product.

I don't think formula companies give much thought to the fact that people using their products may have visual impairment, may not be able to read instructions properly due to language barriers or learning difficulties or may live in poor conditions in this country. Also if a parent is on a very low income then the proportion of their income spent on formula is huge is comparsion to the actual cost of the basic ingredients whereas breast milk needs needs no preparation, does not discriminate and is always sanitary. So to promote formula as an equal alternative to breastmilk is unacceptable. Their messages work, A girl at work said "I will formula feed because I want my husband to share the feeding". Where has she got that message from, if not advertising???

bb99 Wed 08-Dec-10 21:57:37

ohanotherone - or should you be renamed 'voice of reason'?

Agree with you. The problem isn't formula, or using formula, it's the companies that use it to make profits. Of course they use aggressive marketing tactics and aggressive marketing campaigns to encourage the use of formula, preferably their own brand, all in the name of profits. Advertising works, else companies wouldn't spend millions of pounds each year on researching, developing and checking that their advertising is effective. Also hence the disregard for babies' health in the third world.

Personally I would like to see the FF advertising ban extended to follow on milk and all advertising aimed at children banned. People are more than capeable of choosing car seats for their DCs without the overwhelming amount of advertising that FF companies expose the public to (especially late at night when tired women are trying to feed their DCs) so surely people are capeable of choosing a formula without being bombarded with images and advertising surrounding follow on milk.

It's almost as though the FF companies are trying to encourage individuals to stop BFing and start FFing as soon as their DCs are 6 months old, and by default promoting their FF milk for younger babies. hmm

I don't think FF should be banned BTW (I would be very dead without FFing, not having survived my babyhood) but I think there needs to be a LOT more honesty, which is difficult as lots of women (seem to) find making the decision to FF a very emotional and difficult one.

The BMA has some very interesting information and seems to present a very balanced view. Promoting SAFE use of FF is, surely, something that benefits us all?

FunnysInTheGarden Wed 08-Dec-10 22:44:44

MilaMae I still hear you, although most don't. This has turned into a FF/BF frenzy as usual with all the 'faces' turning out to support one another. All I can say is well done for carrying on. I have tried it before to no avail, so all power to you for standing your ground.

Cue loads of hmm from the 'not for profit organisation folks, but who nonetheless pay their employees, a number of whom post in this topic' and then cue loads more hmm hmm and hmm

Not to mention the inevitable 'you still have issues about BF brigade'

Ahhh, so glad it's been moved from the MN 'topspot'

tiktok Wed 08-Dec-10 23:08:11

MilaMae, you are right that no amount of campaigning or promotion will assist women to bf without the support and the knowledge and the cultural and social acceptance of bf that enables them to do so.

One part of enabling is to restrict the marketing of formula, which makes ff sound like an easy, problem-free alternative. FF is not inherently easier than bf (of course it may be, if bf is not going well) and it is not without its own problems.

Baby Milk Action campaigns for fuller information about formula feeding, so mothers don't have to interpret marketing strategies or decide how much of the sloganising to believe.

Marketing of formula works at a cultural level to affect perceptions.

Women who bf are often beset with doubt and lack of confidence - you can read these every day on mumsnet. There are threads at the moment, where women describe what sound like normal baby behaviours which they worry mean their baby is not satisfied by bf, and needs formula.

The heavy marketing of formula contributes to this lack of confidence.

Funnys, you enjoy contributing to any apparent 'frenzy' that's going, and are never slow at being in there near the start.

FunnysInTheGarden Wed 08-Dec-10 23:20:45

yes tiktok maybe it is because I am as passionate about supporting FF mothers as you are about supporting BF mothers. But nice try.

lowercase Wed 08-Dec-10 23:37:31


lowercase Wed 08-Dec-10 23:37:48


confuddledDOTcom Thu 09-Dec-10 01:26:47

A formula feeder said that six months of formula is like one McDonald's meal on a long American road where there are no other options.

I formula fed, I had no choice I was too ill to do anything else. I do feel some guilt (crazy I know, I was seriously ill having reacted to a general anaesthetic and my baby was seriously ill having been taken out very earl, so not like I had any say in the matter) but I'm realistic, I know what the ingredients list is and I know that it is a fact, not a dig at me. I never understood how people can be offended at an ingredients list or statistics or whatever else. How do you get offended at facts?

Lulumaam Thu 09-Dec-10 07:22:44

you can be passionate about supporting ff without taking every scrutiny of formula/advertising thereof /politics thereof as a personal attack .

I am all for safe , reasonably priced formula, no gimmicks, no heavy marketing.. to see an end of threads like ' how do i make formula up safely?' , ' which formula is better, the MW/HV said X is better/the most like breastmikl ......'

wigglesrock Thu 09-Dec-10 08:23:40

You can also be passionate about supporting bf without taking any positive mention of ff as a personal attack.

jemjabella Thu 09-Dec-10 08:44:23

MilaMae - if you genuinely think that all women know the facts about formula you are seriously naive.

Mike - beyond supporting by way of membership and raising awareness of Nestle's antics, what can we do to help BMA and help spread the message about safe feeding (irrelevant of method/milk given)?

Zimm Thu 09-Dec-10 09:36:55

Has mumsnet considered separating the breast and bottle feeding forum into two to avoid all these arguments? I think the issue is particularly contentious on mumsnet as it is middle class forum (sorry but it is) and therefore there are few people on here who choose to FF, more they FF because could not BF. So they are bound to be upset by very pro BF people. On places like baby centre there is far less debate on sensitivity.

That way the FF's could get all their questions answered without entering into a BF debate and the BF's could focus on BF.

tiktok Thu 09-Dec-10 10:06:00

Zimm - been discussed many times. Consensus is that it works ok the way it is. Many people do both, after all.

I don't think someone who ff after wanting to bf is inevitably upset by 'pro bf people' and many people who ff after wanting to bf remain 'pro bf'.

People who ask questions on mumsnet about ff get their questions answered courteously and informatively, in my experience.

Ill-feeling only gets stirred up when people make an unthinking (and occasionally, though rarely, unkind) remark about formula that rides roughshod over people's sensitivities, or when people make the error of saying that being anti formula marketing is the same as being anti formula or judgmental of formula feeders, or if they use anecdotal stuff to 'prove' there is no/little difference between ff and bf.

The rest of the time things are ok

Himalaya Thu 09-Dec-10 10:07:04

This thread has been derailed into a bit of a bunfight and the guest 'speaker' isn't even here yet.

BMA campaigns for the full implementation of the WHO International Code on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. I don't get what people's problem is with that - whether they are BFers or FFers, surely that mission is worth supporting (...and then you can argue about whether the tactics themselves are working).

I wonder if someone from MNHQ should tidy up all the questions into a new thread rather than invite Mike Brady into the tail end of this squabble?...or would that be seen as closing down debate?

Also I do think MN should invite Janet Voûte from Nestle to come and do a right of reply set of questions here. She has just joined Nestle as Vice President of Corporate Affairs, and has from the UN World Health Organisation. I'd be interested to hear her views and responses (and wonder if she would come on here to do that)

tiktok Thu 09-Dec-10 10:21:17

Good idea about getting the Nestle person in, Himalaya.

Baby Milk Action has always encouraged dialogue and exchange with formula manufacturers.

LifeOfKate Thu 09-Dec-10 10:29:45

Totally agree with ohanotherone and bb99.

Would also just like to point out that Nestle does not sell formula milk in the UK, so a Nestle boycott here does not equal a formula milk boycott. I think this is a good thing, as it separates the issues; I boycott Nestle because I disagree with their marketing practices in other countries, not because I am anti-formula.

My question for Mike is:
The government are clearly falling short of the international code for marketing breastmilk substitutes, why do you think this is? I'm thinking particularly about the marketing of complementary weaning foods and follow on milks (age 6 months +). I find it very difficult to see the government accept these marketing practices when the official advice is that weaning should take place from 6 months and I am also confused as to how the marketing of 6 month + follow on milk is acceptable when milk is essential for all babies up to at least 12 months. It becomes no less essential at 6 months, even though the weaning process is started. Do you think the government will step up a bit in terms of the code and if not, why do you think they won't?

ohanotherone Thu 09-Dec-10 10:45:10

I agree with LifeofKate. I understand that BMA predominantly is concerned with the impact of Formula Feeding in developing countries, however, there is a an issue in this country with babies being put at risk of both acute and chronic disease from formula feeding. The response of successive governments seems to be to educate midwives and health professionals but it is very difficult for a HCP to disseminate advice, often under pressure, in difficult situtions against the huge influence of formula companies. Sucessive governments do not use the clinical evidence and basic science to support strong measures to inform women at a higher level, which is a disgrace! For example, allowing 6+ month follow on milk adverts, where indeed is the evidence for that????

MilaMae Thu 09-Dec-10 13:24:13

Haven't bailed but diving in and out. Waves to Funnys.

I actually agree with Tiktok that ff and bf threads should be joint. Neither formula or bm should be hid from view. Why should they?Also as the maj of mums start bf,that means the maj use both so need info on both.

I also think both ff and bf learn about both on joint forums which they wouldn't if separated. I think a lot of bf mums simply think ffs just shove a bottle in without a single thought or care in the world,don't try hard enough etc,etc.Reading posts from ff can only educate the reality of resorting to ff for many mums.

I also think for those dipping their toe into ff posts from bf can encourage them on with bf. I've read countless posts when this has happened.

I just think a rather large amount of sensitivity and knowledge of the realities of ff is needed on the subject which is sadly very lacking. I rarely see such insensitivity on any other issue and it angers and saddens me greatly.

Apologies for bad grammar,have to fly.

bb99 Thu 09-Dec-10 17:24:07

I didn't know any of the facts about BF or FF, at all for a very long time.

The only piece of information rattling around in my head was the 'breast is best' slogan - and I personally HATE this slogan, IMO all sorts of issues tied up with telling people they're NOT doing what is best for their child UNLESS they BF.

I was lucky to manage to BF DC1 15 years ago and the situation then was...

1) Formula readily available in the hospital (ready made up) for ANYONE who wanted or needed it - DC1 was given a bottle (with my permission) as their 'blood sugar was low' - obviously getting me to BF a bit more would have been more useful...
2) Money off coupons and free samples in (I think) the Bounty type bags.
3) NO leaflets even explaining the basics of BF or FF
4) No trained people available to help if you had problems (except through personal referal to NCT or LaLecheL.
5) No where to feed dcs, except grotty public toilets, esp as everyone was SO freaked out if you BF in public.
6) No actual information about WHY 'breast is best'.
7) Lots of advertising of FF

Had dc2 3/4 years ago and the situation HAS improved RE: BF info, but not by much. I'm pg atm and have a few lovely leaflets which even mention and demonstrate latching on etc and some of the common problems and it's easier to feed when out and about now, BUT there is still very little info about WHY BF is 'best'

No info on why it's good for me, or how it is good for the baby (like the hospital admissions etc)...I have only found that out through sites like MN. Also no useful info like....your baby will want to feed more frequently because it will digest the BM more quickly than FM as BM is specifically engineered for baby humans and mother nature is (currently) a bit smarter than all those clever scientists working hard to improve FF.

This would have been a REALLY useful piece of info, as the culture I am immersed in constantly goes 'oh, isn't DC going for 4 hours between feeds yet? What's wrong with DC???' ie why the heck are you BOTHERING to BF (from friends and family)

Also until I read this thread I had NO IDEA that FF wasn't a sterile product or that it was so uncontrolled - I had always assumed it was very well regulated as I think baby food for under 1yo is.

OK, maybe I am just a bit stoopid, but surely the info just isn't getting through? The slogan is getting through, but the supporting info isn't.

Plus I think that there should be parity with the information - maybe a "This is how to BF or FF and these are the pros and cons of both...make your own mind up about how to feed your child"

bb99 Thu 09-Dec-10 17:28:43

BTW - I am as shocked that I know so little about FF, what if I wasn't just lucky (it's the only reason I can think of that the BFing worked) and needed to FF in a hurry - there would be little or NO info on how to do it safely etc.

Caz10 Thu 09-Dec-10 17:33:23

Great points bb99

I was the same re knowledge of ff, and got really pushed into it by health professionals when dd's weight gain wasn't great. As it turned out all I needed was better bf info as she hadn't been feeding often enough etc. Anyway, sent dh very reluctantly (and quite hysterically by that point) to buy formula, he came back with a tub of powder and we both just stared at it, no clue!! Ended up doing it wrongly I now know, so thank goodness DD was ok. Moved to mix feeding when i went back to work and spent a fortune on the ready made cartons.

Which finally! leads to another question:

What do you think of "Breast is Best"? If you are not keen, what would you suggest as an alternative?

Feefsie Thu 09-Dec-10 19:36:44

My sons were both bottle fed after hospitalisation following mastitis. They are both big, strong, intelligent, have straight healthy teeth (no cavaties) aren't overweight and don't catch many colds or bugs. The majority of my friends breastfed to loose weight - how can you feed a baby on a radish and a ryvita!

tabouleh Thu 09-Dec-10 19:54:35

Feefsie - have you read the OP of this thread? It is to post Questions for Baby Milk Action.

Is that your question for Baby Milk Action is it - "how can you feed a baby on a radish and a ryvita"? hmm

Hopefully one of the experienced BF MNers will be along to tell you about how amazing the human body is and that malnourished mothers in developing countries can BF their babies.

organiccarrotcake Thu 09-Dec-10 20:42:24

"And don't tell me your children were healthy (mine aren't BTW) because the plural of anecdote is not data."

Excellent quote.

bb99 super post.

Mike Brady My question is, how can the marketing of formula properly be controlled in the UK when the only apparent organisation to control it, the ASA, is a toothless waste of time. As it stands, if an advert is found to breach the regulations (such as the big-cup advert) the company is simply told to stop running it. Often they don't (I've seen this advert since its banning despite C&G telling me they were not running it again) and even if it isn't run again there's no requirement for retraction so viewers simply assumed it's run its course.

TruthSweet Thu 09-Dec-10 20:54:56

Mike Brady - What can we do in the UK to help support safer formula feeding in other countries? I'm already boycotting Nestle (and telling market researchers this!) but I want to do more to help.

MilaMae Thu 09-Dec-10 22:04:15

It's strange BB99 on every single one of your 7 points my experience was exactly the opposite. This was 7 years ago and 6 years ago in 2 completely different cities.

I'm starting to wonder where you live.I was in my GP's waiting room only last week and there was masses of info on why breast is best. Children's centre's have masses of info too, have you not picked up a pg magazine either recently most issues have articles about it......

Seriously women are swamped with it and have felt swamped for some time. The only bit of info that is sadly lacking is how to actually breast feed.I'm still totally none the wiser 7 years on.

FunnysInTheGarden Thu 09-Dec-10 22:49:10

Hi Mila!

Maybe BMA should take issue with a UK based formula maker and not Nestle, since they do not produce formula for the UK. It would be more relevant to the debate.

Incidentally, I was shocked to see the postcard for sale on the BMA website showing a twin dying due to the use of formula. Shocked because instead of taking a photo of a 'study of child dying due to formula' someone should surely have stepped in to help.

Instead the image is available as a postcard to illustrate how formula damages third world children. To me that is exploitation at it's worst.

tiktok Thu 09-Dec-10 23:02:56

Funnys, that postcard is well-known. The mother gave her permission for her photograph to be taken and shared. She was not exploited in the way you suggest. Her story is at the website www.babymilkaction.org/shop/pcards.html#twins No one took her picture rather than help her. She was in a hospital, and treatment was given, but it was too late.

Nestle does not sell formula in the UK at the moment, but it does sell a range of other foods, and boycotting these is one way UK people can show their concern for what is done by Nestle elsewhere. There's nothing 'irrelevant' in the UK about the Nestle boycott, unless you happen to think we should only ever care about what happens our own doorstep.

TruthSweet Thu 09-Dec-10 23:19:16

But why should they if no UK based formula company is behaving in such a fashion as Nestle does? The BMA isn't picking fights with formula companies because it disagrees with ffing, they are leading citizen action against a company who puts profit before lives.

Say Nestle didn't make formula at all, they made dialysis machines that were too expensive to run for the majority of the world and were sold with incomplete instructions so they were used improperly and Nestle knew it.

However, knowing this they still ran massive campaigns in developing nations to persuade people from using their own kidneys, installed sales nurses in hospitals to encourage healthy people to use dialysis for spurious reasons and spread misinformation about how using your own kidneys to filter urea from your blood was inefficient and archaic, etc, etc.

Would you be horrified if you found that out and want to do something? Or would you say, well we have dialysis machines in the UK and only patients with renal failure use them so I don't think it's important that people are dying in other places because of Nestle's actions?

Why can't people who are passionate about bfing be fine about ffing in the UK (which I am) but still want corporations to behave ethically in countries where in the absence of bfing (excluding medically indicated ffing) ffing could lead to death.

I'm not saying mothers shouldn't have the choice of bfing/ffing but if ffing safely uses half the money they have each month (not watering down formula/having enough boiled clean water/etc) then if they can be enabled to bf and they want to then they shouldn't have their choice taken away from them by an company that doesn't have their or their baby's best interests at heart.

Please note I said could not will or should or would and I am referring ONLY to developing nations not the UK.

Oh, and on the twin point, did you read the blurb alongside the postcard?

This picture tells two stories: most obviously, about the often fatal consequences of bottle-feeding; more profoundly, about the age-old bias in favour of the male. The child with the bottle is a girl - she died the next day. Her twin brother was breastfed. This woman was told by her mother-in-law that she didn't have enough milk for both her children, and so should breastfeed the boy. But almost certainly she could have fed both children herself, because the process of suckling induces the production of milk. However, even if she found that she could not produce sufficient milk - unlikely as that would be - a much better alternative to bottle-feeding would have been to find a wet-nurse. Ironically, this role has sometimes been taken by the grandmother. In most cultures, before the advent of bottle-feeding, wet-nursing was a common practice.

"Use my picture if it will help", said the mother. "I don't want other people to make the same mistake."

TruthSweet Thu 09-Dec-10 23:20:15

Tiktok - as ever more eloquent and less verbose than mesmile

tiktok Thu 09-Dec-10 23:27:44

TruthSweet's verbosity !

Dialysis analogy good, but you know some people will be shocked and outraged and utterly horrified that you clearly think formula feeding is exactly like forcing your baby to undergo dialysis.....


TruthSweet Thu 09-Dec-10 23:37:17

Well, you know me tiktok I hate ffing but I do love a nice bit of dialysis in the am......NOT TRUE BTW.

I have supported mothers to stop bfing, I have supported mixed feeding mothers, and in the absence of loads donor milk just sitting about in A&E - formula has made DD3's life a lot easier (better than putting me under a GA so I would stay still long enough to feed her [in a shed load of pain that max dosages of morphine, buscopan, diclofenac, IV paracetamol & g&a couldn't cope with]) so I am ever so, ever so glad that formula exists!

Please note though I was talking about adults undergoing dialysis to avoid some confusion wink

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 08:55:06

Always good to spell it out, Truth

Feefsie Fri 10-Dec-10 09:17:01

I find most bf mothers quite ascerbic and very self righteous. There are NO guarantees in this world if you are bf, ff, poor, wealthy, born in the West or the 3rd world. BUT I don't really think boycotting Nestle products will affect their balance sheet!

You can only do your best for your kids, with the situation you are in at the time.

lowercase Fri 10-Dec-10 09:41:25

have you met most bf mothers?

how can you make such a generalisation?


LifeOfKate Fri 10-Dec-10 09:59:14

Fantastic post, TruthSweet

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 10:18:27

I am ascerbic and proud, feefsie

It's got nothing to do with whether I bf or not.

Sometimes, ascerbicness/ascerbity (????) is a damn fine thing to be, as a response to daft and deliberately ignorant comments about infant feeding and in the face of unethical marketing intended to undermine a mother's choice to bf.

I am not self-righteous, because I agree with you that on the whole mothers do the best they can in whatever situation they are in at the time. Infant feeding is more than a personal lifestyle choice, and takes place in a specific cultural and social 'space' which can be very powerful.

But....yay for being ascerbic

organiccarrotcake Fri 10-Dec-10 10:28:20

"BUT I don't really think boycotting Nestle products will affect their balance sheet!" Two answers to this:

1) It does. It has forced them to change many of their terrible practises. Because the boycott is so huge, it seriously affects their income. But the more people who join, the better.

2) Even if a person didn't believe that their individual contribution to the boycott would make a difference (which of course it does), for me to buy a product which is made by a company with such practises then makes me a party to them, which makes me feel sick.

Despite the changes the boycott has forced Nestle to make, sadly there is still a long way to go because they continue to break the law, and to cause the unnecessary deaths of babies. Sadly I don't need BMA's website to know this, having spent too much time in Africa myself and seen it first hand, as well as having extensive family (4 cousins and an aunt and uncle) who live and work in Africa for development charities and the UN). While I was initially sceptical when I came across the boycott as an 18 year old student (the NUS supports the boycott, as I found out when I tried to buy a KitKat in a SU shop), actually being in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi and Morocco myself and my family members living and working in about 6 other African countries, I assure you that everything that BMA claims happens, happens

The "twins" photo is of course emotive. Dead and dying babies have that effect. It is rather like the images that are used by the NSPCC, and some of their advertising I just can't cope with. The point is, it clearly and pointedly puts across the problem and what BMA is trying to stop. I have no patience with those who just get upset about BMA being anti FF, andmybaybeewouldhavediedwithoutffthereforebmaisbaa aad. As has been clearly stated and is obvious if the website is properly read, BMA is NOT anti-ff, and neither is any right-minded person. Correct and appropriate FF saves lives. That's one of BMA's key messages. Correct and appropriate. Incorrect and inappropriate takes lives.

organiccarrotcake Fri 10-Dec-10 10:37:30

mike I will get flamed for this. But, how do you get people to understand that furrin babies are still babies? It's not so much actual rascism, but a total lack of understanding that some (many?) people have of how different life is in developing countries. I think that this leads to a lack of understanding of what it actually means to have to choose between, say, fuel or baby milk, or feeding older children (or yourself) and baby milk. I mean, people in this country who struggle on benefits think it's bad. Which it can be. But you know just what actually living on the edge means and it's quite different to anything people really encouter here in the UK.

Do you think that this lack of understanding gets in the way of your message, and if so how can it be tackled?

organiccarrotcake Fri 10-Dec-10 10:42:05

mike you will note a several people asking here how they can help BMA (presumably more than being a member and buying items from the BMA store). I would also like to ask this question. I am just starting a basic peer BFing support course with a view to then going on to the full BF counsellor training. That's because I want to have as much knowledge as possible to enable me to campaign more effectively. Is this the best route? I am not sure that BMA realises the potential resource it has from its enthusiastic and capable followers. I've searched your website looking for ways to help, other than fundraising (which I already do), being a member (I am) and buying from your store (parcel delivered from you yesterday) but how about coming up with a way to use this group of people who are all desperate to "do something" but know not what you want?

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 10:52:19

Good post, organic.

I can't bear the sneering at the Nestle boycott - people are free not to take part, but to dismiss it as somehow anti-formula feeding, or irrelevant because Nestle does not make formula for sale in the UK, or as some sort of comment on what they did with their babies (how self-centred can you get?!)is selfish and short-sighted.

The Nestle boycott is the largest, longest-lasting consumer boycott in the world and it has certainly changed things. I am not especially bothered about Nestle's balance sheet (Feefsie's point) - they are a massively rich company and are likely to remain so. If they stopped making and distributing formula tomorrow and switched to widgets they would still make billions. The boycott is concerned about the company's behaviour - the consumer boycott gives a voice to millions of people throughout the world that brings attention to unethical practice.

Hope that was ascerbic

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 11:09:19

As a twin mother sorry the assumption that you just produce gallons of milk and feed twins easy peasy is total,utter rubbish.

I have twins,my sister has twins,my best friend has twins.All 3 of us were committed to bf,well educated etc.All 3 of us struggled considerably and got no further than 6 weeks.All 3 of us have many twin friends in the twin community and many,many twin mums struggle. It's very common.

Now I have plenty of pics of my twins seriously dehydrated and ill due to bfing,I have some horrendous pics of my dd in SCBU due to bf. Sorry but I would never allow anybody to use such pictures,it is manipulation at it's worst. Obviously nobody would want my pictures as formula saved their lives and it just wouldn't do to highlight that.

None of us know how desperate the mother involved was or how much money she'd been offered to use the picture. Either way it was totally wrong to use the picture.

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 11:31:03

Mila - no one will manage to bf twins if they are told to bf one and ff the other from the start 'cos they won't have enough milk.

That's the point of the picture.

It's just not helpful to persist in assessing a situation in a developing country through the lens of Western experience and expectations, or to assess a mother's own choices to share her experience against your own perfectly-justifiable dislike of sharing your own pictures.

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 11:47:53

So what exactly do you do if there are no wet nurses available,let them starve?

Twins can deteriorate rapidly,they're often smaller,weaker and one can cause the other not to thrive if you have a voracious eater and a weaker eater.

We don't know the exact story or how much money the mother was offered,we weren't there.

The fact is in the Western world feeding twins can bring up problems which are hard to handle and ensure exclusive breast feeding,the problems don't go away just because the twins are African.

Sorry but it's still unhelpful and pointless manipulation to show such a picture.

organiccarrotcake Fri 10-Dec-10 11:52:17

tiktok Ascerbic as always wink.

mila I'm so sorry to hear about the problems that you had. However, sadly again you are reading posts about specific issues and (to give you the benefit of the doubt) not understanding them. I have read this thread from top to toe and see noone saying anywhere that "you just produce gallons of milk and [to]feed twins [is] easy peasy".

A picture tells a thousand words, and the "twins" picture encapsulates all that is wrong with incorrect ff in developing countries. It is not a picture which is relevant to the ff issues in this country and should not be taken as such.

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 12:00:29

Bf is different in Pakistan (where the postcard is from) and in Africa and India. Cultural and social differences, and hospital practices, in the West make some problems more likely.

It would be very rare in the UK for a mother of twins to bf one and ff the other - but this mother was told to do it (and the reasons are explained at the link). She, too, was beset with social and cultural factors that impacted on her bf, and we are, too (just our factors are different).

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 12:12:03

I know several twins who had 1 bf and 1 ff in this country.

My best friend for a start bf her girl twin and ff her boy twin. Plenty of twin mums choose to do this,so you feel at least you're doing the right thing by 1 instead of half a job to both. He just wasn't interested,she had a screaming baby who was. The physical difficulties of the bfing grip for twins is hard enough even more so if 1 isn't eating. You can't sit around and wait for the non eater,you instinctively want to feed the hungry baby so do.

I had the same scenario as did my sister. I cup fed my non eater to begin with(didn't work)which would throw up hygiene problems in other countries I imagine.

Feeding twins is not an exact science,you are dealing with smaller,weaker babies,more so in a non Western country I'd imagine without the high level of pg care twin mothers get in this country.

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 12:14:08

Just to add: no one suggests babies who cannot be bf or obtain donor milk should starve.

It is so annoying when someone suggests that this is what bf supporters think - how utterly ridiculous.

Appropriate and safe formula feeding will always be needed in this world, everywhere.

It's inappropriate and unethical marketing and the misunderstandings that come with this that are at issue.

It's crazy to suggest there is a 'breastfeed at all costs even if the baby is desperate' notion here.

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 12:16:22

Also don't forget most twins are prem,maybe this twin was too weak to bf ie wet nurse.

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 12:19:39

I didn't say that's what bf think but asked a valid question,what do you do anywhere if a baby is too ill/weak/small to eat/bf?

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 12:23:25

MilaMae, I have (I dare to say) come across directly and indirectly more twin mothers than you have.

It is rare for mothers in the UK to deliberately choose to bf one and ff the other from the very start - sometimes things end up that way for a myriad of reasons, which would not include favouring the boy (or the girl).

Everything you post throws up indications that you are talking from a position of not knowing - it is far more hygienic to cup feed in a place where hygiene is an issue than to give a bottle, for instance.

You are right that feeding twins is not an exact science. I don't understand the point you are making there. However, deliberately not bf one baby and then ff the other in the adverse circumstances experienced by the mother in the photo is, scientifically, a sure way of risking the ff baby's health.

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 12:26:36

When babies are too ill/weak/prem to bf, there are plenty of ways to get breastmilk into them (not always easy). The mother in the picture's story was not that her ff baby was too ill etc, but that she had followed the instructions of her MIL not to bf.

But you know this thread is not about this.

TruthSweet Fri 10-Dec-10 12:30:17

No, that wasn't the case - the girl twin was picked to have formula by the MIL as she was a girl. The girl twin was given fm because it didn't matter if she died and in fact almost perferable if she did (sorry but true in this kind of rural society with limited resources).

This explains why the boy twin was chosen to have bm.

KellyBronze Fri 10-Dec-10 12:37:58

"We don't know the exact story or how much money the mother was offered"

Am I the only person who finds this statement (inadvertently) offensive?

just sayin'.

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 12:57:59

"Almost certainly she could have fed both herself" I take great issue with that.It's simply not the case. Of course it's possible to bf twins but there are many factors that make it very difficult with twins so nothing is "certain" with twins.

The picture tells you nothing,there are very few details in the article,in fact it looks very staged.The ff baby looks very sick and weak,no fit state to demand food. Why is she feeding them at the same time there is no need to?She's not even supporting the ff baby which I find very strange.We know practically nothing about the story.

Sorry I'm very uncomfortable with this picture being used.

organiccarrotcake Fri 10-Dec-10 13:04:39

Another question for mike

Given the controversy that may surround the "twins" photo, do you think that it's presented correctly and best used?

That's not to say that one person's misunderstanding makes a controversy.

KellyBronze Fri 10-Dec-10 13:08:24

Mila, it is a staged photo. It was planned to be a staged photo. She is not trying to breastfeed and bottle feed at the same time. She is illustrating her story.

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 13:20:31

It doesn't illustrate anything other than she had twins(if indeed they are twins) and one thrived,one didn't.

In every country this happens but the difference is with clean sterilsed formula you get 2 thriving twins. In Pakistan they clearly don't have access to said clean sterilsed formula so you end up with a weaker twin not thriving.

There are very few details(names,medical history)other than a staged photoif it was a story in this country more info would be demanded. You can't claim anything from it.As it is the people using the photo have made false claims re feeding twins so who knows what else could be incorrect to push the cause.

What I find particularly heartbreaking is the poor mother isn't even looking at the camera. She should never have been put in that position,she just looks like a pawn being used to push somebody else's argument.

organiccarrotcake Fri 10-Dec-10 13:23:25

I sspect we've now missed the boat on questions for Mike, but I look forward to reading his responses.

I would just like to thank you, Mike, for coming to answer our questions. You of all people will be well aware of the controversies which have thrown themselves up on this forum and sadly may get in the way of your amazing and selfless work. I was, however, encouraged to note the overtone of support and positivity shown here for BMA and I hope that you can take away from it the knowledge that there are thousands of invisible supporters taking the BMA message out into the world.

organiccarrotcake Fri 10-Dec-10 13:26:56

I know I should walk away, but:

"push somebody else's argument"

I fail to see how this can be MORE her argument given that it's her sweet, precious baby that died.


MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 13:39:05

Vulnerable people can get manipulated in the most awful circumstances how ever unpalatable that may be.

lowercase Fri 10-Dec-10 13:44:20

at least she got some money though eh, mila?

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 13:50:11

It's not an reasonable question to ask given that so few details have been given.

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 13:51:37

Mila: you say:
"In every country this happens but the difference is with clean sterilsed formula you get 2 thriving twins. In Pakistan they clearly don't have access to said clean sterilsed formula so you end up with a weaker twin not thriving."

That's the point of the picture. It's not meant to illustrate ff in the UK. It's meant to illustrate ff in Pakistan and anywhere ff is unsafe because of local circumstances.

Give it a rest, Mila. The photo is staged - of course it is. The story came from the mother herself - and if what she said was not true (what is unbelievable about it? I don't understand), there are many other stories of babies suffering because of inappropriate unsafe ff. Babies die because of unsafe or inadequate ff in the developing world, and this practice continues because of unethical marketing. It really doesn't matter if the picture is convincing to you or not - if it isn't, then take it as a fable.

Because you take issue with the blurb that 'almost certainly' she could have bf both, you resent the use of this picture. We don't know for sure she could have bf both - but if twins are term, healthy and the mother has support to bf effectively and frequently then 'almost certainly' a mother will be able to produce sufficient, as long as nothing interferes with this.

Look, Mila, this is not about you, it's not about your twins and it's not about this flippin photo!

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 14:06:06

No I won't give it a rest,I'm not going to be bullied off any discussion thanks. I really don't take to your aggressive tone every time you get a view point that doesn't tally with your own.

I'm not talking about my twins but twins in general and the fact is I don't take to staged photos of vulnerable mothers and dying babies being used to fight an argument particularly when facts are twisted at best, incorrect at worse.

Feeding twins is not an exact science, it's not easy anywhere. Is was a bad judgement to use this photo especially in order to make money.

lowercase Fri 10-Dec-10 14:08:28


lowercase Fri 10-Dec-10 14:09:33

who has used the photo to make money?


tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 14:10:25


Was I aggressive or bullying? Really? Honestly?

lowercase Fri 10-Dec-10 14:12:03

no tiktok, you were only slightly ascerbic at most!

lowercase Fri 10-Dec-10 14:12:38


tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 14:12:57

The postcard is available for sale, *lowercase".

I expect the mark up equates to about 5p (5 postcards for £1).

This 5p goes to a charity.

lowercase Fri 10-Dec-10 14:14:58

well...even in the face of the photo, the message still isnt clear enough...

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 14:15:29

Yeah, I thought I was being acerbic, too.

Acerbic's ok, isn't it?

If we worry about being acerbic on mumsnet, in a discussion about formula marketing, in case someone thinks acerbic = aggressive and bullying (FFS), then we might all just as well be silent.


organiccarrotcake Fri 10-Dec-10 14:16:56

mila Tiktok is the veritable voice of reason (and knowledge). "aggressive" and "bullying" are not appropriate terms to use.

You don't like the photo. We've got it. Move on.

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 14:22:46

Thanks, organic.

I try very hard never to criticise someone personally on this forum - so I don't (usually) describe someone as rude, or stupid, or obsessive, or aggressive, or bullying.

I take issue with what they say and their arguments only - if they say something that reveals something about them personally, then I will say what it is (so for example I said that Mila tended to say things that showed she was underinformed).

This is a useful policy for keeping discussion 'acerbic' and not straying into aggression towards a person, or bullying.

It's a good tip, Mila - you could use it

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 14:52:36

Organic just because you and Tiktok say her tone isn't aggressive that doesn't make it so. You don't speak for Mumsnet,every poster or indeed this thread as much as you would wish to.

Tiktok I find your tone in your last few posts aggressive and patronising wether you like this or not,we both know others have accused you of this before.

I don't need any tips thanks. hmm

fabfashionista Fri 10-Dec-10 14:59:41

Hi Mike,
I too boycott Nestle, and I can understand why you are so opposed to breastfeeding in developing countries, where there are questionable water supplies, etc. But I would like to understand better why you are opposed to companies that promote bottle feeding in the UK/Developed world. Surely in this situation where it is safe to bottle feed, this should be up to the mother to choose?

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 15:03:53

Sorry you feel this way, Mila - I am not going to deny you the right to feel what you feel.

Yes, I have been accused of being patronising (though not, IIRC, of being aggressive. That's a first).

I find that people accuse me of this when I sound as if I think I know more than they do, and they don't like what they perceive as a superior tone. I will obviously have to watch that tendency - not being sarcastic here.

I also find people accuse me of this when they feel they may have lost the argument, and have run out of counter-strategies to calmly-argued logic and reason. It becomes easy for them to accuse me of being patronising, and I suppose in your case, easy to complain I am being aggressive. So the argument gets diverted to whether tiktok is being horrid to them.

I prefer to stick to the topic of the thread, and not to follow this tendency of it being all about an individual, so bye!

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 15:10:32

"so bye" hmm

KellyBronze Fri 10-Dec-10 15:14:18

Mila, your ignorance about this woman is so offensive you'd be cringing if you could see yourself from another POV.

The woman is Muslim. Of course she is not looking at the camera. Of course we don't know much about her. Women and baby girls especially have few human rights and her plight and the plight of her daughter is just another story in a country where millions live just one small step from catastrophe.

Just because in this country there would be demands on her identity etc. does not mean that the same holds true in a place like Pakistan. Many women in Pakistan are lucky to just know how to read and right and many won't even have proof of their age and birthday.

You really need to step back and read up and reflect on what you've read in relation to where you are coming from.


KellyBronze Fri 10-Dec-10 15:23:45

here is another lying bribed hmm mother Mila. One whose twin boy was ff and the twin girl ff.

KellyBronze Fri 10-Dec-10 15:25:14

twin girl ff breastfed. I better step away now.

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 15:25:40

I'm fully aware of human rights thanks so much so I'm aware this poor lady had very little voice in this matter at all.

I'm sure she had very little say in the publishing and selling of this photo for money which is one of several reasons why it's wrong.

KellyBronze Fri 10-Dec-10 15:27:32


But do you understand now why she may not be looking at the camera?

and is the other woman in the video bribed and lying too?

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 15:31:15

No because there is no other info at all. For all you know that woman's husband was offered money and she was forced to be in the picture. Either way it's wrong to make money out of such heartbreak.

Not sure what the video proves it's the selling of the postcard I don't like.

KellyBronze Fri 10-Dec-10 15:42:54

so you don't like the selling of the postcard but how do you feel about the unethical marketing of formula?

MsFox Fri 10-Dec-10 15:53:31

"Not sure what the video proves"

Perhaps you should watch it again, several times until it sinks in hmm

KellyBronze Fri 10-Dec-10 16:04:28

"I'm sure she had very little say in the publishing and selling of this photo for money which is one of several reasons why it's wrong."

Could you for one minute consider the diametric opposite that this may be the first time she has been given a voice in her life by agreeing for this photo to be taken and published? and pray tell, even authorize its use to teach others?


there is none so blind as he who refuses to see.

Kiwirose Fri 10-Dec-10 21:00:18

I just wonder.....

Why is it that we are told that breastfeeding halves the rate of cot death?

Why are we not told that formula feeding doubles it?

Surely education should be based on the fact that breastfeeding is the norm and not the other way around. I think this approach makes the benefits of breastfeeding and the burdens of formula much clearer. Also as the (breastfeeding) mother of twins I found immense pressure to bottlefeed as my twins didn't put on weight quickly starting with my GP who said "my children were bottle fed and it didn't do them any harm". The education of the medical profession remains poor.

Kiwi Rose

MilaMae Fri 10-Dec-10 21:27:12

Kiwi I haven't find this to be the case .I found that if you made it clear you wanted to bf it was excepted very swiftly. I never got bullied into ff. There was just an incorrect assumption that as I'd made the choice to bf I needed no actual support to enable me to do that.

I suspect we are not told formula doubles the risk of cot death as there are other factors that play a far bigger role such as smoking. Is it not likely that smoking parents are simply less likely to bf not that f directly causes it?

FunnysInTheGarden Fri 10-Dec-10 22:03:06

hello mila still here and watching the bashing you have taken today!

Looked at the link provided by KellyBronze and really don't think any of us here have an issue with the argument against big formula companies in the third world.

Just think that BMA has it's messages mixed. On the one hand it appears to support UK based mums whether they FF or BF, yet their site is stuffed to the gills with posters of BF mother vs posters of how FF will make your baby obese.

On the other it is taking Nestle to task over second/third world formula advertising. What about UK based companies? (I suspect they are whiter than white given the plethora of legislation in this area}

Am really not sure what they are trying to do here. I suspect while their intentions may be honourable, their methods are naive in the extreme.

Maybe a rethink of BMA's aims are in order?

Almost takes me back to the Nestle babymilk boycott in the 80's. Thought we would have become more sophisticated!

Caz10 Fri 10-Dec-10 22:18:06

funnys - "I suspect they are whiter than white given the plethora of legislation in this area"

The formula companies are FAR from whiter than white with regards to their practice in the UK. I'm sure there are posters further up this very thread talking about the flouting of advertising laws etc.

FunnysInTheGarden Fri 10-Dec-10 22:31:09

then why don't BMA take them to task, and not Nestle. It would be far more relevant to the UK debate.

That is what I don't get about BMA. Are they a UK based organisation deal with domestic issues, or are they a global organisation dealing with global issues? They seem very confused in their aims

Caz10 Fri 10-Dec-10 22:47:05

Why can they not work both nationally and internationally?

Oxfam, Red Cross, Help the Aged - just off the top of my head, they all do so, and I can't imagine anyone would call them confused in their aims?

just after a quick search on the BMA website, taking UK companies to task

FunnysInTheGarden Fri 10-Dec-10 23:10:02

Caz10 I have read your link, it just seems that BMA is rather looking for the 'shock' reaction by making the boycott against Nestle the first thing you come across when entering their website. I have no doubt that Nestle are a bigger news story than Aptamil, or their ilk, possibly not following the follow on guidelines, but it all seems a bit grasping for an angle to me. I think they need to decide what their campaign is, and be clear about it.

They do themselves a disservice. If they are campaigning against the promotion of formula in the third world, then fine, do that. But to also include a 'FF may make your baby obese' poster weakens their credibility. They need to decide what they are campaigning for and include their target audience, not alienate them.

TruthSweet Fri 10-Dec-10 23:25:05

They are for babies ergo the name Baby Milk Action.

"Baby Milk Action is a non-profit organisation which aims to save lives and to end the avoidable suffering caused by inappropriate infant feeding. Baby Milk Action works within a global network to strengthen independent, transparent and effective controls on the marketing of the baby feeding industry.

The global network is called IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network) a network of over 200 citizens groups in more than 100 countries."

Emphasis mine.

The inappropriate infant feeding could encompass such issues as overfeeding (^can^ happens with bottles regardless of substance contained in said bottles), it could also included heavy promotion of ffing in a society where it is not safe to do so (e.g. lack of clean water/financial wherewithal ot purchase formula/ecological concerns), it could cover introducing complimentary foods at too young an age (not talking 4-6 m/o but foods marketed as suitable from birth).

None of that excludes the others, does it? Does Age Concern only worry about, say, people of 90 in nursing homes? No they fight for the rights and dignity of all older citizens.

Why can't BMA, in conjunction with a global network of like minded charities, fight for the rights of babies to have safe, healthy infancies through appropriate feeding practices?

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 23:33:27

Baby Milk Action works in the UK andinternationally; it is part of IBFANwww.ibfan.org/.

The Nestle boycott is international.

Baby Milk Action is also the face of code monitoring in the UK. UK formula manufacturers break the law and the Code, every day.

They are also members of the Baby Feeding Law Group www.babyfeedinglawgroup.org.uk/.

It is normal for charities/NGOs to work nationally and internationally - as well as the examples already mentioned, UNICEF works in the UK as well as worldwide.

Seems to me that Baby Milk Action has a consistent message - formula feeding marketing needs to be ethical, wherever it happens to be in the world.

There is an IBFAN poster on infant feeding and obesity for sale at the BMA shop, but the site is hardly 'stuffed to the gills' with it, and it does not say formula will make your child obese. I don't suppose everyone would agree with every aspect of this or any other poster, but that's inevitable.

tiktok Fri 10-Dec-10 23:36:22

Funnys, Baby Milk Action would be very foolish to take advice from you on what would be an effective campaign.

You don't agree that ethical marketing of formula is an issue worthy of consideration, so you're unlikely to have anything sensible to say on the matter.

Caz10 Fri 10-Dec-10 23:37:56

it does seem clear to me, esp from reading the quote above, what they are campaigning for! True it's not as simple to understand as "save the whales", but it's a (relatively) complex issue!

Caz10 Fri 10-Dec-10 23:44:08

and to be strictly factual, ff may make ur child obese. If they are overfed etc. And so might many other things. But they're not lying!

FunnysInTheGarden Fri 10-Dec-10 23:45:40

tiktok am so tempted to say a big WHATEVER to you, but obv won't since I am an adult.

You have totally ignored my post when I said that none of us have issues with the unethical marketing of formula.

I think that BMA needs to be left to get on with it's 'campaign' safe in the knowledge that it has managed to alienate a huge majority of mothers, who, had it been more considered in it's public profile, would have been fully in favour of it and would have given whole hearted support.

Caz10 Fri 10-Dec-10 23:45:56

and to be strictly factual, ff may make ur child obese. If they are overfed etc. And so might many other things. But they're not lying!

FunnysInTheGarden Fri 10-Dec-10 23:49:23

but why would you include a poster saying that on your supposedly pro FF and pro BF site? Totally unnecessary.

marzipananimal Sat 11-Dec-10 07:42:12

Funnys does being pro ff and pro bf mean that they're not allowed to talk about any of the potential health risks of ff? Surely in order to protect ff babies they need to make parents aware of potential risks so that these can be minimised eg. risk of obesity if parents don't feed on demand but try do get babies to finish bottles (you don't have to agree with this particular (obesity) point, though there are scientific studies to back it up, it's just an example)

lagrandissima Sat 11-Dec-10 08:21:44

There are clearly health risks associated with formula feeding, although these are minimised in developed countries (where families are more literate, can prepare the mix in more sanitary conditions, and have the funds to pay for the product).

BFing remains the best option for women and babies in developing countries, but this knowledge has been taken from them - firstly by the cultural imperialists who encouraged FFing as a more 'developed', 'modest' and 'modern' way of feeding babies in the 1950s/60s. This then paved the way for companies from those 'developed' countries to go in and market their products to huge populations. The whole story stinks.

Unable to turn back the clock, and being pragmatic, BMA strives to ensure that if a woman decides to FF, the product and information are optimal. I can't see what is so controversial about this. It is clearly more appropriate to re-establish BFing in developing countries. It is also appropriate to point out the potential risks to mothers in the 'developed' world (e.g. importance of making up correctly / following dosing instructions).

For individuals the whole subject of BF/FF is very emotive, and everyone who's ever had a baby will have their own experiences of one, other or both. That shouldn't detract from the fact that BMA is working against the disinformation circulated by global commercial organisations. It would be great to know what else individuals can do to help them in this aim.

FWIW, Tiktok, I'm glad you are not put off posting on MN because of comments of a personal nature. Your advice re. BFing is spot on, and you helped me keep going with my DS1 several years ago when I had mastitis and wanted to throw the towel in. For that I remain grateful.

tiktok Sat 11-Dec-10 08:57:55

Funnys, have you changed your mind from thinking that UK legislation to restrict the marketing of infant formula is wrong? From thinking that it 'demonises' formula?

If that's the case, I applaud your flexibility.

tiktok Sat 11-Dec-10 09:02:10

lagrandissima, thank you for your nice words.

I was not put off by personal comments, but I didn't want to be the subject of the discussion (how tedious for other people reading....) so I got out when that started happening!

tiktok Sat 11-Dec-10 09:28:27

Interesting that there is resistance to the idea that mothers who choose to formula feed/end up formula feeding/wondering whether to formula feed should not have information on the health effects of this decision.

BMA are not primarily a 'how to bf your baby' or 'how to ff your baby' organisation, and I think that's a sensible use of resources. But I also think it's ok to sell posters and factsheets - mostly, as far as I can tell, produced by other organisations who have done the research and production work - that are relevant to their campaigns for better information.

To want an organisation (whose aims include sharing information so people and public health agencies can make better decisions), to restrict information about say, obesity and infant feeding, seems perverse.

TruthSweet Sat 11-Dec-10 10:05:30

FunnysInTheGarden Fri 10-Dec-10 23:49:23 -
but why would you include a poster saying that on your supposedly pro FF and pro BF site? Totally unnecessary.

Did you know the Breastfeeding Network (a breastfeeding support charity) discusses which medications you cannot bf while taking? For example tetracyclines are contra-indicated if taking for acne or for courses longer than 1 month.

How very dare they! They shouldn't be telling women they can't bf while taking a drug that's anti-bfing.

No, of course it's not, it's providing information to mothers so they can make the choice that suits their family the best.

To be 'pro' something doesn't mean to be in favour of something at any cost or to pretend that there is never any drawbacks or side effects, it means to support it. BMA supports formula feeding but they are aware of the drawbacks of it too.

organiccarrotcake Sat 11-Dec-10 11:06:08

"BMA supports formula feeding but they are aware of the drawbacks of it too."

If I may, I would re-word it to say that BMA supports safe and informed FF.

TruthSweet Sat 11-Dec-10 12:17:04

Spot on OCC,much better worded. I was NAK so not fully paying attention (NAK now as well but different childgrin)

Himalaya Sat 11-Dec-10 16:47:49

lagrandissima I don't think the problem of infant feeding in developing countries is as simple as breast vs bottle and traditional knowledge vs cultural imperilalism. If you look at the UNICEF statistics for a lot of countries formula feeding is much less common than mixed feeding with something else - cows or goats milk, maize meal porrige, tea, millet, pounded yam etc...a lot of these are traditional practices and the evidence based WHO recommendations on exclusive breastfeeding are as much 'cultural imperialism' as formula is.

Not saying that enforcing the WHO code is not important, just that it is not the only thing needed. And I'm not sure the anti-corporate breast vs bottle narrative that BMA runs with is really best designed for solving problems so much as for best for appealing to supporters of the campaign.

tiktok Sat 11-Dec-10 17:01:44

Certainly true that non-exclusive breastfeeding in developing countries may well involve traditional foods and drinks - but there are other agencies (notably UNICEF, as you say, but many other NGOs, too) which work as health promoters to ensure families are educated with better, healthier infant feeding practices. I don't think it is fair to equate this work with 'cultural imperialism' - it's similar to work educating families in the importance of vaccination, of the harm done to girls by genital mutilation, of education in the use of contraception. Maybe I am misunderstanding your point here.

Baby Milk Action is 'about' formula milk, however (clue is in the name ) and how the marketing and distribution of it undermines breastfeeding. This requires different strategies, and does indeed include campaigning in countries where the Big Business behind the unethical distribition of formula resides. Not sure what's wrong with that?

Himalaya Sat 11-Dec-10 21:16:18

Hi Tiktok,

Sorry probably not expressing myself too clearly. My point was in reply to Lagrandissima's explanation of the baby milk issue, which seemed to be a story of traditional=good, external influence = bad, and a simple conflict between exclusive breastfeeding and formula. My point was that the reality of the situation is more complex than that.

The thing is complex realities don't often make for good campaigns. You are right that the campaign is called Baby Milk Action and is about the milk, but what supporters ultimately care about is babies and their health which is complex (unless what they really care about is bashing Nestle and/or big biz in general which is a simpler game of black hats and white hats, but which may not necessarily lead to the best outcome for infant health).

FunnysInTheGarden Sat 11-Dec-10 22:18:36

yes, himalaya very interesting point. I have always felt there must be more to the debate than the polarised BF/FF when it comes to developing countries.

Interesting to hear you view point.

tiktok Sun 12-Dec-10 11:45:29

himalaya - thanks for clarifying. The baby milk issue is of course more complex that 'a simple conflict between excl bf and formula' but not more complex in the way you mean.

The introduction of traditional foods (pre-lacteal feeds like honey, other animal milks alongside bf, grains, cereals) to an infant is common in the developing world but while they do interfere with health in various ways, they don't threaten the primacy of breastfeeding, or the total cultural acceptance and integration of breastfeeding - that threat comes from formula, which is powerful enough (because it comes backed with enormous commercial resources) to destroy this cultural and social integration of bf and the knowledge of how bf 'works' disappears.

So you can't equate traditional non-bf infant foods with formula in the way (I think) you are doing - a bit of goats milk which has been traditional for possibly 1000s of years is no real challenge to bf, and it is a lesser threat to infant health, compared to formula which can quickly take the place of breastfeeding, both in an individual baby and in a culture.

I think Funnys is seeing Reds under the Bed, and imagining some sort of anti-big business conspiracy. This is in her head only.

Big business does need challenging from time to time, and in some cases, it needs to be told to stop what it's doing. But Baby Milk Action is not an ideologically-driven campaign in the way Funnys is suggesting - at least I have never seen any evidence of this.

KellyBronze Sun 12-Dec-10 13:29:20

re: "I have always felt there must be more to the debate than the polarised BF/FF when it comes to developing countries."

@Funny. Would you mind expanding on your ideas of the 'more to the debate' here?

Himalaya Sun 12-Dec-10 19:51:52

Tiktok - I have mixed feelings about the Nestle boycott.

I do think the WHO code should be upheld, and certainly believe that we should hold big biz to account, but I am not sure the boycott tactic is working at this point.

Boycotts depend on a clear story of victims, harm and bad guy. I'm not sure that a simplistic story is really helpful for understanding the complexity here.

The simple story about exclusive breastfeeding being the norm and being undermined by formula is not quite the full story. This does not mean equating traditional non-bf food with formula. But it does mean judging all the factors that prevent good nutrition and safe infant feeding in each community.   
In terms of the bad guy,  I don't know if Nestle have been the worst offender in every year of the boycott, or why other companies that  have not met BMA's four requirements are not boycotted.  This matters, not because we should be to 'fair' to Nestle, but because boycotting one company and asking them to do something while not holding their competitors to the same standard doesn't work -- the pressure to avoid loosing out to their competitors is usally stronger than the pressure of the boycott.  

In this respect the Baby Milk campaign has been quite different from the campaigns on child labour, sweatshops etc.. which started at around the same time, initially focused on Nike but broadened out to more companies and also became more collaborative between the NGOs and the businesses in trying to work out how to solve the problems on the ground. I think the child labour campaigns have been more sucessful.

Finally, I also have mixed feelings about the campaign because I do think it is motivated not just by a desire for ethical marketing of formula but a desire to see breastfeeding win out against formula. Although breast is clearly best nutitionally, maximising long term breastfeeding rates may not be the best thing for women economically. And that matters because where women can and do work outside of the home, they are in a better position to make choices, have power at home and outside, stand up for themselves against domestic violence, get more education, and to provide for their families.  These things are also important for their health and that of their children. So with economic development does come rising rates of bottle feeding and falling rates of longer term breastfeeding, and if this is done safely it may not be a bad thing.

Anyway, will be interested to see Mike Brady's answers.  

tiktok Sun 12-Dec-10 21:01:12

HImalaya - the best route out of poverty and inequality everywhere is to empower women - enable reproductive choices, fertility control, better access to health, education and employment.

Supporting breastfeeding is absolutely part of this; there does not need to be any tension between enabling breastfeeding and supporting women's empowerment to better themselves (and by extension their children).

Part of this is biology - breastfeeding contributes to better female health and in poor conditions this is true in the short term as well as the long term (bf suppresses periods so less anaemia; contributes to contraception and child spacing, and has a role to play where artificial contraception is not acceptable/liked/affordable). Part of it is protecting flexible working everywhere so women do not have to choose between i) paid employment away from the home shortly after birth without their babies, and ii) no paid work and staying at home to do infant care.

Any society should be aware that protecting maternal and infant health is an investment worth financial support.

I could extend this argument and clarify, but no doubt Mike Brady will.

The Nestle boycott does not let other manufacturers off the hook - Baby Milk Action also campaigns for the WHO code.

RubyBuckleberry Sun 12-Dec-10 21:27:10

Himalaya, there are countries such as Norway where women are supported to breastfeed because it is valued and recognised as an enormous contributor to a country's wealth - it is health giving in so many ways and therefore economically a good investment. The amount of money that a country would save on a whole array of infant illnesses not to mention diseases such as breast cancer would be enormous. If the governent invested just half this money into helping companies to support their female employees to breastfeed, it would have a whole load of money left over. Total no brainer to me but there we are.

barkfox Sun 12-Dec-10 21:39:57

"Part of it is protecting flexible working everywhere so women do not have to choose between i) paid employment away from the home shortly after birth without their babies, and ii) no paid work and staying at home to do infant care."

Excellent post, tiktok. As a card carrying feminist, and current BF-er, I find the argument that FF-ing is an instrument of female emancipation really heartbreaking.

I think a mother can have very good reasons for FF-ing even if she is physically capable of BF-ing. And I know that some women have no choice but to FF because of their work and personal circumstances. But the idea that competing as a pseudo-male in a male oriented workforce is the only choice working mothers have (or should have) is wrong, and miserably so. It isn't a necessary consequence of 'economic development.' That's an insidious idea, which implies that BF-ing is somehow backward, and should be on the wane in a developed country.

Himalaya Mon 13-Dec-10 08:00:35

Tiktok, barkfox and rubyblackberry, I completely agree that women should be empowered and supported to breastfeed. But to suggest that there is no economic trade off for women to take time off work to breast feed for 6 months to 2 years in emerging economies is naive. It may be heartbreaking for us, but it is reality for women in countries where there is little/no benefits system, 12 weeks maternity leave, low women's rights in divorce, low women's status in society, already a suspicion that women who work outside the home may have 'low morals'etc...It would be nice if all countries were like Norway, but they are not. We are talking about countries that may barely have decent publicly funded primary care, so saving money by avoiding the costs of breast cancer care does not really come into the equation. For market traders in Nigeria, teachers in Bangladesh, factory workers in Vietnam, business administrators in Brazil taking 6 to 2 years off repeatedly to breastfeed means giving up their business, source of independent income and quite possibly chance of going back (and convincing
husband and MIL to let them go back). Of course these
choices don't apply to all, but the more a country develops economically the more there will be these choices for women who previously would have worked at home on the farm.Telling them there is no tension
and it works in really well on Norway is not all that

tiktok Mon 13-Dec-10 09:47:23

Norway not a good example, I agree, himalaya - sorry, barkfox

Women do not need to take up to two years away from work anywhere in order to bf. It is disingenuous of you to apply this broadbrush notion to back up your point.

Women all over the world, in all sorts of economies and situations, work and breastfeed. If you read abut Brazil - one of the countries you mention - there has been legislation backed up with real, practical interventions, to enable more women to bf for longer - even if they work away from the home and cannot take their babies with them or have them cared for nearby (though both of these supports are possible in some places, with some types of job).

Western-style industrial revolution where economies went from largely rural to largely urban made huge errors with regard to maintaining human needs - developing countries don't need to make the same mistakes and it is not necessary in order to compete - if the support and the infrastructure is there.

It is very costly for an economy and for an individual family for breastfeeding to dwindle - the long term costs and pressures are great. This is not the thread to go into detail, but bf is especially precious in developing countries, for the protection of maternal and infant health, and it is not in opposition to female economic empowerment - but posts like yours saying women need to take time away from paid work for 2 years in order to bf don't help, I have to say. Big Myth.

tiktok Mon 13-Dec-10 10:04:11

Sorry, it was ruby who used Norway as an example.

It's not an example which can be held up as a model for the developing world, as I said - but on reflection, it's not a bad example in every way.

Norway was very poor indeed after WW2 (by European standards). It was a small, scattered population, largely rural, and of course a long way from the centre of Western Europe. For these reasons it largely escaped the marketing of infant formula, while not being poor enough (cf African countries) to be an attractive dumping ground for formula 'donations' from manfacturers.

However, by the 1970s, formula was still widely enough used for the government to take action to protect bf (everyone still began bf but supplementing and early weaning to the bottle was common). And legislation and employment protection and so on was put in place to ensure bf became easy and ubiquitous.

Norway was never in receipt of massive imports of 'free' formula via aid agencies, so bf never came under attack in that way.

The developing world has a different feeding history, largely for that reason.

RubyBuckleberry Mon 13-Dec-10 12:19:51

Fair points people, fair points. Countries can find their own way, surely, and including support of women breastfeeding surely can be a part of that as they emerge as economically prosperous nations. Or maybe not. Maybe you are right. There is SO much money involved that obviously it will take a blardy miracle for governments and companies alike to actually change things. I just think that it is too tragic to just sit back and say, well, low breastfeeding rates are a product of good economies and that is the way it will stay. There has to be another way.

this book has some great ideas - childcare on site. Female employees encouraged to breastfeed. If only every businessman were like this one.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 13-Dec-10 12:48:38

Thanks for all the questions. We've sent a selection over to Mike Brady this morning and will be linking from this thread to a transcription of the Q and A hopefully by the end of the week.

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 13:11:35

@ Kiwirose, I think you will find this piece interesting, it is a particular fave of mine

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 13:20:39

Tiktok, I would just like to say that I have always foudn your posts to be informative, insightful and interesting. In fact you are the first person I think of when I have a BFing issue "I must ask Tiktok". Thankyou for being such an available fount of knowledge !

On your point about BFing mothers having to be available full time for their babies for up to 2 years, I work 27 hours a week and still manage to BF my 10 month old and I doubt I am unusual. I think a lot of people seem to mistake extended breastfeeding for exclusive breastfeeding and imagine that our babies only get breastmilk.

I would be interested to hear views on my own thought on infant formula, that it should be produced by the government to ensure that it is not subject to profiteering. It could still be available in supermarkets, maybe in 2 or 3 different formulations. As nobody would be profiting from it there would be no need for insidious advertising and accurate, non biased information could be published which allowed FFing parents to do so safely.

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 13:21:28

sorry, that should have read "people thinking BFing mothers have to be available full time"

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 13-Dec-10 13:25:39


I also think Mumsnet should be inviting a spokesperson in favor of supporting formula feeding mothers to do a Q&A to even things up a bit.

Maybe we should have Nestle on for a chat to face the music... what do others think?

tiktok Mon 13-Dec-10 13:46:48

Justine, yes, get someone from Nestle on.

Fibilou, kind words, thank you.

There used to be a 'government formula' - National Dried Milk. Intro'd in 1940s, ceased in 1970s.

There could be a UK generic formula - non-branded, rather in the way you can buy non-branded ibuprofen rather than Nurofen.

The argument against this is that private business and competition spur research and development and better products. I am unconvinced by this - 'better' does not have to mean 'better for health' but 'better for the bottom line'.

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 14:01:46

My view is that the formulation would benefit from unbiased research where those undertaking it weren't beholden to any commercial interest.

tiktok Mon 13-Dec-10 14:18:10

Fibilou,I understand, but any formula would still be subject to the economics of making something for a negotiated price.

Might be something Mike Brady could address.

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 14:28:03

Or it cost the cost of making it, transporting it. So if each tub cost 75p in raw ingredients, the logistical costs to get it to the consumer was £1 and the cost of sundries 20p, the total cost would be £2. If £2.50 was charged 50p per tub could go into funding research and supporting educational programmes.

Although I am sure the real costs are a fraction of those I have plucked from the air !

Himalaya Mon 13-Dec-10 14:48:44

Justine - yes get someone from Nestle to answer questions - I think the person to invite is Janet Voute VP for Public Affairs.

Himalaya Mon 13-Dec-10 15:03:32

Tik tok, am also a fan (really!).

Why are there no generic fomulas by the way - e.g. Tesco value brand?

MilaMae Mon 13-Dec-10 15:14:53

Yes it would be interesting.So many people have questions re Nestle.

However I was actually wondering if we could also have Joan Wolf the writer featured in Helen Rumbelow's article Exposing the Myths of Breastfeeding,Helen Rumbelow or somebody similar to get some balance.

They have raised several points I'd like to see in a discussion which often get shouted down for even being mentioned.

Or somebody not selling formula but actively supporting the needs/views of formula feeding mothers would be good. Is there anybody?

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 15:28:44

MilaMae, UK breastfeeding rates show that 65% of babies are getting formula at only 1 week old. Don't try to pretend you are in some sort of persecuted minority.

KellyBronze Mon 13-Dec-10 15:50:02

Would love to see Joan Wolf on here. Isn't she visiting the UK in March to promote book.

Giving MN time to contact and entice her for a webchat. smile

PuzzleRocks Mon 13-Dec-10 15:56:13

I third Joan Wolf.

FunnysInTheGarden Mon 13-Dec-10 16:32:16

Agree that Joan B Wolf would be great to have on. Thats the American academic and not the christian romance writer BTW!

MilaMae Mon 13-Dec-10 16:59:40

Fibilou I'm not trying to pretend anything,why the aggression? hmm

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 17:14:59

I think you are mistaking "disagreeing with MilaMae" with "aggression". I'm not the only person you have accused of being aggressive when that is far from true.

MilaMae Mon 13-Dec-10 17:25:20

Ordering me not to try and "pretend" in an accusatory fashion when I posted a perfectly pleasant post and wasn't is aggressive. It's also not actually very nice and rude. If you want to disagree it is possible to do so in a more pleasant tone.

I also think if you did a survey and interviewed the huge maj of mothers who do ff I think you'd find plenty/most do have views/needs and could do with support.

KellyBronze Mon 13-Dec-10 17:45:50

I and others on here also think similarly towhat you have said here: "if you did a survey and interviewed the huge maj of mothers who do ff I think you'd find plenty/most do have views/needs and could do with support."

I think that your claim that some people who have espoused certain views on FF is incorrect but I know already that you disagree with this interpretation. All the more reason to bring on someone like Joan Wolf, like you say.

tiktok Mon 13-Dec-10 22:01:56

Mila, you mention views which 'often get shouted down for even being mentioned'. This is not the case - or is only the case if you equate 'countered' with 'being shouted down'.

You accused me of an aggressive tone. Do you also accuse people disagreeing with you, even mildly, of 'shouting you down'?

This sort of chip-on-shoulder reactionism does not help the debate at all.

Joan Wolf would be an interesting guest but I don't think she is widely known or read in the UK at all. I have come across her, but I think this is because I am an anorak in this sort of thing - I don't think I have seen her discussed much on UK websites.

FunnysInTheGarden Mon 13-Dec-10 22:26:39

Fibilou I don't quite know where that response came from. Mila was saying something entirely un controversial and you countered with that rather bizarre post.

Nobody is saying that FF are persecuted, unlike of course the poor underrepresented BF. All that is needed here is some perspective and some counter argument from someone who has studied the issue for many years.

tiktok Mon 13-Dec-10 22:42:01

Himalaya, there was a Sainsbury's own-brand formula a few years ago, but that's the only one I know of in the UK. It didn't last long. I guess it must have been a commercial decision to withdraw it.

There are own-brand formulas in the US - I think the chain store Target do it, as do Walmart, but I see with a bit of Googling only 4 per cent of ff parents use an own brand. That will make money in the US market, I suppose, 'cos it is so huge, but maybe not in the UK.

I wonder if there is a consumer resistance to buying a 'value' formula? Looks like it.

KellyBronze Mon 13-Dec-10 22:59:58

this generic brand in the US seems to be taking on the big players.

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 23:29:01

"Fibilou I don't quite know where that response came from. Mila was saying something entirely un controversial and you countered with that rather bizarre post."

Actually it came from the fact that I am just about sick and tired of women that use formula whinging on about how everyone criticises them for using formula. That they are judged by society. That they are constantly bombarded by breastfeeding everywhere. I am sick of it. Breastfeeding is not everywhere. Hardly anyone does it. I work in an office where there are lots of mothers, with a lot of children. I am the only one who has breastfed for more than about a week. I don't care about their reasons, I don't care whether they breastfeed or not. What I care about is women trying to make it sound as if it is FFing mothers that are berated by society.

Since when did a FFing mother have to worry about being thrown out of a cafe for feeding her baby ? Or counter arguments from family trying her to pressure her into stopping feeding ? Or read articles in the paper about how ffing is disgusting and should be hidden away in the loo (thanks GMTV).

Those of us who chose to BF a baby beyond anything more than about 2 months are constantly questioned about our choices, stared at and certainly in Real Life I don't feel as if I can talk about breastfeeding for fear of being labelled a"Nazi".

So when people come on here and whinge about feeling marginalised for FFing, along with the vast majority of the population, I just think "yeah, right".

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 23:31:15

I will rephrase the end of that

So when people come on here and whinge about feeling marginalised for FFing,despite the fact that 97% of English babies are not exclusively BF beyond (I think) 3 months; I just think "yeah, right".

Fibilou Mon 13-Dec-10 23:33:38

and my post was in reference to Milas rather "poor me" attitude throughout the whole thread, not one post in particular

tabouleh Tue 14-Dec-10 09:58:21

Whilst I have disagreed with some of MilaMae's posts on here and the tone of some of them I fail to see how her posts led to Fibilou's comment "UK breastfeeding rates show that 65% of babies are getting formula at only 1 week old. Don't try to pretend you are in some sort of persecuted minority."

You don't get to decide how someone feels!

Clearly FF is not the minority in real life -but I think that it is a much smaller %age who FF on MN and definitely on this section of MN!

Who is there supporting the needs/views of formula feeding mothers?

Answer - basically no one!

Certainly not the FF companies and whilst I support BMA I can see that their obviously (justifiably) pro-BF stance makes it difficult for FF mothers to engage with them.

HCP know fuck-all about formula and give no advice/wrong advice.

Whilst in certain sectors of society FF may be completely normal and done without comment from others I feel a bit like a "persecuted minority" on MN.

All the "of course I did what was best for my baby" talk can be immensely dispiriting and I am sure that many BF mums here think oh well "at least I suceeded etc".

Unless you have wanted to FF but not been able to then you cannot fully empathise.

I would strongly encourage people to visit the below blog - especially the weekly stories on a Friday for a true insight into FFing.

MilaMae - have you seen fearlessformulafeeder.blogspot.com/?

This lady is writing a book about formula so when that's out she might be a good canditate for a Q&A/webchat.

I certainly feel that BFing mothers judge and look down on FFing mothers.

There is no need for this. If you are passionate about BF - then become a peer supporter/join BMA/lobby for more support for BFing but strive to make sure you don't make FFing mums feel bad.

I felt very marginalised by society because of FF despite FF being more common.

KellyBronze Tue 14-Dec-10 10:00:41

"Certainly not the FF companies and whilst I support BMA I can see that their obviously (justifiably) pro-BF stance makes it difficult for FF mothers to engage with them.

HCP know fuck-all about formula and give no advice/wrong advice."

Here here.

And I could suggest that a couple of people's time would be better spent lobbying the FF companies and the NHS to provide information on FF to mothers rather than advertorials and meaningless platitudes.

MilaMae Tue 14-Dec-10 12:49:48

"advertorials" and "meaningless platitudes" hmmby a couple of people I guess you mean me. What exactly in my posts have warranted that?

To question things and take exception to being told f should be sold in supermarkets and is comparable to McDonalds in a polite,civil way isn't exactly a crime.

What exactly is wrong with my tone? I haven't tried to bully anybody off here unlike posts that have been directed at me.

It seems to be care blanche for hurtful things to be said about f. Nobody has said anything unkind about bf on here yet taking exception to the above and suggesting ff need support is somehow wrong.

The hypocrisy is staggering.

KellyBronze Tue 14-Dec-10 12:55:40

no, I didn''t mean you however if you are keen to let the hat fit, I cannot stop you from doing that. you are not a 'couple of people'. and if I wanted to include you it would be a number more than 2. I am not just talking about people on this thread as it is more than 2 people on MN who seem to think that ppsters who advocate for ethical marketing of formula are instead advocating the banning of formula or some such nonsense.

Caz10 Tue 14-Dec-10 17:36:26

I certainly feel that BFing mothers judge and look down on FFing mothers.

tabouleh that's a bit of a sweeping statement isn't it?!

On another note, if BF mums find that HCPs know naff all about BF and FF mums find they know naff all about FF, what do they know about in terms of infant feeding?! grin

tiktok Tue 14-Dec-10 17:46:30

I think playing a game of 'who's the most oppressed, bf mothers or ff mothers?' is pointless.

As a culture, the West has taken on formula feeding and it is the norm - the vast majority of babies are formula fed at some point. There are powerful commercial interests that are very happy about this and who would not like it to change. At the same time, our culture clings to the notion that bf is probably quite a good thing - but not with babies older than [insert arbitrary age], not in places such as [insert arbitrary place], and no more often than [insert arbitrary frequency limit]. For these and other reasons, bf is actually quite a difficult thing to do for some women and babies.

But individual formula feeding women, even within a culture where ff is ubiquitous, do experience genuine feelings of deep sadness and resentment and disappointment. They suffer genuine tortures of longing to do this 'thing', through sometimes severe difficulties that even the 'experts' cannot seem to help them with.

They do feel oppressed and criticised and under-informed. They often feel the world is against them - even though most of the world (UK anyway) is ff too. Every time someone (like me) suggests formula is marketed unethically, they see it as a criticism of formula feeding and even a personal criticism of them as formula feeders. It isn't - but they feel it is.

The way breastfeeding/formula feeding is framed in the UK (and elsewhere) is you can feel criticised for breastfeeding too often/too old/too publicly, and yet feel other people are also against you if you formula feed.

I believe many of the negative feelings of formula feeding mothers come from within them, and not from breastfeeding supporters. But that does not mean these negative feelings are not real, and powerful.

MilaMae Tue 14-Dec-10 18:59:33

Jesus that last post gave a whole new meaning to the word patronising.

Tiktok have you actually read the thread?

Nearly every ff on here is against unethical marketing of f.

You do not speak for ff mums so don't post paragraph after paragraph saying how we feel and why. We are all individuals with individual feelings and experiences thanks very much.

"I believe the negative feelings of ff mothers comes from within them not breast feeding supporters" what total utter rot.

Like most ff mums I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with formula far from it. If prepared and used carefully it's a good alternative to breast milk on which babies thrive-what's to feel negative about exactly? Some of us(by no means all) may have an issue with the way in which bf is taught(or not as the case may be) but that has zilch to do with other mothers or formula itself.

No most ff mums only have negative feelings over silly,silly posts such as those that have appeared on this thread suggesting it shouldn't be readily available in supermarkets and is akin to feeding a child McDonalds and needless over the top scaremongering.

For some reasons ff mums are supposed to suck such posts up without a whimper but if heaven forbid a bf mum experiences what she thinks is persecution(ie being ejected from a cafe which actually has happened to me as a ff mother) it's only right and proper that all hell lets loose.

FF mums aren't some voiceless, witless, lower class species. We are perfectly normal, intelligent women who can speak for ourselves and believe it or not don't actually slot neatly into your psychoanalysis.

I ask you do you do that with other sections of society,speak for them, decide how they think and why? I sincerely hope not.

tabouleh Tue 14-Dec-10 19:35:12

OK I missed out "SOME" as in

I certainly feel that SOME BFing mothers judge and look down on FFing mothers.

Yep HCPs no nothing much about any method of infant feeding. grin hmm

I seem to be a strange creature - had to FF but against FF marketing.

I suppose maybe there should be posters with info on BF and on FF?!

lowercase Tue 14-Dec-10 20:37:29

you have taken the mc.donalds analogy out of context.
it wasnt compared to feeding a child.

formula is only a good alternative if there is nothing else.
there is no good alternative to breastmilk.


tiktok Tue 14-Dec-10 22:24:33

Mila, you think it's breastfeeding supporters who actually cause the sadness that some mothers feel when they formula feed without wanting to?

I was not speaking about all formula feeding mothers - clearly, there is a spectrum. But many mothers do have negative feelings about using formula as even a cursory read of mumsnet shows you.

"what's to feel negative about exactly?" - your words. And because you don't feel negative, you make the assumption that others don't, or shouldn't.

You over-react (you've now mentioned it 7 times...) to the one post with the mad idea, (later retracted) that formula should not be in sale in spermarkets and the McD analogy which the poster clearly explained, and an idea that people are bullying you and being aggressive and now you say I am being patronising, because I acknowledge that all of us can have bad feelings about infant feeding.

FunnysInTheGarden Tue 14-Dec-10 23:07:21

tab I have underestimated you. Your earlier post was spot on.

and mila rarely have I been patronised as much as when tiktok disagrees with me. It is an enlightening experience smile

tabouleh Wed 15-Dec-10 00:00:37

shock imagines funny and tab arms linked skipping down the road in FF solidarity shock Funny - thanks for letting me know you liked my post. grin

Tis all ver strange this thread what with being that I asked for it and all.hmm

I think this has actually teased out more issues that the "standard" BF v FF thread.

Food(*) for thought for future threads maybe.

(*) BF or FF wink

The thing is though I agree with tiktok's 17:46:30 post apart from the last para I believe many of the negative feelings of formula feeding mothers come from within them, and not from breastfeeding supporters.

tiktok I find you very measured and balanced re FF and I agree with you about the marketing (but not sure how to explain that to others who disagree)

However BF supports here on MN do make me feel bad about myself as there is often no empathy about what people like me and my DS may have gone through.

Case in point from lowercase

formula is only a good alternative if there is nothing else. there is no good alternative to breastmilk. sorry!

really - why post this when you know there are FF's and ex-FF's actively involved on the thread?!

I'd like to make an analogy of my own. grin

Vaginal delivery v C-section. Rate of C-Section's are high - lots of people wish the rate were lower etc etc but rarely do you see/hear of individuals been criticised for having a C-Section (celebs and too posh to push stupid comments aside).

So some C-Sections are probably a cause of a sort of "C-Section culture" - combination of medicalistion of birth/stretched midwives/stressful journey from home - hospital/older mothers etc etc. Factors often conspire to lead to a C-Section. You can't possibly say about individuals whether their case could have been prevented. Of course some "choose" C-Section but we're not party to their reasons etc.

Now unless someone's going to tell me that Mother's feel criticised for C-Sections - can't we move more to that sort of a viewpoint. I.E. compassion for someone FFing who didn't want to/no criticism as the individual has chosen what was needed in their world at that point in time.

So perhaps you can try to change the world a bit in general to encourage BF without criticising FF?

Mila - what would your ideal world look like in terms of BF and FF - info/support/attitudes?

tabouleh Wed 15-Dec-10 00:03:52

lowercase please can I respectfully suggest that you go and read the blog I linked to and read this MN thread (but please don't post on it)! smile

Presumably you don't realise that saying "there is no good alternative to breastmilk." makes me feel like crap even though DS is nearly 3.3 years old.

What are you doing personally to support BFing in this country?

confuddledDOTcom Wed 15-Dec-10 01:28:44

Interestingly the person who made the McDs comment had children born by section under GA and the children given formula before she was even awake and only exclusively breastfed for a short time.

There is no good alternative to breastmilk, just because it kept my children alive when I was too ill to get to them doesn't mean it suddenly doesn't have formaldehyde, MSG, mercury etc in it.

I also think sections are overused, I think they have negatives to them. I cringed the other day when I heard someone say that even though their baby has turned they're still going to have a section because of their PGP, I wanted to scream "Noooooooooo how will cutting through your core muscles make it better?" Although it possibly saved our lives it won't change the fact that I didn't get over PGP and have been on on crutches for two years.

Heparin is currently saving my life, doesn't mean it doesn't have downsides, doesn't stop the fact I can't have my children on my lap because I'm in pain from it.

Speed is saving my sister's life...

Medical advances have their upsides but that doesn't mean they don't have their downsides, especially when overused. And no, I'm not comparing speed to formula, just saying it's a medical advancement.

confuddledDOTcom Wed 15-Dec-10 01:30:07

And that brings us back to the point of BMA. Formula is not as good as it could be and it's being marketed as something far better than it is. BMA are trying to make it better for those of us who really do need to use it.

tiktok Wed 15-Dec-10 09:35:42

Thanks for finding me measured and balanced, tabuleh (instead of bullying, aggressive and patronising!).

Interestingly, mothers do feel criticised for having sections - surely you have read personal experiences and posts? Again, I think the idea that they are criticised by other mothers who did not have sections is hugely magnified - on the whole, mothers are pretty supportive of other mothers, in birth experiences as well as feeding experiences, and tend not to make personal judgements.

I do believe that the negative feelings people have about their birth experiences and about their feeding experiences come largely from disappointment and regret - it is perfectly possible to have feelings of sadness about a birth, at the same time as being thrilled and relieved that the baby is here, safe and well and grateful to the section that made it possible. It's also possible to recognise that not breastfeeding means an experience has been missed, and at the same time to be thankful that feeding is going well and that the baby is thriving and healthy.

I suppose it's called 'mixed feelings'.

It's also possible to have a good section, so you are treated well and kindly, your baby is given skin to skin, and you understand the reason for it. It's also possible to have a good bottle feeding experience, so the baby is fed closely and responsively, without struggle, and again, you understand the reason for it.

I don't accept that if there was no breastfeeding support and no breastfeeding supporters that formula feeding women would somehow stop having mixed feelings about formula feeding - that's preposterous, and actually very unfair.

tiktok Wed 15-Dec-10 09:47:44

tabouleh - lowercase's view that there is no good alternative to breastmilk is not a personal criticism of you and if you feel crap about a comment like this on a talkboard over three years later, then I respectfully suggest this is your issue, and that these feelings are deeper than anything that could possibly be caused by breastfeeding supporters.

Formula is the only realistic alternative to breastmilk, and it needs to be as safe and as nutritious as possible to support the 98 per cent of babies who get it in the UK

It's actually irrelevant whether someone you don't know thinks it's a 'good' alternative or not - surely? You may feel these comments deeply, and my post before was one which tried to acknowledge the sensitivity of women who use formula. I know you are sincere. But it's not lowercase's fault you feel this, years on.

It's daft to say 'good', anyway. If something is a 'good' alternative, it rather supposes there is at least one or two other alternatives which are not so good, in order to compare. Formula is (obviously) better than no breastmilk....I suppose it is also clearly better than gruel or fruit shoots, but neither of these are realistic alternatives.

tabouleh Wed 15-Dec-10 16:44:59

oh arse - I probably need counselling sad or to type up my birth/BF story and get some input from other MNers

MilaMae Wed 15-Dec-10 17:59:46

No it isn't daft calling it "good".

It saved all 3 of my dc's lives.

All 3 of my dc thrived on it(which they most certainly were not doing on breast milk).

It was safe(as opposed to some home made brew) as I prepared it correctly and was careful not to over feed.

It enabled me to stop enduring the agony of breastfeeding.

It gave me my sanity back and enabled me to actually start enjoying my long awaited babies.

Actually "good" isn't enough it's fan bloody fantastic to many,many women in this country however unpalatable that may be.

Tab my ideal world I'm afraid (especially with this gov) is probably unrealistic.

I would like realistic breast feeding courses before birth with both ff and bf lecturing.I would like truth of the difficulties and pain discussed in detail(so no shocks later on). I've already started doing this with my dd. We have a history of problamatic bf that goes back generations but nobody ever mentioned it not even my mother. So gullible old me thought an hour after giving birth to twins I'd have 2 content suckling babies and a radiant mummy-ha bloody ha. I was hoodwinked hook line and sinker by everybody and it's totally counter productive.If you know there is a good chance it'll be shite you'll already have strategies in place instead of panic stricken fumbling when the time comes.

After birth if the mother wanted to bf I'd like a midwife assigned to every mother with the sole purpose of being there at all feeds(paged if nec). When the mother leaves hospital ideally much better at bf than many are I'd like bf support at home for longer and for longer periods ie a whole morning or pm(like Homestart so not nec a m/w, paid/volunteers who are very well qualified in bf.If they were there for a whole morning they'd actually witness 2 or 3 complete feeds. After a period of time(varying dep on the mum) when bf was extremely well established there would be a full time drop in bf centre at the health clinic.

Our generation doesn't have mothers constantly by our side showing us how to do it. Most of our mothers are working or don't even live nearby. We're totally alone and have nobody.BF needs constant support if difficulties occur, like the old days. That support can't be given by family members.

Alongside this I'd like the same amount of info re breast being best but I'd like the scaremongering to stop.It achieves nothing and actually causes more pain and helps mums spiral down into a cycle which results in stopping. I'd like ff to cease to be treated as if it was a dirty class A drug.It does a job, a good one,it feeds babies. It's not the best food but it's not the worse,it serves it's purpose.

I'd like a bit of reality ie your baby is more likely to be killed in a car crash than die from drinking formula yet nobody tells you to stop putting babies into cars. If the scaremongering stopped and reality kept to more mothers would feel stronger when battling with bf. Fear is pointless when you don't have the tools to battle on,fear just weakens you.

If the support was there bf rates would rocket and I doubt anybody would feel the need to scare mothers into bf. Sadly my dream world would cost a small fortune and as mothers just don't have the support needed to successfully bf I don't know what the answer is.

Tab that blog is great,I could have written the twin post.

MilaMae Wed 15-Dec-10 18:27:35

Sorry epic post blush

tiktok Wed 15-Dec-10 18:36:28

Mila, I was not discussing whether or not formula is 'good' - I was discussing whether or not it was a 'good alternative' to breastmilk. To me, as I explained, but you know, I'll explain again....it only makes sense to talk about 'a good alternative' when there is more than one alternative, and realistically, there isn't.

Yes, more and better quality support is needed to enable mothers to breastfeed happily.

I have not seen any scaremongering about formula (but it could be my scaremonger threshhold is set too high ) and I have not seen anyone talking about formula as if it was a dirty class A drug. I expect a trawl through the outer reaches of the net might turn something up, but I'm not talking about that. I am talking about sensible, informed, official or NGO materials or training for HCPs, for mothers in the developed world and if you can link to something you thought was scaremongering that would do!

I really don't think 'formula increases the risk of XYZ' is scaremongering (as long as it's true) unless XYZ is something like 'growing two heads' or 'making a baby hate your guts' - but like I said, maybe my scaremonger calibration is way out.

snowyweather Thu 16-Dec-10 02:42:38

Does anyone know when the questions will be answered?

lowercase Thu 16-Dec-10 09:59:23

later this week snowy

TCOB Thu 16-Dec-10 11:51:33

We are all individuals with individual feelings and experiences thanks very much.

Mila: excellent point.

BUT Tabouleh's comment:

I certainly feel that BFing mothers judge and look down on FFing mothers.

rather spoils the party, not? Or is it only FFs who are individuals? And BFs are all horribile bullies who have nothing to do other than form opinions on other mothers?

IMVHO some FFs are paranoid and see me whipping a tit out as a personal insult.

Well, it's not.In fact it's got sweet FA to do with anyone else how I feed my baby.

Nice to know we're all against the unethical marketing of FF tho! grin

tabouleh Thu 16-Dec-10 13:14:55

TCOB - I have already corrected that statement which should have included "some" in it.

theboobmeister Thu 16-Dec-10 14:37:25

Well good luck to Mike Brady in working out what he is supposed to be answering. 12 pages and I can see lots of statements but not many questions

Ceilidhgirl Thu 16-Dec-10 16:20:29

I doubt he'll see it. MN have apparently sent him a selection of Qs. So much for a webchat hmm.

TCOB Thu 16-Dec-10 19:52:28

Sorry Tabouleh - sleep is a distant memory in my household at the moment blush

The OP does say it's a Q&A rather than a webchat Ceilidhgirl.

Ceidlihgirl Thu 16-Dec-10 22:18:28

Yeah, that's not what people asked for, though smile. Maybe he's scared of the vipers confused?

confuddledDOTcom Fri 17-Dec-10 01:46:47

He has seen it, although last time I saw him say that there were far less responses. I don't think he's worried, but he could have met his match lol

tiktok Fri 17-Dec-10 08:49:56

Do you think he would really have 'met his match', confuddled?

I think the arguments used against his very appearance on Mumsnet (right back at the beginning of the thread) and the comments about the campaigning work of Baby Milk Action are quite poor stuff.

I have asked for examples of the scaremongering and extremist thinking they are said to use, and no one ever comes up with anything (a couple of posters on here have said things that were not liked - and later clarified and retracted - but that's not what I mean).

It's hard to have a debate which goes
* 'I dislike anti-formula extremism and scaremongering so this Q&A is a Bad Thing'

* 'OK, anti-formula extremism would indeed be a bad thing - can we have examples?

*'there's a photo I don't like at the website'

* 'nothing in the photo or its story seems to be untrue. Can we have more examples of this scaremongering and extremism?'

* 'boohoo - aggression, bullying, patronising...'

* 'sorry 'bout that...can we have some examples of scaremongering and extremism?'

* 'formula is great stuff and I had to use it. You'd think it was a dirty class A drug...'

* 'no one is saying formula should be banned and of course it's needed...can we have examples etc etc etc?'

And so on.

Ceidlihgirl Fri 17-Dec-10 09:36:15

Argument and debate rarely changes anyone's mind. If anything it's likely to make views more entrenched. I'm not sure what Tiktok's last post will achieve other than to annoy the people who disagree with her even more.

tiktok Fri 17-Dec-10 09:44:33

I dunno, Ceidlihgirl. I do change my mind about things after argument and debate, if I find the arguers and debaters convincing. Is that not part of being adult and open-minded?

I accept that my last post is unlikely to do anything but annoy the people who disagree with me, and, somehow, I can live with that. I get tired of being accused of supporting scaremongering etc.

Ceidlihgirl Fri 17-Dec-10 11:00:46

I know. Your frustration is almost palpable in your posts. This whole subject area is about the psychology of persuasion really isn't it? What BMA are tring to combat is the marketing tactics of formula companies. Do these companies win sales by arguing and getting people's backs up? No, they are subtle and appeal to people in a way they barely notice. If BMA or other critics of the formula industry want mothers who formula feed to hear their messages then perhaps it needs to be done in a gentler way. Then again, maybe it's not UK formula feeding mothers BMA want to listen to them?

tiktok Fri 17-Dec-10 11:24:49

Ceilidhgirl, I don't think Baby Milk Action want UK mothers who formula feed to hear their message - it really is not directed at them,as you suggest, or at any other mothers, but at governments, NGOs, HCPs. I suppose mothers here are targeted in their roles as potential campaigners, but beyond that, Baby Milk Action is not in the area of encouraging individual mothers to breastfeed/not formula feed. They just don't do it.

It's nothing to do with the psychology of persuasion in the way you mean...at least not much. Breastfeeding supporters have nothing to sell, and women do not need 'persuading' to bf. Breastfeeding needs to be enabled so the women that want to do it or who want to consider it find the support and information to do it, and to do it happily for as long as they wish.

The Nestle boycott is amazingly successful - a worldwide, long-lasting bit of consumer resistance that has reached many organisations and individuals. The fact that some people disagree with it in principle, and disagree with Baby Milk Action, because they think it's all part of the demonisation of formula (I think that's why they disagree with it - it's not clear from this thread) is a price to pay, I suppose, for any campaign. You won't bring everyone on board with you.

I think what you are suggesting is that if we (as a society) want more women to breastfeed, then any complaints about about the (unethical) tactics of the formula companies should be subtle and gentle and not too loud - so instead of complaining we should copy the formula manufaturers subtle and gentle tactics? Because we get people's backs up if we complain too loudly?

Am I reading you right?

Ceidlihgirl Fri 17-Dec-10 12:27:25

Er, no hmm.

I am talking about the way people like you engage with mothers who formula feed on threads like this. Being argumentative and picking over posts is counterproductive if you wish to persuade people to adopt your viewpoint. I didn't say abything about persuading mothers to breastfeed.

Perhaps I have misunderstood, but I though part of BMA's role inclded giving info to UK mothers (and others) about formula? Where their website says "Parents have a right to accurate, independent information." I took this to mean from them.

tiktok Fri 17-Dec-10 13:04:26

I actually don't expect people to adopt my viewpoint, but I do try to look for fair debate.

You have misunderstood the main aims of Baby Milk Action - the accurate information about infant feeding does not come from them (though they may link to info sheets, and highlight examples of poor information) but they campaign for the accurate info to come from governments, manufacturers, HCPs. They work internationally on these issues.

I am not sure what someone should do on a talkboard if someone comes onto a thread (as happened here) and talks about the topic adding to scaremongering and extremism. I decided to try to counter this. You describe it as being argumentative and 'picking over posts'.

lowercase Fri 17-Dec-10 16:44:33

'people like you' shock

tiktok has helped many, many people with her expertise, does not discriminate, and would even help you!

its not about bringing people to 'her side'
tiktok did not invent breastfeeding.

its about feeding infants in the best way we can, with the information we have at the time.

tiktok Fri 17-Dec-10 17:19:25


Ceidlihgirl Fri 17-Dec-10 20:57:34

Hang on a minute smile, now I feel pounced on. Lowercase, you seem to be making assumptions about my views and motivations. Perhaps this is my fault because I'm not that eloquent blush. I was clumsily trying to make 2 different points I think: one about debating styles on the internet and one about how a campaign is perceived by some. It struck me both were about persuasion.

By 'picking over' I was just referring to Tiktok's post of 8.49 on Fri where she picked out a series of quotes. I am sorry, this probably was not the best way to word it blush. As I said in response to that, I feel this style of posting on this topic is counterproductive. 'People like you' = people who debate in this way on threads like this about infant feeding. Sheesh, I seem to have been labelled by lowercase as someone attacking people who help people breastfeed just because I make what I intended as a generalised observation about how to not persuade people. I wasn't trying to be unfriendly smile.

Maybe, the BMA info is not primarily for mums. However, given the UK breastfeeding rates of course the majority of HCPs, politicians and civil servants who have kids are likely to have used formula, just like the majority of the UK population. So actually, if as a campaign group BMA want to gain widespread support then they do need to be able to reach out to people who have bottlefed. As some of the responses to this thread show, in some cases they already do this smile. By the way, I'm not talking about persuading people to feed their baby one way or another, I'm talking about trying to persuade people that, well, whatever BMA wants to persuade them through its campaigns. My understanding is that the purpose of any campaign is to change the status quo, which I would expect to mean winning hearts and minds at some level.

Maybe you are right and getting some people's backs up is unavoidable collateral damage of any campaign. It might be worth thinking about whether this really is the case, or whether the info could be conveyed differently, for example by separating more clearly the UK and international issues. It does seem a bit unfortunate that the people on MN who feel upset by discussions about BMA and the Nestle boycott are some of the ones BMA's campaign is intended to help sad. I do not mean by avoiding publicising the issues, nor abandoning the boycott.

confuddledDOTcom Fri 17-Dec-10 23:11:24

No, Tiktok, I was jesting. If Mike can hold his own with Nestle who are going to defend themselves as they have more to lose by doing so, this is nothing.

I think people forget that the aim of BMA and the Nestle boycott is not just about formula in the many ways they're looking at it (misleading advertisement/ information, African mothers etc). There are many practices that Nestle are into that are bad. Yes other companies do some of these things but Nestle do the most and are the worst. The boycott does have an effect, Nestle used to buy it's milk from Grace Mugabe who it is illegal to trade with in all but one European country. After a lot of pressure Nestle ceased trade with Mugabe.

Is there any news from this or have I missed the thread where Mike Brady answers the questions?

RJandA Mon 20-Dec-10 21:42:34

I don't think he has answered yet

confuddledDOTcom Mon 20-Dec-10 23:06:37

He has. I've just read them on his website. I'm not sure where they are on MumsNet.

RJandA Tue 21-Dec-10 09:57:21

Here's a link. He didn't answer mine sad

tiktok Tue 21-Dec-10 10:41:00

I have read the detailed and comprehensive answers and I hope mumsnet will publish here as well - there is a lot of good information there. I hope some of the people who have posted here will read it.

RubyBuckleberry Tue 21-Dec-10 11:20:14

am reading it at the mo. awesome. well done bma. clearly supporting ALL mothers and babies regardless of feeding choices.

coldcomfortHeart Tue 21-Dec-10 13:14:21

why on earth isn't it on MN?!

PuzzleRockinAroundTheXmasTree Tue 21-Dec-10 14:21:03

Yes why isn't it?

Great piece.

marzipananimal Tue 21-Dec-10 14:48:57

just finished reading it. very interesting and good stuff

theboobmeister Tue 21-Dec-10 14:58:25

Brilliant. Well done Mike.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 21-Dec-10 16:26:15

Hi there, big apols for the delay, here's our page, with lots of links to Mike's longer answers on his blog.

Thanks Mike!

organiccarrotcake Tue 21-Dec-10 19:21:31

Superb. Thanks Mike.


You're amazing - what you do is amazing. You have and do inspire me to do what I do and I can and will do more.


Wonderful answers Mike. To those who debated the appropriateness of him coming to speak to mumsnet, what do you feel about his response? I'm specifically thinking about Funnys, Mila etc. whose questions he answered.

theboobmeister Wed 22-Dec-10 10:24:26

Nooooooo! Please, no more of this thread!!!!!!

The debate (ie before Mike's answers) was interesting in parts, but honestly, can anyone say that they learnt anything from it? Or changed their views?

C'mon everyone ... peace on earth and all that grin

lowercase Wed 22-Dec-10 10:55:17

what Organic said.

i will do more.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Dec-10 18:12:22

For anyone who's missed the link earlier - you can read the full archived Q and A session with Mike here

ohanotherone Wed 22-Dec-10 19:09:52

That is a really great Q & A session. Why won't mumsnet post the Q & A's on Mumsnet????? I'm am a bit suspicious as to why you are not doing so. It was all sane and rationale and not demonising etc.. in anyway, just THE TRUTH.

lowercase Wed 22-Dec-10 19:51:29

there is a link on mn home page

weasle Wed 22-Dec-10 22:02:39

Fabulous answers Mr Brady! Thank you. Very well written and i can see why you got the job (referring to the question about why a man!)

I am inspired to join BMA. Thanks.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Jan-11 10:34:06

Apologies for not linking to Mike's answers from this page before Christmas, if anyone missed the full Q and A, you can read it here

Mike Brady Q and A

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