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Why “Fed is Best” is the Wrong Approach

admin June 12, 2017

This has frankly needed to be said for awhile now, but no one has really, rationally said it.  Everyone is too busy fighting over a militant “Breast is Best” vs. “Fed is Best” approach, and neither is fully right.  But Fed is Best is in my crosshairs at this moment, because some of the information the organization has been putting out lately is wrong, and bordering on dangerous.  It’s time to address it, head on.

Why “Fed is Best” is the Wrong Approach

Here’s the thing.  At its core, “fed is best” is simply the wrong message.  The bottom line for them is, not starving a baby is the most important thing.  Therefore, ‘fed’ is the ‘best.’

But fed isn’t “best.”  Fed is a minimum requirement for having a child.  No one, anywhere, is suggesting that a child not get fed if breastfeeding isn’t possible.  What they’re suggesting — what I’m suggesting — is that yes, it does matter what you feed your child.

At no other point in a child’s life do we take the stance the “fed is best.”  If we’re feeding a 2-year-old nothing but frozen chicken nuggets and root beer, that’s okay, right?  I mean…fed is best.

Except it isn’t.  Meeting a child’s basic caloric requirements doesn’t mean that the foods the child is given are nutritionally optimal.  No one would say it’s okay to feed your child a straight-up junk food diet, as long as you are feeding them.  Because it matters that your child’s needs for vitamins, minerals, and other factors are being met, too.

Granted, formula is a bit different because it tries to mimic breast milk and does provide more balanced nutrition than a chicken nugget and root beer diet would.  But still, it isn’t the same as breast milk.

Therein lies the major point: formula is not breast milk, it will never be breast milk, and it is not the biologically optimal diet.

To Clarify: Breastfeeding is the Biological Norm, But Not the Only Option

“Fed is Best” supporters are getting very mad at me right about now.  But hold up — don’t skip the rest of the post and go yell at me just yet.

Biologically speaking, breast milk is the optimal food for all newborns.  This does not mean it is always optimal for other reasons.  Some mothers are unable to breastfeed.  Some babies struggle to breastfeed or are unable.  And, some mothers can breastfeed, but do not produce enough.  Plus, some mothers are struggling with PPD or with a history of sexual abuse.

Obviously, all of these factors have to come into play when making the decision to breastfeed (or not).  Life isn’t simply about choosing what is most optimal in one aspect, and ignoring the rest.

It still matters, though, that we acknowledge that breast milk has benefits that formula doesn’t.

Why?  Because if we say that formula isn’t really different, we are saying that formula, as-is, is “good enough.”  We shouldn’t be doing that.  Mothers who cannot breastfeed, or do not want to breastfeed, deserve the best substitute available.  When we acknowledge that breast milk is still superior, we can help to develop even better formulas for the mothers and babies who need them.  We can also, hopefully, increase access to donor milk for the mothers and babies who need that.

Breast is best, but no — it isn’t always possible.  Mothers who cannot or do not breastfeed need the absolute (next) best options available to them.  Because it matters.

I’ve addressed some of the concerns of the foundation before in this post: Is Exclusive Breastfeeding Risky and Magical Thinking?

fed is best

Incorrect Info From the Fed is Best Foundation

Recently, the Fed is Best Foundation has been putting out some serious misinformation.  This is never acceptable, because giving mothers who want to breastfeed and are physically able to breastfeed wrong information that could sabotage their breastfeeding relationship is flat out wrong.

No mother who desires to and is able to breastfeed should ever fail because of incorrect information or a lack of support.

One statement that the Fed is Best Foundation has made is “Cluster feeding is not normal and this requires an evaluation.”

This is completely wrong.

Fed is Best is missing the difference between “cluster feeding” and “frequent, unsatisfied feeding.”  These are different!

Normal cluster feeding is like this:

  • Occurs during only part of the day, usually in the evening hours
  • Baby nurses very frequently (up to every 30 minutes), but seems satisfied in between feedings
  • Precedes a longer-than-typical sleep duration (3 – 5 hours instead of 1 – 2 hours)
  • Baby nurses less frequently and seems satisfied during the rest of the day

This behavior is completely normal and very common in young babies (see commentary from an IBCLC).

What Fed is Best is calling cluster feeding is this:

  • Constant hunger, throughout the day
  • Frequent, frantic nursing at all hours
  • Never seeming satisfied at the breast

This behavior is not cluster feeding, and is also not normal.  If baby is truly never satisfied, does not seem to be swallowing regularly during nursing, gets tired out easily during nursing, seems very frantic at the breast often, is not having enough wet diapers, is not gaining weight — yes, get that baby an evaluation!  Something is not right.  It could be poor latch, tongue or lip tie, insufficient supply, or a number of other issues.

Unfortunately, when Fed is Best mixes up true cluster feeding with unsatisfied behavior, a lot of mothers whose babies are truly behaving in a normal newborn fashion are going to think that there is something wrong, and they may supplement unnecessarily or give up on breastfeeding.  And again — women who can breastfeed and want to breastfeed should never fail because of wrong information!  Since many women give “perceived insufficient milk supply” as their reason for quitting breastfeeding early, this is VERY important!  (Source)

Fed is Best has also been quoted as saying that up to 2/3 of women are unable to exclusively breastfeed in the early weeks — implying that a woman is unable, initially, to produce enough milk to satisfy her baby.  No sources for this were cited.

…but I found the study they are referring to!  It was published in 2016, and is titled Breastmilk Production in the First 4 Weeks after Birth of Term Infants.

Not a lot of firm conclusions were drawn from this study, which is in opposition to the way that Fed is Best has made it seem.  They have stated that “most women do not produce enough in the early weeks” and that supplementation is nearly required.

What the study actually says is that about half of women weren’t producing quite enough, but were already supplementing when the study period started.  They also had given birth to slightly earlier babies, did not initiate breastfeeding as early, and did not breastfeed as frequently in the first few days.  All of these are known risk factors for lower milk supply.

It is not possible to conclude that these women simply “had” lower milk supply and that formula was the solution.  Rather, it’s likely that these women did not have the encouragement, information, and support that they needed to initiate breastfeeding in the right way.

So what do we do with this information?

Women and babies who are healthy, need to be encouraged to breastfeed as soon as possible (preferably within 1 hour of delivery) and frequently in the first couple of days, especially (greater than 7 times per day, but as often as baby wants).

When women or babies are not healthy (if baby needs to be in the NICU for any reason; if mom had a c-section and isn’t recovering well, etc.) then these mothers are at risk for lower milk supply and should be watched more closely.  They should be encouraged to pump and/or breastfeed as soon as possible to try to combat the risk factors they face.  And of course, if it is discovered that they are struggling to produce, baby should be offered supplements so that s/he receives adequate nutrition.  The best option is an SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) so that baby can get enough to eat while also stimulating mom’s breasts to produce more over time.

Shifting the Focus to Breastfeeding

Fed is Best is attempting to shift the focus away from healthy breastfeeding practices.  They are attempting to explain away why some women have difficulties by saying that it essentially doesn’t matter if women breastfeed or not, and that breastfeeding can even be ‘bad’ or ‘dangerous’ for some mothers and babies.

This is going to have the effect of convincing women who can and want to breastfeed, not to because it seems “too hard” or because they are worried about starving their babies.  They should not worry about this!

We need to be able to identify at-risk mothers and babies and provide correct lactation support (and supplements, if needed) so that babies can thrive.  That’s absolutely accurate.  But the goal should be to support and help mothers to keep breastfeeding, not to scare mothers away from it.

It is important to note that mothers who do not or cannot breastfeed should not be shamed.  There is nothing to be gained by insulting or shaming mothers who don’t breastfeed.  They have their own reasons for choosing to breastfeed or not, and typically we don’t know their stories.  We don’t know if they just didn’t want to, if they tried extremely hard and couldn’t, or what happened.  It’s not for us to judge.

While we are supporting — and not shaming — these mothers, we also need to continue to provide excellent breastfeeding education and support for the majority of mothers who do want to initiate (and hopefully succeed with) breastfeeding.  Formula is still perceived as “easier” and very much the cultural norm.  Long-term breastfeeding rates are still low, and short-term breastfeeding duration is still associated with long-term health deficits on a population level.

The Bottom Line

It’s time to be honest and accurate when we look at breastfeeding practices, and support women and provide accurate, scientific information about breastfeeding.  There is no room for dogma here.  There is no room for shouting that “breast is best and nearly all women can breastfeed and you just aren’t trying hard enough!”  There is also no room for shouting “breast is dangerous and many women cannot breastfeed and formula’s basically the same anyway!”

Both are extremist positions and neither are accurate.  Women deserve better.  They deserve honest, accurate information.  They deserve support.  It’s time to set aside all of the dogma and just provide information and be the community women need.

Check out 10 Ways to Really Increase Breastfeeding Rates.

How do you feel about Fed is Best?

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46 Comments

    • I received an entirely different message from “Fed is Best” than you. The message I received was breast milk is ideal, but don’t risk starving your newborn all for the goal of exclusive breastfeeding. Also that It’s ultimately up to each woman to make her own choice and the medical community should be forth coming about all options and not make women feel guilty. I find the organization and message important because so many in the medical community are so indoctrinated in “breast is best” that they are dismissive or shaming of women ask about formula.

      I had a terrible experience with breastfeeding after having my son. Everything I was told was “Breast was Best” so of course that was my plan. By the second day my son was so upset, constantly trying to feed, and my nipples were raw. I expressed a couple times that I felt like I wasn’t making enough milk but all the Lactation consultant said was I holding him wrong, or he was cluster feeding, or basically I wasn’t trying hard enough. That night he was inconsolable so I broke down and asked for formula but they made me feel so terrible for asking that I didn’t give him the bottle. Fortunately I went to my pediatrician on the 3rd day and when I expressed my concern to her, she weighed him and agreed. He had lost 10% of his weight. We gave him a bottle which he greedily drank. When I got home I pumped for 45 min and produced only drops. My son was starving for 2 days and because above all “breast is best” the medical professionals completely dismissed my legitimate concerns and just let it happen. I still feel so guilty when I think about the fact that I put him through that.

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  1. Kate – this was awesome. Well researched and written. Balanced representation. I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for writing this.

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    • Wonderful and informative article!! My baby was born at 33 weeks. Fortunately I got to hold him for quite awhile before he had to go to the incubator. I didn’t get to see him til the next morning, and tried breastfeeding the next day. Despite being so little, he did latch on and it got noticeablely stronger each day. I was encouraged and wholly supported by the nurses and pediatrician especially after expressing I wanted to. My supply was so low so the nurses showed me how to pump( it took days to get a decent amount) and we supplemented after each nursing session plus at night when I couldn’t be there. I did pump throughout the night to take it in the morning. It was hard because of my lower supply and he’d fall asleep right after latching on and we tried to wake him (sometimes trying to get him to eat for 45 min before finally giving him a bit of formula) but the nurses always were so supportive to keep at it! I’ll be forever thankful! Once he was home I exclusively bf. At 7 months we started solids but he still nurses!! I wish more mom who want to nurse got that support!! And those that don’t and especially can’t , wish they didn’t get so much criticism.

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  2. Can we stop with the mommy wars? It is nothing but I’m right your wrong. If you want to breast feed then do it. If you want to formula feed go for it. We all know that one day these tiny babies will be eating dirt and boogers. One day they will be fighting you on what they want to wear or where they want to go with their friends. This is a tiny blip on the parenting timeline. We all make choices at parents and hoping it’s the right one. Does it matter what someone else does?

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    • Why does sharing information bother you? How is information — and balanced info, at that — “the mommy wars?” How do you think women are going to learn and make an informed choice, if no one ever shares information or ideas?

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      • “Why does sharing information bother you?”
        This is a shut-down tactic. Why does someone sharing their opinion about your opinion bother you? See what I mean?

        This will sound crude, but the whole internet discussion (heated exchanges for years! YEARS!) is masturbation. It’s easy to feel passionate and righteous about something you do well. If someone could just get the support and resources to women who really need it–the women who aren’t even looking for it because the luxury of time to seek information about how to care for their newborn is an impossibility. Or try to encourage an exhausted single mom to continue breastfeeding when she is has to go back to shift work a few weeks after giving birth. The nitpicking of these points of “Fed is Best” is pointless except for patting oneself on the back for being well-off enough to be able to worry about it (myself included).

        Breastfeeding is rad. But if someone I don’t know tries to engage me about how I fed my two thriving girls, they will get a big fat “Nunya.”

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        • Sorry, but Fed is Best putting out INCORRECT INFORMATION that will deter new moms who want to breastfeed, from doing so, is absolutely WRONG. It’s not “nitpicking,” it’s correcting misinformation! If you don’t see the value in that, I can’t help you.

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          • Absolutely right – misinforming women and downplaying or attacking the benefits of breastfeeding is in no one’s best interests other than the formula makers.

    • Did you even read the while articlean. Your comment leads me to believe you didn’t.

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    • This “tiny blip on the parenting timeline” as you refer to it, will give a baby significant benefits or detriments to their health so it is best for parents to be informed so they can make appropriate choices for their families.

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      • The studies out there say she is right. No differences measured in breast vs formula fed babies.

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        • Actually, no. There are plenty of conflicting studies, but there is NO consensus that there is “no differences” between babies regardless of feeding method. And that doesn’t make sense anyway since breastfed is the biological norm and formula does not fully replicate it.

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    • Hi there, just wanted to add my 2 cents worth. I am so tired of the ” breastapo ” squad that shames mothers who cannot breastfeed or choose not to breastfeed or glorifies breastfeeding like it is the be-all and end-all of motherhood.. Yes breastmilk is biologically best for the child and it’s a beautiful experience to breastfeed. but a happy mother and child is equally important. Like what someone said earlier- parenthood is not all about breastfeeding and breastfeeding your child doesn’t automatically make you a better parent or your child a better human being. Motherhood is tough enough as it is and I think we should try to provide more support and encouragement to mums on all aspects of baby care instead of going on incessantly about breastmilk or nothing. It’s ironic how formula companies are made out to be so commercial, evil and mercenary. But on the breastfeeding camp, companies market expensive nursing wear, expensive nursing bras, breastfeeding supplements, breastfeeding pillows, nursing covers, top of the line breast pumps that cost several hundreds, breastpump / breastfeeding aids ( many of which I would argue don’t do their purported benefit) Yet these companies are not seen to be “evil” or gimmicky or opportunistic and their commercial intentions are never questioned just because it’s all in the name of breastfeeding!

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  3. Well written! Very important for everyone to read, not just mama’s.
    Thank you

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  4. How about best is the mothers choice for her and her baby. stop trying to bully women into doing what you feel is right. While breast feeding may be better not everyone can or wants to and that is ok. We need to stop trying to guilt women. They have enough going on with a newborn. What is best is respecting a woman’s choice

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    • But it’s not that simple.

      Women are constantly pushed AWAY from breastfeeding by hospital staff (“Wouldn’t it be easier just to give the baby a bottle?”), some friends and family members, formula advertisements and samples, etc. It’s not an honest choice if they are being swayed like that!

      So, we share information on breastfeeding and try to combat that imbalance. Why does that bother you so much?

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      • I don’t know what hospitals you have been in, but most hospitals I’m familiar with PUSH breastfeeding. I had lactation consultant after lactation consultant in my room showing me every way to breastfeed. In the end, it wasn’t in the cards for me. I developed major PPD and a lot of it was caused my articles like this saying stop with the fed is best. When you can’t produce more than 1/2 an ounce in 24 hours…formula is okay! FED IS BEST!

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        • Yes, formula is okay, and yes, moms who can’t produce clearly need formula for their babies.

          This still does not make “fed” biologically best. And by saying so, we are saying that formulas on the market are fine as-is. I think that moms who can’t breastfeed deserve better quality options — which won’t happen if we don’t push for improvements.

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    • I think that is what she was saying in the article. You got angry, but then basically restated her point for her.

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  5. The FIB campaign is truly malicious. You are spot on about the misrepresentation of cluster feeding. They misquote APA and ABM guidelines, omitting one word to completely change the meaning. They say ABM says it’s normal for a baby to breastfeed for hours, instead of several hours. They pretend to support all feeding types, but delete almost all pro-breastfeeding comments on their social media pages to make the discussion appear one-sided. The few times they actually post research to support their claims, it’s either irrelevant or misrepresented, as you have pointed out.
    Great article!

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    • Fed is Best is malicious? Since when is the idea of babies not starving malicious? Hyperbole anyone? There are lots of good reasons to exclusively breastfeed and lots of good reasons why formula supplementation or exclusive formula feeding may be necessary. It’s long past time to bring down the tone of the debate and the pressure on moms. I personally felt much more pressure from the breastfeeding camp as a young mom.

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      • Hi Priscilla,
        I believe you have misinterpreted Kay’s comment. She is in no way suggesting that not starving a baby is malicious. What she is suggesting and what she wrote, is that the what the FIB campaign writes may not be entirely accurate (and by the FIB campaign being “malicious” she meant that she thinks the inaccuracy is intended, not accidental.

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  6. I think it must depend on what area you are in because my experience was of feeling ashamed of you didn’t breastfeed, there was a reluctance among the professionals I came across to even mention bottle feeding. Finally a very senior paediatric consultant quite forcefully told me to stop, to give my son a bottle, I was at breaking point and she saved me. She told me she had two children, one of whom she bottle fed, she had just as strong an attachment to both, both were as healthy as each other. What women need is facts, support and health professionals who listen to women. We do not need opinions. If and when it is right for a baby to have a bottle, information should be given to help with keeping the experience as close to breastfeeding as possible, e.g. Feeding on demand, techniques for holding/feeding to get as much closeness as possible. I believe in trusting Mothers and Fathers to make the best decision for them and their baby.

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    • It does depend. Someone in my area was planning to breastfeed her third child (after formula feeding her first two) and the hospital staff repeatedly said to her, “You know, it would be easier to just give the baby a bottle.” If she hadn’t had a supportive community of friends — experienced in breastfeeding — she likely would have just given up and done formula a third time. That kind of thing shouldn’t be happening, especially not to moms and babies who are doing just fine with breastfeeding. That’s not the time to suggest formula, just because it’s perceived as ‘easier’ by some. Take note, I’m not talking about *struggling* moms or hungry babies; I’m talking about moms who are breastfeeding without issue and who want to continue to do so.

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      • I love the Fed is best campaign, it saved my sanity and my kid’s life. I delivered in a “baby friendly” hospital in Oregon, which among other things, means no bottles without perdiagnosed medical needs or a positive drug test. I didn’t know I had igt, and combining that with my severe ppd and ppa, I focused so hard on breastfeeding and doing what the hospital said, my kid was lethargic and severely dehydrated by 1 week, had stopped crying at all within 10 days, and everyone kept saying “just keep at it, and pump, your milk will come in!” My 5th lactation consultant finally sent us to the hospital and told me to buy a can of formula and start looking for donor milk. Fed is best is how I was able to live with myself not giving my baby “the best” till I was sane enough, and was sleeping again, to see what had been happening. You might not like the fed is best campaign, but it legit saved mine and my kid’s life. This is me respectfully disagreeing with you. <3

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        • Laura,

          Your story highlights the extreme importance of identifying mothers who are at risk of not producing enough (for whatever reason), or noticing when things are not going well and intervening. Someone should have taken a closer look at you and your baby and said “This isn’t right. This baby is not behaving normally and is not getting enough to eat,” and then recommended interventions to get your baby fed. It’s not okay that doctors and hospitals (and lactation consultants, and, and) are dismissing mothers who truly ARE having a problem and saying they just need to try harder. As your story illustrates, that is not always the case and there can be bad outcomes.

          I want to see people focusing on breastfeeding education and support, but that means ALSO recognizing warning signs in cases like yours. It has to be balanced. We can’t say “All mothers can breastfeed so just keep at it” (bad for mothers like you!), but we also can’t say “Well, do whatever, doesn’t matter either way.” And moms like you deserve the absolute best formulas available — so we need to keep researching to get them even closer to breastmilk, and increase access to donor milk too.

          I hope that’s Fed is Best’s goal, but I was still extremely concerned by some of the misinformation they have been putting out. In their quest to support moms who do not or cannot breastfeed, and help identify moms who may be at risk, they have undermined breastfeeding in mothers who are physically able, and that’s where my issue lies.

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  7. I had significant problems breastfeeding all 3 of our babies, but I’m really stubborn, thank the Lord and persevered. I successfully fed them for over 2 years each and I’m at 6 months right now with my 3rd. I did not get support from the professionals but I knew what I felt was best and had done my research. None of my babies ever had a drop of supplement! I’m thankful and proud of that, lol

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  8. Thank you, Kate!
    People need to understand: this is about mom’s who WANT and CAN breastfeed. It’s insane, no mom in her right mind would willingly starve her baby! Key is a good support system (not a industry founded group that pretends to educate).

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  9. I had a little bit of a low supply issue and it was hard to keep breastfeeding. Baby nursed almost every hour and milk was rationed when I was at work (paced feeding, small bottles, ect.) because he would drink crazy amounts if you let him. We did formula supplement but only while I was away and all of the milk was drank. There were times when his weight was concerning, but never anything truly scary (plenty of diapers). It was a shock when he started solid foods and went from the 40th percentile to the 90th, so maybe I should have given him more formula. However, if I had been given the information on cluster feeding that you were talking about we never would have made it. Now at 18 months it’s rare for him to go 3 hours without nursing and he still doesn’t quite sleep though the night, although he also drinks cows milk and eats a good variety of food. I’m sharing this to really show the range of what breast feeding looks like. I don’t feel like I fit into the box of what was expected, but we are very healthy and have no issues.

    I had really good breastfeeding support (WIC and baby friendly hospital and lactation consultant) but even then there was areas where I could have used more. How often baby should nurse and when how much to push it at the start. At the hospital they suggested I pump because baby was sleepy and not nursing as frequently but nobody asked if I had used a breast pump (I might have seen one once before) or discussed pros and cons (because I had done enough research I was equally scared of too much supply) of taking their advise. When I was pregnant I was really confused by how hard people said breastfeeding was and so I really couldn’t be fully prepared for the challenges I’d face.

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  10. Well said, thank you for sharing this! I’m so tired of hearing this new phrase “fed is best” to deter moms from breastfeeding or to make women who choose to formula feed feel better (not the ones who actually can’t) Our babies deserve the best!

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  11. Kudos to you for posting this! Finally let’s address this! Fed is Best comes out with these horrible scary stories of these babies starving to death all the time, like its protrayed as happening all the time! When actually it is a very rare occurrence and it’s pretty rare to have a naturally low milk supply as well. Plus, some of the stories, the babies died like after two weeks. Were wet and dirty diapers not being counted? Was weight gain not being monitored? Clear evident signs must of been missed I feel like. I do grieve for those parents, but we need more truthful education on breastfeeding! My mom told me she wasn’t able to breastfeed because she didn’t produce enough milk, so I was terrified that was going to happen to me. Truth has it, because she had my sister and I early, the doctors straight up told her she couldn’t breastfeed. Didn’t have her pump or anything. Then my sister failed at breastfeeding twice. She thought she didn’t make enough because her babies were hungry so much at night…..cluster feedings. I did so much research to help myself be successful at breastfeeding at I did it! We are at 13 months right now. We did have to supplement the first week and use a shield for a month because she was born early and couldn’t latch properly, but we got through it. I pumped so much that first week it was a nightmare. But it was so worth it.
    And there are women that can’t breastfeed due to health issues and certain medications that they have to be on, and I get that its the women’s choice to bf or not. But if you look into all of the amazing benefits for your baby and yourself, why would you not even want to try or at least use donor milk? I feel like women that are breastfeeding are the only ones who actually do so much research on Breastmilk and breastfeeding. Doctors don’t tell you anything! We need to inform women of these benefits! Cause if you do, it’s so obvious that breastmilk is the ideal choice.

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  12. I don’t know how a bottle would be easier. I wouldn’t want to get up in the middle of the night to make a bottle, that’s for sure. It’s so much easier to breast feed if you can. But, luckily there are other options for those that need to supplement.

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  13. Could be more informative…i.e what things help breastfeeding, what things can hinder it, what are the good things about formula… The article still breathes breast is best imo. Haven’t really learned anything new…

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    • This article was not intended to discuss breastfeeding support, per se, but rather to shed light on some unfortunate misinformation that has been spread lately. I will cover additional information about breastfeeding and identifying at-risk moms separately.

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  14. Yes!!!! I was forming a very similar blog post in my head whilst in the shower today!!! You’ve just pulled my thoughts out of my brain!! Agree 100% xxxxx

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  15. What most bothers me is the arrogance of FIB. Taking on BFHI, claiming expertise in a subject others have dedicated decades of their lives producing research and dismissing world renowned scientists. They seem just to have no idea how little they know and appear to have no respect for anyone who doesn’t share their views. Their claims about the volumes of milk required to keep babies safe in the first days of life, for example, are the sort of fearful thinking that very inexperienced student midwives tend to have. They state categorically that there is no evidence that 5-10mls is adequate. Yet here is a study that shows exactly that:
    http://fn.bmj.com/content/88/5/F380

    Thankfully their message has tempered even in the last few months as they are on a steep learning curve. But they are doing so much damage whilst they thrash about trying to understand their own mistakes and that personal histories of poor care aren’t broadly representative. It is a clear example of people who haven’t looked beyond their own experiences and don’t realise that much of the rest of the planet has better health care, much better maternity rights and social systems than America. Honestly, I feel embarrassed for them. When they realise they are (a) blaming entirely the wrong people (b) alienating everybody who knows anything about normal infant feeding and (c) attracting a bandwagon of really unsavory individuals, they will very likely have burned their bridges.

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  16. wonderful article! I struggle with misinformation all the time! I don’t breastfeed on both sides for each feeding and my own family makes fun of me because I choose to do what’s best for me. After 5 kids I only just read a book called Breastfeeding Made Simply by Nancy Mohrbacker. She is also about correcting misinformation about breastfeeding “rules.” Her book was so encouraging, I would recommend it for any mom who wants to breastfeed.

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  17. Hi Kate

    Thanks so much for this article. I recently had my first baby in May and I was in our local provincial hospital who only promote breastfeeding. However, I was badgered badly by t he staff into exclusively breastfeeding which I couldn’t since I had inverted nipples and my baby had no luck latching and I still struggle to this day a whole month later!
    We were not allowed bottles, rubber\silicone nipples or any form to help or assist in breastfeeding -it had to be breast or no going home!
    Fortunately, I was allowed to express milk using my pump and feed her using a small cup that looked like a shot glass.
    I personally feel the way I had been bullied into only being allowed to breastfeed made me resent wanting to breastfeed after leaving the hospital just to be rebellious!

    I am all for breastfeeding. And if you cannot or are unable to -use formula.

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  18. Fed is Best, in my opinion, is many to support all moms, especially those who suffer from guilt cast upon them by the “breast is best” campaign. As described by someone above my daughter was born in a “baby friendly” hospital in Alberta, Canada. On two separate occasions before and after her birth I was refused any information on formula feeding by public health nurses despite our situation.
    My daughter is adopted plus I had a tumour removed the month before she was born so I was on corticol steroid replacement therapy. Breastfeeding was not even an option. I’m thankful I never had to experience that damn guilt though. When my second daughter was born less than a year and I had supply issues plus latch issues I had no hesitation moving straight to formula. My daughters are the same as all of their friend whether breastfed or formula fed. Honestly no one other than mothers who want to feel superior care how a child was fed, and I feel they do they’re weird.

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  19. Although my mom always told me my breast milk is the best -if possible- to give my babies, even if I need to pump it to give it to them, she also told my that raw goats’ milk, then goats’ milk from the store are the next best to give my children as goats’ milk is the closest thing to mother’s milk that is available. I have been blessed that I was able to pump milk to get my supply up until my baby was able to finally latch and breastfeed, but I am comforted to know that there is an excellent alternative out there if I ever need it!

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  20. “Fed is Best” may not be a perfect campaign, but “Breast is Best” is no better. Self-agrandizing moms who are able to exclusively breastfeed actively shame mothers who formula-feed on social media and in public much more frequently than we are all willing to acknowledge. And the impetus behind the creation of the “Fed is Best” campaign gets no mention in your article. You focus on how formula needs to be improved and not deterring moms from the breast, but you don’t seem to want to acknowledge that very few lactation consultants can tell you the neurological effects of a malnourished newborn or that part of the La Leche League propaganda is that you shouldn’t even attempt supplementation because it will poison your baby against the breast and all their nonsense about “nipple confusion.” Don’t criticize one side without being willing to take a good look at the misinformation provided on your own side, as well. No one is harmed when a baby is given formula, but thousands of mothers are made to feel like absolute pieces of garbage when they can’t successfully breastfeed and I’ll support any campaign that tries to do something about that. Perhaps your criticism is more eloquent than others, but it is nonetheless critical and unhelpful to a mother in a vulnerable state.

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  21. Very good article! I had also been feeling that the FIB campaign is, at it’s heart, discouraging Mamas from breastfeeding by exaggerating some of the possible problems. Some of your detractors don’t seem to have read all of your article. This just seems like more of the “Give Everyone a trophy!” mentality. How dare anyone mention something that might encourage someone to do better (sarcasm!) It’s obvious that you had no intention of disparaging anyone, from the tone of your article. Thank you for your honesty and encouragement!

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  22. The problem I have with your article is this: baby feeding problems are much more common than you realize. I found the Fedisbest site when my newborn grandchild had to be readmitted for hypoglycemia and jaundice. Not fun to see little love with iv’s etc. It also brought back old memories of the shame i felt over 30 yrs ago when i could not breast feed my child (she would not latch). My second baby latched immediately and nursed with no problems…… Add to the problem of many women having to go back to work so soon after the baby is born with no place or time to pump…….I feel the information Fed is Best puts out is very accurate.

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    • Unfortunately, “feeling” it is accurate does not make it accurate. The science says otherwise. It may make you feel better because of your experiences, but that does not make it true.

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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