Thursday, August 7, 2014

Guest Post: August is National Breastfeeding Month

Is Breast really Best?

Breastfeeding Art - I love my mummy
by Angelus Works
via Flickr. *
Breastfeeding is considered by many to be the ultimate form of dietary supplement for newborns, infants, and even toddlers. Breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers babies’ risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea (NRDC, 2014). All of these things are great benefits for newborn babies; however, often time health professionals send mixed messages about the importance of breastfeeding and the expectation for new mothers. The message that is generally sent is “Breast is best, but here’s some formula because we don’t expect it to work for you.” Instead of advertising unbiased information, most health facilities have incorporated the habit of offering formula to all mothers with little or no push back with facts or statistics about breast feeding and benefits of breast milk.
Formula is expensive, and one of the things driving this high cost is the huge amount of money spent on free samples and advertising in health care facilities and advertising to health care providers (Kaplin & Graff, 2008). Formula manufacturers know that the brand of formula mothers are given in the hospital is the one they are most likely to continue to use through the first year or longer. For this reason, the formula industry is overshadowing a woman’s natural ability to care for her own children. Parents who buy infant formula and stick with the brand the hospital distributed are paying tons of money for those “free” samples, roughly $700 per year over the cost of generic formula (Kaplin & Graff, 2008). The reason the formula companies include all these freebies in their advertising budgets are because it generates huge profits and exposure for the brand!

Women have the right to make their own choice in providing nourishment to their new bundle of joy however, it is also important that mothers are informed about the benefits and not coerced into purchasing a product because there will be benefits for the health facility. Weather a new mom chooses to use formula or breast milk they should always be informed, learn factual information about both options, and do what will work best for their situation.


Natural Resources Defense council (NRDC). 2014. Benefits of Breastfeeding. Retrieved from

Kaplan, D. L., & Graff, K. M. (2008). Marketing Breastfeeding—Reversing Corporate Influence on Infant Feeding Practices. Journal of Urban Health-bulletin of The New York Academy of Medicine. doi:10.1007/s11524-008-9279-6

*Breastfeeding Art - I love my mummy by Angelus Works.
vailable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

Simone Sanders graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in health promotion/education. She is currently working towards a master’s degree in Health Studies at TWU with hopes of one day becoming an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her main health focus is sexually transmitted diseases within minority populations.  

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