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On Breastfeeding

Filed Under: Life
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I received an email today with a link to a piece that was published in the Atlantic. The email came from a pro-breastfeeding group and I clicked over ready to damn the piece since the group was obviously up in arms over what had been written.

But, as I read the story, a lot of what was written rang true for me.

First off were the holes in some of the breastfeeding studies that have been done. Ethically, you can’t tell a woman what to feed her child. You can’t have a double blind study where the parents don’t know if they are feeding their child formula or breast milk. And frankly, coming from a mom who breastfed her first daughter until the kid was 18 months and is currently breastfeeding her 6 month old son, I can’t imagine signing up for a study where my kids might be drinking formula.

Yes.

I know.

Formula DOES NOT KILL.

I was formula fed, Tucker was formula fed. My parents were formula fed. We all turned out decently OK. And, despite whatever issues we all may have now, I seriously doubt that they were caused by formula.

The point is that I chose to breastfeed my kids-from my boobs, not through expressed breast milk-so I probably wouldn’t have been a candidate for the made-up study anyway.

There are a lot of issues that come into play when you try to decide which is better-the breast or the bottle, i.e., formula.

Does the kid have to be fed via breast because if that’s the case then you run into the variable of skin-to-skin contact?

To get around that issue, you could require that mothers feed their infants via the breast but with the assistance of a tube leading to the nipple like what’s used with preemie kids.

That would remove the variable of skin-to-skin contact but then you’d run into the issue of formula taking longer to digest than breast milk so now you have the variable of the number of feedings. How are you going to make sure that a formula fed baby feeds [and interacts] with the mother as often as a breastfed baby does?

SO many issues! No wonder it’s hard as hell to create a study that scientifically measures the effects of breast milk on an infant!

Though breastfeeding is a choice [and I think that everyone should give it the ole college try] there are some people who don’t have the option to breastfeed their baby. A very small minority, this “source”  states that 1-3% of women can’t breastfeed. However, I can’t find a reference to their numbers.

Some women don’t want to breastfeed because of the “ick” factor of being a “milk cow”. Some don’t want to be saddled with the sole provider of sustenance for their kid. And, some have to go back to work-as was pointed out in the Atlantic piece. While it’s wonderful to imagine that all women will have a private and clean place to pump, what happens if you work at a convenience store and you’re the only one at the register? How about the women who work in factories and the only place to pump is the bathroom? Not exactly private OR clean. The idea [obviously] would be to require all employers to provide a place and a time for the woman to pump but for some companies [and jobs] that’s just not an option.

I realize that I am in the lucky minority when it comes to breastfeeding. I was blessed with Cara who breastfed like a champ from the start and Oliver, who tried to starve himself early on but eventually got the hang of it. Since I knew what I was doing from Cara, I was able to handle Oliver’s issues without help and he’s now wearing 12 month stuff even though he’s only 6 months old. Obviously, he didn’t starve.

My work allows me to stay at home with my kids so that I can breastfeed Oliver on-demand. I only have to pump if I want to [and that means hardly ever] and it’s not an issue if my kid doesn’t like the bottle.

While working, I’m able to pull out a boob, plop Ollie on my lap and continue working. Try to imagine a waitress doing the same thing.

Also, breastfeeding is work…and hard work at that.

The people who tell you that breastfeeding is the most wonderful thing that they’ve ever done in their entire lives and they never had ANY issues and they don’t mind waking up five million times a night to feed their ball of screaming baby and what the hell is wrong with you, why can’t you get it right?

Yeah.

Like I said, I was lucky and even I will admit that there has been the occasional time when I’ve thought about how great it would be if Tucker could stuff a bottle in Ollie’s mouth and I could get a couple of more hours of sleep.

What I got out of the Atlantic piece [which I think was titled to drum up interest...like any good title should] is that the self-righteous people who breastfeed and turn up their noses at people who don’t should consider themselves lucky and not superior. Lucky because they have been given the opportunity to exclusively breastfeed. Even if that “luck” means that they secretly hate breastfeeding-and there are a lot of women out there who breastfeed just because they’ve been quilted into doing it.

We should all consider ourselves lucky that we have two options-both equally safe [in this country anyway] and both have been proven to produce children that function like normal humans should.

While I reserve my right to discretely whip out my boob when Oliver’s hungry, I don’t begrudge your choice to bottle-feed.

That being said, I can’t help my overwhelming urge to breastfeed your kid. But, I won’t offer…cause that would just be weird.

  • http://www.cisatlantic.com Jim

    Amy, my wife and I did about 50/50 breast feed and formula for both our kids. It worked out well, giving us flexibility (read: my butt could get up at 0′dark thirty to feed the kid) and the antibodies. Breast feeding I think gives a soothing link between mother and child. I don’t know what effects, if any, it has on the nurturing of the child, but I do think it may help the Mom get through the post-natal emotional period.

  • Alana

    If I remember correctly, you DID offer to breastfeed Cade. :grin:

  • Amy

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. :smile:

  • Jennifer Walker

    Comment has been removed by me at Jennifer’s request.

    • Amy

      You know that you and I see pretty much eye-to-eye on this. I agree that you have to want to breastfeed and be willing to accept all of the challenges that go with it. I absolutely HATE pumping so I don’t know if I would have exclusively pumped if I had to go back to work.

      I haven’t been put in that position and hope I’m not.

  • http://hollynanne.blogspot.com StickMommy

    **That being said, I can’t help my overwhelming urge to breastfeed your kid. But, I won’t offer…cause that would just be weird.**
    I have to say, I’m with Alana. I’m pretty sure you offered to feed Lexi for me. :razz:

    I am completely on the opposite side of the fence than you. I appreciate that we’re so vastly different in our parenting, but can still talk about it.
    (okay, that sounded less stupid in my head, but you know what I mean)

  • Jennifer Walker

    Comment has been removed by me at Jennifer’s request.

  • http://hollynanne.blogspot.com StickMommy

    So, all the crap that breastfeeding moms eat goes into the baby via the boob. Is that better than the crap in a formula can? How many moms have I met that have given up dairy, chocolate, caffiene, meds for breastfeeding. No thank you.

    I’ll take my “dumber than your” kids any day of the week. Why? Because, my sickly, stupid, inferior children have a mom that ROCKS! I am happy. I am healthy. I can eat, drink and take whatever I want. I kicked PPD’s ass!

    Am I better than a breastfeeding mom? No. Am I happier and healthier than some breastfeeding moms? HELL YES!

    I don’t care who whips their boob out. Just don’t ask me to get oats for your high horse, because you’re too busy breastfeeding.

  • Jennifer Walker

    Comment has been removed by me at Jennifer’s request.

  • Alana

    Okay, let’s all take a deep breath. This is obviously a controversial topic; just like Crazy warned us in her post.

    Momma always said, “Alana, don’t talk about politics or religion in polite company.” I’m pretty sure I’m gonna add breastfeeding to this category. :lol:

  • Julia

    I don’t have much to add here except that I was formula-fed, and I have an above-average IQ, was in gifted classes throughout my school years, and am a happy and healthy adult.

    So, to each his own. I have not yet been blessed with a child, but I do hope to breastfeed or pump when that day comes. However, if for some reason I cannot, I have few reservations about turning to formula, since I know that I and others have turned out just fine, or even above average.

  • http://awholelotofnothing.net Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]

    I breastfed both of my girls – one exclusively for 6 months, then 1/2 & 1/2 until I got pregnant. The other I could only nurse for 3 months until I had to return to work.

    It is true that nursing is HARD. It’s also true that it’s very EASY. I experienced both every day that my babies were babies. I have a friend who HATED nursing, but did it anyway. I have a friend who DESPERATELY wanted to nurse, but couldn’t.

    Having made the decisions to feed my girls both breastmilk & formula and organic soy beans & fast food chicken, I don’t believe I’m a bad mom for putting “crap” into my babies bellies. I’m a mom doing the best I can. I’m no better or worse for making the decision to give myself and my girls a normal life.

    I let my girls chew on plastic as babies. I gave them organic “earth-friendly” stuffed animal. I used bottles with BPA in it (before anyone knew what BPA was). I fed them straight from my non-alcohol drinking, very-limited caffeine tainted boobs.

    I don’t believe in making people feel like they’ve sickened their child by feeding them formula is helping any situation. People do what they need to do to get by with happy, healthy babies. If that means pumping on a bathroom floor or nursing in a handicapped stall (as I have done) or feeding them formula or giving them fast food “chicken,” we all are aware. We need to be as educated as we can about our kids and their best interests.

    We don’t need to berate. We need to educate & support.

    Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]s last blog post..I’m the mom blogger all the mommy bloggers read

  • http://www.mommyalwayswins.com Colleen – Mommy Always Wins

    ♥ Angie’s comment!!! Said so perfectly!!!

  • http://awholelotofnothing.net Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]

    Yes, it is perfect, isn’t it?

  • http://justmiss.wordpress.com Miss

    Seriously. Angie said it all. You wanna formula feed? GO AHEAD! You wanna breatsfeed? GO AHEAD. I dont give a shit what you do with your kid becaue it ain’t mine. Have the courtesy to feel the same about me.

    “We should all consider ourselves lucky that we have two options-both equally safe [in this country anyway] and both have been proven to produce children that function like normal humans should.”

    EXACTLY.

    Misss last blog post..I’m just…

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