Dear “Fed is Best” campaigners, parents, and internet trolls.
I hate to break it to your “Fed is Best” slogan: Fed ISN’T Best. Fed is minimum. Of course you should feed your baby. That’s like saying “changing a dirty diaper is best.” or “Putting your child in a car seat is best.” No. It’s necessary. Because feeding your baby is an essential part of raising a child. They need to eat in order to live.
Many Families, for whatever reason, have to use formula. Or they choose to. It doesn’t matter, and there is no shame in it. But it is also important, to inform new parents about the actual, scientific fact that breastmilk really is best source of food for infants. Its because of the now outlawed marketing schemes by formula companies in the first half of the 19th century, and the “we did it and we survived” mantras of our mothers and grandmothers. Society’s psyche plays such a huge role in parenting choices, and it took a huge hit on the more biologically normal way of raising children. So much so, that it’s taken breastfeeding advocates decades to overcome it. (Read more about formula companies impressions on the American public here.
Such ads continued apace through the first half of the 20th century, during which time American breast-feeding also steadily declined, from being near ubiquitous in 1900, to 70 percent of new mothers in 1915, to 50 percent in 1930, to 25 percent in the 1950s. By then, pediatricians, caught up in the “scientific parenting” vogue, were pushing formula hard—and new mothers, eager to live up to the Eisenhower housewife ideal, were reluctant to disobey; formula companies advertised with corresponding enthusiasm.
Let’s talk about statistics.
As a childcare provider, mama, and breastfeeding advocate, I LOVE me some fact-based research. So if your argument is that the slogan “fed is best” is more supportive than “breast is best”- know that it just isn’t factually correct. Saying that “Fed is Best” takes away the message behind “Breast is best” the exact same way that “All lives matter” takes away from “Black lives matter”- it is completely missing the point of the campaign in the first place.
Medically, breast milk v. formula is the difference between rear facing your infant and forward facing. Rear facing infant seats are found to be 5x safer. It’s just factually safer. Well guess what? The World Health Organization states that globally,
If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year”
800,000 infant lives. Breastfeeding does that. Not feeding. Not “fed is best”. The biological norm is what keeps babies alive.
Why Breast is Best:
- Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- If your baby receives breast-milk for at least 6 months lowers their chances of childhood leukemia by 19%.
- The La Leche League published that: “One long-term study of children who were breastfed showed that breastfeeding reduces food allergies at least through adolescence (Grasky 1982). Protection from allergies is one of the most important benefits of breastfeeding. The incidence of cow’s milk allergies is up to seven times greater in babies who are fed artificial baby milk instead of human milk (Lawrence 1994).”
- Breast milk contains antibodies, vitamins, proteins, and fats. All which help baby grow, develop, and fight off bacteria and viruses.
- Breastfeeding helps baby ward off and fight ear infections.
I could go on and on… and on. But I won’t, because it will take away from my point.
Just because research says that “Breast is Best”, does not mean that breastfeeding advocates think Formula is the Devil.
Please, put down your pitchforks, and understand. Lactation Consultants, Doulas, midwives, breastfeeding advocates- even lactavists– are NOT SHAMING parents who choose formula when we try to promote the benefits of breastfeeding. We are just trying to help parents who WANT to breastfeed. This is where my pet peeve comes in. Our goal behind promoting Breastfeeding has nothing to do with “shaming” parents who choose to feed their infant formula- for whatever reason. Scheduling “nurse-ins”, latch on’s, demanding the media represent breastfeeding fairly– this is for breastfeeding mothers everywhere. In no way, shape, or form is anyone saying that formula sucks (it doesn’t!). So unbunch your panties- promoting one way of life doesn’t negate another way. If you don’t like it, move on, and stop trolling us!
Normalizing breastfeeding is about making breastfeeding normal. So mom’s who ARE struggling and DO choose to breastfeed, can do so without concern about societal norms. Because let’s face it: while you may feel some mom guilt when you hear “breast is best”, no one has ever been kicked out of a restaurant for bottle feeding their baby.
“Fed is best” isn’t a necessary campaign. Formula is necessary. Loving your baby is necessary. Being informed, and making the best possible choice for your baby- and for your family- is necessary. That may mean formula. That’s O.K. Many parents, for whatever reason, can’t always provide breast-milk for their children. That’s OK. It really is. No one is judging you for it.The perceived judgment you feel is your own. So quit. Quit judging yourself for your parenting choices. And for the love of God, Stop judging other’s because their parenting choice is different than yours.
No one can make you feel ashamed with out your consent.
First, feeding your baby is never, ever wrong. You should never feel ashamed for doing what you feel is right for your child, formula or breast. Second, breastfeeding your baby doesn’t make you a “good” parent any more than formula feeding makes you a “bad” parent.Lastly, you alone decide whether to feel shame, no one else is doing that to you. You alone can give someone permission to live in your head and make you second guess yourself.
You are a parent who love’s their baby. So stop allowing someone’s support of breastfeeding to cause you to feel shame because you gave your baby formula. So please, don’t use your shame to shame someone else, it only perpetuates the cycle. You have no control over how someone feels about you. Stop allowing your “mom guilt” supply ammo to shame other parents for their feeding choice.
Parenting is so, so hard. Daily, we question ourselves and our parenting choices. Parents don’t need help attacking and bringing other parents down- we do a good enough job of that, ourselves. As mother’s, we need to start respecting each other’s choice to feed our babies as we see fit. Respecting each other, respecting ourselves, and leading by example a lifestyle of love, acceptance, and understanding for our children is the best possible thing we can do for them.
Want to read more related this piece from our writers at Breastfeeding World?
- End Mommy Wars: It takes a Village By Samantha Sykula
- Moms need to be told they are enough, By Betty Cortez
- You Can Support “Breast is Best” but not be “Anti Formula” by Gloria Brooks
- Bottle VS. Breast and the Fight not to be Ashamed by Lauren Lewis
- How a Bottle saved my Breastfeeding Relationship by Amber Castro
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