Let me just say up front that I'm not against all formula feeding. Formula feeding is okay in the case of adoption, failure to thrive, a drug addicted mother or a mother's medical condition that somehow prohibits a mother to breastfeed properly. I realize this makes me sound like the Republican who concedes that abortion might be okay in the case of incest or rape. The comparison should be unsettling to me, but it isn't. I realize I'm a breastfeeding fascist. There are worse things to be.

I saw one of those worst things to be the first time Diego and I attended our infant massage class. Diego was lightly sauteed in cooking oils and squirming out of foot massages when I noticed the stay-at-home mother to my right getting out some powder, pouring it into a Gatorade bottle containing water. Her baby had been pretty fussy for the half hour previous and my own breasts were starting to get that wet sensation just looking at him. Hers, apparently, did not. Her son was six weeks old, more baby bird like than my eight weeks roly-poly guy. Into her needy boy's face she shoved the bottle as he kept crying and crying. I'm thinking, the breast, you idiot, the breast, give him your breast. But she just kept forcing synthetic rubber that smells like a cross between the inside of a new car and used foot insole into his face instead. I thought right then and there about calling social services.

But of course, what would I say when I called? "Hi, Social services? I'd like to report that a stay-at-home mother who's only job right now is to take care of her baby twenty-four hours a day is force feeding formula to her child because she's either too uptight or too selfish to offer herself." Formula feeding is the gateway to other abuses and selfish behavior on the part of the mother (and father). The first thing a mother can do to demonstrate giving and loving to a child is feeding-and this very first invitation to love is withheld. What can be more abusive in its subtly? Maybe formula feeding is only an indication of things to come. Where are the studies linking leaving your child in the car and formula feeding? That's what I want to know.

I had the unfortunate need to utilize WIC for a few months of my pregnancy when my husband and I were both Bush recessioned. For those unfamiliar, Women, Infants and Children is a well-meaning government sponsored nutrition program where mothers to be, breastfeeding mothers and children under five can get staples of milk, cheese, cereal, peanut butter, beans, and cans of tuna through WIC. I say well meaning because their dietary standards are stuck in the early seventies and do not account for vegetarians or vegans. But what WIC gets right is its tireless promotion and education about the benefits of breastfeeding. Yet most WIC workers I spoke with seemed exasperated that very few of their clients opted for breastfeeding and instead relied on the free formula they can obtain either from WIC or from food stamps. Yes, our tax dollars are spent on enabling a demographic of women, who for the most part stay home with their children, to abuse and deny their children. As far as I'm concerned this is a practice that needs to stop. Breastfeeding doesn't cost a cent and it's readily available for most women to use. That's one of the reasons as a low-income American I am happy to breastfeed. So, why are we subsidizing formula?

You may begin to believe I'm some arch conservative, but nothing can be further from the truth. I only seek to clarify what it is we are doing in our society regardless of blind political labels.

There are a good many reasons to be anti-formula. You've got this perfect human being that you've been anticipating for months. She is born and the first thing you do is give her a chemical milkshake in a can. Babies have trouble digesting formula. It's hard on their newly developed systems and takes almost twice the time to digest than breast milk. At the other end, breastfed babies have nearly smell free bowel movements whilst formula fed babies have some of the smelliest bowel movements ever. Formula babies spend more time in the doctor's office for ear infections, allergies, and other illnesses. Also, there is tons more preparation to go through to prepare a bottle correctly; bottles need sterilization and temperature control, which I'm sure my Gatorade companion did not adhere to.

Pain is the main reason cited by many formula feeders as to why they gave up on breastfeeding (if they attempted at all). Well, yes, for the first couple of weeks or so it does hurt. It's never a pleasant sensation to have an inexperienced man at your breasts. You have to teach him. You've taught all the other men, why not this one? I've heard formula feeders say that their babies couldn't get the hang of it, so they gave up after a couple of weeks. Most babies don't get the hang of it until after a month. They certainly don't go professional until about four months. Is it that American instant gratification thing happening again? Even at birth if we aren't experts right away do we just give up?

Then there's the sexual issue: husbands and boyfriends jealous that the baby will be seeing more of their wives and girlfriends' breasts than they will. If these women didn't breed with these kinds of men this wouldn't be an issue. I hate to break it to those men out there, but THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR. Hell, even Pamela Sue Anderson breastfed her baby.

It's not that I'm one of those stop every stroller and coo over the baby persons; Breastfeeding just makes more logical sense. What could be more practical, loving, and nurturing than breastfeeding? You can feed your baby wherever you want to, wherever the baby needs to-especially if you live in liberal coastal areas. You can whip out your breast at restaurants all over California and no one will say a thing. Seriously, it's the best nutrition a baby can have, best fight against illness and disease, and great for the development of jaw muscles for talking a few months down the line. On top of that, breast-feeders loose pregnancy weight faster.

As a current member of the working poor, I'd have to disagree with breastfeeding being strictly a class issue. Granted, there are more formula feeders among the poor, but formula feeders swell the ranks of the gainfully employed too. But working is irrelevant as an issue with the invention of the pump.

My best friend, a new mother of a six week old was a bridesmaid last weekend and was able to pump her breasts and relay that milk to her husband while sitting in a hair salon. It can be done.

I am well aware that in our culture we are suppose to express a live and let live, embrace diversity, and pretend that everyone's ideas are equally valid and that, scientific research be damned, everyone is entitled to raise their babies however they choose as long as they stay out of the radar of social services and buy enough Disney products. Everyone, however, is not raising her baby well. I need only remember the fifteen-year-old girl rooming next to me in recovery that gave up on breastfeeding after ten minutes and sent her thirteen-year old boyfriend out for some Taco Bell because the hospital food "was sucky." Or the mother I ran into on the street whose baby was teething on the side of her cigarette carton.

In case you were wondering, I was not breastfed. My mother had to go back to work soon after and wasn't encouraged to do so (she doesn't seem to have been encouraged to do much of anything). She's from that "me-generation" of parenting. You know, the ones that brought us a series of their boyfriends/our new uncles?

Breastfeeding gets you thinking automatically about the baby and less about yourself. It isn't the sacrificing of the pre-feminist era; it's being able to give and to acknowledge that, yes, our bodies do have functions that we are sadly trying so hard to ignore. I don't want anyone rounded up and arrested-yet. I just want formula feeders to realize they are wrong!