But, which makes better ice cream?
I think they should take it a step further and conduct a double-blind study in which participants aren't told whether their breasts contain actual milk or synthetic formula.
Definitely the breast milk.
I was not able to breastfeed, but not for want of trying. I had my son 9 years after undergoing breast cancer treatment which resulted in a single mastectomy, and multiple minor surgeries on the remaining breast over the years to remove cysts. The couple of positions I could manage to feed in caused me excruciating pain, from both post-pregnancy stenosis in my wrists and in my neck from an existing cervical disk injury. It seemed like I was attached to a pump every moment I was not trying to feed him. I could pump for an hour, and get....1 or 2 cc's. I tried all kinds of things to increase supply, and it didn't work.
I took the hospital's breastfeeding class before childbirth, and had a lactation consultant work with me in the hospital, and even though I went through my history with both, neither one ever once came close to saying "you know, it might not work for you." The lactation consultant would get visibly angry with the difficulties I was having, and tell me I needed to try harder.
I still feel incredibly guilty that I didn't breastfeed. I get tired of the judgy faces that come over the white, upper-middle class mothers when I say I didn't or wasn't able to, without explaining my whole story, and sometimes with the story.
I see the value of breastfeeding, and think it's a great thing to be able to do. I just wish the whole subject wasn't so black and white.
My android replica's playing up again. D'you think this could be the cause? I'm not joking...
My daughter's mother got a post-natal infection that meant she couldn't breastfeed (one of the side effects of her antibiotics was turning the baby's teeth green if she did. Permanently. No shit), so she was bottle-fed, which meant that I was far more involved in her feeding & spent a lot more of a very important time with her, which I appreciate enormously, even 18 years later. There are upsides and downsides.
No one has the right to make you feel guilty about something you weren't able to do. I couldn't do it either thanks to an infection caused by the lactation consultant improperly latching my son on the very first try. My son is almost five and I still go into rage over the breast feeding mafia's guilt machine.
There is precious little actual science available when it comes to breast feeding. Just like with pregnancy, most of it is based in tradition, assumptions and magical thinking.
I've always wondered, given that we've been doing studies of this for decades, whether there haven't been significant changes in 'formula' that would reduce or eliminate a gap that once existed. That very early formulas were severely deficient in some ways is not a controversial claim. And later (1970s IIRC) they found some more subtle deficits in the fatty acid composition, and eventually fixed that too. There are still things like antibodies that they can't add, but it's entirely possible that modern formula is nutritionally equivalent, even if it didn't reach parity until twenty years ago.
When I was a new mom and in the middle of the crippling insecurity that being a brand new mom brings, I was struggling with the whole breastfeeding thing (which I did okay at until I had to return to work) - one of my neighbors said, "Go out on a playground. Can you tell which kids were breastfed and which were formula fed?" It was helpful and not judgy.
Man, my wife had all sorts of problems trying to breastfeed our son. It hurt, she got mastitis, thrush, didn't produce as much as he wanted, she met with a consultant many times, etc., it was awful. God, the middle of the night feedings where I was trying to help position his mouth just before latching on and my wife crying from the pain. Totally sucked. She sure tried and she felt a little guilty, but not to for too long. He ended up getting a lot of formula to supplement and we are both fine with that. Second time around with the daughter, though, completely different story. They synced.
I still think breastfeeding has to be the best way, because we are mammals after all, but there are so many other factors, the most important one (and this is going to sound cheesy, but it's true) being love. Love your kids unconditionally every single day and they will turn out pretty well.
My wife is struggling heavily with this decision (our first is due in August), because breastfeeding directly impacts her work - which truly is her passion. She's a chemist and has been completely out of a lab since November and doing paperwork, and will continue to be until she stops breast feeding entirely. It's a corner case, but information like this really helps leaps and bounds in our life since the louder opinion tends to be on breast feeding is magical.
(In my narrowly researched opinion) the age of the mother probably matters more with breast feeding than formula, and advances in medicine also have given my 40+ sister in law a baby boy last year with absolutely zero physical or mental issues (so far). It's hard to say we have not simply outgrown the issue before we understood it.
the biggest difference, that formula really can't do, is that the mother's body is capable of adjusting the content of the milk to the needs of the child and the environment. the milk one mother's body produces for one child is not the same milk it's making even a week later--let alone for a different child. it's kinda crazy/fascinating how the mother's body changes in response to her kid during nursing.
that said, a kid not getting that tailored care is not the end of the world. hell, how many of us even know if we were breastfed/bottle fed? i sure don't.
Do what you can when it comes to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is probably a little better than formula, especially in first 3 months. But the idea that kids should be living on breast milk for years is silly.
I'm always entertained by public fixation on infant nutrition vs nutrition for say, 8-year-olds. Can we get a study on the longterm effects of the TGI Fridays kids menu vs actual food?
As far as I can tell from kids' menus, America's 5-10 year old population lives entirely on buttered pasta, mac and cheese, fried chicken strips, cheese pizza, and PB&J
Okay, no it isn't just the milk, there is much much more to nursing a child then transferring sustenance. One really has to look at how it is administered, there is a difference between holding a child and them suckling then giving them a bottle, the two are not interchangeable and we need to make it clear. It may just be that a bottle doesn't start out with foremilk and end with hindmilk (protein and sugars vs. high fat at the end of a nursing session), but it seems to me the connection between mother and child - the communication that occurs is important. Having children is highly intensive, nursing a child does not increase the effort but it does change things - it may be that lactating changes a mom's brain and how she parents (moms who do not seem to have a brain that resembles one in mourning - http://bliss-breastfeeding.blogspot.com/2009/08/breasts-in-mourning-how-bottle-feeding.html ), it could be touching an infant is important and helps with sensory integration. What if infant massage and formula are equivalent? This study doesn't answer it, nor do others.
What I do know from nursing four kids for a combined total of 6.5 years is that you have to work on boundaries about yourself and your body and what the child has access to, or doesn't. You have to consider what is okay and what is not, what you are willing to go through and what you aren't - and it would not have been an issue if I used bottles. Like, a child who can walk and talk lifting up your shirt, laying down in your lap whose mantra is "Nurse! Nurse! Nurse!" in a public setting is interesting when you were paying attention to something else.
As a father of two children neither of whom were breast fed I can tell you the vitriol my wife faced because she couldn't breast feed was excruciating for her. On many progressive websites when the issue of breastfeeding came up the chorus was loud and unequivocal, if you were a mother and weren't breast feeding you were committing child abuse.
Bottle feeding has/had a number of advantages. First and foremost I was able to take a more active role in the life of my young children. Second, my wife was able to travel to care for an ailing relative when my oldest child was only a few months old. Had we been held hostage by the titty nazis this would have been impossible.
My wife gave birth to our second son a little over a month ago. At his second week, everyone in the house came down with a nasty cold. For all we know it was the flu - it lasted over 2 weeks and we all had a terrible URI. But the baby did not get it and we wonder if anti-bodies passed from mom to baby through breast milk may have played a role. Nutrition aside, there are likely a number of intangible benefits to breast-feeding. It's not convenient, but then again, many aspects of being a mammal aren't.
Having not read the articles, I have to wonder What counts as having "breastfed" one of your kids? One week? Two months? Six months? Until the kid opts out of their own volition? Certainly there are plenty of women who allow a baby to fully self-wean to people food, but of all the people I know, including the relatively "natural" mommies I know, I know a pretty small handful that didn't switch to formula within the first few months. Though from a purely practical standpoint, having never had to wash a baby bottle in my life is pretty much the best thing ever. Having a baby that doesn't smell like a baby was also pretty awesome.