Eye-opening scientific insights on breastfeeding


Another Mother's View

by Hannah

My Partner is a research physician who studies breastfeeding. If we expected women do their own research, they would be totally unable to do it since it requires money and time and training and staff and IRB approval, etc. Or do you just mean his work should not be publicized but women should have to search to find it (which is technically not research at all)? Is medical information not news? Should we not have news reports about new information we have on health? If we find a way to prevent widespread obesity, or lower cancer rates, or lower heart disease rates,* should it not be discussed too publicly for fear that one might feel pressured to behave a certain way? Or are you saying we should not spread that information to others who did not hear the news reports? How would women even know to do the "research" if they have not been presented

My partner of course is not saying to people "you have to breastfeed"--and neither is any activist I know. What he is saying is that breastfeeding is healthier for the baby, healthier for the mother, healthier for the environment, and healthier for the economy (at the national level and at the world level). He talks about the risks of formula because there are profitable companies advertising that it is a basically acceptable "choice" for women. THAT is the lie and unless someone stands up to the formula companies, women are being cheated into NOT HAVING ACCESS TO THE TRUTH. You don't want anyone who supports breastfeeding to tell women about breastfeeding, but don't you have a big problem with the formula companies literally coming into your house via television advertisements, supplements that arrive on your doorstep or in your take-home bag from the hospital.

Yes, there are some women who cannot breastfeed and certainly formula is the only widely available option right now. And just to note, it is a very very small percentage of women who cannot breastfeed. Women do not "loose their milk" at all, actually, if they have support and full information except in extraordinarily rare situations. But what is most important is that women know that if they are not unable to breastfeed, formula IS a choice but formula is a very POOR choice.

The dangers of cigarettes are something no doctor would shy away from--but actually, the numbers out show that more people die from the immediate and lifetime effects of formula feeding than from the effects of cigarettes. Isn't that stunning???? Should we say it is a choice when we know that is true? Sure--just as smoking cigarettes is a legal choice! But women who are not given that information before they make their choices are being cheated. Doctors who hand out cigarettes to their patients who plan not to smoke are committing a travesty that will get their medical licenses stripped away. It is not respecting women's independence to keep the information silent; it is instead downright paternalistic.

The crucial thing here is that we not blame mothers. Women who make the choice to formula feed are misinformed, and so are women who assume that it is a choice that is respectable. They are not evil themselves, or lazy, or whatever--even though many feel they are being condemned when people start talking about the truth of breastfeeding. They are not at fault: our community is and primarily the formula companies are. These women are cheated out of the truth or cheated out of the support by their communities. Those of us who lucked into the medical truths we just that: lucky. Those of us who found educated doctors or LLL or other peer counselors or just an informal network of family and friends to support them in learning to breastfeed are also lucky. Therefore, we MUST spread the word about all the studies and all the support that is out there.

Who do you think it is that is telling us that formula is the "best start" except really "breast is best" but formula is fine? Medical studies? No--companies with an unbelievable amount of money spent on advertising their product. And who has the financial interest to advertise breastfeeding? Well, maybe pump companies (all very small) and maybe nursing clothes companies--but these exist only because of our bottle-feeding culture really and are not used at all by most nursers. LLL? No, they have a shoestring budget and are almost exclusively volunteer. There are no big bucks championing breastfeeding--except very recently the US government who realizes how much money the government would save in health care expenditures as well as WIC payments and also how much healthier the entire nation would be.

Here's a shocker I just learned: the study that started the whole back-to-sleep campaign also studied maternal smoking and breastfeeding. Did you know that in that very study, breastfeeding was more protective of SIDS than sleeping position and maternal smoking COMBINED? Why didn't this get major press?

We don't tell women it is an equal choice to smoke. We even tell them again to quit while they are pregnant. We don't tell women to drink during pregnancy, even though the studies on "fetal alcohol syndrome" are very weak. We don't tell women in is an equal choice to let their child go without a car seat--"hey, I did it and I'm healthy. I think it is our duty to fight the makers of formula in their portrayal of formula as an acceptable choice, and fight the overwhelming social milieu that makes breastfeeding so difficult for so many women.

Caveat: If you breastfeed, you are not guaranteed a healthy child or adult. If you bottle-feed, you are not guaranteed a sick child or adult. This is all about level of risk. Formula feeding increases the risk of SIDS by perhaps 7 times, etc. etc., meaning that if no breastfed kids ever died of SIDS then no formula kids would either, since 7 times 0 is 0. Know what I mean?

In other words, I disagree with you. It is immoral if we do not spread the word before women make their choices.


*All the examples listed in the first paragraph are self-serving here: Studies have recently come out showing that breastfeeding reduces the rates of obesity, various cancers, and heart disease.


Source: waldorfhomeschoolers.com/breastfeeding.htm









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