Monday, April 2, 2012

Breast is Best

Today's HAWMC prompt is to find a quote that inspires you (positively or negatively) and write about it for 15 minutes.

The saying "breast is best" is something that breastfeeding advocates worldwide have used as a tagline to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies. It sounds great on the surface, because I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of us can agree that breastmilk is superior to formula. And most of us can also probably agree that getting that breastmilk directly from the breast is even better than getting it from a bottle.

It all seems like a no-brainer. But, here's the thing. When phrased in that way - "breast is best" - I think it doesn't communicate the most important breastfeeding message there is. And that is this. Breastfeeding is not just best. Breastfeeding is NORMAL. Somewhere along the way, at least here in the US, we have forgotten that. And the wording of "breast as best", I think, does nothing to renormalize the way that babies were intended by nature, by God, to be fed.

Now, let me be clear here, though I'm about as pro-breastfeeding as a girl can get, I'm not judging those who chose not to breastfeed their babies, or those who are truly unable to do so. However, I think that many who have chosen not to do so have made that choice based on false information. The errant belief, perpetuated by formula companies, and even uneducated medical professionals (hello, my own experience with an OBGYN!), who believe that formula is nearly just as good as breastmilk. Because, let's call a spade a spade here, it's just not. So, make whatever choice you believe will work for you, but do so with accurate information.

Today's lesson: When the plan is for the 2 children to both nap in the car at the same time, they won't. Because that would be too easy. Instead, they will both alternately scream and laugh hysterically. And then they will blessedly go to bed early that night. 


Lechelle said...

Becky, I so needed this today. I think the "formula is nearly just as good" is pushed often so those who do not breastfeed do not have to feel guilty about it. But I too feel it has been pushed so often it is pushing out breastfeeding. All around me I hear "did you stop breastfeeding at six months or are you going to do the full year?" as if to do more is completely unexpected. Especially now that G's allergies are appearing I've been having people tell me to "don't feel bad about breastfeeding, you didn't know he's been allergic to what you are eating, at least now you can switch him to soy formula, right?" And I have to be delicate about saying "no, even with his allergies breast milk is far more nutritious than any formula" because any mention that breast milk is better than the formula they gave their kids is rude to some. After hearing for two weeks things that implied I was radical for wanting to breastfeed Gray as long as he wants it, this morning I said a silent prayer asking for encouragement. I considered reaching out to a breastfeeding friend and begging for a pep talk, something to tell me what I already know, someone to tell me I'm not just making a good decision - I am making the most nutritious decision for G. But I kept quiet because my day just got to busy. And then I saw this post just now, thank you so much. At this moment I could care less about what friends breastfed and what friends formula fed. All I need right now is to hear "breast is best. You are doing the best thing for him, keep it up." Thank you for listening to your promptings to write this post today, you answered my prayer.

Geochick said...

I would much prefer that the breastmilk campaign be less militant. I think it's a reaction to how puritannical our society is. I agree that it should be seen as normal, and that includes bfing in public. That being said, the radically pro bf'ers should back off when it comes to formula feeding. It's not best, but it works fine in some situations, and we all make choices. (Or the choices get made for us whether we want them or not).

Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem is that women are told things like, if you're dong it right, it won't hurt. I am still breastfeeding my 16 month old, but we had two very rough patches that were very painful. Most people would have given up, especially if they think formula is just about as good. There may be a struggle, it is so worth it to push through, and it's normal!

AND, people that breastfeed shouldn't be mean to people that don't. We should have positive campaigns like they do in the UK.

Camille Griffiths said...

You are so right... Breast is best gives the wrong impression when what we need to do is NORMALIZE breastfeeding (and milk sharing). I have heard so many people say, yeah breast is best but formula these days is nearly as good. And its just not true!!