Why "Fed is Best" is not best.

Why "Fed is Best" is not best.

"I tried breastfeeding and it didn't go well. My doctor said that I didn't have enough milk and I knew I would be going back to work eventually. She took a bottle right away. I'm angry, sad and disappointed I couldn't breastfeed, but after all... "Fed is Best'."


The “Fed is Best” (FIB) movement overlooks the booby traps that make breastfeeding too difficult to continue and places the blame on the slogan, "Breast is Best." 

Each sensational story of breastfeeding failure features a mom’s drive to feed her baby, as she faces setbacks and barriers without adequate medical, social or personal support. In each story, she loses hope, resigns to formula feeding and blames herself, not the system and culture she lives in.

In order to feel better about her fate, she is reminded to repeat the FIB "fed is best"  over and over.


The FIB mantra has the same things wrong with it that 'Breast is Best' does: guilt, shame and selfishness

“Fed is Best” is not balm for a broken heart of a woman who wanted to breastfeed. It is brainwashing to silence her feelings after a painful failure. Failure complete with insinuations that she alone could cause infant death, autism and retardation with her selfish desire to breastfeed. These catastrophes are all magically averted with "just one bottle of formula."

In America, FIB is a painful, un-preventable failure, unless you are lucky, remarkable, rich, probably white, and/or surrounded by nursing mothers.


“Fed is Best” is in the same category as “The important thing is you got a healthy baby.”

It guilts and shames us into the silent, serving, selflessness that good mothers are supposed to embody. A mother who sacrifices her health and dreams to raise the next generation "the right way."

It implies that if you feel angry, sad or ashamed when breastfeeding ‘doesn’t work out,’ you are selfish. If you are angry, then you are a mom who would willingly starve your child, just so you could say you breastfed.


Fed is best is a complete system failure

When doctors are so ignorant of breastfeeding that they discharge a new mom from the hospital without breastfeeding or supplemental feeding going well, the system is failing mothers and babies.

When the system is corrupt so doctors says “Yes, breastfeeding is best, but we better not take a chance” yet fails to provide lactation evaluation, coaching, counseling and support, the system is failing mothers and babies.

When a health care provider shames a mom into the very practice (formula feeding) that we know is likely to cause weaning, then the system is failing mothers and babies.

We know the system is failing mothers and babies because 87% of US babies are fed some or all formula by 6 months of age, despite all of the goals and aims of all our medical associations and governmental programs.


When Doctor doesn't know best

When a mom is talked into a cascading series of unfortunate interventions and her breastfeeding goes awry because her health care providers lack knowledge and fear malpractice, that mom has a right to grieve and be angry. 

Breastfed is more than “fed.” It’s physical, mental and emotional nourishment for mother and baby. It is brain food. It is an immune system. It is obesity prevention. It is health care.


Not being able to breastfeed is a loss and should be grieved, not shut down with a harmful FIB.


Fed is best is a lose-lose-lose situation

When a mom is deprived of breastfeeding, especially when situations could have been handled better, everyone loses. Her FIB baby loses immunities and instant comfort that fulfills their five senses. The mother loses on bonding, expected reduction of cancer risks and increased risks of depression. Her family loses financially with the costs of formula, and most likely, increased health care expenses, and everyone loses if she is sad, depressed or ashamed about ending nursing.

Our society loses because we pay for sick mothers and babies through pooled insurance costs. We pay for garbage disposal costs through pooled fees. 

“Fed is Best” slams the pain of quitting breastfeeding into a grim reminder that it really is not about you and what you want for your baby. It’s the same message that has been hammered into your life from early on. You have no right to think your body is perfect. You have no right to feel empowered. You have no right to be healthy and happy.


A Lunchables level of nutrition

Breastfeeding has clear benefits over formula feeding. “Fed” is so broad as to mean anything. There is no standard. No baseline. No optimal food or ideal levels. “Fed” suggests the lowest form of sustenance - a “lunch-ables” level of nutrition.

The only standard in "Fed is Best" is to ensure that a corporation, whether it’s your employer, your doctor, your hospital, your insurance company or the pharmaceutical company who manufactures your baby's formula, makes money. 

"FIB" pits mother against mother.  FIB pits science against shock value. Over and over again, the FIB organization publishes inflammatory articles that are based on one mother's experience, and generally not backed up with research covering the broader population. 



Telling a mom “Fed is Best” is a knockout punch to her dreams, courage and autonomy. It truly is not what she deserves.

Moms in America deserve:

  • Paid maternity leave
  • Laws that protect breastfeeding
  • Laws that limit promotion of breastfeeding substitutes (WHO Code)
  • Unlimited access to professional and ethical breastfeeding support, from
  • Health care professionals that are educated and support the process of breastfeeding
  • Communities that value and praise Mother's determination to give babies their very best from the start, whether or not breastfeeding is their final feeding method


If they desire, all mothers can breastfeed, at least partially, if not fully.

New mothers and babies need education and closer supervision until their medical team is certain that baby is growing well. It takes time, education, coaching, monitoring and sometimes even formula supplementation, while breastfeeding is being established. 


A supportive approach pays off. 

New mothers can never predict how much milk they will end up producing. Some exclusively breastfed babies are still increasing weight percentiles in their 4th and 5th month. This is due to a baby becoming a better breastfeeder, and (I think) a mother increasing her capacity through more frequent feeds and the tincture of time.

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