• Thu, Feb 27 - 10:00 am ET

‘Expert’ Claims Breastfeeding Is No Better Than Bottle Feeding And You May Agree With Her

shutterstock_131991401Man, 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.

(Image: Pavel L Photo and Video/shutterstock)

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  • Kay_Sue

    Mountain Dew and Dorito dust sounds effin’ delicious though…

    • http://www.gamedevwidow.weebly.com/ Theresa Edwards

      When my daughter was little, I chose a nutritious blend of Funyun crumbs and Shasta. Fruits and Veggies.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      this sounds delicious

    • Kay_Sue

      I want some…..

    • candyvines

      Funyuns Still Outselling Responsibilityuns – The Onion

    • http://www.gamedevwidow.weebly.com/ Theresa Edwards

      lol

    • candyvines

      MY baby will enjoy his Dorito dust right off my fingers, thankyouverymuch.

    • Kay_Sue

      #crunchmama #literally #havefunwhenhebitesyourfingers

      :-P

    • candyvines

      I’ll cherish every love bite from my tiny boyfriend #blessed

    • Kay_Sue

      I think you beat me. I was trying to come up with something funny to reply, but I couldn’t, because I had tears in my eyes from chuckling.

    • Kande

      I would be so pissed if my baby tried to steal my dorito dust!!

    • candyvines

      If I share the Dorito dust I can also share the hate spiral of shame.

    • Angela

      I was once on a message board where another mom called formula “the nutritional equivalent of pureed twinkees”. No joke.

    • Kay_Sue

      She obviously did not understand the utter beauty that would be pureed Twinkies. I dunno about you, but I prefer the fast route to get them into my system, and that seems about it.

      Also, *facepalm* at someone actually saying that.

    • Angela

      Plus there’s the distinction that babies the babies don’t die from formula… though come to think of it I’ve never heard of a baby dying from Twinkies either so maybe they are totally the same!

    • Crusty Socks

      This is the internet. People say stupid shit all the time.

      And they’re not always by me either!

    • MaebykittyRN

      Yea pureed twinkies sounds BOMB…also, that woman is an idiot.

    • Tinyfaeri

      That also sounds delicious…

    • Jennifer Freeman

      Offtopic but kind of related. OK, maybe not, but everyone needs to know about this! :) At home in Chicago there is a restaurant that sells a chocolate cake shake. They seriously make a shake and throw a piece of their chocolate cake in it. It is glorious! Chunks of cake and frosting floating in a shake.

    • LiteBrite

      A friend of mine lived in Houston for awhile, and she worked a place that made a blueberry cheesecake shake. Same thing: they threw a huge piece of blueberry cheesecake into a shake.

      She now lives in Chicago, so I’m sending her your recommendation. For my next visit: it’s happening.

    • Jennifer Freeman

      Blueberry cheesecake shake sounds delicious! The chocolate cake shake is at Portillo’s, where you can get all sorts of artery clogging, life-shortening goodness.

    • LiteBrite

      I’ve been to Portillos. That place is the shiz.

    • footnotegirl

      Local restaurant here is currently doing a red velvet shake. Same thing. Plus cream cheese frosting bits.

    • Jennifer Freeman

      That also sounds delicious! I am all about combining deserts. I am in GA now and could probably make this red velvet shake combo happen.

    • Kelly

      My MIL claims feces is made of shit and rat poison, literally. When my milk dried up she looked me in the face and told me my son would die if I gave him formula. Well, I had no breastmilk to give him so not feeding him would surely kill him too. LOL

      Some people are just stupid dicks.

    • Kelly

      LMAO, I meant she said formula is made of shit and rat poison! That is a hilarious typo.

    • LiteBrite

      Don’t Twinkies have some kind of wheat in them? That’s a whole grain, and grains are good for you.

    • Angela

      Seriously though I really can’t recommend pureed Twinkies as a formula substitute. It’s just way to thick to suck through a bottle nipple, even if you dilute it with some Red Bull (or whiskey for nighttime feeds). But it could be a great option when baby’s ready to try solids. Probably tastes better than that rice cereal I fed my kids.

    • whiteroses

      Pureed twinkies would be effing delicious.

    • Elisa Probert

      Pureed Twinkies…I have to try that for my residents at work! Some of my senior citizens at the hospital where I cook are on pureed diets…always looking for new, tasty things to blend up. Pureed brownies are the BEST. Like brownie batter but cooked! LOL

      I make a mean pureed grilled cheese. Blend up the bread (white only, wheat never gets smooth) with some butter and warm milk, til it’s like a pudding. put that into a greased pan and stick in the oven to warm. Once it’s warm, put a couple slices of American cheese on top and let that melt. You can slice it up and it looks like an open-faced sandwich, but still smooth and easy to swallow for the toothless. Best with a mug of tomato soup. So, ya know, if you ever need to make pureed grilled cheese, now you know how to make it more appealing than just a mushed blob.

  • Bethany Ramos

    This is wonderful to know because I was all guilty about breastfeeding my sons the exact same amount of time. I ended up cutting son #2 short by just a month and felt terrible. But in the grand scheme… No big.

    • Crusty Socks

      Watch, #1 goes to Yale; #2 is a Chip N Dale dancer.

      Thanks Mom!!!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Dammit!!

  • Angela

    There are lots of valid reasons to breastfeed. There are lots of valid reasons to formula feed. And there are lots of valid reasons to choose a combination of both. Full stop.

    • Crusty Socks

      This might be the most benign comment in the history of the internets.

    • Angela

      You would think so. But I’ve heard some moms on both sides of this issue seem to think that their choice is the only legitimate one in the world.

    • footnotegirl

      And yet I know places where stating that would have people foaming at the mouth and attacking her.

  • Kati

    I like that she used siblings. Most studies control for age, education, SES, etc. but they don’t factor in how a parent interacts with her children, which I’m guessing is why there’s little difference in development siblings who were breast or bottle fed. I’m a huge fan of breastfeeding

  • Angela

    Plus we often overlook the fact that very few adoptive parents have breast milk as an option, and their kids generally turn out just fine. In fact we’ve all seen the studies that show that children of gay parents do slightly better and I’m betting that most of those dads don’t breastfeed.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I’m going to start sanctimommying straight parents. Don’t they know that their kids could be BETTER if they had gay parents? They are being soooo selfish by staying hetero. Someone needs to think about the children.

    • Angela

      So seriously my mom was once trying to convince me of the evils of gays as parents by quoting statistics about children in motherless homes. They are more likely to be sold to child traffickers, more likely to be molested, more likely to be abused, etc. This is because men are waaay more likely to be pedophiles and they just don’t have the maternal instinct that women do. After her spiel she says, “So I’m not out to get gays. I just think that children should get the best possible home.”

      My reply was “Me too. I think we should seriously pass laws requiring all parents to be lesbians. It would be hard to give my children up but at least I would know that if anything ever happened to me they’d never be motherless.” Of course the logic was totally lost on her though.

    • Kelly

      I think it’s so funny when people talk about “maternal instinct.” I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my son but caring for him was something I had to learn, it was not instinctual for me at all.

      My husband on the hand seems to have tons of maternal instinct. It came very naturally to him.

    • SarahJesness

      … I think there was a study a while back that showed that children raised by lesbian couples felt the most loved and came out the most successful. Considering how our society pushes motherhood on girls early on and encourages them to think about emotions and shit, I guess it’s not too surprising.

    • Angela

      I don’t think I’ve seen that one although I do remember one where they were the least likely to suffer child abuse. I think we do socialize girls more toward motherhood though I also suspect that a big part of the reason that gay parents come out slightly ahead is that there are no oops kids. Gay people only become parents because they want to be and have carefully thought things out. Obviously this isn’t always the case for straight couples.

    • SarahJesness

      Makes sense. Plus, gay couples generally face less pressure to have kids, so they might be less likely to have a kid just because they feel they have to.

    • footnotegirl

      Also, there’s pretty much no such thing as an accidental birth in a same sex relationship. When every child is one that was enthusiastically created/born/chosen/adopted instead of “oh sh*t thats a plus sign what do we do?”, the outcomes are likelier to be positive.

  • Jessifer

    As a Canadian, I get one year of maternity leave and that is pretty much the only reason I’m still breastfeeding. I feel sad for all the American working mamas that have to go back to work so soon and not only have to deal with the stress and physical demands of caring for an infant who isn’t even sleeping nights, but are also slaves to their breast pumping schedules. I pump once in a blue moon so that I have a back-up stash in my freezer. It is a royal pain in the ass and it sort of makes me feel like a human cow. No one should be put in a position where they feel like they MUST go through this several times a day just to feed their child. If I were in their position, I’d be switching to formula in a heartbeat because I just don’t have the time or that level of commitment. So kudos to all the breastfeeding mamas out there, but also kudos to the bottle-feeding mamas who choose to maintain their sanity and do what works best for their family and lifestyle.

    • Rebecca R

      I had a coworker who came back after only 6 weeks and had to pump in a file room, sitting on the floor to hold the door closed because it only locked from the outside. This was at a company with over 600 employees.

      I currently work at a small company (<25 employees), which means that I am not legally entitled to ANY maternity leave. I brought it up to the owner once and it doesn't look promising…

    • rrlo

      I am Canadian as well and I am so, incredibly grateful for the 1-year maternity leave. For me, it was the single, biggest factor in ensuring the well being of myself and my child.

      I don’t mean to sound condescending at all and I hope no one takes offense but I think it’s inhumane that some women are expected to be back at work 6-weeks after they give birth. I think if I had to go back after 6 weeks or even 3 months – I would have considered quitting my job because I was NOT ready at all. I was a weepy, leaky, jello-like mess even after 3 months. I think American women are some of the toughest in the world for being able to go back to work so soon after having a child.
      I really hope it changes for you guys.

    • Jessifer

      That’s not even mentioning the cost of in the U.S. of giving birth to the child in the first place. I didn’t pay a dime for any of my midwife consults, tests, c-section, etc… I got a bill for $280 because I chose to upgrade my hospital room to semi-private and I was like “Gawd, I can’t afford this crap right now!”. I can’t imagine the pressure of having to go back to work in order to pay all the medical bills that came along with having my child.

    • Guest

      This exactly… I need to have money saved (and incoming money from my husband) to cover cost of having baby and then the cost of me not working because there is no way I would breastfeed if I still had to work. So much planning and money involved it just sucks. This is why we are trying to pay off ALL debt but the mortgage before we even go down this road.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Ditto. I upgraded my room to private as my insurance covered semi. Post C section it was sooo worth it. I got a bill for $100. the concept of paying thousands does not compute.

    • rrlo

      Private rooms are the best after having a baby. Our hospital had a really huge post-delivery room with two beds. It was so nice to have my husband sleeping with us the first couple of nights.

    • anon

      You got to stay more than one night? Wow. I stayed two after my first – when I came very close to dying because of HELLP syndrome – and one after my second.

    • rrlo

      It’s all bit of a blur but I believe I stayed three nights.

    • MaebykittyRN

      I was billed $2000 after my c-section. I have now spent several moths haggling with insurance companies because I was overcharged. It is a shit-show.

    • arrow2010

      What can you say? The medical system is broken.

    • rrlo

      Only after reading something written by Bethany on Mommyish that made me realize women in the US choose mid-wives or homebirth sometimes because of financial reasons. I NEVER even considered finances to be a factor in birth choices.

    • MaebykittyRN

      Do Canadians get paternity leave as well? If so, I’m double jealous.

      American healthcare is so f-ed up. We pay more than any other first world country. As a result, people can’t afford even basic preventative care, and our national health is going down the toilet. I personally believe socialized medicine could be the solution to our problem, but too many people would say that makes me a bleeding-heart liberal commie, so I don’t think it will happen anytime soon. ‘Murica.

    • pixie

      I think there’s the option for it, or to split the leave like 50/50, BUT don’t take me 100% on that.

    • Katherine Handcock

      Men don’t get guaranteed paternity leave in Canada – that’s up to the individual company’s leave policies – but the really big deal is that 30+ weeks of the employment insurance benefits offered to new parents can be taken by either mom or dad (or split between both). So if Mom wants to go back to work 6 months in, but they don’t want to leave the baby in daycare (or can’t find an infant spot – very hard to find daycare spots for kids under 12/18 months), Dad can take leave. It’s 55% of salary up to a maximum, which isn’t spectacular, but it’s sure better than nothing!

    • rrlo

      For me the guaranteed job after coming back is the best part – planning for cutting back on expenses, saving up etc. is a bit easier to do when you know there is a job to come back to.

    • Kitsune

      I say the same thing about socialized medicine. I would happily pay more in taxes if it meant people could get the healthcare and also education they need.

    • Korine

      I just teared up because (in my experience) its really rare to see such complimentary things said about Americans. I really really appreciate the sentiment, because I had to go back to a labor intensive job after 8 weeks and it was hard. Just, thank you :-)

  • Lilly

    I would love to see the follow-up study that looked at what was different between the families for the stats that indicated breastfeeding yielded healthier babies — the total population stats.
    I have seen references to but nothing definitive about the issues surrounding which women are breastfeeding and why that is yielding healthier babies/children — my gut says that the socio-economic class has more to do with it than what is going into the babies tummies.

  • EX

    I have not come across anyone who was super judgemental about this issue IRL but I do think I have internalized the “breastfeeding is good, formula is evil” message because when my newborn had trouble gaining weight I felt like a total failure for being unable to give her enough to eat from my body. Granted I was also chock full of pregnancy hormones, but I totally freaked at the idea of not being able to nurse. The funny part is that with my older daughter I had to start supplementing with formula when I went back to work (because I couldn’t pump enough) so it’s not like I hadn’t had experience formua feeding. Anyway, baby #2 and I worked it all out. I’m still nursing, she’s gaining weight and we’ve got a few months before I start supplementing her with Mountain Dew and Doritos dust.

  • K.

    You know, there’s a lot to raising a child that transcends tits.

    I’ve made this argument before–breastfeeding is tough to commit to if you work a job that requires manual labor, if you have more than one job, are a single parent (especially if you have more than one child); those challenges essentially point towards the fact that women who are in higher socioeconomic brackets are more likely to breastfeed. But such women are ALSO more likely to be food secure and have access to fresher food (plus time to prepare the food and eat with their families), have higher education levels and are able to access better schools, have better access to healthcare, better quality daycare, and less likely to suffer from forms of environmental inequality (so, not living in an overcrowded apartment or next to a gas station), so on and so forth–all factors that have a tremendous influence on the overall health of a child. Are these factors being included when people conduct studies on breastfeeding?

    There’s a lot of things that contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of a child beyond breastfeeding and a great many formative years that come after breastfeeding. The author’s right–why spend so much time worrying our heads of about the 1-2 years of infancy? Worry about the 20 years that come after.

    • Lee

      “Transcends tits” has made my life.

    • K.

      Glad to align your chakras :)

  • ChelseaBFH

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, since I’ve been supplementing my twins with more and more formula.

    My based-on-absolutely-nothing theory is that the type of woman who wants and tries to breastfeed is the type of person who is going to want and try to give her children lots of other advantages, too. In that kind of environment it might not make much of a difference if breastfeeding ends up not working out – maybe it’s the fact that you are the kind of person who wants to breastfeed, not just the breastfeeding itself, that accounts for a lot of the advantages we see in breastfed babies. (Not that women who choose to formula feed from the start can’t also want and try to give their baby all the advantages they can, too.)

    Like I said, it’s just my pet theory, but this seems to back that up so I’ll stick with it for now (as I mix another bottle of formula…)

    • Sara

      I don’t know if this helps you theory, but my mom breastfed all three of us girls because it was free, and fed my brother formula and breast milk because, “The little bastard ate like a calf.” (She said this with all of the love and affection she has.)

    • footnotegirl

      Very likely. Correlation is not causation and all that. There were studies done that showed that people who took vitamins every night were healthier and likely to be closer to their ‘correct’ weight. So a lot of people were all ‘vitamins are the miracle’. And then further studies were done where they did things like having people take vitamins every night who didn’t usually, or supplementing people with vitamins without their knowing, or switching placebos for the vitamins of people who took them normally… and it didn’t change the outcomes.
      What made those people healthier was, apparently, that they were the type of people who took their vitamins every night.

  • pixie

    Dammit, Eve. I was totally planning on feeding my future babies a concoction of Mountain Dew and Doritos dust. Way to ruin my plans.

    Seriously though, there should definitely be more focus on things like subsidized daycare, better/longer parental leave policies, and higher quality education, rather than vilifying those who make different choices on how to feed their babies.

    • Kat

      Can you imagine if women (and men) stepped away from the message boards and facebook, stopped bashing each other’s choices, and worked together to make these things happen? We’d probably have a maternity/paternity leave policy that brings America out of the stone age, subsidized daycare and better education in about one election cycle.

    • pixie

      Oh, definitely, it would be a miracle.

      I’m Canadian, and there’s definitely things that can be improved up here as well (though we do get a year mat leave), but it’d be nice to see my American friends (read, all you guys here) at least catch up to us Canuks. :)

    • Tinyfaeri

      Yay calm, rational conversation! It could solve so much.

  • val97

    I love it that you preferred breast feeding because of laziness. I was both poor and lazy. I hated cleaning bottles and hated buying formula (I did what the “experts” tell you not to do – a mix of nursing and pumping and formula). And eww, ever find a crusty old bottle with 1/2 inch of formula inside a hot car? That shit got thrown away.

  • Lala

    Could it be maybe that parents that choose to breast feed their baby are more educated in general and potentially more invested in their children leading to those positive outcomes in other areas? Before anyone chases me with a pitch fork I currently bottle feed my second child bec I did not want to deal with the difficulties of breast feeding.

    • footnotegirl

      In some cases its education and what they themselves were raised with and see around them every day. But it is also that parents who choose to breastfeed often do so because it fits into their life more easily, i.e. the mom who either isn’t working at all, can take a longer than normal maternity leave, or has an unusually supportive and comfortable work environment is more likely to choose to breast feed than a woman who gets no maternity leave, must work, and would have to pump in a closet and deduct the time spent doing so from her already much too small pay check or is single and has more than one child to raise (it’s hard to deal with a careening toddler with a nursing baby on your chest).

  • Tinyfaeri

    Like with most things, you do what’s best for you and your family. Trying to make something fit that just won’t work will negate any benefits of what you’re trying to do. I nursed my daughter for 20 months – that was what worked for us. Well, her, and she’s kind of cute, so I sucked it up for the last few months. That is not to say that will work for everyone, and I know a lot of formula fed babies (myself and my husband included) who do just fine. The important thing is to love your child and make sure they’re taken care of.

  • Kelly

    It’s amazing to me how much shit women get for feeding their kids.

    When my son was born, I couldn’t actually nurse because I was having some physical issues. So I pumped and gave it to him a bottle. It blew my mind how much shit I got for that. People told me I wouldn’t properly bond with him, that I was just being lazy or ignorant by using a bottle, etc.

    It seems like women can’t win on this issue, no matter what they do.

    • SNOWSCAS81

      I made the decision not to breastfed my son. I won’t go into my reasons simply because I hate that some women feel like they have to have an “acceptable” reason for making a decision that is so very personal and theirs alone to make. I’m glad that this research has come out. Breast or bottle: it doesn’t matter. As long as your baby is being fed and is happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. No one should let anyone make them feel guilty about giving their child formula./end rant

    • Kelly

      Oh, I totally agree with you.

      It just blew my mind that the hardcore breastfeeding activists had a problem with me feeding my son breastmilk just because it was in a bottle. It wasn’t something I expected at all and I was stunned by the nasty lecture I got from my lactation consultant over it.

  • Allannah

    I’m glad that the truth about this is finally starting to come out. Breast milk isn’t a magical cure all. Socioeconomic status is. Those who advise young women, especially teenage moms to spend their time and effort pursuing lactation rather than an education or career are actively pushing whole families into poverty.
    There is a multimillion dollar industry devoted to promoting breastfeeding. Lactation consultants, public policy makers, researchers,… There are even entire journals devoted to it. Admitting that the benefits of breastfeeding are rather un substantial would put them out of a job so they’re very unlikely to ever do that. And so the unethical promotion of this cause over more sensible public health measures continues. .. It’s infuriating.

    • Angela

      I agree with not exaggerating the benefits of breastfeeding and not guilting or shaming mothers who choose formula. And I certainly agree that building a career and getting out of poverty will have a much more profound benefit than breastfeeding for most families. BUT I also feel that breastfeeding should be supported for mothers that choose it. Teens mothers should be allowed to take maternity leave from school without penalty. They should be given opportunities to pump. And whether they breastfeed or not schools should be supportive of their desire to complete their education rather than punitive (which often isn’t the case).

    • Allannah

      I respectfully disagree. When I see lactivists ‘reach out’ to teenage and college moms, my blood boils. It’s such an incredibly harmful act to tell these girls that breastfeeding is more important than school. If my daughter would ever have the misfortune of becoming a teenage mom, I would want her to bind her breasts, formula feed from day one and concentrate all her efforts on getting a degree. I’d be incredibly angry with anyone who tried to give her the ‘breast is best’ spiel.
      In the long run both she and the baby will be so much better off if a teenage mom has a good night’s sleep and goes to school in the morning. No amount of breast milk could ever be worth missing out on an education.
      This predatory breastfeeding promotion needs to stop.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Honestly, I see your point. On one hand I would always want to support any mother who wanted to breastfeed. On the other, there are just instances in life where it would be highly detrimental in some way.
      Sometimes formula is just the answer. For women seeking an education, I don’t see how you can breastfeed and go to school. Yeah, if you wanted to breastfeed, it can be a loss (I know this firsthand), but you get over it, the way you get over gender disappointment or that C-section you didn’t want or any of the other hardships.
      I think we’ve gotten so mentally entrenched in breast is best we’re sometimes incapable of being sensible about the alternative and when it’s actually the better choice.

    • rrlo

      I don’t see it as an all or nothing proposition – even for teenage moms or college students. I don’t agree that with proper support young mothers have to give up breastfeeding or else they won’t be able to get their educations.

      Yes, there are obnoxious “lactivists” (I hate that word) and I don’t support overzealous breastfeeding advocates AT ALL.

      I am grateful to those that worked hard to promote the benefits of breastfeeding, normalized the whole thing and made it legal for women to be able to nurse their children in public.

    • Angela

      “No amount of breast milk could ever be worth missing out on an education.”

      Couldn’t agree more. Also about predatory lactivists. My perspective though comes from knowing several excellent young moms who have managed to complete their educations and listening to their experiences. Some still managed to breastfeed while others did not. Yet almost all expressed that their schools were often adversarial toward them and would refuse to make even minimal accommodations for them.

      One high school mom reported not being allowed to pump in her car (with a cover) during lunch break because it was considered “inappropriate”. This was despite the fact that a teacher nursed her baby each day in the faculty lot during lunch. Another student was told she could only have 1 week for maternity leave or face expulsion until she brought proof that they were violating the law. Many moms felt that teachers and administration were deliberately trying to make an example of them and run them out of school. Whether young moms are breastfeeding or not I feel this attitude needs to change.

      BTW, you sound like an excellent parent. I’ve met way too many parents of pregnant teens who feel like punishing them and forcing them to feel the consequences of their choices takes precedence over helping them complete their schooling and build a better life.

    • Whocaniturnto

      Oh, so much this. I love it when people push how the formula companies are all just greedy and out to make as much money as possible – but no one wants to talk about how much money companies make selling nipple creams, nursing bras, special pillows, storage bags, nursing covers, teas, supplements, and how much lactation consultants costs. There are plenty of companies out there making money off of guilting moms about breastfeeding. Free breast pumps? don’t worry, someone is paying for them and the company that makes them is making a fortune.

    • SNOWSCAS81

      THANK YOU. I want to say that to every person that ever smugly said: Well, I make my baby’s food for FREE,” or something to that effect when bashing formula feeding mothers. When I was pregnant with my son I paid $30 for a darn nursing bra that I ended up not using. Breastfeeding’s a business, like everything else. And the really shameful thing is that they use guilt to make money.

    • ChickenKira

      I made the fatal mistake of bringing this up in an online discussion with a “predatory lactivist” once and had my head bitten off. Still not sure what her point was, but I do know that I am uneducated, ignorant, brainwashed by formula companies and so on.
      Honestly the only reason I brought it up was because there was a woman in our group who was really down about how much all these things were going to cost her and I said that most of these are not necessary and an ordinary pillow works the same way as a special breastfeeding pillow and a swaddling blanket over your shoulder works as well as a special breastfeeding cover, and that it’s just the nature of the breastfeeding industry to push items that aren’t needed, just like any other industry, it’s to make money.

      Apparently you can’t say that, and because breastmilk comes from breasts it can’t be an industry, but a few days later predatory lactivist was posting about her array of breastfeeding covers that co-ordinate to various outfits, so, you know.

      (Also, this particular predatory lactivist also believed that doctors were only out there to make money because they charge a fee, they didn’t care about you, but when I asked her, admittedly, rather cheekily, whether her naturopath and chiropractor treated her for free, or if they charged her a fee, she once again went on a little rant about how ignorant I was).

  • Magrat

    So, basically what this seems to be saying is that all of those benefits are in fact connected to home environment, which happens to correlate to higher breastfeeding rates. I wonder if they found the same results for genetically unrelated siblings.

  • Shannon

    Saw this on the fearless formula feeders face book page yesterday, I believe. Couldn’t agree more.

  • SA

    This was a fabulous read this morning! As a failed breastfeeder (managed to pump out enough for a couple of bottles a day for 6 months, but mainly supplemented), it was what I really needed to read to reconcile what I already knew to be true. I would definitely try the bfing route again, but I never thought it would be what would make or break my kid.

    I was a formula fed baby….I have fared just as well in life – in health, success, and happiness as my breast-fed friends.

  • andrea

    Amen! You know, I had EVERY intention of breast feeding, but when my 34DDDs turned into 34Is (as in “I” didn’t even know they MADE bras this big, thank you internet shopping) and my back was in agony ALL DAY LONG, well, by the time I gave birth, my main focus body-wise was getting the girls back down to their normal (albeit ridiculous) DDDs. Being a larger busted woman, I have always been self-conscious of my chest and the attention it received. From a very young age, my experience has told me that breasts are sexual, and even though I was determined to breast feed, I had sooo many image issues that i simply could not see myself EVER being comfortable breast feeding in public (really, how do you do it discreetly when they are the size of a small watermelon???). And aside from that, my non-paid maternity leave ended at 6 weeks, and that meant going back to 9.5 hour work days in a pretty gross office building where roaches were common guests. Did I really want to pump in that environment when I didn’t even eat there? Not really.

    So I didn’t breast feed either of my babies, and they are both exceedingly healthy, and in the normal weight ranges.

    • pixie

      I have all-natural 32Gs. I am frightened of when I decide to have babies.

      And I’ve had breasts since I was about 9, despite being a very slender child (and didn’t go fully go through puberty until 12), so I definitely get you with the image issues and having experiences tell you that breasts are sexual, even when they’re not really.

      Here’s to never being able to buy cute, $20 bras at Victoria’s secret *raises glass*

  • My2bits

    Mountain Dew and Durrito dust…I could use some of that about now.

  • Jillian

    But I thought breast milk was magic juice that guaranteed your child grows up to become the next Albert Einstein and has the immune system of the healthiest person on earth. I thought breast feeding your kid trumps every other decision you will ever make in your parenting life. The only thing that matters is breastfeeding nothing else will ever have as large an impact. Forget teaching them manners, instilling them with hard work and ethics or loving them so they grow up to be individuals just make sure you boob feed! so says the cult like lactation martyrs.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    There’s a lot of women who breastfed a long time, even though they hated it, because they thought it was irresponsible to use formula, and sacrificed their freedom and happiness. There are women who have starved their babies with their low supply because formula seemed like a second-class food. There are women risking their baby’s health over unscreened donor milk from strangers to avoid formula. There are women pumping at work, instead of taking actual breaks they may need, to provide breast milk just because it’s supposed to be the very best, even if they would rather be eating lunch.
    May studies like these lead the way to sanity.
    Breastfeed if you want to. If you Want To. Key words there. If it feels good, do it. If it’s ruining your life or your mind, for fuck’s sake, it’s okay to quit! It’s not ultimately that important, at least not in the way we’ve all been led to believe it is. It’s only important to do it if it’s making your experience as a mother a good one. Full stop.

  • SarahJesness

    So, breastfed kids doing better is a correlation thing, not a causation thing? Guess that’s not too surprising. A women who earns a low income generally has to work a lot and doesn’t have as much access to healthy foods, and is less likely to have good education and daycare access for her kids. I guess people like to focus so much on breastfeeding because they like to think there’s this one magical thing they can do to ensure their kids grow up to be healthy and successful.

  • footnotegirl

    Why is expert in ye olde skeptical quote marks? To all appearances, this woman is simply a legitimate expert.

  • doodlebug2

    I so loved reading this article in the Daily Mail, and I got a kick out of reading the comments, many of which were from members of the “Brestapo,” who always seem to take great personal offense at any suggestion that breast milk isn’t a magical potion that cures cancer, AIDS and global warming. (Ok, now I’m being silly, but you catch my drift). The fact is, this data is nothing new. There is actually very little empirical evidence that exists to demonstrate that breast milk itself is what provides all of those frequently touted benefits for babies. The pressure on women to breastfeed is INSANE, and it’s particularly alienating to underprivileged women who don’t necessarily have the time to breastfeed on command, or a the type of job that allows them to pump. I’ve also always been mystified by the anti-feminist nature of the breastfeeding movement. (And by “breastfeeding movement,” I’m referring to the loud and angry voices of the people who advocate for breastfeeding as if it were the most crucial thing on God’s green Earth). The feminist movement was intended to liberate us from the forced chains of domesticity, and give us the freedom to choose what we want to do with our lives, and how we want to do it. The idea of breastfeeding round the clock well into infancy doesn’t really seem to jibe with that in my mind.

  • scooby23

    This study is great. I think too often, like others here have said,breastfeeding is regarded as a magic fairy-dust laden wizard power that will cure any ailment and make your child some Newton-Steve Jobs hybrid with Superman health. What we should really be focusing on, though, is the child’s home life, education, if they are getting the necessary foods and fluids for nutrition, etc. If a child is getting beat by his/her parents every day, goes to a crap school, and has never even been within a 40 mile radius of a healthy food, the kid won’t turn out so great, breastfed or not.