Why We Need To Stop Being Dicks About “Fed Is Best”.

We’ve all seen the ads, the posters in Dr’s waiting rooms, in hospital birth centres, labour wards and antenatal clinics. The ones that are given to you before birth, after birth… Probably during birth in some places. “Breast is best”. That slogan promoting breastfeeding. Breast is best for your child. Nothing else is as good.

Lately we’ve seen a new phrase pop up. “Fed is best”.

I posted an article a few weeks ago regarding celebrating ALL mothers and how they feed their kids. The article spoke about “fed is best” and one of the comments that popped up was along the lines of “I don’t agree with fed is best. It implies that even if you puree a bag of popcorn and give it to a newborn it’s ok”. A Google search saw me looking at lots of similar comments. “Fed is best? So if I give my kid gummy worms is that best?”

Really? We can all be ridiculous. “I don’t agree with breast is best. I mean what so if I puree a chicken breast and give it to a newborn it’s ok?” Sounds stupid, right? I agree. It sounds just as stupid as implying that “fed is best” means feed your child whatever you want.

I have to say, I’m a huge fan of “Fed is Best” because it is true! It doesn’t shame anyone. It doesn’t put anyone down and it doesn’t make anyone superior. It’s the food equivalent of “You there! Feeding your child! You’re doing a great job!” What I fail to understand is why people pick at it. As a phrase I think it’s pretty good at empowering mothers to feed their babies the best way for all involved. Considering the fact that some of these mothers may have had a very difficult breastfeeding journey that has come to an end because of lack of support, isn’t empowerment important?

My point is that we all know what is meant by “fed is best”. We all know that it doesn’t mean “feed your kid whatever you want as long as they have a full tummy”. But, as usual, people pick holes in these things. As usual people go to extremes. We all know that breast milk is made for babies. That’s the point of it. That’s the whole reason it exists, is to feed babies. But most smart people know that there are many other factors that come into play when a family is deciding how to feed their child. And formula does the job for those who can’t or don’t want to feed breast milk for whatever reason. Let’s not be dicks about it. We can all live side by side.

If breast is best for you and your child, that’s great. If bottle is best for you and your child, that’s great too. If you need to tube feed your child and that is best for them and you, that’s great. Breast milk or formula, whatever works for you is fine. Let’s empower women for their choices. You are feeding your child! You’re a great parent!

Whether tube, bottle or breast, it’s clear that fed is best.

This Mum’s Life
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27 Responses to Why We Need To Stop Being Dicks About “Fed Is Best”.

  1. Sarah says:

    Wholly agree with this. People seem eager to complain about anything they can sometimes! As you say, let’s just all do the best we can and support each other. Whilst my wife is still breastfeeding our 8wk old, it has been an extremely difficult journey, and still is not easy. In hospital we received zero support, and even discouragement from breastfeeding, and although we have received good support since then, it has been tiring, emotionally difficult, and very painful. If at any point my wife had decided that breastfeeding was no longer the right choice (for example, the negative emotional effects on our son from having a very upset mum) I would have supported that choice all the way, and been extremely angry at anyone who berated her for this. Whilst I will always believe that on the whole breastfeeding is best, it is definitely not best for every mother. The ‘best’ is doing the best you can for your child, and that is not always breastfeeding.

    • I think lack of support is half the problem. I know so many women who tried to breastfeed but couldn’t because of lack of support from health professionals. And I don’t mean “telling them to do it” support, I mean actual helpful support.

  2. sparklymummy says:

    Very well said! I think some people find pleasure in picking these things apart, everyone understands the sentiment behind ‘fed is best’ but where is the fun in that ?

  3. Kallie Desruisseaux says:

    Anyone who answers Fed is Best with a snarky comment about ‘Oh, so anything will do? Breast IS best.’ makes me want to answer with a snark comment like, ‘Oh, breast is best? Even one that doesn’t contain milk? How about sucking on your Grandpa’s nipple, still best?’

  4. KA Doore says:

    I wonder how much overlap there is between those people nitpicking “Fed is Best” and those people who do the same to “Black Lives Matter?”
    But anyway, here here! Well said.

  5. A great post 🙂 I couldn’t feed either of my babies, they just wouldn’t latch after days and hours of trying and then I then got mastitis. I’ve been made to feel awkward about this a few times and often people question why both of my children are dairy intolerant and I’ve often blamed myself. But I made that choice in hospital to bottle feed to ensure that they got fed and this was the most important thing in mind 🙂

  6. The funny thing about saying “breast milk is made for babies” is that formula is too! It’s not like formula is manufactured for something else and then just happens to also feed babies—formula is specifically designed for babies!

    (In case it’s not clear, I am very much in agreement with this post.)

  7. happywawa15 says:

    A very interesting article. I totally agree with you on empowering mothers. I am breastfeeding my son which is entirely due to the support I received from lactation consultants, family and friends. I don’t agree at all with shaming women who did not receive the same support. I know “fed is best” is intended to convey camaraderie between mothers. But I can’t help but feel it doesn’t support those new mothers who are dependant on the right information to make their own decisions.

    • It absolutely should. I’ve written about this in the past and it constantly irks me. As a mother who knew she was going to formula feed from the start, it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to get any information about formula. I can talk about breastfeeding until I’m blue in the face, but nowhere could I get information on formula. A lot of NHS trusts won’t give formula information now. They won’t talk about anything other than “breast is best”, which is disappointing because how are families supposed to make an informed decision without having both sides of the coin?
      I’d love to see midwives and antenatal clinics giving out unbiased information that covers ALL types of feeding under the heading “fed is best”. That doesn’t mean they can’t talk about benefits of breastfeeding – they absolutely should and they absolutely should talk about what support is available for breastfeeding mothers who are having difficulties. I know some ridiculous number of bf mothers switch early on because of lack of support and that needs to change. But we also need to have some respect for women who choose not to breastfeed. We need to have open discussions with these women. Like me. As a sexual assault survivor I never planned to breastfeed. But not once did anyone discuss that with me…
      We need to be empowering women and families to make well informed decisions for themselves and their babies by presenting ALL off the info. Not just “breast is best! It’s convenient! It’s free! It’s nature’s best takeaway!” And then “the dangers of artificial feeding”. Which were what I was given…

      • happywawa15 says:

        The thing is, promoting breastfeeding over formula isn’t biased because they aren’t equal. Presenting them as the same under ‘fed is best’ is misleading for new mums who need to understand the dangers of formula to make an informed decision. It’s a great shame that you didn’t receive any specific support regarding breastfeeding given your very difficult circumstances. And I do believe that where a mum is formula feeding, she should absolutely be given advice from her health professionals on how to do it safely.

      • I’m not saying promoted over necessarily. I would like to see some side by side info that is unbiased. And maybe dispelling some of the myths. Things like “babies fed formula sleep better”. There’s a lot of untruths on both sides and ur would be nice to see an unbiased side by side approach.
        Formula is perfectly safe. It’s not about dangers. It saves lives

    • Sindorella says:

      And you are exactly the kind is person who new moms need to be protected from with ideas like fed is best. Dangers of formula? Dangers of a nutritionally complete marvel of science that saves babies lives? What dangers exactly? Are you talking about the dangers of improperly prepared formula, or are you implying that babies will somehow be harmed for merely ingesting it at all? What about the dangers of EBF? Dangers of insufficient milk supply? Dangers of delayed or failed lactogenesis II? Dangers of insufficient intake in the face of latch issues? Dangers of breast milk jaundice? Pretending like only formula needs to be warned against and the focus should only be on promoting breastfeeding instead of getting mothers find the method of feeding their babies that works for them with the goal of making sure that baby is receiving enough nourishment by breast OR bottle is WHY “feed is best” needs to be said.

      • happywawa15 says:

        I think you’ve raised a really important point. Mums need lots of ongoing support and advice in order to breastfeed properly. Otherwise there can be real dangers ahead for their babies. I’m sure you’re aware that there are lots of studies proving the risks of formula compared to breastfeeding, but this of course implies that the breastfeeding is successful. Finding a method that ‘works for them’ has to include information on these risks otherwise mum can’t make an informed decision. I know a lot of mums feel very guilty, believing they chose formula over breastfeeding. But it is my firm view, that where a mum didn’t receive the right support, advice or information and was facing psychological, emotional, physical or practical problems when breastfeeding, the choice was never hers to begin with and she has every right to feel proud to feed her baby the only way available to her. However, I also believe, promoting ‘fed is best’ is misleading as it undermines the importance of breastfeeding where possible.

      • What are the “risks” of formula?

  8. agentspitback says:

    I am quite stunned to read here what you said other people have said about “fed is best” – as in popcorn and chicken breast? Really? That seems taking it to the ridiculous extremes. I agree, that all mothers should be supported with whatever choice they make as every woman has her own circumstance and story behind the choice. #bigpinklink

    • I’ve never actually heard anyone say that about chicken breast – that was just my example. But yeah, I’ve heard people say “might as well puree a McDonald’s then” etc etc

  9. mindfulmummy says:

    Ah people are just being pedantic and ridiculous – ‘fed is best’ is a great catchphrase and we all know what it means. If people just choose to be ‘clever’ that’s their prob – being non-judgmental is the essence of the message and the best approach to take. #BigPinkLInk.

  10. Fedistheonlyoption says:

    I think there’s a very real factor of breastfeeding that is never talked about. What about those mothers who require medication straight after birth for such things as pnd, ms and many other medical conditions? What about anemic mothers? What about mothers who were extremely sick all pregnancy and their bodies have been drained completely of any goodness? What about mothers with genetic mutations such as I have with the mthfr gene mutation that means my body cannot absorb what it needs from food alone and requires high concentrated supplements to function at best capacity? This is a very real situation and much much more common than you think. I became severely anemic while pregnant. No doctors would give me an infusion at the time because being anemic was “normal” in pregnancy . All my other major vitamins and minerals were sitting at the very bottom of acceptable levels and I had extreme anxiety because of this. I was placed on medication for this but a low dose due to being pregnant. When my daughter was born, I made the choice to formula feed. I did that because there is no way my body can produce something magical and filled with the right amount of vitamins and minerals, including the vital iron that I didn’t even have for myself. Breastmilk isn’t magically generated from nothing. Anti depressants saved me at the time, they really did. But a higher dose would have been “ok” for me daughter to receive through breast milk, but my gp warned me that my child would suffer withdrawals when being weaned from breastmilk because of the anti depressants. Having been through that myself, there was no way I was going to knowingly inflict that on my child. Now, before anyone says that magical vitamins and minerals are retuned to you post birth that the baby didn’t use or need, iron included, let me give you my story. I had my daughter, she was small like myself, my husband and her Aunty. But she was healthy and that’s what mattered. She took to formula really well. She grew and grew and caught up to others her age in weight and size in no time. I didn’t get pnd because my medication was increased. Almost a year post birth I saw a gp my mum had been seeing where they discovered she had this gene mutation. I was then diagnosed as well. This specialist gp went over my blood test results. Now this is one hear post birth, having taken iron tablets since 26 weeks pregnant and change in diet, extra vitamins and minerals daily. I was very low in iron, magnesium, all b vitamins, vitamin d, zinc… The list goes on. I immediately had an iron infusion and my medications were changed/increased. One particularly interesting outcome of the mthfr gene mutation is your body cannot produce enough serotonin. Hence depression and anxiety. What I went through in pregnancy (hell) was all related back to this gene mutation. 18 months post birth and I am still working very closely with my specialist GP to get my body back to a suitable state before I even think about having more children. He advised me that I am extremely lucky my daughter was born and is now healthy and free from major medical conditions & he praised me for my decision to formula feed and said that gave her the best start to life that I could have offered her. My instincts told me something was not right. My rational mind told me I cannot generate something magical from nothing. I was right. It was just lucky l trusted and followed my instinct instead of the judgement and questions and lectures I received on breast is best. Not to mention strangers coming to me as I was feeding my 18 day old child a bottle and asking me why I didn’t breastfeed. The push to breastfeed and the lack of accurate formula information and accurate breast feeding information (meaning none of the negatives or REAL components) disgusts me. I’m in Australia and this is not good enough. It’s happening worldwide. I was told at one point when taking my daughter off goats milk formula to cows milk that I wasn’t able to obtain a sample tin to try without an exception form signed by a paediatrician and and sent to the WHO and approved for it to be sent out to me. Biggest joke ever. Science saves lives. Formula is science milk. Think very carefully before you push your breastfeeding agenda to anyone or even mention it. Do we go around verbally questioning each other on what we drink or eat? Strangers? No? Then why babies? The ones pushing the agenda are the ones doing s disservice to the breastfeeding push by pushing others away. I liken it to religious people knocking on your door to “spread the word”. Just no. Go and open both of your eyes and educate yourselves in politeness and respect for others.

    • Well done for trusting your instincts and I’m glad that your daughter has and continues to thrive. I agree that that the push of breastfeeding is too much. It’s a hell of a lot of pressure when some women have no choice. I considered myself to be unable to due to mental health as I am a sexual assault survivor. Physically I maybe could have. Mentally it would have destroyed me. I made that decision because that was best for my family

      • Fedistheonlyoption says:

        Exactly! And that was a huge factor in my decision at the time. But now knowing what I do about my body and gene mutation I didn’t know I had when pregnant, it all makes sense. I’m glad I trusted my instincts. It was so hard though. Why should a mothers choice be questioned when it’s not endangering the life of her child? The mothers mental and physical health is just as important as baby. It’s a symbiotic relationship in order for both to thrive.

  11. Jenova says:

    Lol, I love the response from one person that you posted on Dr. Amy’s page – that “fed is best” is just us trying to justify our guilt. You know what? Sure, I had guilt at the beginning, when I couldn’t breastfeed, and I was getting bullied and snarked at by internet strangers and lactation consultants. But now? There’s no guilt. My baby is thriving because I chose to make sure she was FED rather than starving while I desperately tried to make breastfeeding work. I feel no shame, and no matter how much these extreme lactivists try to claim the high moral ground, I know I did the right thing for my baby. Feed your baby from the breast or from the bottle. Just flipping feed the baby and stop being pedantic a-holes when someone said “fed is best.” It is best.

  12. Mackenzie says:

    To be honest, you come across as very defensive. Breast milk is better for babies. There are risks of formula, just google it, you will find many articles/posters etc about it, I can’t add photos on her unfortunately otherwise I’d share one. Though I find it interesting you haven’t already been made aware of them since you often talk about how pressured you were into breastfeeding, so that comes across as defensive also. Formula was created out of medical needs, not to give mums a choice, although that it what it has now become. I do believe all mothers should at least try to breastfeed because ultimately when you bring a life into this world it’s not about you any more, it’s about them and doing everything in your power to protect them. You may not see the problems formula has caused until adulthood. That said, I know how hard it can be and the reasons why people turn to formula, I am not one of these people who says if you can’t breastfeed you just didn’t try hard enough but yes, I do believe everyone should try, it makes us healthier and in the long run saves us and the nhs money. Fed is best maybe be empowering but unfortunately, it’s just not true.

    • Studies show that the “risks” of formula feeding are something like a 0.3% higher chance of diarrhoea in the first year. Oh how terrible! But that’s what studies are showing now. Breast milk is MILK. It’s not magic. It doesn’t make your kid smarter. It doesn’t cure every illness. It’s not better than vaccinations. It has its benefits, but they are VASTLY overstated. It’s time that healthcare professionals were honest about the benefits that it ACTUALLY has rather than yapping on about shinier hair and less chance of asthma. Fact is, if you like up a group of four year olds, you sure as hell can’t see which ones were breastfed, which were combi fed and which ones had formula. I did a hell of a lot of research on this before making a decision, so believe me I know about your perceived “risks”, the majority of which have actually been proven to be a load of shite.

      I’m glad you think everyone should try. Good to know that had I tried and my PTSD had caused me to commit suicide or similar, that you would have been ok with that. Good to know that the cost to the NHS is of paramount importance, because intense psychotherapy costs them nothing, does it? Breastfeeding above everything, right? Plus the NHS probably won’t even be there in ten years or so and that’s nothing to do with formula.

      “It’s not about you any more”. See this is the thing that fucks me off with you breastapo types. It was never about me. The fertility treatment wasn’t about me. Carrying a life for nine months wasn’t about me and going through an induction wasn’t about me. Staying up all night with her wasn’t about me. Spending a week in a hospital that I hated with her because she had jaundice (which formula helped get rid of) wasn’t about me. Everything I do is for that little girl. Just because I don’t feed her from my boobs, does not mean that it’s all about me. The decision not to breastfeed was made because I wanted to be the best mother I could. I wanted to be there and be who I am, rather than being me on antidepressants, me in therapy or me in hospital. The me that two years ago absolutely hated myself and couldn’t function because of the person who sexually assaulted me. But I suppose that you think that’s self involved, right? It’s self involved to consider your personal circumstances before making a decision.

      I maybe sound defensive because I’m sick of ladies being made to feel like crap because of how they feed their child. I’m sick of passive aggressive comments on blogs like yours. I’m sick of people who think they’re better just because they breastfeed. You’re not. You’re feeding your child and you should be proud of that, but it doesn’t make you superior or a better parent. Parenting is a whole load more than food.

      Fed IS best.

  13. Jillian Johnson says:

    Thank you for this! Fed is Best helped me speak up about losing my son Landon due to accidental starvation. Please keep supporting them as they are just trying to educate parents to prevent real and evidence based outcomes like mine.

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