Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is there a case against breastfeeding?

My latest blog on this crazily contentious subject is up on My post was inspired by reading an article in The Atlantic called "The Case Against Breastfeeding" by Hanna Rosin. 

It was also inspired by the experiences of some women I love who have not been able to breastfeed and have suffered greatly from the guilt they felt over that. I've always wondered a bit about why there is such guilt associated with this issue. I now believe that in part, it is generated by the overstated claims about the benefits of BF in the popular literature. Rosin's article offers a well-researched review of many of the studies of BF. She doesn't argue that BF is not better than bottle-feeding (on some criteria), but that the degree to which it is better is often overstated. 

As I've moved farther away from my own BF days, I've also gained a little distance and insight and realized that everyone -- myself included -- made way too big a deal of this at the time. Either way, we end up with healthy, happy kids and that's really the goal right? There's another goal too, which often gets lost in the frenzy around newborns and how to feed them: Mom's sanity and the health of the whole family. 

It is always best to look into these things a bit, especially when there's a bandwagon of people insisting that "breast is (always) best". I'm glad I read up on it, looked at the studies and noted their limitations. The upshot is, I'm for a moderate approach on this one. BF if you can and you want to and if it doesn't work out, don't beat yourself up about it. 


Buffy said...

Hooray for moderation. "Breastfeed if you can, and don't beat yourself up if you can't". I get so weary of extremists who insist people must always do ABC/XYZ--or else (insert dramatic negative outcome here).

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