Okay so that heading sounds a bit drastic, but hear me out.
First of all, what does ‘fed is best’ actually mean? The first time I heard of it was when I read an article about a baby that suffered immense dehydration because the mother was determined to breastfeed. Sadly, the baby wasn’t thriving and passed away.
After this story broke, I saw an immense movement on social media, by mostly people who had formula fed their babies, smugly declaring ‘fed is best’. Mums all over the world jumped on the bandwagon, taking advantage of the opportunity to let everyone know that they had been right all along, because look, the media is all saying it doesn’t matter anymore.
In light of the sad story, anyone who had an opposing opinion felt the need to shut up. I am in no position to comment on this exact case, as it’s not my story to share and I wasn’t privy to the medical specifics. But basically, if you didn’t agree, you would be shot down.
Before you blast me, here are five reasons why I think the movement is rubbish:
1. It’s insulting to ALL mums
So, what’s the alternative to ‘fed is best’? Starving your child? I don’t know any parent that wants to intentionally starve their child to death. So when you support this ‘fed is best’ notion, you're basically acknowledging the alternative exists. Now that doesn’t sound very empowering, does it?
2. Breastmilk offers the most nutrition
It’s scientifically proven that breastmilk offers the most nutrition for babies when compared to formula. You cannot replicate breastmilk, it’s impossible! Formula just doesn’t have all the amazing benefits, like antibodies etc.
3. Breast is best, except when it’s not
I can’t write this and not acknowledge that there are some cases, like the story mentioned above, where some babies do not thrive on breastmilk alone. This is where it is important to allow the medical professionals to provide guidance. We all want our baby to grow and thrive. If that means feeding your child formula, then so be it. Trust your gut but also know when to seek help. Yes, often mums feel immense determination to breastfeed their child, and this is great, but there comes a point where you need to use common sense. If your child is not steadily putting on weight and thriving, then you need to know when to let go.
4. It makes some mums feel better
It was a made-up tag line to make formula-feeding mums feel better about themselves. Yes, by supporting this movement, those who didn’t want to, or couldn’t breastfeed felt less guilty. Mama guilt, yes, it’s a thing. All of a sudden there was a group they could join to feel better about their decision. We all like to feel part of a larger like-minded group, don’t we? It gives us a sense of belonging that humans crave.
5. It should have been called something else
I do agree that the most important thing is a baby’s safety, and of course the mother’s wellbeing, but by preaching ‘fed is best’, well… I don’t know if we are going about it effectively. It’s insulting and doesn’t give credit to the amazing benefits of breastmilk. In my opinion, it implies that formula is on par with breast milk when we know it's not. What should we call it instead? That, I do not know the answer to. But I hope I have brought a different perspective to the topic.
What do you think? Is ‘fed is best’ sending the right message?