Breast is best. Almost from the moment you see those beautiful double lines, you start hearing that mantra. And you’ve seen research. Listened to friends. Had plenty of doctors tell you the same. Offices have lactation rooms. Breastfeeding is legal in literally every single public space in America. So why would so many people go through so much effort to educate you on the benefits of breastfeeding if it truly wasn’t the best option? And what about formula? Is it even safe to give babies formula? Why would any good mom give her child chemicals when breast is best? Think baby formula is poison? Think again! The truth is chemically it isn’t much different than breastmilk, and when it comes to feeding babies, fed is truly what’s best.
Breast Is Not Always Best, And We Need To Stop Telling Women That It Is!
For most of mankind breastfeeding was the only option available for newborns. There was no debate on whether it was best, because it was all that was available. And while some advocates will tell you that what’s worked for thousands of years is still the best option today, that’s not actually the case. For those thousands of years, there were still babies who couldn’t breastfeed. Those who didn’t die from starvation usually grew up malnourished or sickly. Their lives sucked because they couldn’t eat.
And I’m not saying breastfeeding is bad. Not at all. What I’m saying is that fed is best. Sometimes women don’t produce enough milk, or the act of breastfeeding is so excruciating that it raises stress hormones in mom (which are also bad for the baby). Or in cases of foster children or adoption, breastfeeding isn’t an option. There are some babies who can’t tolerate breastmilk (I was one of them) and alternatives have to be found.
Because when we don’t look at alternatives, the unfathomable will happen. We’ve indoctrinated our society into believing breast is the only option to the point that sometimes new mothers can’t even tell when their own baby is suffering. Jillian Johnson is a mom who experienced that first hand. When her new baby Landon was born, she wanted to do everything right for him. And that meant breastfeeding. At the hospital the lactation consultant assured her his latch was great. She fed constantly, did everything she was told to do. But Landon cried. All the time.
Within 24 hours of being discharged from the hospital, Landon went into cardiac arrest. He was severely dehydrated and as a new mom, Jillian had no way of knowing that her son truly was not receiving Any milk during all the times he fed. Landon died at 19 days old from starvation…one bottle…one single formula-filled bottle would have meant the difference between life and death for a little boy who would be five years old today.
But formula is poison, right? Truly, it is not. The chemicals that make up baby formula are as closely paired to the chemicals found in breastmilk as possible. And while there are some benefits to breastfeeding, those benefits do not outweigh the need to make sure a child is fed and growing. Ultimately shouldn’t that be the big goal? Over the past couple of decades breastfeeding has become big business, and corporations have cashed in by not only promoting products and supplements to make breastfeeding easier, but also by regurgitating hand-picked pieces of data to support their stance, rather than educating women on the full picture.
So women have done everything they could to fall into rank. There have been women who fed around the clock, women whose exhaustion caused them to fall asleep on top of their babies. There have been women who spiraled into post-partum depression due to not being able to give their children their basic birthright. And women like Jillian whose children suffered unnecessarily because they believed breastfeeding was the only option.
Again, I’m not saying not to breastfeed. I’m not in anyway advocating for formula-only feeding. What I’m saying is that fed is best. Babies need to grow. For some women breast is best. For some formula is best. We need to take a step back and remind women that we will support them no matter which road they take. Their babies lives depend on it.