Breastfeeding advocates are calling for an end to the slogan of "breast is best" in the UK. That's right, breastfeeding advocates. Madeline Holler at Strollerderby asked what we're all thinking: What is their goal, exactly, if not to let people know breast is best?
While I question the campaign for different verbiage, I can see where they're coming from in their quest to make breastfeeding seem not so "special" as opposed to a normal biological function.
It doesn't help that women (you know who you are) use the phrase to condemn anyone who cannot or will not breastfeed. It sets up an "us. vs. them" scenario where no one walks away feeling good about this, the ultimate mommy war.
I admit, even though I did breastfeed for as long as I could before returning to an unfriendly work environment, when I hear someone say "breast is best" I feel like it's being said in an "I told you so" voice from a smug mouth.
While we know that breast milk is the best option for babies in general, it seems an unnecessary phrase to bandy about when in fact, what's best for a mother and baby cannot possibly be the same thing for every pair in the world. It's like me telling you that organic clothing is the best even though you may be allergic to organic cotton or unable to afford to clothe yourself and your family in expensive tees.
I doubt there are a lot of people out there anymore who are not aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Women don't stop breastfeeding because they think there aren't any benefits; they stop because early problems go unsolved due to lack of support, because they have to go back to work and have no place to pump (or can't afford a pump). There are physical reasons, emotional reasons, financial reasons -- and all of these are perfectly valid.
What women do need is paid maternity leave and guaranteed health care and access to lactation consultants. Women need support and problem-solving skills while in the middle of an incredibly stressful time so they can try to overcome these breastfeeding challenges.
Which is what breastfeeding advocates should be focused on in the first place, rather than trying to find a new slogan.
Do you think we should stop using the phrase "breast is best"?
Image via Grahambones/Flickr