Is breast best?

22 September

Is breastfeeding better than bottle feeding?
One of the first questions people asked me when we shared the news that we were expecting, was whether I would breastfeed. It's something I considered long before I even got pregnant and it's a subject I have my own views and opinions on, but I have to admit I was a little surprised by how many people wanted to know what my plans were. I think every women thinks about breastfeeding at some point in their life, whether they are pregnant or not, and over recent years it has become an even hotter public topic.

Personally it never fails to amaze me that something like breastfeeding can be seen as such a taboo subject to talk about publicly. Yes, women's bodies are seen completely different in the media to men and sexualised to the most ridiculous extents, but breastfeeding is not something sexual and it baffles me that the sexualisation of women's bodies means that breastfeeding is often viewed in the way it is.

You'll have people who think breastfeeding is wrong because breasts are there for 'pleasure', or the people who think breastfeeding is wrong because it's 'something women do to make a point in public'. There are public movements to see the breast in it's natural form, from being able to breastfeed in public as a given right to having to use hashtags to make a point to Instagram that women's nipples should not be banned because they are 'sexual'. Nipples and breasts and feeding are definitely a hot topic, and a touchy one at that.

When it comes to breastfeeding or bottle feeding, there seems to be two main thoughts that people generally have; breast is best, and bottle feeding is selfish. These are the two main opinions I have come across both pre-pregnancy and since becoming pregnant, where breastfeeding is seen as the best choice for both mother and baby, whilst bottle feeding is seen as a bad thing, a selfish act on the mother's part, a lazy approach. But is that really the case?

Yes, scientific evidence backs up breastfeeding as the best choice for your baby on a health basis; getting everything they need from your milk which formulas are not able to identically replicate, as well as being an extremely good way to bond between mother and baby. That's backed up by medical professionals, medical studies as well as psychology research and studies (so obviously something as a psych-grad that I'm going to be pretty happy about). Whichever method of feeding you fight the corner for, there is no way to deny the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh bottle feeding. 

Being a more beneficial way of feeding your baby does not necessarily make breastfeeding the best option for you though and I think it's something too many people forget; just like everything in life, breastfeeding is and should always be an individual choice. What works for some will not automatically work for others. What one woman is comfortable with will not automatically be something another woman is equally as comfortable with. What one woman feels inclined to do for her and her baby will not be the same for everyone and so long as that baby is being fed, is healthy, safe and happy, to me, how they are fed should not matter.

I hate the idea that there are two groups of mothers, that it's breastfeeding mothers against bottle feeding mothers. The idea that one is better than the other, superior to the other because of how they feed their baby. The way that breastfeeding is, undeniably, pushed on all pregnant woman to the point where even considering bottle feeding leaves expectant mothers feeling guilt before their baby is even born. By all means provide the correct information for both methods, including the positives and negatives, the benefits for mother and baby, but this information should be presented in an unbiased way that gives the mother the opportunity to make a guilt free choice. 

If bottle feeding was so atrocious, such a terrible choice for babies, formula would not be available, alternatives to breast milk would not be available. It simply would not be an option. There are many, many reasons why women chose to bottle feed over breastfeeding and the notion that it is always down to laziness and the mother being selfish is, at best, idiotic. Some women are incapable of breastfeeding. Some woman simply do not have the ability to produce enough breast milk (in some cases, any at all) to breastfeed. Some women have had serious medical problems in the past which prevent them from breastfeeding. Some women simply do not feel comfortable with breastfeeding and that is just as acceptable of a reason not to breastfeed as a medical reason. 

In a world where we constantly shout for the equal rights of women, for women to be treated with respect and to be seen as individuals who are capable of being independent and responsible with their own minds, we cannot keep beating down women for doing exactly that and making a personal choice.

Will I breastfeed? Yes. If I can, if it is something I can physically do, I will breastfeed. Does that mean I am better than a mother who chooses not to breastfeed? Or a mother who cannot physically breastfeed? Hell no. It means that I have made an individual choice for me and my baby based on what think is best for me and my baby. Only I can make that decision just as each woman has that very same right to make the same decision for her and her baby. Don't you think?

Next week: Our Nursery So Far

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  1. This is such a good, balanced view on this subject.

    I think so much pressure is put on mothers and although I was able to breastfeed I also know of instances where bottle feeding had to be used and not because of the mother at all but rather a medical condition of the baby. Bottle feeding saved his life! Parenthood is scary enough without being made to feel like you're constantly battling against a different school of thought.

    The only time I have argued FOR breastfeeding with someone who had chosen during pregnancy not to even try was because their reasoning was that they didn't want 'saggy boobs' and I felt compelled to tell them that it's pregnancy, not breastfeeding, that does that. They still bottlefed and they have a happy, healthy toddler now. And I think that comes down to having parents that trust themselves to make the right decision for their family and I have never judged them for their decision to go straight for the bottle.

    Good luck with your pregnancy! I look forward to reading more about your journey :)

    Katie xx

  2. This subject, being the touchy one that it is, is such an important issue to be highlighted. The whole train of thought around 'breast being best', and mother's who don't breastfeed aren't as good as mother's who do, is one that totally needs to stop. My aunt physically cannot breastfeed, and this meant that she spent a long time struggling with the idea that she wasn't as good a mother because she couldn't feed her baby from the breast, and she shouldn't have had to deal with society telling her this because she is an amazing mother to my little cousin. I absolutely love this post, and hope attitudes begin to change.

    Beth ||

  3. Couldn't agree more! I breastfeed my baby but it was so hard in the beginning that I almost gave up, I actually bought some formula and used it a few times when I didn't have enough milk to feed him myself, and I had people trying to make me feel guilty for 'giving up'. In the end I persevered and now we breastfeed easily, and it honestly is such a lovely bonding experience but it's down to individual preference and let's be honest, with a newborn baby whatever makes your life easier, and what makes you and baby happiest is what is best! I'll keep my fingers crossed that you get to grips with breastfeeding easily when the time comes :)

  4. I think breast is best but only if the mother is eating healthy and physically and mentally happy to do it. I breastfed both my kids for a short time (around 8 weeks each) and I'm glad I did. I also found it really really hard! So yeah, whatever works best for each Mum and baby :)

  5. My sister had a perfect pregnancy until it came to the birth. She had to go for an emergancy caesarean because the baby was killing her. She was going to breast feed because she wanted to but of course this went out of the window. She could barley sit up let alone breast feed the baby. She had been bottle feed ever since because it was at least 2 weeks before my sister could hold the baby properly. She says she feel guilty when she is bottle feeding in public but if they knew the reasons behind it, I don't think they would bat another eye lid.

    My niece is perfectly healthy and happy so it really depends on the situation and if you can breast feed in the first place. :)

  6. this is 100% accurate! Breastfeeding is beautiful and very beneficial. But if a woman is unable to do it, then I don't see a problem in bottle feeding. People are always fast to judge which is so annoying...

    I will personally breastfeed when I have kids, it also helps you lose the baby weight which is great :D

    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  7. This is a fantastic post! I breastfeed both my children, only for a couple of weeks but that was due to the fact they were constantly on me as it never filled them up that much and the mid wife I had actually suggested I started bottle feeding. I am glad I did it even if it was just for a few weeks.
    It annoys me so much though when you see posts on Facebook etc saying that women have been asked to leave somewhere or told they can't breastfeed. It's a completely natural thing that you are doing for your baby and it should not be condemned!

    Caroline xo |

  8. When I was pregnant I found myself chatting with a colleague about how his wife was practically persecuted for bottle feeding their baby and I took the decision that I would never let anyone do that to me, should I choose the bottle.

    As it turned out, breast feeding my first was so difficult and stressful for both of us, I went over to the bottle at 5-6 weeks, safe in the knowledge that this was better for both of us.

    I started breast feeding my second and would have continued for much longer had my (now ex) husband not pressured me into bottle feeding.

    Do what is right for you and Gizmo - you are the best person to make that decision. Don't let anyone tell you you're a bad mother, whichever option you choose.

  9. When I was pregnant, like you I was pretty committed to trying breastfeeding and was pretty laid back thinking if it didn't work out, I wouldn't be too upset so bought bottles anyway as a backup. Fast forward to giving birth, me and my girl did well for the first day and she latched well, after that it went downhill and we had a number of problems including reflux, breathing difficulties due to this and she started to become severely hungry. On advice of the midwives, I eventually caved in and started combined feeding. As much as I'm still very sad about this, I'm happy she's feeding and gaining weight heathily. Do what you need to do and don't feel pressured either way!

    Paula ♥ | xo

  10. It may sound a little silly as I'm not pregnant, nor planning to have a child any time soon but I don't understand why some Mothers get so irate about how other Mothers feed their children. In my opinion (which, may seem irrelevant as I'm not a Mother) as long as a Mother is feeding her child, whether breast or bottle, that's all that matters!

    Emily // Beauty and Lifestyle Blog


  11. As a midwife, we're trained to promote breastfeeding as that's the government initiative to improve the health of children. However, when it comes down to it, none of us actually care how you feed YOUR baby as long as you feed him/her. I pride myself on never placing pressure on a women with regards to anything, especially feeding. I don't know any midwives that do! Good post xx

  12. You have hit the nail on the head for me, this post is brilliant and exactly what I think too. It's all personal choice and as long as the baby is getting fed and is happy that's all that matters. I've read so many posts on breastfeeding as although I'm going to try I'm so scared that I won't be able to and will get judged. It is such a taboo subject and it's ridiculous. Great post! xx