Jodi - posted on 09/22/2010 ( 65 moms have responded )
INFANT formula should be available only on prescription to boost breast feeding rates, an expert says.
But Victoria's peak doctors' group and Melbourne mothers say the proposal goes too far.
Jennifer James, of RMIT University, said formula manufacturers should also be banned from marketing their products to the public.
"When women are having problems, and it's very challenging learning to breast feed, the formula is readily available and the marketing suggests that babies will thrive on it, so women go for it," Dr James said.
"The majority of women and new dads that you speak to will give you some reasons why it's important to breast feed but there's still this pervasive belief that 'I'll try it and if I can't do it, formula's just as good'.
"I would like to see formula prescribed by a health professional rather than being available in supermarkets and chemists."
Avondale Heights mum Christine Rookas said it should be a mother's choice whether to breast feed or not.
"I would be very frightened and afraid to think that formula will be prescribed," Ms Rookas said.
"I think there's already a paranoia for mothers. They feel guilty enough about using formula milk."
Ms Rookas was still breast feeding six-month-old Neave, as she had her two older children, despite finding it tough.
"I just kept persisting ... because it's more convenient rather than a huge health benefit," she said.
AMA Victoria president Harry Hemley said requiring a prescription for infant formula would be very inconvenient for new mothers.
"There's no doubt that new mothers need more support to make sure their children are as fit and healthy as possible," Dr Hemley said.
"Breast feeding is the best option for most new mothers, but not for everyone."