Breast May Not Always Be Best, But it’s Worth a Try!

Have you heard breast is best? I’ll bet you have. And I bet you have strong feelings about it. Even I, a huge breastfeeding supporter roll my eyes at that statement.  While breast milk is nutritionally the optimal choice when it comes to feeding a baby, even science can’t argue that, that statement does no one any good. It makes people defensive and totally misses the point. 

What they should have said is that breastfeeding is natural. It is the perfect first food for baby. Your baby was born to breastfeed. He doesn’t come out wanting a bottle. He comes out wanting you. Not only wanting you, but needing you. Before you throw your guard up hear me out.
 
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As a former breastfeeding mom and breastfeeding educator I fight the stigma of breastfeeding everyday. And let me tell you, we have a real problem in our society. 

 I am not talking about the mom who has tried her hardest to breastfeed and it just hasn’t worked out. I’m not talking about  those of you who for one reason or another were just not able to get their bodies to cooperate the way you wanted them to. I 100% understand that it physically does not work for everyone no matter how hard you try or the number of interventions you’ve sought. I understand there are so many other factors to consider that might mean breastfeeding just isn’t right for you. 
 
Thank goodness for formula, right? Formula exists for a reason and without it some of our babies would not. I completely understand that and would never want to shame a mother for doing what is best and what is necessary for both her, her baby, and her family. 
 
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BUT. That’s not where our problem is and that’s not what I see day to day out in our communities. I see misinformation from television, from family members, even from health care professionals. I see a severe lack of support because breastfeeding is weird or gross. I hear that it’s disgusting and that the breasts are for the man. I hear it hurts and that it will destroy your boobs and your sex life. I hear it all. And it’s just not true.
 
But really, it’s not all your fault. We are taught those things, they are being passed down, we shame mothers and force them into bathrooms because breastfeeding is not “normal”. And because of this, so many mothers have their minds made up from the get-go before allowing themselves a chance to make an informed decision. Because we feed babies from bottles. That’s what we do. We’ve been taught it’s convenient, it’s easy, and it’s pain free. Because who on Earth would want to sail in the storm when they don’t have to? 
 
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So how did it become the norm to feed our babies with something other than their mother’s own milk? That my friends is a very long answer, but long story short, beyond the need for necessitywe’ve been convinced there is more convenient and superior way. Women were convinced long ago that their bodies were in no way capable of making something better than scientists could make.
 
And what a shame because breast milk is truly remarkable. It is the perfect food designed just for your baby. It knows what your baby needs, it knows when your baby is sick. It changes every single day to meet your babies needs. It is the gold standard when it comes to infant feeding.
 
You will pay a lot of money for something that has been created to mimic what you already have. Formula companies claim “this is the closest thing to breast milk!” So if you can, why don’t you just get it straight from the tap?
 
 
We have come a long way when it comes to normalizing breastfeeding. But we have a very long way to go. Mothers need support and they need education.  We need a consistent message. We need to know formula is not the “easy way out.” We need to hear that breastfeeding is the norm. We need to see it. And we need to feel supported from everyone around us.
 
Feeding babies is hard. There are challenges with both breastfeeding and formula feeding. And let me let you in on a little secret: formula feeding is not the easy way out. It can be hard, too. So don’t rule out breastfeeding by what you’ve heard. Because there is a whole lot of garbage information floating around out there. 
 
The best way to make an informed decision is to learn for yourself. Don’t make your decision based on one person’s breastfeeding horror story. Don’t write it off because no one in your family has breastfed. Just because your mom had a “low milk supply” doesn’t mean you will, too.
 
If you have questions about breastfeeding there are so many resources and people out there who can’t wait to answer them. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, find someone to help. It’s usually an easy fix. It takes work – but so does anything with value. And let me tell you mama, that milk is valuable. You are strong mama and your body is amazing. Give it a chance to show you.
 
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My goal as a breastfeeding advocate is to educate and support. Your decision of course is always up to you and you know better than anyone what is best for your family. All I ask is you keep an open mind and give it a shot. Every ounce counts! Even if it is just one or two drops, pat yourself on the back. And maybe next time you see a mom out breastfeeding in public, give her a thumbs up. Because it is hard and even harder when you feel like everyone is working against you. 
 
For information and breastfeeding resources visit one of these helpful websites:
 
To find support in your communities you can find a breastfeeding leader through the La Leche League of Michigan. You can also contact your local Michigan WIC clinic. You do not have to be a client to use the breastfeeding support services at WIC. You could also find support through the hospital’s lactation consultant or several independent lactation consultants who do office, hospital or home visits in your area. If you need help, I’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

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