“Worth its weight in gold”

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Definition of Gold: Breastmilk

We’ve heard it time and time again. “Breast is Best.” It’s what nature intended and there are so many health and social benefits associated with the practice.

Breastmilk - worth its weight in gold

Any woman who has ever attempted to EBF (exclusively breastfeed) knows what I mean about how precious every ounce of breast milk is. Hell, I’m just gonna go and say it loud and proud! Breastfeeding is HARD work! It’s physically, not to mention psychologically, draining. But, as my grandmother used to say, nothing worthwhile was ever easy. And while I would be the first to tell any expectant mother that she should seriously consider breastfeeding, I am first and foremost an advocate of a mother’s right to choose what is best for her and her baby.

A member of the online baby board that I participate in recently made a statement wherein she effectively said that the whole ‘breast is best’ health campaign was propaganda. Propaganda on the part of whom, I wondered? She failed to elaborate. But essentially she was of the opinion that formula was as good as, if not a “superior substitute for,” breast milk.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a breastfeeder and damn proud of it! My eldest was exclusively breastfed until the age of 6 months. Somewhere in that sentence I should probably have included the words ‘luckily’ and ‘fortunately I was able to choose to.’ I had to give up my job to breastfeed my first son here in Thailand as the law only allows for 45 days paid maternity leave followed by another 45 days unpaid leave. I wasn’t in a position to sack off my job with my second son. Still, I honestly do believe that breastfeeding is a choice, when it’s not ruled out as a medical impossibility.

Breastfeeding is something that I always wanted to do if I ever had children. Funny how I didn’t grow up knowing that I wanted to have kids but I did grow up feeling that if I ever did have them that I would breastfeed. It just seemed so logical. So normal. It also makes a lot more “cents” when you look at the price of formula. (And I admit to being a little more suspicious of formula ever since the ‘baby milk’ scandal in China not so long ago.)

According to the Wikipedia entry on ‘infant formula’, FF (formula feeding) only began to be widely available a little over a 100 years ago. Prior to this, the entry states that women would employ wet-nurses. Could even poor women afford this, I’ve often wondered?

As physicians became increasingly concerned about the quality of such foods, medical recommendations such as Thomas Morgan Rotch’s “percentage method” (published in 1890) began to be distributed, and gained widespread popularity by 1907.[11] These complex formulas recommended that parents mix cow’s milk, water, cream, and sugar or honey in specific ratios to achieve the nutritional balance believed to approximate human milk reformulated in such a way as to accommodate the believed digestive capability of the infant#.

Admittedly, formula has come a long way. And I don’t deny that it’s a viable alternative to breastfeeding in the developed world where water born disease is not a daily dilemma. I was a formula fed baby. And for the record I am not asthmatic. I am not, nor was I ever, a ‘sickly’ child/adult. I had/have great teeth. I’ve never had an ear infection. I was not an overweight baby/child/adult. I do not have any learning disabilities. I could go on, and on, and on.

But I am just so tired with the debate that seems to be going around in regards to BF vs FF. There just seems to be so much judgement associated with the decision to breastfeed or not. Can we not just accept that the majority of parents, given all the information out there, are doing the very best for themselves and their families?

And finally, as a little nod to my dear English husband. . . a Canadian study has confirmed what we already knew (not!!!!! LOL). The closest thing in nature to human breast milk is beaver milk. Who knew?

I bet that they’re really hard to milk.

Image courtesy of Flickr, tao_zhyn

My name is Jodie. I'm a 38 year old Canadian working and living in Bangkok, Thailand. My husband and I are both international teachers - though I'm taking this year off to be a full-time mom.

When we're not busy with other people's kids, we try our hand at raising our own very curious nearly four year old son and his 9 and half month old brother. When it comes to parenting, like most of us, I’m making a lot of it up as I go along .


  1. yarden  /  June 12, 2013, 2:51 pm Reply

    Good read!
    I was wondering if there are any resources about wet nurses in Bangkok, or a mother’s milk bank?

    • Expecting Expats  /  June 12, 2013, 2:57 pm Reply

      Hello and thanks for your comment and question. We are asking our experts for an answer to your question and we will add it here as soon as we hear back.

      The Expecting Expats team.

    • admin  /  June 20, 2013, 10:39 am Reply

      Hello again. Following please see the response from Samitivej Hospital’s Women’s Health Center:


      Wet nurses in Thailand are currently not formally available. However they may be informally available in the local community. There is currently no human milk bank in Thailand, but Queen Sirikit National Child Health Institute is considering starting one in near future.

      The health care providers at Samitivej Hospital recognize that breastfeeding and caring for infants can be a challenge. They are knowledgeable in these challenges and can assess, treat, and provide soothing reassurance and advice to mothers who are experiencing difficulties. The Lactation Clinic at Samitivej Hospital is tailored to supporting the needs of women who wish to breastfeed.

      If you have any problems breastfeeding and need further advice, please contact:

      The Lactation Clinic (visit website)
Location: Well-baby Clinic, Samitivej Hospital, Building 2, 2nd Floor
Hours: Open Tuesday and Wednesday 9am – 12pm

      Telephone: (+66) 02 711 8238

      Breastfeeding Help line

      Hours: 24/7
Telephone: (+66) 02 7118345

      Meena Sobsamai
      Midwife,International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education
      International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) Co-ordinator for Thailand

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