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Is the “breast is best” campaign propaganda?

26 Mar

A member of the online baby board that I participate in recently made a statement wherein she effectively said that the whole ‘breast is best’ health campaign was propaganda. Propaganda on the part of whom? She failed to elaborate. But essentially she was of the opinion that formula was as good if not a superior substitute to breast milk.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a breast feeder and damn proud of it. My eldest was exclusively breastfed unti the age of 6 months. Somewhere in that sentence I should probably have included the words ‘fortunately I was able to choose to’. I honestly do believe it is a choice.

Breastfeeding is something that I always wanted to do if I ever had children. Funny how I didn’t grow up knowing that I wanted to have kids but I did grow up knowing that if I ever did that I would breastfeed. It just seemed so logical. It also makes a lot more “cents” when you look at the price of formula. (And I admit to being a little more suspicious of formula ever since the ‘baby milk’ scandal in China not so long ago.)

According to the Wikipedia entry on ‘infant formula’, FF has only began to be widely available a little over a 100 years ago. Prior to this, the entry states that women would employ wet-nurses. Could even poor women afford this?

As physicians became increasingly concerned about the quality of such foods, medical recommendations such as Thomas Morgan Rotch‘s “percentage method” (published in 1890) began to be distributed, and gained widespread popularity by 1907.[11] These complex formulas recommended that parents mix cow’s milk, water, cream, and sugar or honey in specific ratios to achieve the nutritional balance believed to approximate human milk reformulated in such a way as to accommodate the believed digestive capability of the infant.[4]


Admittedly, formula has come a long way. And I don’t deny that it’s a viable alternative to breastfeeding in the developed world. I was a formula fed baby. I am not asthmatic. I am not, not was I ever, a ‘sickly’ child/adult. I had great teeth. Never had an ear infection. I was not an overweight baby/child. I do not have any learning disabilities. I could go on, and on, and on.

But I am tired with the debate that seems to be going around in regards to BF vs FF. Can we not just accept that the majority of parents, given all the information out there, are doing the very best for their families??

And finally, as a little nod to my dear husband…a Canadian study has confirmed what we already knew (not!). The closest thing to human breastmilk is beaver milk. Who knew?