Breast or Bottle: There is No Debate.

Today is the first day of World Breastfeeding Week, initiating yet again, another round of breastfeeding mothers trying desperately to educate and find public and legal support while formula feeding mothers feel judged and angry. It’s a tiring back and forth that breeds animosity. It’s sad. I personally advocate for nursing moms and try to educate those who don’t understand, and when I do, I get called names and I’m told that I’m judging others for their choices.

I want to put this out there: I don’t judge any mother for her choices. I’m not her. I can’t possibly make an informed decisions as to what I would do if I were her. I only know what I would do myself. I know that mothers who breastfeed need support. It’s not fair that they get discriminated against and sabotaged. So I support them. And I am more than willing to tell others what I learn about the magic that is breastmilk because it really is fantastic stuff. There is no other way to say it but that formula is an inferior product. It is. Breastmilk is to formula as fruits and vegetables are to breakfast cereal. Can someone survive on it? Yeah. Can they be reasonably healthy? Absolutely. Will they have the greatest chance at life-long health? No. Those are facts. Breakfast cereal, for all of it’s synthetic nutrients, does not get absorbed by the body the same way that fruits and vegetables do, and neither does formula compared with breastmilk.

When we’re talking about support for mothers, yes I believe that all mothers need support. I believe that nursing mothers particularly need support because bottle feeding mothers don’t get asked to “go somewhere else to do that” and they don’t get undermined by their friends or family “wanting to bond with the baby” or saying, “why don’t you bottle feed so you can get some sleep?” They may get some pressure to breastfeed. Sorry if you feel like that’s people assuming you’re uninformed. We honestly want you to know all of the benefits you miss out on and all of the risks you are taking because it’s hard for us to understand why someone would know all of those things and STILL make the choice to feed their baby something that isn’t real food. (Synthesized food, by definition, is not real.) If you make that choice anyway, more power to you. If you make that choice by default because you didn’t have the information or support you needed to succeed at breastfeeding, THAT is what we want to fix. We want to ensure that moms who formula feed are the ones who choose to and NO ONE ELSE. We don’t want mothers to have to formula feed because they were undermined. Let’s face it: mothers who want to formula feed aren’t going to have someone secretly try to get their baby to latch on to them while they sleep and they’re not going to succumb to the temptation to breastfeed because maybe everyone is right and it’s easier, so just this once… Mothers and babies are the victims of a culture that refuses to embrace breastfeeding. If our culture is going to believe that breast is best, we all need to support nursing mothers and mothers-to-be; we cannot stay quiet about the dangers of formula and we must stop undermining breastfeeding efforts. Formula isn’t the second best choice; it’s the 4th and some would argue the 5th. That ranking comes from the health benefits of the others. It comes from the facts that have come from the research. Don’t feel bad if you made this choice  or feel like you were pushed into this choice. Very few people judge moms who formula feed. (I can’t say none, because some do, but the number is really very small.) I don’t personally care what conclusion you came to. All I care about is ensuring that those who want to breastfeed can do so freely and easily without being undermined. Can you honestly say that you don’t feel the same?

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One response to “Breast or Bottle: There is No Debate.

  1. My wife tried to breast feed all three of our boys, but it didn’t last long. She didn’t experience the euphoric “bonding” sensation, in fact it was often painful. She just didn’t produce enough milk to keep up with their appetites. Bottle feeding turned into a lesser of two evils for us.

    My sister is quite the opposite, she continues to breastfeed her 18 month old, and whips it out when he’s hungry, regardless of where she’s at. I do not know of any instances where she’s been asked to relocate or encouraged to bottle feed, but the community she lives in is much more accepting and understanding than my small town!

    I believe aversion to public breastfeeding, or breastfeeding in general, is derived by our totally over-sexualized society. Sex is attached to every major marketing campaign, the entertainment industry constantly pushes the sexual envelope to lure us into consuming their product, local media runs a sex predator story every other night. Even the most mundane object has potentially been given some sexual connection in our psyche, resulting in anything can naturally be tied to sex (such as an exposed breast) being labelled pornographic. This is frustrating as an artist who enjoys using the human body as my subject matter, but I imagine it’s even more offensive to a mother who’s just trying to feed a hungry child!

    I agree with you, there is no debate. Whether it’s by breast or bottle, parents- feed your kids, public- shut up and deal with it!

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