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Reviews |  Shortages of formula have led to misguided calls for women to breastfeed

It’s misogyny, no matter where it comes from. No one demands that fathers damage their own bodies to demonstrate decent parenthood.

If we could imagine a world where men had to breastfeed their babies themselves – learning how to do it, enduring the frustration of babies not latching and the pain of chapped, inflamed breasts, and figuring out how to continue to do so despite long hours of work, little support, nowhere to pump and not enough sleep – the shortage of formula may not be so bad. In this alternate reality, it’s hard to imagine that the industry in the United States would be dominated by just a few companies. Instead, I expect we’ll see a slew of formula start-ups popping up in Silicon Valley. The formula would not be stigmatized because it is a choice that men would like to have available to them.

That’s not to say that formula is better than breastfeeding, or that breastfeeding isn’t the best option for some people. Of course it is. Many mothers have no problem getting their baby to latch on, and depending on how the rest of their life is built, breastfeeding may also be the most convenient option. In countries where clean water is hard to come by, breastfeeding may be the safest option.

Many people also find breastfeeding a great experience and can have health benefits for mothers and babies after childbirth. Even then, it’s not, as breastfeeding advocates like to suggest, free or cheaper than formula – unless you believe a woman’s time and autonomy is are worth nothing.

The advent of modern formula milk is truly as revolutionary as the advent of birth control, as it has allowed many women to retain some autonomy over their time and health while feeding their babies. For women struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety, in addition to sleep deprivation, formula can be a godsend, something that allows them to regain some aspects of a normal life. This should be seen as important on its own – and not just when paired with a qualifier that a healthy mother is also good for the baby. Women should be happy and healthy, period.

That awful day in the ER, when I was freaking out that my son wasn’t eating, even though I knew we had formula at home, I tearfully asked if anyone could find me a taffy. -milk, but no one seemed to. know where to get it—in the same hospital where, on a different floor, new mothers were being lectured on the importance of breastfeeding.

In retrospect, it was sheer madness. I was sleep deprived and anxious, and my desire to be a good mother led me – a formula-fed adoptee – to view my son’s feeding as a serious personal failure.

nytimes Gt

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