(Spoiler alert: Yes it is. But it’s time to make some changes with how we promote breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should be an inclusive experience.)
There are some important reasons to continue chanting the mantra “breast is best.” But there are also some very important reasons to adapt this message. In the developing world, you would be hard pressed to find a woman who doesn’t know that breast really is best. Women that use formula don’t need to hear breast is best. And women that planned on breastfeeding but weren’t able to certainly don’t need to hear breast is best.
We need to update this message to better fit what we know about breastmilk and breastfeeding, because “breast is best” perpetuates an idea that breastfeeding looks a certain way, and that it is an all or nothing experience. But breastfeeding looks different for every mother-child dyad. For that matter, breastfeeding looks different for every family.
Breastfeeding may be a mom nursing her four year old after they scrape their knee.
Breastfeeding may be a dad using a SNS to finger feed his child.
Breastfeeding may be a mom who provides her baby with a first meal of colostrum.
Breastfeeding may be a mom who only nurses her baby in the evenings after work.
And the cool thing about breastmilk—even an ounce makes a difference. There are over a quadrillion IgA molecules in one single ounce of breastmilk. That ounce is pure magic. And whether you make any milk or not, time at the breast or even the closeness of finger feeding is going to benefit that baby (we already know that snuggling, with or without milk, increases the production of oxytocin, and now we’re learning more about how this closeness positively impacts the babies microbiome.)
We know breast is best. So let’s start promoting and encouraging parents to do as much as you can, for as long as you can. Because even if you are just able to give an ounce, that ounce will go a lot way to giving your baby a good start. And if you need more convincing, check this video out.