Breastfeeding – best?
My very first experiences with breastfeeding were horrid. I was plagued with attachment problems, nipples that looked like someone had dragged them on a paved road and then chewed them up in an attempt to fix them, days long healing pumping and waiting for scabs to fall of…lumps, temperatures…tears and toe curling that went on what seemed like forever.
This same story repeated with my subsequent kids with some slight improvement with each. Baby Blab managed to keep one breast reasonably good and I had to pump and heal only one nipple.
This is the sucinct version of my breastfeeding woes. So having in mind that I have gone through hell and back just to continue feeding my babies breastmilk, you would be excused to assume that I think its “best” and that is why I did it. I guess I could take that and go on my way patting myself on the back for doing so exceptionally well, but I wont, because I dont agree with the ‘Breast is Best’ slogan.
The word ‘best’ is a superlative and using it in relation to breastfeeding turns this normal function into a fairy land achievement, something women ‘try’ to do. I am sure it was used with good intentions in an attempt to inform mothers of the difference between it and formula (after the false marketing of the latter as comparable to breastmilk). It probably relied on the belief that mothers have an innate desire to give their kids “the best”. Unfortunately the reality is that very few people in life are prepared to put the effort into getting/doing it and settle for ‘good enough’. Yes, think about it. We all know its best to get As in school/university; to eat fresh veggies; to exercise regularly; to avoid junk food etc. but how many of us actually do it? How many people we know that do it?
So instead of exposing the shortcomings of formula, the “Breast is Best” campaign upped the position of breastfeeding in the hard to reach superlative land and left formula in the good enough bracket. It is not that nursing has all these benefits and extra special bonus ingredients. Rather it is artificial milk that lacks a large portion of the substances that are standard for infant feeding. It basically, doesnt measure up to the baseline.
Yes, the baseline. The same way as the uterus is the way to grow babies, the milk we make is the way to continue nurturing those same babies. Those are the norms.
If a woman decides to birth her child 2 months earlier and finish its growth in an incubator (which is ‘good enough’), because advanced pregnancy is too hard, too painful or just because it will ruin her skin, we would seriously question her thinking. And yet, when milk is replaced with artificial form of feeding for the same reasons, we dont blink an eye… just nod in agreement with compassion and understand her inability to reach the illusive untouchabe perfection of the Best Feeding.
The slogan sucks!
Still, for those that are perfectionists and genuinely seek “the best” – move to a deserted place away from pollutants/plastics/normal furniture and… all chemicals really, grow and eat your own fresh organic food and consume a wide range of wild meat and fish to achieve this illusive milk.
For the rest of us, just breastfeeding should be sufficient ;)