From this mother’s perspective, I would never judge a mother who chooses to not breastfeed her child. In fact, after delivering my first son, I had difficulty nursing him. There were many issues involved, and in the end, I turned to formula to help supplement. I can understand why this can be traumatic for mothers. With my second, I tried again, and this time successfully. I discovered that breastfeeding is so much easier and cheaper: I didn’t have to sterilize bottles and prepare formula or warm bottles, I didn’t have to get up in the night to feed baby and I got more sleep just staying in bed to breastfeed. There can be no argument that breastmilk, natures perfect food, is best for baby.
So the other day, I was really peeved that I happened upon a recent post by Marni Soupcoff, Managing Blogs editor at Huff Post Canada, titled:
It’s not the article itself that riled me; it’s that I was forced to read another article on Huffington Post since our breakup earlier this year. Dumping that old windbag of a wolf wrapped in sheep’s clothing, pretending to speak to liberals and moderates but all the while spewing their libertarian circumlocution (a formal word I found in my synonym tool, meaning gobbledygook) was the most freeing feeling in the world.
Meanwhile back at Huff Po Canada, I decide to read this blog entry because I found it while surfing the web and clearly it was intended for me to read, otherwise, why, months after the breakup, did I suddenly come upon this article?
It was pretty much what I expected. Ms. Soupcoff cited a recent study, actually, a long term study. The controlled trial enrolled 17, 000 new mothers between 1996 and 1997 in 31 Belarusian maternity hospitals and their affiliated clinics. They were split into two groups: one that encouraged and supported exclusive breastfeeding and a control group. Almost 14, 000 mothers or 81.4% were followed up between January 2008 and December 2010. What the study concluded is, “among healthy term infants in Belarus, an intervention that succeeded in improving the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding did not prevent overweight or obesity, nor did it affect IGF-I levels at age 11.5 years.” In other words, exclusively breastfeeding will not lower your child’s risk of childhood obesity over formula feeding, but that’s not all this long term study discovered.
Ms. Soupcoff failed to dig any deeper than the one study she cited; using this one example to throw the entire breastfeeding baby out with the bathwater. Despite researchers who, funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the individual authors of the study also received grants from Nestle Nutrition Institute (makers of baby formula), discovered some benefits to breast feeding including an increase in IQ, “based on the largest randomized trial ever conducted in the area of human lactation, provide strong evidence that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding improves children’s cognitive development” and “lower incidence of early childhood atopic eczema”. They are currently on the last leg of the study, but stated:
“Although breastfeeding is unlikely to stem the current obesity epidemic, its other advantages are amply sufficient to justify continued public health efforts to promote, protect, and support it.”
OK, so anyone promoting exclusive breast feeding is a zealot? As the Agenda’s Steve Paikin likes to always ask, hasn’t that ship already sailed?
Let’s look at other reasons breast is best, not just for baby, but for Mom too. Breastfeeding:
- Promotes bonding between mother and baby
- Decreases a mother’s risk of breast cancer
- Helps prevent post-partum hemorrhage
- Helps decrease insulin requirements in diabetic mothers
- Decreases a mother’s risk of developing endometrial cancer
- Decreases chances of osteoporosis
- It’s a natural contraceptive
- Reduces the incidence of otitis media (ear aches)
- Reduces the risk of childhood asthma
- Reduces the risk of gastrointestinal disease
(source INFACT Canada, a pro breastfeeding site, but they do cite studies)
Breast is best, and this is not zealotry, as exclusive breastfeeding is recommended by Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada.