Letter: Purist anger over formula milk

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The Independent Online
Purist anger over formula milk

Sir: Laudable as their aims undoubtedly are, the current divisions in the ranks of the National Childbirth Trust over sponsorship by Sainsbury's highlight the dangers of a ruthlessly purist approach to what is essentially a practical issue.

My partner and I had our first baby 10 months ago, fully intending that she should breast-feed. In the first two weeks, however, things did not go according to plan, and it took the combined efforts of a breast-feeding counsellor and formula milk from Sainsbury's to see our baby safely through those early days and on to nine months of happy breast-feeding. Now my partner has returned to full-time work, formula milk again provides the only practical way to feed our son.

The Trust should not castigate supermarkets for stocking an essential item for millions of families. Its aim should be to achieve a society in which breast-feeding is a normal, everyday activity, and not one in which women and their babies have to secrete themselves in public toilet cubicles to avoid disapproving looks. In the meantime, ironically, supermarkets (and I do not single out Sainsbury's) provide some of the most comfortable facilities for families to breast-feed outside the home.