The “Fed is Best” movement whitewashes barriers that make breastfeeding too difficult to continue and places the blame on the mom.
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.
In order to feel better about her fate, she is reminded to repeat "fed is best" over and over.
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 of infant death, autism and retardation. A catastrophe narrowly averted with "just one bottle of formula."
In the US, it 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 family 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 nurture the next generation.
It implies that if you feel angry, sad or ashamed when breastfeeding ‘doesn’t work out’, you are selfish. If you are angry, you are a mom who would willingly starve your child, just so you could say you breastfed.
Complete System Failure
When the system is slanted so doctors says “Yes, breastfeeding is best, but we better not take a chance” and leads a mom into the very practice that we know is likely to cause weaning, then the system is flawed.
When doctors are so ignorant of breastfeeding that they would let a new mom leave the hospital without breast or other feeding going well, the system is flawed.
We know the system is failing because 87% of US babies are fed some or all formula by 6 months of age, despite of the goals and aims of our medical associations.
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 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 soul food. Not being able to breastfeed is a loss and should be grieved, not shut down with a harmful platitude.
Facing a lose-lose-lose situation
When a mom is deprived of breastfeeding, especially when situations could have been handled better, everyone loses. Her “fed” 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, health care expenses, and emotionally if she is sad 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
"Fed is best" creates a value system that pits mother against mother and science against shock value.
Breastfeeding is best. “Fed” is so broad as to mean anything. There is no standard. No baseline. No optimal food or ideal levels. “Fed” includes the lowest form of sustenance - a “lunch-ables” level of nutrition.
The only standard in "Fed is Best" is that a “Corporation,” whether it’s your employer, the doctor, the hospital, or the pharmaceutical company, makes money.
Telling a mom “Fed is Best” is a knockdown punch to her dreams, courage and autonomy. It truly is not what she deserves. Moms in America deserve maternity leave, laws that protect breastfeeding and limit promotion of breastfeeding substitutes, access to many kinds of breastfeeding support, health care professionals that know and support the process of breastfeeding and communities that value and praise their determination to give babies their very best start in life.