How Much Should A Two Month Old Baby Boy Weight Is Breastfeeding Truly Best?

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Is Breastfeeding Truly Best?

If you’re expecting a baby, you’ve no doubt heard that “breast is best.” Breastfed babies are healthier. They are less likely to get diarrhea, suffer from ear infections, develop allergies. They have better immune systems, better protection against SIDS and are less likely to need braces, become overweight or develop certain types of cancer in childhood. They are even smarter. Approximately 13,000 studies document these and other benefits of breastfeeding.

But Diane Wiessinger, an internationally board-certified lactation consultant in upstate New York, argues that these statements are actually incorrect. When we say breastfed babies are healthier, who are we comparing them to? For formula-fed babies, of course. But while formula feeding may be the cultural norm, it is clearly not the biological norm.

Think about it. Everyone knows the risks of smoking and obesity. People who smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer. People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from heart disease and diabetes. But more likely than who? Than non-smokers and normal weight. In both of these examples, the biological norm is the basis of comparison. The researchers who design the studies always take non-smokers and people of normal weight as control groups.

But that is not the case with breastfeeding. For example, here’s a paragraph I came across recently in an issue of a popular parenting magazine: “If someone told you there was an elixir that could help protect your new baby from bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections, would you like to know more? If you knew that the effects of this concoction would last into your child’s teenage years and reduce the risk of diabetes, allergies and high blood pressure, would you just have it? If the same drink might increase his IQ , wouldn’t you rush out to find it as soon as you could?”

What if the same paragraph was written comparing formula fed infants to breastfed infants? It could go something like this: “If someone told you there was a mixture that would reduce your baby’s protection against bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections, would you want to know more? If you knew that the effects of this mixture would last into your child’s teenage years, increasing his risk of diabetes, allergies and high blood pressure, would you insist on avoiding it? If the same drink might lower his IQ, wouldn’t you stay away from it if Is that even possible?”

To be sure, the message sounds more serious. And that’s exactly what health care providers, magazine editors, and formula manufacturers want to avoid.

Often people are afraid of making women feel guilty, so they soften the message. For example, a first-time mother told me about the approach her doctor took. “My ob-gyn didn’t push breastfeeding,” she recalls, “but he didn’t push it. He gave me a free Enfamil diaper bag with formula inside.”

It is this kind of “objectivity” that prevents us from making fully informed choices. Generally, breast milk and infant formula are not equivalent substances.

Admittedly, the media is full of stories from women who feel guilty about not being able to breastfeed. But anthropologist and breastfeeding advocate Katherine Dettwyler argues that guilt and regret are two separate emotions. If we make the best decision with the information and resources we have at the time, we have no reason to feel guilty.

Psychologist Harriet Lerner, warns against internalizing guilt. “Try to remember,” she writes, “that our society encourages mothers to cultivate guilt like a little flower garden, because nothing blocks the awareness and expression of legitimate anger, as all this engulfs emotion.”

And without accurate information, women have every right to be angry. Not all women are able to breastfeed (although most are) and not all women want to. But just as we have the right to know the benefits and risks of other substances we put into our bodies, we deserve the right to make fully informed decisions about how we feed our babies.

So as you read about breastfeeding, remember: breast is not best. It is simply normal.

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