The phrase “Breast is Best” has been brow beaten into the heads of expectant mothers for generations. The deep and ever-worsening mom shame that surrounds those that are either brave enough to make the choice or are forced to formula feed is present everywhere you turn. When in the hospital about to deliver your baby the nurse asks “are you planning to breast feed?” and for fear of being judged by even a hesitant pause, you quickly exclaim “yes!”. But why? Is Formula feeding really all that much worse than the hallowed breast?
I want to talk about a few myths that have been tormenting new mothers for ages. The first I want to address is that Formula fed babies do not bond as well to their mothers. This idea stems from a study where babies that were not held or breast fed within the first hours of life showed signs of failure to thrive. Feeding your child formula does not mean that you never hold them. That’s crazy. The true bonding benefits of breast feeding come from what is called “skin to skin”. If you are concerned about bonding with baby, take your top off! The experience and hormones will be the exact same.
The second myth I want to debunk is that formula is somehow nutritionally insufficient for infants. Formulas are created to ensure proper growth of babies and should be trusted to do just that. If you really want to ensure that the ingredients are sourced at the highest quality possible, go with a European brand like HOLLE or HiPP. These are organic, quality ingredient formulas, that source from the most naturally raised dairy in the world.
Another myth that plagues formula feeding mothers is that formula causes obesity. This is kinda true, the problem is with U.S. formula. Formula made in the U.S. uses significantly more sugar ingredients (corn syrup being one) than needed. At such a young age this amount of sugar can greatly influence a newborn with issues like obesity, high blood sugar, and heart problems later on in life. Because European formula companies like Holle and HiPP greatly limit the amount of sugar that goes into their formulas, babies who grew up on formula in the EU do not have an increased risk of obesity, high blood sugar, or heart problems.
At the end of the day, yes, breast is best. But formula feeding is by no means bad or worse just as long as you do your research and follow your gut. There are many scenarios in which mothers simply don’t have the choice to breast feed. Be it lack of supply, inverted nipples, severe pain, surgeries…you name it! And ALL of those things are completely out of their control. Doing what is best for mom, is many times ALSO what is best for baby. And when there are such great products out there, we as mothers can make these decisions with confidence.