To breastfeed or not to breastfeed? It’s a heated question that is causing frenzy in hospitals and mommy circles. One side claims that breastfeeding improves babies’ IQ and protects them from cancer, depression, allergies, obesity, cavities, Crohns disease, etc. The list for breast milk’s superior health benefits goes on and on. Yet, most of these are empty claims and speculations fueled by biased studies and inconclusive data.
In fact, a recent study published in the journal ‘Social Science and Medicine’ by sociologist Cynthia Colen, compared siblings who had been breastfeed and bottle-fed over the course of a decade. Results found that there wasn’t much of a difference between the two in terms of BMI, obesity rates, hyperactivity, parental attachments levels, academic achievement, and behavior.
Another recent study in Belarus called the Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT) only showed that breastfeed babies had a 4% decrease in gastrointestinal infections than formula-fed babies. That’s right, they didn’t have fewer colds or an Einstein-like IQ, only a smaller percentage of tummy aches.
So, moms, relax. It’s your decision how to fed your child and ultimately we’re sure that you’re making the best decision for you and your child. Yes, there are benefits to breastfeeding. Yet, it’s other factors such as housing, the mother’s mental health, and the quality of their school that will play a stronger role on your child’s development in the long-term. We’ve even rounded up a list of why breastfeeding is actually overrated according to science.
15 Breastfeeding Won’t Make Your Child Smarter
Breastfeeding won’t make your child perform better in school, earn more money, or have a higher IQ. Even the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development puts a big ‘may’ in front of the statement that breastfeeding has cognitive benefits for infants. The only thing that science has proven is that there is not a direct correlation between breastfeeding and cognitive performance. ‘The Pediatrics Journal’ published a 2007 study of 8,000 families showing that ‘no support was found for statistically significant gains at age 5 years, suggesting that the earlier observed benefit from breastfeeding may not be maintained once children enter school.’
Actually, many experts attribute children’s cognitive performance at school to another factor- the mother. Some experts believe that it is actually mothers spending time with and supporting their children that leads them to become better educated and more affluent.
14 …Or Skinnier
“In terms of breastfeeding reducing obesity, it’s unlikely to be effective,” is what Dr. Richard Martin, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Bristol told ‘TIME’. Yet, if you go onto The World Health Organization (WHO) website you’ll read statements supporting the ‘fact’ that breastfeeding prevents childhood obesity. Yet, researchers and doctors still seem undecided on the issue.
In a 2011 issue of the journal ‘JAMA Pediatrics’, researchers suggested that is an early introduction of solid foods that puts children at a risk for childhood obesity. Other studies prove that there is no direct link between obesity and breastfeeding. In the noughties the ‘Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial’, found that in 13,889 breast-fed infants there was no significant effect on their height, weight, or BMI when there was a follow up report at the age of 6 years old.
13 … Or Even Healthier
Breastfed babies are not proven to be healthier. There have been previous statements made that breastfeeding was one of the factors leading to lower mortality rates in developing countries. Yet, a 2007 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality examined 43 studies on infants and found that ‘it was unclear concerning the relationship between breastfeeding and infant mortality in developed countries’.
Furthermore, it should be noted that today’s formulas are actually much closer to mimicking breast milk than what was available for previous generations. They also have the added benefit of being fortified with vitamin D and fatty acids. Besides, research has shown that ‘school quality, adequate housing, and the type of employment parent’s have’ has a stronger impact on children’s health.
12 It Won’t Prevent Allergies Like Eczema
So, you’ve come across an article that says breastfeeding prevents infants from developing eczema also known as atopic dermatitis. That may not be 100% true. A study published in the August 2004 issue of the ‘American Journal of Epidemiology’ showed that ‘breastfeeding did not have a strong impact on the development of atopic dermatitis during the first 18 months of life.’ So, why are countries such as the UK and Germany saying that longer stages of breastfeeding reduce the risk of eczema?
Sure, it has plenty of other health benefits, but protecting against itchy skin just isn’t one of them. Eczema is influenced more by the parents’ history of allergies. Having a positive family history of eczema (or other seasonal allergies) puts the child at risk for developing eczema and even with breastfeeding there’s not much mothers can do when it comes to combating genes.
11 Mother’s Need To Adopt A Breastmilk Diet
When your body is providing nutrition for your baby there are a few considerations to keep in mind. The first is that making breast milk is tough work for women’s bodies and you will likely need an extra 500 calories. Maybe that’s not what a new mom trying to loose baby weight wants to hear, but to ensure that you and your baby are both healthy, you’ll need to snack often to keep your energy levels high.
Also, it’s recommended to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding. If you need a drink, try the ‘pump and dump’ method and wait at least 2 hours before breastfeeding. Caffeine is also meant to be kept to a minimum. Enjoy your morning cup of coffee, but be weary of extra caffeine in sports drinks, chocolate, and teas. If you’re taking any medication, you might need to stop them too.
10 Breastmilk Isn’t A Perfect Food
Many breastfeeding mothers love to go on and on about how breast milk is natures’ ‘perfect food.’ Let’s just say that nothing in nature in perfect and that goes for the esteemed breast milk. Is great for babies? Yes! Is it perfect? No! To begin with it’s inefficient in Vitamin K. Why is this important? Well, vitamin K is that little substance in our bodies that is needed to form blood clots and prevent us from ‘bleeding to death’.
As adults we get it from foods like broccoli, mustard greens, and kale. Babies are born with small amounts of it. It’s also low in Vitamin D to prevent diseases such as rickets. If you’re vegan, breast milk comes from a mammal, technically making it a non-vegan food. Of course, you could say that human milk is for human consumption, so that it bypasses the vegan laws.
9 Not Everyone Can Produce Breastmilk
Some women simply cannot produce enough breast milk. If a woman has previously had breast reduction surgery (or other type of breast augmentation surgery) she could have lost the breast tissue containing the milk glands and ducts. Sometimes, it’s the effect from taking certain medications. Or, a woman can be the 2% that experiences lactation failure regardless of all her efforts and perfect physical condition. Although, according to Dr. Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, a scientist at Cincinnati Children’s, “It’s conceivable that up to 20 % of new mothers in the United States are at risk for low milk supply.”
Whatever the reason, it’s okay. According to Jan Barger, an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), “good parenting is more than breastfeeding.” So relax, there are other wonderful ways you can bond with your baby. Infants learn to interact with mothers through her touch, voice, and the sight of her face.
8 Alternatives Have Been Around Since 2000 BC
There is literally nothing new under the sun, even when it comes to feeding babies. Before the widespread use of bottles and formula hiring a wet nurse – a woman’s whose job was to breastfeed babies – was considered safe and socially acceptable. Hammurabi’s Code (1700 BC) was an ancient set of laws that governed ancient Babylon and it had a detailed section on wet nursing. Archaeologists have found clay vessels with ‘nipple-shaped’ feeding spouts in the graves of newborns that date back to 2000 BC.
It is believed that women would use these vessels to feed animal milk to their children instead of human milk. In the 1500s European infants were fed pap and panada through something called the ‘pap boat’. Pap was bread soaked in milk or water and panada was a mush of cereals cooked in broth. In 1851, glass bottles were first introduced with the modern nipple style.
7 Breastfeeding In Public Is Still Taboo
Did you know that in South Dakota and Virginia it is illegal for moms to breastfeed in public? Yep, it’s considered indecent nudity. While 49 states and the District of Columbia protect mother’s rights to breastfeed in public, there is still plenty of discrimination against mothers who dare. It was only in 2016 that mom Whitney Hale was asked to leave Dillard’s when she was breastfeeding her child.
The 23-year old Mom was in the lingerie department when her daughter got fussy, so Hale asked an employee if it was okay for her 1 ½ year old to nurse. She was shocked when she was then asked to feed in the bathroom. ‘Why is it acceptable for a giant picture of boobs to be on the wall, but I cannot feed my child?’ she later posted on her Facebook.
6 Breastfeeding Is Not Easy For Working Moms
Sure, if you live close to your job, day-care, and work for a company that provides numerous nursing breaks, then breastfeeding at work is a cinch. Yet, for many moms, that is not their reality. Even after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided working moms the right to request break time for pumping milk, it still did not cover time to actually feed their child. It also only applied to companies of 50+ people. In an article in Fast Company, one mom was told after three months ‘that she had been given ample time and had to vacate to a supply closet to pump.’
Other moms on ‘The Bump’ have admitted to pumping in closets, using their lunch breaks, and pumping in parking lots. We haven’t even touched on the fact that you’ll have to lug around a state-of-the-art cooler if your company doesn’t supply a fridge.
5 Breastfeeding Makes Moms Aggressive
Yep, one study has literally proven that breastfeeding mothers are more aggressive than those who don’t. It was published in the September issue of Psychological Science. So, just how did they figure this out? They had 18 nursing mothers, 17 formula moms, and 20-non moms play competitive computer games. When the women won the game they got to blast a loud horn at their opponent. The breastfed moms blasted their opponents the loudest.
Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, of UCLA’s Department of Health Psychology said this of the study, “Maternal defence does not involve nursing mothers going out and looking for bar fights, but when they have a helpless baby, they’re more likely to defend themselves when the fight comes to them.” Moms are already prone to feelings of anxiety and fierce protectiveness.
4 The Nestlé Scandal Was All About Clean Water
Nestlé’s 1974 scandal ‘of getting Third World mothers hooked on formula’ certainly has not gone away. At the time, Nestlé used campaigns (and sales girls in nurses’ uniforms) to promote their formula. Women in poorer regions converted from breastfeeding to formula that they could not afford. Unable to switch back those women diluted the formula with water, which was often contaminated. Not to mention that some women diluted too much and ‘millions of babies died from malnutrition’ according to the United States Agency for International Development official Dr. Stephen Joseph.
Nestlé’s aggressive marketing policies should be condemned, but it should also be noted that contaminated water is the issue not their powdered formula. When mothers from poorer regions have access to clean water, infant health problems decrease. Nestlé should really be condemned for controlling drinking water to sell it back to us as 50 different brands of bottled water.
3 Formula Antibodies Are Just As Good
Ask your doctor and he or she might tell you that a mother’s breast milk is full of antibodies that are absorbed into the infants’ bloodstream. That’s true, but it is only in the tiniest of amounts. The majority of the antibodies are absorbed by the baby’s gastrointestinal tract. That could explain why you’ll need to vaccinate your child in a few months from various illnesses. The antibodies from breast milk protect infants from infections, diarrhea, E. coli, polioviruses, and retroviruses that can cause certain types of cancer.
Formulas containing probiotics have successfully mimicked these benefits providing infants with healthy gut bacteria and protection from polio, retroviruses, and various other illnesses. According to the Pediatrics Journal there is no evidence suggesting that breast milk is better or worse than formula supplemented with probiotics.
2 Studies Suffer From Selection Bias
Cynthia Colen, an assistant professor of sociology at the Ohio State University has stated that previous studies on the effects of infants fed with formula or breast milk “do not or cannot statistically control factors such as race, age, family income, mother’s employment – things we know that can affect both breast-feeding and health outcomes. Moms with more resources and… high levels of income… are more likely to breast-feed their children.” According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Asian women are ‘the only racial/ethnic group meeting the goal of breastfeeding initiation of 81.9%.
African American women have the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 22% of African-Americans live in poverty. It can leave us to wonder if those advantages of breastfeeding are the effect of “breastfeeding itself or those other background characteristics?” Colen said.
1 Mothers Emotions Affect The Child Developmentally
At the end of the day, most studies only show that there is ‘no difference’ between breast-fed babies and formula babies. Although, what is clear is that ‘mothers who breast-feed tend to differ…more educated, less likely to smoke or engage in ‘risky behaviors’ during pregnancy,” said Lisa-Christine Girard, a research felloe at University College Dublin in Ireland.
Other studies have noted the way a mother nurtures her child early in life has a direct effect on the hippocampus region of the brain, which is linked to having a better memory. “It’s now clear that a caregiver’s nurturing is not only good for the development of the child, but it actually changes the brain,’ said Dr. Joan Luby, a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Whoa! It seems that in the end it’s more important how you show love to your child that will affect them the most.
Culled from http://www.babygaga.com/