Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And on to the breastfeeding propaganda machine - How to spot propaganda by asking 3 questions

"Breastfeeding won't rob mom of sleep, study shows 
Mon, Nov 8, 2010 (HealthDay News) — It's commonly believed that one of the sacrifices new moms must make in order to breastfeed is their sleep. But new research suggests that's just not the case."

The study had 80 women in it - TOTAL! The purpose of the study was to squelch the idea that women use lack of sleep to justify formula feeding. Since formula feeding is tantamount to poisoning your child in today's La Leche League AAP run world of child-rearing, lots of research that supports the claim that breastfeeding is a) easy and b) desirable gets funding. What gets funded gets researched. The study showed that in a population of 80 women, the ones who breastfed got the same amount of sleep as the formula feeding mothers (in the first 12 weeks). It doesn't speak to the quality of the sleep, the help that women are or are not getting from relatives/husbands, etc. It does not address whether or not the mothers had reported sleep issues in the past. In short, there were not nearly enough controls to make any claim here. The null hypothesis that there was no difference in the sleep of the two groups (and there was a mixed group to screw things up further) was not able to be rejected. THIS PROVES NOTHING. It also doesn't "prove" that the women were getting the same amount of sleep, it was just saying that based on the variables measured and the size of the population (note n=80!!!) no difference could be detected that couldn't be explained by randomness. So there you have it ladies, even though the baby will probably sleep longer if formula fed, you may have less anxiety because when breastfeeding doesn't come easy for you, you stress out and feel like a depressed failure, you can't say that it was making you more tired. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? 

This, ladies, is mind control and propaganda pure and simple. Before you claim that I am anti-breastfeeding, I'm not. I did it. It was hard, painful and exhausting. I didn't feel like my life was made better by the experience, rather I felt trapped and scared. I continued for the good of my child. The day I stopped feeding my daughter "nature's perfect food" was when the pediatrician told me to go out and buy baby vitamins because breast milk didn't have enough iron (or DHA or whatever).  All that and still I had to buy manufactured nutrients for her. This went straight into my "You've got to be F'in kidding me" file.
At least the researcher stated that lack of rest was a factor in PPD. Did anyone check to see how many feedings the women were doing? If they were doing 90% of the feedings, guess what? It's because they're not getting any help which is not a factor that can be addressed by the decision to breastfeed or not. And that my dears is why you haven't had more than two consecutive hours of sleep in four weeks.
"Shelby Harris is director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. She said: "Breastfed babies do wake up a little bit faster because they metabolize the milk faster, and it's always been assumed that moms wake up more, too. And, a lot of women give up on breastfeeding because they think formula will help them sleep more."
To be clear, Shelby Harris WAS NOT one of the researchers. What is "a lot" anyway? Let's start with the fact that she works in a sleep disorder center. Her frame of reference are women who are seeking the help of professionals for their sleep troubles. Perhaps they decide against breastfeeding at a higher rate than the general population. The fact is that the quote is unrelated, anecdotal evidence that doesn't belong in the article in the first place (paid by the word, weren't we?).


1. Is the issue "fraught with controversy" and/or supported by special interest groups on either side pouring money into the research?

2. Is the writer supporting the claim with anecdotal quotes from someone unrelated to the research? This is key because the author needs someone else to say what the ethical and scientific method trained researcher won't because it's dishonest.

3. Does it have a prescriptive quality? Ladies, we ALL already "know" that breastfeeding is best, so now let's fund research to take away your reasons for not wanting to rather than funding research to get you some darn help already...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. I'm no statistician, but have been noticing more and more that so many breastfeeding studies have ridiculously small sample sizes and sampling methods so insane (one I just read was exclusively women on one island) that they should not be generalized to any larger population.