Oh, the mama wars I have seen on this topic. “Breast is best” or “fed is best”. Actually, neither of those phrases are particularly helpful. Neither of them allows for a holistic outlook. There is so much more to this issue than a simple catchphrase can cover, and here’s why:
We’re All Unique
Breastfeeding is not a ‘one size fits all’ thing. We’re all unique. We all come to motherhood with different stories and backgrounds. The experience of childbirth is so vastly varied from woman to woman that it in and of itself it starts our journey of motherhood off uniquely. Not only are we unique, but our babies are too. Some are born early, some late, and some right on time. Some are born with a strong instinct to breastfeed, and others not so much. We’re all different which makes a phrase like “breast is best” completely absurd and irrelevant.
It Isn’t Holistic
Breast is almost always best if you’re looking at it from a nutritional standpoint. However, there is SO MUCH MORE to bringing up a child than what they have to eat. The simple fact is, breast is not best if the mother is filled with anxiety and not enjoying the relationship. Breast is not best if your baby cannot get enough milk. Breast is not best if it is inhibiting the mother-child bond. And it can do that. I know, because I had first-hand experience. I bonded much more quickly with my second child who was bottle fed from day two than I did with my first because I wasn’t an anxious, worried mess who resented and dreaded every feeding. (Read my story –> HERE)
While I understand what the intention was when the ‘breast is best’ campaign was formed, the truth is, it isn’t a holistic statement. I find this absurd because as a health care professional, the basis of assessment is formed upon the idea of a holistic outlook. Yes, breast is best nutritionally, but it has been made out to be some kind of magical bonding process that simultaneously gives your child the best immune system and start in life. In some cases that can be true, but not all.
Breast is best divides. It just does. I know that was never the intention of the campaign, but that is what it has ultimately achieved. It has pitted mothers against mothers and put a strain on the relationship between health-care provider and the mothers they are caring for. I have seen the ugliest of comments shared on Facebook from both sides of the argument.
So, what should we be doing if this is the result of the ‘breast is best’ campaign. Well, let’s do away with the catchphrases. Let’s provide mothers with the support they need. Let’s make lactation consultants readily available to anyone who needs them. And most importantly, let’s listen. Let mothers be heard. Don’t push your views and judgement upon another woman. Instead, hear what she’s saying and provide her with the help and support she requires.
I have two children. The first was breastfed until almost 6 months of age. The second was weaned onto formula within the first week of her life. You know what? They are both, happy, healthy, thriving children that are securely attached to me. No stranger could ever point and tell me how each was fed during their infancy. The guilt that is plaguing mothers about how they have chosen to feed their babies needs to stop.
Breast isn’t best, and fed isn’t best. What is best is a thriving mother-child relationship where both parties are happy and healthy. End of story.
Until next time!
This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blogging Network are writing on the topic of feeding your baby. Below you’ll find the posts for each lady, and they’re labelled as to when they’ll be live. Enjoy!
- Chronicles of a Babywise Mom – How I Breastfed For 12 Months Even When Everything Went Wrong (Monday)
- Christine Keys – This Is Why Breast Isn’t Best (Tuesday)
- Team Cartwright – What Twins Can Teach Us About Breastfeeding Attitudes (Tuesday)
- Mama’s Organized Chaos – Advantages of Breastfeeding on a Schedule (Wednesday)
- Let’s Be Brave – How To Survive The First Few Months of Breastfeeding (Wednesday)
- Twin Mom and More – The Realities of Exclusively Pumping (Thursday)
- Wiley Adventures – (Thursday)
- The Journey of Parenthood – The Real Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding vs Bottle Feeding (Friday)