Is it time to ditch "breast is best"?

I'm pretty passionate about breastfeeding. I breastfed my baby for ten months but would have happily done it for years if that's what she had wanted. I am the sort of mum that believes you should breastfeed wherever your baby is hungry and will stand up for any mum's right to do that.

But I also think that fed is best. It's a sad world where we still feel the need to bully mums into doing 'what's right'. From what age a baby should leave the house (I was policed for taking DD out too early!) to babies' weaning age (when DD was small it was 4 months! now it's much later) to whether you carry a baby in a sling, if you use a buggy etc etc and on and on

Most mums, pretty nearly all mums, do the best for their babies. They adore their babies, and want to do the right thing, but if they are bombarded with messages, and constantly criticised for everything they get 'wrong' how can a mum expect to cope! Mums' mental health can be really delicate and I don't think the modern trend of bossing mums from every angle is helping.

All that pressure when you are, if you are like me, already terrified that you'll do something wrong just adds stress and fear. Mum's don't need it.

Is breast best?

Fed is best. We are really lucky to have a safe choice in what to feed our babies. We don't have to resort to sugar water, or flour and water, or diluted cows milk if our babies can't get breast milk for any reason. We have a choice. It's easy to be swayed of course by a multimillion pound industry that wants to sell us formula, and maybe that's why breastfeeding advocates fight so hard, to even the playing field, but in reality if you've had a look at the options and made an informed choice, fed is best.

I think, for me, for my baby, breast was best. I was relaxed, I was lazy and didn't want to clean bottles, I was worried about sterilising, I thought formula milk was expensive, and mummy milk was always there when I needed it, I didn't have to worry about water temperature or mixing. But what if you are not me? millions of people aren't ;-) What if you have reasons to not want to breastfeed, maybe you have to work, maybe you tried and even with support, you couldn't, maybe you just didn't want to for some reason. Lots of people will say 'oh but with support, with information you could breastfeed' - I used to say that very thing myself, but what it after all the support (wanted or not) and all the information, you still want to formula feed and use a bottle for your baby? Why you chose formula shouldn't make you ashamed any more that breastfeeding in public should shame me.

There have been lots of tries to increase breastfeeding rates for various reasons, women have been bribed, women have been shamed, and it has even been suggested that formula milk should only be available on prescription for mothers that really can't breastfeed! But unless formula is actively bad for babies (and if it is what are we going to do about that?) I can't really see why. The only real problem with formula I have read about that could be an issue is where women on low incomes add more water and less powder to make the milk last longer (which obviously is dangerous) is there a simple cure for that?

I think that the slogan 'breast is best' has placed formula feeding (and even bottle feeding using expressed milk) mums into the very same sad place that breastfeeding mums once were. We are all mums that want the best for our babies, I think it's time we were given information, once, clearly and then left to get on with our choice.

Maybe we need a new slogan, maybe nothing is 'best' except a fed baby and a happy mum, how about 'Full tummies, happy mummies'

What do you think?

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