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MoneyMagpie Join The Fight Against Formula Poverty

Nicola Kelly 25th Jan 2024 No Comments

Reading Time: 4 minutes

MoneyMagpie are backing a campaign by Feed, a charity that puts women and families at the heart of infant feeding whether it’s bottle (formula), boobs or tubes. 


The antenatal class was meant to help first time mum Lisa learn about caring for her baby, instead, the breastfeeding advocate announced: ‘I have six children, I breast fed five and bottle fed one.  He died’. 

Shocked, Lisa says the implication was clear, yet none of the other health professional attending did anything to reassure them that bottle feeding was not a potential killer. 

You can’t switch on the TV, pick up a magazine or visit your GP surgery without being brow beaten into the idea that ‘breast is best’. 


But what about choice? 

MoneyMagpie is backing a campaign by Feed, a charity that puts women and families at the heart of infant feeding whether it’s bottle, boobs or tubes. 

The charity believes it is the mum that should be supported not the method, and they provide accurate, science-based information and advice about infant feeding. 

However, the crippling cost of living, coupled with a 45% price hike in baby formula brands in the last two years, is having a devastating effect on families who want to bottle feed.  On average, a tin now costs £12. 

A survey for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) revealed many women had cut back on food for the rest of the family to feed their babies and introduced cow’s milk to their children prematurely, to help with costs. 

Others were so desperate, they harmed their own physical and mental well-being by trying to breast feed more, despite it being intensely painful, to cope financially. 

Lisa recalls: ‘My son was really ill after he was born.  I was breast feeding him but he was extremely dehydrated and we were rushed into hospital.  While he underwent a barrage of test I kept trying to feed him naturally, but knew he wasn’t getting enough from from me so I went to get a bottle from the fridge on the ward.’ 

‘The midwife came over and sat on the bed with me and warned, “you need to think very carefully about giving him that, if you do he will never breast feed again and won’t get the benefits your milk can give him”.   When I went ahead, the look of disdain she gave me, remains with me almost 21 years later, but I know I did the right thing,’ she adds. 

My husband and I took the decision that because of our work commitments, we would bottle feed our son.  Every hospital appointment was met with incredulity that I’d even consider bottle feeding, even though it had been perfectly good for me as a baby. 

I felt so guilty that I didn’t bother going to antenatal classes because I knew I’d probably be brow beaten by breast feeding zealots and why put myself through that? 


Under current legislation, formula milk products fall into the same category as tobacco and lottery items and aren’t available to buy with cash alternatives. 

 Can you get Formula from Food Banks?

Struggling parents can’t use loyalty points or grocery vouchers provided by food banks and local authorities, as payment. 

Despite increasing food poverty, a survey by Feed in 2020, revealed that UNICEF UK continue to advise against the direct provision of infant formula to formula fed babies at food and baby banks. 


The result has been that many have resorted to watering down the formula, stretching out time between feeds resulting in under feeding infants, adding solids to bulk up feed, early introduction of weaning and cow’s milk , buying formula via illicit means or even shoplifting because parents are so desperate at a time in their lives when looking after a baby is stressful enough. 


Feed’s research found that trying and failing to breastfeed is more morally acceptable than formula feeding from birth and alternative feeding methods are often perceived as wrong. 


Mothers also experience social pressures to breastfeed because of the implication that only it is ‘good mothering’.  This led to feelings of guilt, failure and fear of being judged which meant women did not seek help when they needed it. 


‘My sister had horrific infections and agonisingly painful mastitis and couldn’t breast feed, my sister in law simply couldn’t do it yet the midwife refused to get her a bottle even though it was evident that my niece was losing weight.  It was a terrible time for both of them when they should have been experiencing the joy of being a new mum,’ says Laura, from Yorkshire. 


She adds: ‘I have seen so many people who either have not been able, or choose not to breast feed, baring the brunt of societal and medical judgement and it has seriously affected their mental health. 


‘The price of formula is ridiculous and the fact that people can’t spend vouchers or get help seems to me to be in breach of the most basic of human rights’. 


Charity, Feed, has launched a petition, backed by supermarkets like Iceland, calling on the UK Government to urgently review their infant formula legislation.  Supermarkets currently believe that the purchase of formula using cash equivalents is prohibited by current law. 


But legal experts have recently questioned this interpretation of the law, which is why Feed is asking the government for a review and has launched a petition to help formula feeding families. 


Have you struggled to feed your infant or been made to feel guilty about not breastfeeding?  We’d love to hear from you. 

 If you, like MoneyMagpie, would like to back this petition, click on the link, and help be the formula for change.  

Read other campaigns MoneyMagpie are backing here.


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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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