Benefits of Breastfeeding and Risks of Not Breastfeeding

For any of you who find yourself in a position to have to defend your choice to breastfeed, follow the links below for scientifically peer-reviewed articles on the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of not breastfeeding.
Benefits of breastfeeding from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Risks of not breastfeeding from Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology
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A Response to “Fed is Best”

We don’t endorse the “fed is best” motto.
Fed is the standard. Fed is the only reasonable option when it comes to babies. To say “best” is to suggest that there is any other acceptable option than to feed the baby… there isn’t. “Fed” is not optional. You have to feed the baby no matter what; we get that.
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The World Health Organization ranks the preferred methods in order as follows:
1) Breast milk at the breast
2) Mother’s expressed breast milk
3) Donor breast milk
4) Formula.
I want you to know that when we say we don’t endorse the “fed is best” motto, it’s not because we think mothers and babies who require formula are wrong or terrible. What we here at Milky Mommas are saying is not that breastfeeding makes you a good mom and formula feeding makes you a bad mom. Far from it!

It’s because saying “fed is best” is saying that all options are equal; that infant feeding methods don’t matter. That no matter what you choose, it’s all the same, it’s all “best” for baby. And that is scientifically inaccurate.
We wouldn’t be here with over 55k members if it didn’t matter. Women wouldn’t be feeling conflicted about having to use formula if it truly didn’t matter. We know that breast milk is the biological norm. We are not saying that no one should ever use formula. What we are saying is that there are certain risks associated with formula* (well documented in many, many studies) and that it is not a NUTRITIONALLY equal choice to breastfeeding.
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There are some circumstances where breast milk is truly not an option, and of course – the most important thing is a fed baby. There are circumstances where a baby absolutely needs supplementation to be healthy, to grow, and to thrive. We can get behind the hashtag #fedisimportant, or #fedmatters. It does! You HAVE to feed the baby, by any means necessary! But when we start to say that fed is BEST, it silences an important conversation about breast milk. And that conversation is VITAL for moms and babies.
It is a women’s rights issue, it is a public health issue.** It is a conversation that is important to you, as well. We know that because you put in the work to breastfeed your baby as much as you can. We know that you are doing a great job!
What we are saying, is that while we support our members who must use formula, pretending that what our babies are fed doesn’t matter contradicts everything we stand for. We know that colostrum is the foundation for a strong and healthy immune system. We know that breast milk protects babies from illness through living immunological properties like probiotics and antibodies. We know that breast milk meets every need for healthy brain development and offers some protection against diseases like asthma, allergies, diabetes, obesity, and childhood leukemia.***

Many mothers have no choice but to use formula, we totally get that. It is so hard when we are unable to meet our breastfeeding goals, especially when it isn’t by choice! And thank goodness there is formula, for when babies truly need it and breast milk is unavailable. We would never dream of suggesting that a baby just go hungry rather than be fed formula. Many of our admins have partially or completely formula fed some of their babies!

There are markers for determining a medical need to further assess breastfeeding or supplement.****
We frequently encourage members whose babies show these markers to take heed and be proactive. We are not suggesting members exclusively breastfeed at any cost.

When we share information about breast milk vs breast milk substitutes like commercial formula, it isn’t meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. We share evidence here, we share studies and statistics and what science understands to be of the greatest health benefit. We are here for support, but we can’t compromise the integrity of our information for it. We are here to educate and advocate for the use of human breast milk. We understand the value and importance of human breast milk. That’s the science of health, not a judgement on mothers. We understand that many women may find themselves sensitive to the things they see here because of their own complex emotional journeys. That is unfortunate, and deeply personal. We wish for anyone who is experiencing strong emotions to find peace with their circumstances. Please feel free to contact an admin at any time with your concerns. ♡
References:
**“If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year.”