Friday, January 14, 2011

Breastfeeding paranoia - feed my child food? Oh the humanity!

A new study published in the BMJ,suggests that it might be a good idea to supplement breastfeeding with food at four months. This is pretty common advice from pediatricians anyway.
Sierra, over at Babble's blog strollerderby is appalled. She almost sounds like an anti-vax person about vaccines when it comes to, wait for it...FEEDING YOUR BABY - Food.
 First what the study does NOT say: Stop breastfeeding at 4 months. You MUST feed solids to your child at 4 months. Breastmilk is bad.

What it DOES say:
The official policy in the UK to advise mothers to breastfeed exclusively for six months may have been entered into too quickly and should be reconsidered in light of some new evidence. Iron is crucial to brain development and we should ensure that children are getting enough. Also, it calls into question the idea that breast milk prevents allergies (which has NEVER been proven by the way).

I remember the day my pediatrician told me to buy baby vitamins because breast milk probably wan't giving my daughter enough iron (I think, I was too sleep deprived and furious with the evil lactation consultant who made me feel like a failure and a bad person). It was one of the most eye-opening moments of my short time as a parent.

Furthermore, I take issue with the way Sienna interprets weaning. It has a very clear meaning to her - ceasing to breastfeed altogether. In the study, it means adding solid foods regardless of continuing to breastfeed. She claims this is wrong. I claim that the UK often has words with different meanings in the US (even "pants"). Her complaint is a rather US centric viewpoint and raises an eyebrow given her progressive views about breastfeeding. Actually, views about breastfeeding that are unwilling to consider new evidence is as closed minded as the anti-vax , junk science folks are.

What kills me is the vitriol with which the Breast is Best crowd is pouring over this thing. Food isn't poison. It's food. Big deal if some of the research was funded with food company money, maybe they want to know if the breastfeeding propaganda is all true.


  1. I so agree with you. I nursed my son for 12 months, so I am certainly not anti-breastfeeding, but I am amazed at how some people get so angry at any suggestion that breastfeeding may not be absolute, 100% perfect.

    Also, had to laugh at the "evil lactation consultant" comment. I have a theory that one reason so many women "fail" at breastfeeding is because the lactation consultants make them feel so incompetent. I came close to giving up because of how nasty the lactation consultants were to me, saying things like "you really should be getting this by now, because most moms do."

  2. @Cali Mom - Thanks for your comment. The 100% perfect food makes me laugh. Given the changes in the size of human beings over the past 200 years, we have to wonder if there is at least a little good that has come of nutritional research. As for anyone who says "should" to a new mother - I have one for you, "You SHOULD be quiet because you're NOT helping."