Fed is best, right?
Well actually – fed is the bare minimum.
Yes! I am going to say that feeding your child so that they don’t starve to death is damned important, and so cannot possibly be described as “best” at all. But I don’t want you to think I am advocating “breast is best” either because you might be surprised to hear that I hate that one just as much.
I get it. Everyone (including me) hates hearing "breast is best".
So, why do you think this benefits those who sell formula?
If there's a best, there's a worst, so...
Breast is best manipulates those who formula feed their babies into staunchly defending their right to do so, and makes them shout down anyone who dares to voice an opinion or fact that makes them feel worse about their chosen method. It does this because the word “best” is a binary term. Its binary partner is “worst”. So if someone tells you how wonderful they think breastfeeding is, your very clever brain uses its knowledge of language and thinks “if I am not doing that, I must be doing something worse”.
So began the "Mummy wars"
Now we are at war with each other, when actually we don’t think you did worse and you do understand how hard we worked. We are at war because they have told us to be, ever so subtly over time.
They want us to think we are different from each other. They want us defensive of the side we picked. They are completely over-the-moon that the situation occurs that as soon as someone states the positive facts and statistics about breastfeeding, someone who uses formula milk will defend formula to the hilt (sometimes bashing breastmilk along the way), because parents understandably hate the implication that they didn’t do their “best”.
You absolutely did you best at feeding your baby.
I am here to tell you that you did. You absolutely did your best at feeding your baby!
You did your best with the information, support and societal/cultural influences that you had at the time. You did your best if you breastfed for 4 years, 4 minutes or you never even tried.
But (and this is a big fat but)…
But, and this is a big fat but:
Saying “fed is best” is like saying it is fine to feed your child McDonalds every day. It is saying that it doesn’t matter what you feed your baby. It does.
Breast is not best; it's the biological norm
Human babies are designed to drink milk from human mothers. The milk is designed to nourish them in a way that cannot be substituted by taking the milk from another species and adding things to it to make it last a long time in powdered form.
Furthermore, the companies that design, produce and sell formula do not have your babies’ best interests at heart. They are wholly and completely focused on their profit margin. I know that no-one wants to believe this but it’s true. If you are unsure, read The Politics of Breastfeeding by Gabrielle Palmer
Fed is not best; formula is a life saving tool
Fed is not best; fed is the bare minimum. Breast is not best; human milk is the biologically normal food for human babies. Formula is not evil; formula is a life saving and valuable tool to replace human milk when needed, and it is most definitely not ‘worst.’ There are babies being fed much worse and let’s not forget it.
What the formula companies don’t want you to realise is that formula is not the only option if you don’t breastfeed, is the optimum option next to breastfeeding and it doesn’t need to be culturally normal to replace human milk with supplemented cow’s milk substitute. They purposely put us into two categories (I told you it was important) because they don’t want us to realise there are other ways.
If you either cannot breastfeed, or choose not to (and you are entirely valid in making that choice), the World Health Organisation recommends these options in this order for all infants (further recommendations can be accessed here for low birth weight infants,):
Because formula companies don't care what you feed your baby - right?
The point is that they want you to think that they don’t care how you feed your baby but trust me, they care. Breast milk is not a profitable commodity and so they care very much that you feed your baby a product that is!
Important Note: my feeding history
While raising my four children I have: exclusively formula fed, mix fed, tube fed, exclusively expressed, used donor milk, donated milk and exclusively breastfed to past 3 years. I have zero issue with how people choose to feed their babies. Everyone is different. I have a massive issue with the formula companies and their unethical practices in promoting formula and the purposeful warmongering they manipulate between mothers.
Thank you for reading.