I love that Huff Post is showing “22 Candid Photos That Show How Beautiful Breastfeeding Really Is.” I love it because breastfeeding is beautiful and normal, natural and super-healthy. Looking at these lovely loving pictures is a great way to end World Breastfeeding week. These photos are a wonderful way to help normalize something that is so foundational that an entire class of animals is named after it. We are, after all mammals, identified by our ability to provide perfect food for infants via our mammaries.
It’s a bummer, though, that HuffPost also felt the need to put Kim Simon’s article “30 Ways Breastfeeding and Formula-Feeding Are Exactly the Same” on the same page. Because, while all parents may share concerns and challenges, breastfeeding and formula feeding are not exactly the same—and their differences matter.
Yes, I understand that many women choose not to breastfeed, but articles like this won’t help future moms make an informed choice to breastfeed. And it is the better choice—no two ways about it. The evidence is clear—breastfed children have lifelong advantages in health and intelligence.
The author wrote this in anticipatory defense against the possible shaming of formula-feeding parents. I’m not writing this commentary to shame mothers who don’t breastfeed. I felt compelled to write it because I want to co-create a world where breastfeeding is understood for what it is—a huge benefit for baby (and mom, too.) Babies that are fed ‘mama milk’ are healthier not just while they’re nursing, but for the rest of their life. Every disease known to humans has a lower lifetime incidence if the person was breastfed.
I love that Kim Simon is a co-founder of the I Support You project, which aims to foster understanding and connection between formula-feeding and breastfeeding moms. I also want all moms to be connected, supported and supportive of each other whatever their choices.
At the same time, I want mothers to understand that breastfeeding is the healthier choice. Not only that—it also makes life super easy. Here are just a few of the many ways this is true:
- Nursing makes it easy to feed your baby anytime. The milk is always ready. It’s the perfect food at the perfect temperature, and there’s an endless supply.
- If you sleep with your baby (and I strongly recommend that you do), night feedings are simple—roll over and pop a nipple in their mouth! You can actually get lots more sleep if you breastfeed.
- Since breastfed babies get sick less often, you have fewer cranky sick baby days and nights.
- Wear your baby in a sling and you can be nursing while you answer the door, deal with your other kids, eat your own meal and so on.
No one should be shamed for their choices. At the same time, breastfeeding is far and away the better option. I want people to know this, and I want breastfeeding to be the norm.
Everyone has an equal right to choose. But not all choices are created equal.