Beyond “Breast Is Best”: It’s More Complicated Than Just Choosing Breastmilk Or Formula

It’s unfortunate that in the debate between breast or bottle, there’s so much unnecessary guilt-tripping going on. Formula-feeding mothers get called “lazy”, “negligent” or even “failures,” while breastfeeding advocates are called “snobbish” or worse, “breastfeeding nazis.” In the larger picture, is all this mudslinging productive?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer that “breast is best” and that breastfeeding offers more than just food. After becoming pregnant, I started out certain that I would do it as naturally as possible. I chose a midwife-assisted home birth, found a doula but also had a hospital backup. I was also sure that I would breastfeed exclusively because of all the known benefits.

Yet, I’m a mom who doesn’t belong to either ideological camp because in the first couple of weeks after delivery, the unexpected happened, as it often does with birth. The home birth became a hospital transfer after an exhausting labour, and there I picked up an infection that caused my immune system to catastrophically shut down two weeks later, no doubt assisted by sleep deprivation. That’s when my breastfeeding plan fell apart.

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