Posted by: Jennifer | August 13, 2011

Why I think “Breast is Best” is the worst advertisement for breastfeeding.

Breast is best.

I really hate the term “breast is best”.  I think that advertising breastmilk as best is the worst thing to happen to breastfeeding.  The slogan may seen innocuous enough, but when it really gets disected, it becomes evident that it hurts the breastfeeding cause more than it helps.

    Breastmilk is normal.  It is natural.  There is nothing best or better about it because it is the standard to which all artificial feeding substances are measured against.  Better put, formula is inferior to breastmilk. 

I actually started to write this post in September, 2008, and never actually finished it. If I’m being honest, I never really started it either!

Recently, as I navigate twitter and get back into blogging, I came across the most amazing blog post that makes the point that breast is normal much better than I can.

http://one-of-those-women.blogspot.com/2009/04/case-against-reasoning.html

From the article:

Guess what? There are no benefits to breastfeeding.
.
None.
.
It’s the normal thing to happen. All that oxytocin bonding, the immunities, the perfect growth medium for human beings, the added hormone hits to combat stress and sleeplessness, the brain building chemicals, the oral-facial development… it’s all normal stuff. It’s what nature designed. Glorious, complex, mind-boggingly brilliant… and commonplace and everyday.
.
It’s the biological norm.
.
It’s what you do, to produce a perfectly wonderfully normal child. Just like Rosin’s normal kids.
.
If you have a gene inside your family, that reacts to environmental stress for cancer.. breastfeeding won’t stop it developing.
.
But more cancers will be triggered, in a cohort, if the children with the gene aren’t breastfed.
.
Breastfeeding won’t stop asthma, or autism, developing, in a child with a genetic, or environmental trigger for it.
.
But more asthma, and more autism, will be triggered, in a cohort, if the susceptible children aren’t breastfeed.
.
Breastfeeding won’t prevent salmonella triggering food poisoning in a newborn.
.
But breastmilk doesn’t contain salmonella: some formula does contain it.
.
Breathing fresh air doesn’t cause cancer: but breathing smoke can trigger it.
.
See the difference?
.
Health visitors speak to pregnant women with a gag on: the gag that prevents them presenting the actual scientific matter at hand. A gag that prevents them from putting formula feeding into context: that not to breastfeed, increases health risks.
.
No one has the courage to say it. Even the nice doctor they had on at the beginning of the slot, couldn’t say it. When asked to defend breastfeeding against attack, he talked about breastfeeding decreasing illness. Breastfeeding does not decrease illness. Lack of breastfeeding increases it.
.
The other side of the Breast Is Best coin is… Formula is Fine. Formula is not Fine. Formula is Flawed. Just like Rosin’s article; it lacks essential ingredients. And has a few you might not like.
.
There is less in formula milk, than there is in human milk. There is less physiological growth in bottle feeding, than there is in breastfeeding. Combine the two, and add in that modified cow’s milk destroys the natural flora in the new born gut.. and you have an activity that increases health risks in homo sapiens: formula feeding.
.
And until we start telling pregnant women up front and honestly about this – they are always going to feel pressured about Breast Is Best.
.
And until we give them a society where breastfeeding is upheld as a normal, everyday activity, some women are always going to feel sold short for doing it.
.
Until children are welcome in public spaces, attached to the breast openly and with no censure… some women are always going to feel that breastfeeding reduces their options.
.
Until breastfeeding is presented in the medical and academic literature as the baseline norm… that from which the intervention is measured, some women are going to stay confused. Making sense of masses of hard line research isn’t easy: results need highlighted. Whilst reports still say “Breastfeeding protects against SIDS”, and whilst women aren’t reading “Formula feeding increases the risks of SIDS”, women are still going to see breastfeeding as the ‘added on extra’.
.
And if the ‘added on extra’ doesn’t result in a super human uber child – just a lovely normal healthy one – some are always going to feel cheated. This is no more pertinent than in the totally back-assed way of presenting the evidence on breastfeeding and intelligence. Whereby for years, women have been told that breastfeeding make their kids smarter.
.

I would love to just quote the entire article, which was written in response to another piece, but I suggest that you just go and read it, because it really is so amazing and so well written and just so perfect.

Breast really isn’t best. Breast is normal. It is how it should be.

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