We’ve all heard the term, “fed is best” yes? That in order to be feminist and/or support infant feeding “choices” we also have to ignore that actually WHAT we are feeding our babies does in fact matter. Because we have to be able to head right back out into the work force and women need to have a choice in regards to infant feeding. It’s an interesting concept…to downplay the importance of what our babies are babies are fed and just focus on women’s choice, choice choice, without acknowledging how important the first food (breastmilk) is. Well I call bullshit on this.
Feminism means that as women we should have choices just like men in regards to work, pay and legal rights such as owning property and voting. However this weird thing has happened where those of us who choose to stay home and breastfeed without pumping and being separated from our babies we must then be “anti-feminist”. We say things like, “breast is best”, “informed is best” and reject this idea that “fed” is best and what we feed our babies doesn’t matter because we don’t want to return to work outside the home. The term “fed is best” was coined to go directly against what the medical community (and SCIENCE) has been saying which is of course, “Breast is best”. So what does “best” actually mean?…
I’d say breastfeeding fits into this category. Why? Because breastfeeding is literally by definition the biological design of infant and child feeding. Now…I know this opens a huge can of worms…”What about people who identify as male but are born female? That’s going against the sex they were born with which is biology so you’re saying they are not best then?” Someone who identifies as male but is born a female (or visa versa) can live that life continuing to identify as whatever gender they know they are regardless of their sex (biology)…WITHOUT IT AFFECTING THEIR HEALTH.
Breastfeeding (or not) DIRECTLY affects the health of both mother and baby. I’ve seen people argue that for those of us who are hard core “lactavists” arguing that breast is best must also be anti-gay, anti-trans, ant-choice, anti-feminist blah…blah…Well, I am none of those things. But I AM pro-breastfeeding. I can be pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-straight, pro-trans, pro-feminist…because those issues are not a health care concern. The concern in those categories is for mental health if people CANNOT live the life they know they need to live…You can be gay and be of optimal health. You can be trans and be of optimal health. You can get an abortion and be of optimal health. There are numerous evidence based research articles that show the risks of not breastfeeding... Here is a publication from the QLD government here in Australia that gives a great overview of the importance of breastfeeding for the health of both the mother and baby.
Plainly put the “all or nothing” argument is an illogical fallacy.
We can be feminists and still say “breast is best!”
We can be feminists and still acknowledge HOW we feed our babies and children matter.
We can be feminists and support women who bottle feed. That doesn’t mean we also have to ignore the science behind breastmilk. Research shows that statistically speaking MOST women can make enough milk. Statistically speaking MOST women do show the desire to breastfeed. Statistically speaking MOST women do want to at least try to start off breastfeeding. So let’s help them make it happen. Whether that’s breastfeeding exclusively, mixed feeding or pumping. Breastfeeding looks different to different people. I think that men and women should have the same rights which by definition makes me a feminist. I also think that if woman wants to breastfeed and stay home with her baby she should be able to do that too. We don’t have to take on board “fed is best” to prove that we are feminist or that we care about women. We care about women, we care about human rights, we care about feminism, we care about choice…while also caring about infant feeding and infant health.
-The Milk Meg. Meg Nagle, IBCLC.