Because formula companies don't care what you feed your baby - right?
You might feel like that mantra puts a lot of pressure on you and makes you feel like a failure when you can't provide the "best" for your baby. Well that isn't the only reason to hate it. The thing is that formula companies love the "breast is best" campaign, precisely because you hate it. They love it because it separates us into two categories (this is important). It pits us against each other: those who are breastfeeding and those who are using formula. Now those who are desperately struggling to breastfeed (and it can be bloody hard, especially at the start) and not getting much support, need to defend their reasons for this struggle (sometimes to themselves and close relatives even) by sticking to the "it's best" mantra, and those who formula feed feel attacked by this message. Now why do you think this benefits those who sell formula?
Because it manipulates those who formula feed their babies into staunchly defending their right to do so, and makes them shout down anyone who dares to voice an opinion or fact that makes them feel worse about their chosen method. It does this because the word "best" is a binary term. Its binary partner is "worst". So now if someone tells you how wonderful they think breastfeeding is, your very clever brain uses its knowledge of language and thinks "if I am not doing that, I must be doing something worse". Now we are at war with each other, when actually we don't think you did worse and you do understand how hard we worked. We are at war because they have told us to be, ever so subtly over time. They want us to think we are different from each other. They want us defensive of the side we picked. They are completely over-the-moon that the situation occurs that as soon as someone states the positive facts and statistics about breastfeeding, someone who uses formula milk will defend formula to the hilt (sometimes bashing breastmilk along the way), because they hate the implication that they didn't do their "best".
Saying "fed is best" is like saying it is fine to feed your child McDonalds every day. It is saying that it doesn't matter what you feed your baby. It does.
Fed is not best - fed is the bare minimum. Breastfeeding is not best - human milk is biologically the correct and normal food for human babies. Formula is not evil - formula is a useful tool to replace human milk when needed and is most definitely not the worst. There are babies being fed much worse and let's not forget it.
What the formula companies don't want you to realise is that it is not the only option if you don't breastfeed, not the optimum option next to breastfeeding and it doesn't need to be culturally normal to replace human milk with supplemented cow's milk substitute. They purposely put us into two categories (I told you it was important) because they don't want us to realise there are other ways.
If you either cannot or do not want to feed your baby your milk from your breast, you have these options in this order of preference for your baby's needs (according to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF):
The point is that they want you to think that they don't care how you feed your baby but trust me, they care. Breast milk is not a profitable commodity and so they care very much that you feed your baby a product that is!
Important note - While raising my four children I have: exclusively formula fed, mix fed, exclusively expressed, used donor milk, donated milk and exclusively breastfed to past 2 years. I have zero issue with how people choose to feed their babies. Everyone is different. I have a massive issue with the formula companies and their unethical practices in promoting formula and the purposeful warmongering they manipulate between mothers.
Thank you for reading.