Why Fed is Best and the Benefits of Choices

I was recently reminded of one of my first assessments as a second year student midwife. Looking back, it was the examination that made me the most nervous but I ended up really enjoying it. We got assessed in a debate style activity. We were given a random topic and then randomly chosen in teams which was for and which was against. Of course, I got the most difficult topic of breastfeeding and was against it. 

Today, I saw an article shaming mother's for not breastfeeding. Quite honestly, I'm ashamed people still judges based on their feeding choices. Their choice being key. For me, of course there are benefits to breastfeeding, many of which are biological and well known. But there are also benefits for the alternatives, whether that be bottle feeding with expressed breast milk or artificial milk or rather, formula. 
Breastfeeding has biological and economical benefits. The milk contains antibodies and nutrients are tailored specifically for your baby. It requires no equipment, is available on demand and is free to produce. However, some people cannot breastfeed for a range of reasons, including cancer and mastectomies, therefore formula is a very much needed product and key for providing nutrition to newborns, either who can't access breastmilk or who require more from their intake. 

Bottle feeding allows the mother to be more free. Unfortunately, some countries don't provide maternity leave therefore often they have to go back to work just 6 weeks after having their baby. It also gives father's  or other significant carers the opportunity to bond with their baby and share the workload. 

Like I mentioned previously, a few years ago I did some research as I was arguing against premature babies requiring breastmilk to thrive. I found out some interesting facts and statistics about breastmilk, including both the nutritional contents and pathogenesis within the breastmilk. 

Some premature babies require more concentrated nutrients than breast milk provides. Even if breastmilk is fortified to provide additional nutrients, it can lead to growth retardation and associated impaired neurodevelopment. Breast milk has an especially low concentration of zinc. Acquired acrodermatitis has been observed in premature infants who did not receive added zinc. Breast milk also is not sterile when expressed. It contains skin commensals, alongside more serious pathogens. Mother-to-child cytomegalovirus (CMV) transmission can occur; it has been detected in up to 50% of lactating women. Processes to remove CMV from breast milk can damage aspects like immunological and nutritional factors. Finally, I discussed jaundice as breast fed babies have a higher risk of jaundice. This can cause slower growth and therefore longer stays in hospital. 

Of course, this is just one side of the argument and having done the research, you can easily argue from both perspectives. There is a lot of promotion around breastfeeding, and as an individual, I will always promote that from a personal perspective, but as a midwife, I will always support the woman's choice and endeavour to support them to the best of my ability.