There is a growing movement touting that "Fed is Best" in a response to the phrase "Breast is Best". At first, when I saw the #fedisbest hashtag, I wholeheartedly agreed. After all, what is more important than feeding our babies, no matter how it is that they're fed? However, eventually it started to rub me the wrong way. It detracts from the fact that breast IS best, if the option is available.
|Photo Credit: Anton Nossik [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
Let me start by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with formula. It is an incredible invention that has fed happy, healthy babies for years. It contains the nutrients necessary to nourish a baby and help them grow. No one should ever be shamed for formula feeding their baby no matter what the reasoning is.
Fed is undoubtedly and unequivocally the most important.
But there are some benefits that breast milk offers that just cannot be replicated by formula. These benefits are the reason breast is best.
So, what are these benefits?
- Antibodies are passed from mother to baby through breast milk. These anybodies help babies to fight off illnesses. Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and certain types of spinal meningitis. Breastfed babies are less likely to be hospitalized for a lower respiratory tract infection, such as croup, bronchiolitis, or pneumonia. Breastfeeding helps keep babies healthy.
- Breast milk reduces the risk of cancer for baby and mother. That's right, the baby isn't the only one who benefits from breastfeeding. Babies who breastfeed for more than six months are less likely to develop childhood acute leukemia and lymphoma. Mothers are less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer.
- Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of SIDS, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity later on, as well as both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
There are any number of reasons why a mother may not breastfeed, including medical reasons and personal preference. Any reason is a valid one. It's every mother's choice. No one should feel guilty or be shamed for whatever they choose. What matters is that they are caring for their baby's needs. But, let's not take away from the incredible benefits that come from breastfeeding.