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I’m Getting Bored of This Whole ‘Breast Is Best’ Message

Photograph by Twenty20

I feel like I need to start this rant (because trust, it WILL be a rant) by getting something really important out of the way: If you are a breastfeeding mama, I support you.

I support you whether you choose to breastfeed for six months or for six years. Yes, really!

I support you if you’re told you should cover up while breastfeeding in public, but you don’t want to because you shouldn’t have to!

And I support you by applauding how hard I know breastfeeding must be sometimes, and how hard I’m sure you’ve worked to continue providing your baby with that nourishment.

I support you.

But for the love of all that is holy, if I hear one more person tout the “breast is best” propaganda, my eyes are going to roll right out of my head.

Sure, breast milk is best under ideal circumstances. It’s free and it comes right out of your body! That’s awesome. But there are so many situations where breastfeeding just isn’t best for anyone. There are times when a mama is so pushed to the edge that continuing to be solely responsible for feeding her baby is the last thing she needs. Or when her body just isn’t producing what it should or her baby is struggling to latch on and the whole idea just seems more stressful than it should be.

In those times, breastfeeding is not best because trying to continue breastfeeding is contributing to a mama who is not as healthy and whole as she should be.

Are we allowed to talk about the hypocrisy in the "breast is best" messaging, though? Because the truth is, the further and further the research drills down, the more it accounts for other factors—like the socioeconomic status and education level of the parents—the more the touted benefits seem to disappear.

Meanwhile, there are a million other things we know from research that are truly the best for both you and your baby. But these are things plenty of parents want to turn a blind eye to because … life.

We’re all doing the best we can. How about we stop touting what’s best ... and recognize that individual circumstances might change what we’re each capable of.

Here are a few hot parenting topics and stats to get you thinking about what's right for your child overall.

Screen Time: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time for children under 2 years old—that includes you bingeing your favorite show while your little one stares at the screen from your breast. There have been numerous studies that have linked screen time for young children and babies to a variety of later-in-life consequences, to include stunted development and trouble in social settings. #NoScreenTimeIsBest

Car Seats: Research has found that children under the age of 2 are significantly safer left in rear-facing car seats. Most car seat safety experts recommend keeping kids rear facing even longer than that. In fact, I’ve spoken to several first responders who advocate for extended use of rear-facing seats. #RearFacingIsBest

Drinking During Pregnancy: A recent study found that fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is likely much more prevalent than originally thought. Every major medical organization recommends not drinking at all during pregnancy. What we do know about FASD is that it is a dose/response condition, which means that the more you drink, the worse the result will be. We don’t know how much alcohol a person would have to drink for it to reach the fetus, but we have every reason to believe that even a small amount on a developing brain could have a negative impact. #NoAlcoholDuringPregnancyIsBest

This is just a small sampling of the issues most moms probably don’t get 100 percent right. We’re all doing our best, but that’s not necessarily THE best. My passion topics are car seats and drinking during pregnancy. My daughter was in a rear-facing seat until 4, and had I been able to get pregnant myself (my daughter is adopted), I can promise I never would have had a sip of alcohol.

But you know what? She was formula-fed from day one and had her first exposure to screen time when she was a year old and I got the stomach flu.

We’re all doing the best we can. So, how about we stop touting what’s best and instead talk facts and recognize that individual circumstances might change what we’re each capable of. Thus altering what’s best for each individual family.

If you’re a breastfeeding mama, I support you. But if you’re a mama talking about what’s best for babies as though someone else isn’t living up to that standard, I want see receipts on some of the other parenting choices you may be making.

It’s all about what’s best for baby after all, right?

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