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Breastfeeding has benefits, but they are so minimal that it hardly matters how you feed your baby, recent articles seem to be suggesting. Is that true?

Let us begin with a few simple, undeniable facts. Humans are mammals. Female humans have breasts with nipples on them and mammary glands inside them designed to secrete milk and feed their infants. Women have been doing this for centuries. 

Yes, some would have struggled; up to five percent of women actually can't breastfeed. Those women would have had to rely on relatives to provide breast milk. Tragically, those babies who didn't have access to another woman's milk would have fallen sick or even died. That scenario is one that the advent of formula prevented — that, actually, is what formula is for. By and large, however, human mothers have successfully fed their babies, with their primitive instincts running the show. 

In this age of science, but also the age of baby milk formula companies and "the breastfeeding mafia" all playing on the mother’s intellectual capacities to make an informed decision on how to feed her baby, it is no wonder that the breast vs formula debate continues to confuse and divide and lead to questioning the purpose of breasts and quality and significance of breast milk. 

We live in times when it has become normal that so much comes between parents and children: jobs, separate activities, peers, various educational, media and advertising content; the list is almost endless. Even the way children are brought into this world these days often leaves them separate from their mother’s bodies, their burning need to be close to the only familiar thing in this world unmet, their inborn need to suckle at their mother’s breast often ignored and undermined. 

Perhaps the reality of low breastfeeding rates worldwide and the continuous attempts to undermine breastfeeding and prevent it from becoming the norm again are proof that our parenting intuition has sunk so low that we need experts to tell us what to do?

The words Breastapo, and breastfeeding mafia or lobby frequently come up in the media coverage of the latest breastfeeding vs formula feeding debate. Who are we dealing with here? A bunch of crazed housewives hell bent on guilt tripping any mother who so much as glances at a baby bottle? A secret society cashing in on turning mothers into some kind of primitive baby machines? It seems to me the media would have us think that’s who they are. Who are the breastfeeding lobby, and what are they after? While this is a reasonable questiom, should we also ask ourselves who the researchers publishing, in the name of science, articles and books with the latest findings proving that the benefits of breastfeeding are overrated? Who are those who claim that formula-fed children seem to do just as well, if not better than their breastfed siblings, and that it’s the placenta that matters more than the mother’s milk, or early environment that determines future health, and so on? What are their goals and interests? 

Mostly they seem to be individuals conducting research for renowned universities or institutions, but could they be linked in any way to corporations funding the research and directly benefiting from opinions expressed in it? Could they be the ones cashing in on our vulnerabilities? Could they also be protecting an ideology which benefits the powers that be and strongly influences women’s mothering decisions? Are they really fighting for our freedom? Do they really care about humanity, about mothers and their babies? Or are they more interested in them as consumers and labour providers? 

And if we are to trust science, should we not trust organisations like WHO, UNICEF, La Leche League? If you want to make an informed decision about how to feed your baby it is important to ask yourself all these questions.
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