There’s a phrase that keeps coming up in the Mom communities that can be hard to argue with. Instead of the old saying “Breast is Best” we have succumb to “Fed is Best”. The worst part is there is now a whole foundation dedicated to this and they are striking fear into the hearts of mothers. I’m proud to have breastfed all of my children but when I talk about how great it is I’m accused of shaming mothers who can’t or choose not to. This topic isn’t discussed enough in fear of this but I feel the need to discuss it further because I worry about the message it’s sending. It’s a known fact that breastfeeding is hard but what makes it even harder is that formula feeding is rammed down our throats before baby is even born. We can all agree a child should never go hungry, but should we really be telling women they are risking their child’s life by trying to breastfeed?
I understand the struggles of breastfeeding. It was a challenge with each of my 3 children especially the first. It can be hard to find the support locally where you need it most and many women face isolation post-partum. It doesn’t help that formula companies strike when you’re at your weakest. Most hospitals send new mom’s home with a complimentary gift from formula companies “just in case you need it”. In fact, they often send pregnant women coupons and samples in the mail before they have even give birth. Their pamphlets state they offer you support no matter what you choose. They go for a soft sell yet they are omnipresent.
“Fed is best benefits the formula companies more than mother and child.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if The Fed is Best Foundation was lead by formula companies. They are sharing horror stories with rare situations. One article is titled “If I Had Given Him Just One Bottle, He Would Still Be Alive”. If you read the whole article you will learn the mother had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). In some cases women with this condition don’t produce milk due to hormone issues. If the mother had tried to hand express some milk she may have noticed she wasn’t getting anything. There are obviously a lot of could have/should haves and if only. The story would have gotten the same message across had it been labeled something different and didn’t blame breastfeeding as the reason. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with sharing this story. I just feel it should be used as a learning tool, not a fear tactic. It’s a sad story and it’s so sad to see she was lacking the support and knowledge her and her baby severely needed. I sincerely hope no one else has to go through this and I applaud her for sharing her story.
It’s true that physiologically some women cannot breastfeed and formula is necessary, but that is a small percentage. Too often women give up because they are led to believe they aren’t making enough milk and their baby should be on a schedule. Motherhood can be full of pain and exhaustion like never imagined. There is so much going on in our bodies with all the hormones and even post-partum depression can kick in. Rather than allowing new mothers to care for their newborn and recover slowly after giving birth, they are pressured to get back on their feet and back to daily life. It’s no wonder so many women turn to formula!
We can no longer ignore the fact that NOT breastfeeding increases the risk of illness for both baby and Mother. Formula companies will never be able to completely replicate human breastmilk in its entirety. To add insult to injury, most of the formulas on the market contain Genetically Modified Organism (GMO’s) and toxic pesticides. Why have we set our standards so low? We should be demanding healthier formula for babies! When a mother can’t breastfeed she should be given these valuable resources about GMO’s in formula.
In conclusion, what you choose to feed your child is your business. I chose to breastfeed because it is important to me. I do it because I want the best for my child and I feel by breastfeeding I’m offering it to them. I share this information so that others can make an informed decision instead of feeling pressures by large companies just looking to make a profit. Educate yourself as I have and reach out to others if you need support. Know the signs of dehydration and always trust your gut!
- KellyMom – No Bias here. They offer great articles on both breastfeeding and formula feeding.
- La Leche League – Great advice on what to expect with your newborn and beyond. You can find local support as well.
- GMO Inside – Information on GMO’s in formula and our food supply.
- Baby Bump Forum – I use this on my iPod. It can also be used on other devices and your computer.
This article is not meant to criticize those that formula fed their babies but to bring important information to light. I sympathize with those that regret their choice to formula feed due to misinformation and hope to minimize that from occurring in the future.