We live in a ‘Breast is Best’ world, where mothers are shamed for not feeding their babies the natural way.
Not too long ago, I wrote about ‘Why Breast isn’t always Best‘ which sparked a few controversial comments saying that breast is best and that breast milk protects a baby from illness more than formula milk does.
Breast milk does indeed have antibodies which can help a baby’s immune system. But that’s not to say a breastfed baby has less chance of catching colds or becoming ill, than one who is fed another way.
We should support all ways of feeding.
The Fed is Best Foundation is a non-profit organisation, run by volunteers from health professionals and those who study infant feeding. Their aim is to support parents when it comes to feeding their babies, with the safest feeding options for that baby, whether that’s by feeding from the breast, using formula or even tube feeding.
They believe that a baby should never go hungry, and mothers should be supported with their choice of feeding their baby.
Recent data shows alarming trends in infant feeding, particularly with complications in exclusively breastfed babies who don’t receive enough milk. Around 10-18% of babies who are only breast fed experience starvation jaundice, which is a result of low breast milk supply.
Some mums find breastfeeding easy, and others struggle as they can’t produce enough milk or struggle getting their baby to latch onto the nipple.
The Fed Is Best website has information on different ways of feeding your baby and ensuring they get all the nutrients they need, as well as contributing to research on infant feeding. There are also personal stories about mothers and complications with feeding their babies such as Jillian Johnsons story: “If I had given him just one bottle, he [my son] would still be alive… Landon would be 5 today”.
We cannot put a price on the life of our child. Topping up with formula after breastfeeding doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Nor does choosing to formula feed altogether.
Victoria Rowe, from Coromandel, New Zealand, is mum to six-month-old Caelen.
In the first 12 hours, “everything was going well,” she said, “until he started crying, and crying and crying.”
Caelen was breastfed, and she was doing an incredible job, but she knew something was wrong and asked for formula from the midwives at the hospital. It was denied by the midwives unless there was a medical reason. After being discharged from the maternity ward, Victoria, her mother and newborn son stayed near the hospital as they lived two hours away from a major hospital.
When Caelen was two days old, he was admitted to the Newborn Intensive Care Ward in Thames Hospital after failing several blood sugar tests – he wasn’t getting enough milk.
If he hadn’t been formula-fed through a tube on the intensive care unit, Victoria would be telling a very different story to her First Week: Nightmares and NICU.
She said: “If I’d have just given him that one formula bottle, things would have been okay. If we wasn’t sent to the hospital, Caelen might not be here.”
The bottle versus breast war has been going on far too long.
If your baby is being fed and isn’t starving, then how they are fed isn’t important. Let’s stop the feeding feud.