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You’ve heard the phrases: “fed is best”, “breast is best”, but what REALLY is best for moms and families just trying to make the best decisions to feed their baby?
As a mother who is no stranger to both breastfeeding and formula feeding, I can’t tell you how hopeless I felt deciding which was best.
I had breastfeeding challenges and was seeing a lactation consultant through our medical insurance — “just keep trying”, she’d always tell me.
I went 9 weeks hating the idea of breastfeeding. I was in pain. I started resenting my baby, but yet — I couldn’t just give it all up.
The thing is, I never felt pressured by anyone to continue our journey, I simply felt undersupported to reach our goal. It was frustrating.
Thankfully, baby formula is a wonderful alternative that I quickly turned to so that I could seek out the help we needed elsewhere while also feeding my son and making sure he got the nutrients he needed.
But what happens to the mom who wants to breastfeed and never finds that support?
What happens to the mom who can’t bear another second of breastfeeding, but doesn’t know what formula to use?
This is where all these campaigns have slowly torn women, moms, apart.
Though created with great intentions — as time has carried on, it seems like the core message of all these campaigns have lost sight of their true meaning.
What is the ‘Fed Is Best’ Campaign?
The fed is best campaign was created to support and educate mothers in their choice to feed their infants with breastmilk, formula, or both.
This campaign recognizes a common struggle that new mothers face after birth in which “insufficient breast milk production affects at least 1 in 5 women in the first days of an infant’s life.“
They do not encourage women to stop breastfeeding, simply provide lots of education, resources, and support to help mothers feel confident in their feeding choices to ensure their baby is being properly nourished.
Why Fed Is Best Isn’t So Great Afterall
Though I actually agree with many of the major points the fed is best campaign supports, there is one small gap that constantly arises from those who extreme supporters — and it’s somehow that formula is a direct equal to breastmilk.
As much as I support ALL mothers regardless of how they choose to feed their babies, it’s important to understand the difference between what was best for you vs. what is the best general option.
Here’s an example.
Most of us live busy, chaotic lives. We all know that a well-balanced diet of fresh fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables is BEST.
However, most of us choose to consume options that are still good, but simply more convenient. It’s nothing to feel bad about. Maybe you literally have no time to cook or get groceries. Maybe you’re physically able to prepare a healthy meal. It’s ok, it really is.
But it still doesn’t change the fact that one meal DOES have better nutritional value than the other.
So when people start to make these claims about the two being equal, this is where it completely disregards the research and science behind the amazing qualities that breast milk has to offer.
What IS best?
SUPPORT IS BEST.
EDUCATION IS BEST.
OPTIONS ARE BEST.
Have you heard of donor breast milk?
Often times, many moms think that if they cannot breastfeed they HAVE to use formula.
But did you know you could feed your baby donor milk instead?
There are various breast milk banks that collect, pasteurize, and dispense milk to families in need.
Learn more about how you can get donor breast milk for your baby today!
This is where support, education, and options are BEST.
If the idea of using donor breast milk isn’t something you’d like to consider then at least you were made aware of it as an option to make the best choice possible for yourself, your baby, and your family.
Don’t go anywhere yet. The Fed Is Best campaign isn’t the ONLY campaign that has seemed to spiral out of control.
Let’s talk next about how the Breast Is Best campaign has also evolved far from its original purpose.
What is the ‘Breast Is Best’ Campaign?
The breast is best campaign remains a bit ‘complicated’ when trying to get to the original root of when it all started.
However, the purpose of the breast is best campaign was to educate and encourage mothers to choose breast over formula.
To summarize, from the 1930’s to the 1960’s breastfeeding had a huge decline. In fact, many mothers were not even attempting to breastfeed. That’s what sparked the “breast is best” campaign which grew into a massive pro-breastfeeding campaign that lives on in almost all breastfeeding literature to this day.
Why Breast Is Best Isn’t So Great Afterall
Where the breast is best campaign went wrong, is it almost negates the fact that some women truly can’t feed by breast.
Now, when you look deeper into the breast is best to its root campaign, they don’t negatively bash moms who can’t breastfeed, but they also don’t do the best job of offering their support for mothers who cannot breastfeed their babies.
Sadly, this negative connotation has grown into an even bigger feud between moms who breastfeed and moms who don’t — constantly feeling the need to be at one another’s throat.
Here’s the thing.
Science proves that breastmilk is an amazing source of nutrients for baby that simply cannot be replaced.
However, there are GREAT alternatives (maybe not identical) around to ensure your baby is still getting high-quality nutrients for their growing body.
Fed is Best vs. Breast is Best — who is better?
The truth here is, neither of them are better.
Both of these messages fall a bit short.
Fed is best, but moms trying their hardest to stick with breastfeeding shouldn’t feel ashamed of their sacrifices or struggles to try and do what they feel is best.
Breast is best, but moms who can’t breastfeed whether due to medical or mental health concerns shouldn’t feel guilt-tripped for “not trying harder” when it simply isn’t what’s best for them.
Support is BEST.
Showing a mother you support her, no matter how she feeds her baby is best.
The decision to use formula can be such a hard choice to make when a mom feels like she failed at breastfeeding (even though she absolutely didn’t fail anything).
While continuing to breastfeed could feel like it’s pressured and forced for the sake of doing what everyone else feels is best.
Support will always triumph what others think is better for your family.
Education is best.
Sometimes, it’s the “I didn’t know this could cause my baby to be unable to latch” or the “I had no idea these formulas were an option” that can lead to moms making decisions long before they gained the information they needed 5 months ago.
Imagine, being able to access a supportive network of professionals who share their unbiased education with you so that you can make the best feeding decision for your family.
No judgment, just facts, and lots of support.
Options are best.
There are many options when it comes to feeding your baby.
- You could nurse your baby.
- You could pump milk for your baby.
- You could combo feed (nurse and pump) your baby.
- You could feed baby formula (learn about which baby formulas are the gold standard here).
NONE of which will be the only right way for all families.
However, when a mother is presented with these options, she can make the choice to decide which is best for her baby, herself, and her family.
Remember, motherhood isn’t measured by how a mom feeds her baby, so why not offer her the support she needs to feel confident and empowered with WHATEVER choice she makes?
Have either of these messages, ‘fed is best’ or ‘breast is best’ caused you to feel unsupported? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
Need more baby feeding support? Check these out:
Hi, I’m Karissa! I’m a mom of two wild little boys, a writer, parenting expert, and maternal mental health advocate. I take pride in sharing educational content to help moms find solutions to stressful motherhood challenges because I know how difficult they can be firsthand.