Don't Fall For The Fib
The death or severe illness of a baby by starvation or dehydration is an absolute tragedy. My heart aches at the thought. But blaming breastfeeding and claiming formula is the solution isn't the answer by a long shot. Breastfeeding is not the problem.
The lack of comprehensive knowledge within families and in general, about normal infant development and infant feeding; the absence of information about infant feeding and development in our elementary and secondary educationsystems; rampant myths and misunderstandings about the mechanics of milk production and milk transfer; failing to acknowledge the impact of birth interventions and circumcision on the breastfeeding relationship; the horrific lack of care and support for postpartum women; failure of medical professionals to have adequate information and experience to support breastfeeding and how to optimally troubleshoot concerns - THESE are the problem.
A lack of understanding of how cultural, financial, racial and other factors influence the care and information new mothers and infants receive... The unrealistic demands we place on women about getting "back to normal"... The unrealistic expectations we have of babies to sleep through the night, self-soothe, and “be good”..... All of these things are the problem - NOT breastfeeding.
Acknowledging and promoting breastfeeding as the biological norm does not kill babies.
Ill-written stories which use a mother's tragedy to make us overlook the deeper issues are part of the problem not the solution.
Of course babies need to eat!! But giving formula is NOT the universal solution. An individual necessity or choice sometimes? - Absolutely! No mother should feel an ounce of guilt for using formula if that's what she needs to do. But "fed is best" as an organization and campaign is misguided and problematic in a million ways (not least of which being that it completely flies in the face of everything we know from science and human history) .
The FIB campaign intentionally breeds the fear that every time you put your baby to breast you could be killing your baby. How does that help a new mother who is already feeling vulnerable and unsure?! FIB compounds the doubt and fear instead of addressing and correcting it. FIB feeds into the harmful belief system that women’s bodies are inferior, incapable, and not enough.
If FIB wants to ACTUALLY improve outcomes for mothers and babies the answer is not found in fear and mis-information. The answer is found in compassion, education, in working with women and babies to help them achieve optimal outcomes in body, mind, and soul, and even in pressuring formula manufacturers to make a better product and stop using predatory marketing practices.
Fed is Best? ….. It's a FIB through and through. Women and babies deserve better.
References, Resources, and Recommended Further Reading
Fed Is Best: Great Message, Not So Great Science
Why Fed Will Never Be Best: The FIB Letting Our New Mothers Down
What Are The Booby Traps?
Nine Birth Interventions That Affect Breastfeeding
Circumcision & Breastfeeding
Canadian Doctors Lack Knowledge, Confidence About Breastfeeding
Why Poor Mother's Don't Breastfeed
Black Mothers Are Less Likely to Breastfeed
Resources For Breastfeeding & Postpartum