Man, I woke up like ‘dis with my pitchfork all at the ready to totally debunk Dr Cynthia Colen’s message about breastfeeding being no better than bottle-feeding and then I read what she had to say and I pretty much agree with her. Not about the whole statements she makes regarding the nutritional benefits, I fully believe that if possible a woman should nurse if she can just for the immunity benefits it passes along to a newborn, but Coleman makes the statement that:
‘But if we really want to improve maternal and child health, let’s also focus on things that can really do that in the long term – like subsidised day care, better maternity leave policies and more employment opportunities for low-income mothers that pay a living wage, for example.’
Amen. Forever and ever amen. For those of you interested in the scientific data, as told by The Daily Mail:
She analysed a total of 8,237 children made up of 7,319 siblings and 1,773 ‘discordant’ sibling pairs, where one was breastfed with the other given a bottle.
The study measured BMI (body mass index), obesity, asthma, hyperactivity, parental attachment and behaviour as well as scores predicting academic achievement in vocabulary, reading, maths, intelligence and scholastic competence.
Across all of the families, breastfeeding resulted in better outcomes in BMI, hyperactivity, maths, reading recognition, vocabulary word identification, digit recollection, scholastic competence and obesity.
But when restricted to siblings differently fed within the same families, scores reflecting breastfeeding’s positive effects on 10 of the indicators were closer to zero and not statistically significant – meaning any differences could have occurred by chance.
According to the article, Colen conducted this study to help women who are unable to breastfeed for whatever reason feels less stigmatized.
I think my own personal views are skewed because I get most of my personal data from the Mommyish community, and I know from previous articles and discussions we have had here that even amongst the most hardcore breastfeeding advocates, myself included, we all agree that a woman should do what is best for her and her baby. I cannot recall any instance where anyone got super judgy towards a mom who decided for whatever reason that breastfeeding is not for her. On other websites, however..
I think we all can agree that babies just need to be fed, and as long as you aren’t mixing them up a concoction of Mountain Dew and Dorito dust for their bottles they are probably doing just fine, no matter if you choose breast or bottle. I personally loved breastfeeding because even though it was amazingly difficult at times (hello, cracked and bloody nipples and mastitis!) for me it was easier. I’m terribly lazy and I loved the idea of never having to mix formula. But I was also super lucky because I wasn’t working or going to school when my babies were little so it made my whole nursing experience a lot easier. I’m not sure I would have breastfed for as long as I did had I had to go off to work or put my babies in daycare.
I think her statement about how we need to focus on other things like subsidized day care and better maternity leave policies is totally spot on. That, to me, are the real issues affecting moms.
The bottle feeders are doing their best, the breastfeeders are doing their best, and maybe I just don’t see a lot of this action going down in the MOMMY WARS, but if anyone makes you all feel bad for the choices you have made, let me know. I’ll punch them in the throat.