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 Post subject: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been overstated"
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:04 am 
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http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/20 ... rated.html

I found this part very interesting:
"When children from different families were compared, the kids who were breast-fed did better on those 11 measures than kids who were not breast-fed. But, as Colen points out, mothers who breast-feed their kids are disproportionately advantaged—they tend to be wealthier and better educated."

So to me the advantages of breastfeeding seem not to be the advantages of breastfeeding in the first place but the advantages of the mother's (parents') social status.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:18 pm 
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I don't know much about the topic. Why are wealthier moms more likely to breast feed? Isn't formula more expensive than breast feeding? Is pumping at work super difficult (I can imagine it is at some jobs)? Just trying to understand why breast feeding skews towards the wealthy.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:49 pm 
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Tigon wrote:
I don't know much about the topic. Why are wealthier moms more likely to breast feed? Isn't formula more expensive than breast feeding? Is pumping at work super difficult (I can imagine it is at some jobs)? Just trying to understand why breast feeding skews towards the wealthy.
I think it's partly a matter of education, and greater access to resources and support networks. Women in higher socio-economic groups are also more likely to have jobs that provide maternity leave (although parental leave in the US is pitiful in comparison what's offered in many other "developed" countries), access to decent, reliable child care, and/or partners that earn enough for them to stay home, etc. There's also accretive pressure from peers, heightened awareness of current trends in parenting, and more free time and intellectual energy to spend thinking about these things. I imagine that if I were a new mother working one or more minimum wage jobs, or spending large amounts of time on public transportation, or lacking in a support network, or any number of other things that make everyday life that much harder for people who have less money, maintaining a supply of breast milk might seem like less of a priority than keeping solid food on the table and a roof over our heads, even if I wanted to breastfeed. Also, I don't know if this is still the case, but back when my babies were born, hospitals routinely sent mothers home with a supply of free formula, coupons, and a bunch of "literature" (read: advertising) about Enfamil, Similac, or whatever brand they happened to use in the hospital nursery. It's not hard to see how an inexperienced new, anxious and/or insecure mother might see this carefully marketed, "scientific" type of feeding as preferable to an untried approach that can be difficult, painful, and not necessarily successful.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:17 pm 
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WIC provides for formula as well. If you are doing shift work, some sort of customer service, manual labor - it is not the easiest thing to take time away from work to pump. Having formula would be easier if you had children in daycare or staying with family.

It's not really revelatory that the children of those who are economically privileged do better. I hope studies like this make women who don't want to or who cannot breastfeed feel better about what is a healthy, valid choice.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:43 pm 
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Tigon wrote:
Is pumping at work super difficult (I can imagine it is at some jobs)? Just trying to understand why breast feeding skews towards the wealthy.


Pumping at work can be extremely hard. When E was a baby, I had a friend who worked at a coffee shop and also had a young infant. There was literally nowhere for her to pump. They didn't have a separate breakroom or even a restroom just for employees. She pumped in her car. If she hadn't had a car, it would have been literally impossible for her. And her boss was always yelling at her about how much time she took to do it.

I pumped for M while being a full-time grad student. I was really lucky in that my second semester into it, I found a lactation room on campus. Before that I was seriously pumping in a bathroom. Even when I found the facility to do it in, finding the TIME to do it was extremely stressful and difficult. Not to mention having to deal with storage of milk (is this going to be okay if it's in my bag for six hours before I can next get to a fridge? etc), making sure I had clean bottles on me all the time, carrying the forking pump around, etc. If it weren't for the fact that I was home with him 4 days a week (and on campus 12 hours a day the rest of the week) I absolutely would not have done it.

So yeah... pumping I think adds a dimension of difficulty on top of breastfeeding.

I'm not at all surprised to hear that the differences seem to be down more to other factors than breastmilk itself. The human species has adapted to thrive on all kinds of diets historically.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:46 pm 
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What Desdemona and Vantine said.

And although WIC has breastfeeding consultants now (who I hear in some areas are actually quite good and helpful), you can get formula more easily from WIC and it requires less of a time investment/learning curve than breastfeeding does.

I was also sent home with tons of formula, even as a mom who was clearly planning on exclusively breastfeeding.

I would say that in terms of time investment and potential supplies (pumps, bottles for breastmilk when you are not with child, time to pump), that breastfeeding can wind up being not much cheaper than formula feeding, at least in the beginning. I think in the long run that breastfeeding is generally cheaper and simpler, but it may not appear that way from the outset.

But I do think education and social (possibly not even conscious) competition play pretty large roles in a lot of parenting decisions, and in whether you envision yourself parenting excellently or parenting adequately.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:11 pm 
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i honestly dont know what i would have done in terms of breastfeeding if i had to go back to work. there is no place to pump. there were a few spare offices but there is some weird safety law (rule?) about having to be able to see into the offices when the doors are closed so there was a glass portion next to all the office doors. i would have had to pump in the bathroom and i would have been super uncomfortable doing that. or my car. would have been uncomfortable doing that too.
my job was only about 15 mins from home so i probably would have come home every day at lunch just to pump.

all the bfing pages i follow on facebook are like in overdrive trying to discredit this article. i do think breastfeeding is a super great thing and i feel so very fortunate that i can do it full time and have not have had any major issues other than super bad oversupply at the beginning but i dont think it's the end all be all of childcare.

some of the stuff i read about the potential pros of breastfeeding made me wonder how i did not grow up with an IQ of 12 speaking monosyllabically since i was bottle fed. i mean really.

i know so many people who had babies in the same time frame i did and we all have such different circumstances. we are all literally doing something different in terms of feeding our babies. does that make some of us better/worse moms??? doubt it very much.

honestly the thing i am most happy about that i am able to breast feed exclusively is the savings for me personally. i dont have to buy formula! yippee!

this is why i love the ppk. people here are so supportive of other peoples' choices in my opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:39 pm 
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As I posted in my FB thread about this article, I breastfed my kids because I wanted to, I was able to, and it was the right choice for us. But I can't honestly say there's any discernible difference in health/well-being/development/etc. between them and their friends who were bottle-fed. I'll also admit to feeling discomfort in re: some of the AP rhetoric that's emerged in recent years, since all too often, in practical terms, "attachment parenting" seems to actually mean "attachment mothering." Which is absolutely fine if that's what a woman wants to do, but I fear that the proposition that any one way to parent - especially one which potentially limits a woman's autonomy for years - is the "best" or most "natural" one is dangerous, because that automatically makes all other approaches NOT best or most "natural" (a word I particularly dislike).

Moreover, I know that I would have felt inadequate had I been unable to breastfeed, and almost certainly guilty, selfish, and other "unmotherly" things had I simply chosen not to for whatever reason. It would never have occurred to me to bottle-feed; it was just never on the table in any way, shape, or form. As it happened, I genuinely wanted to nurse, but if I hadn't I can easily imagine having felt bullied and discredited because of that decision. Of course, I was also a 20 year old, idealistic hippie, and the combined rhetoric of Lamaze, La Leche, the New Earth Catalogue, and those ubiquitous "What to Expect" books had me convinced that if I just ate enough spinach and eschewed even the words "caffeine" or "alcohol," my first baby would come forth painlessly, astride a rainbow, to the sound of a heavenly choir. (Spoiler alert: that's not quite how things went down in the event.)

If it's true that bottle-fed babies (a group that includes me and most of the people I grew up with) aren't suffering the ill effects we've been hearing about for the past generation or so, it's time to stop making women feel there's only one "right" choice, and that if they opt out they've somehow failed to give their children the "best" start in life. To my mind, this study makes it clear that the conversation we should be having in re: breast vs. bottle is about eliminating the social pressure and opprobrium faced by women who can't (or choose not to) breastfeed.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:04 pm 
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I was bottlefed with formula too. I was reading well by age 4 and rarely got sick and never had ear infections.

I'm thrilled to breastfeed my own kids because I can, it's cheap, and it's good. But bashing friends who either couldn't or chose not to breastfeed isn't up my alley. I am living proof that it's not poison.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:38 pm 
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I was breast fed till I was two (I absolutely refused to take a bottle as a baby), and I got sick all the time. And I still get sick. Heck I eat healthy and I get sick all the time, my husband eats junk and is never sick. Husband was also formula fed starting at 6 weeks and he is a genius. My child right now is breast fed and he gets sick. It is silly to say that breast fed babies never get sick because that just isn't true. I know both bottle fed and breast fed babies who have never been sick and I know breast and bottle fed babies who get sick frequently. And yeah, I know those are all anecdotes, but I'm sick of all the absolutes I see on every parenting blog/forum.

I have left all breast feeding groups on facebook because they are just too self righteous and bullying. I have tried to explain why someone may have difficulty breast feeding due to issues like health, socioeconomic status, what ever, and the responses were along the lines of "well if she loved her baby enough she would find a way!" or "That's just an excuse!" Yeah couldn't take the ignorance (and at times racism and sexism) anymore. Also, they now pass out cards thanking women for breastfeeding in public. Seriously, if I ever got one of those, I'd feel like my space was invaded. Some even want to make formula prescription only. Gee, I don't see how that one could go wrong.

But children will survived and do very well on formula. There are a lot of people who were fed formula and are doing very well.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:09 pm 
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Some business (maybe a doula or lactation consultant?) Facebook page posted a super ranty, random words capitalized post about this study and how it was all false because the study was poorly done because it included some children who were breastfed for a short period of time, and because breastfeeding can't have any benefits - because it's the norm to which all other things must be compared, but formula feeding includes terrible risks and basically, we're all gonna die because people formula feed. I posted this in response:

Probably the most important thing they did was compare children in the same family who were fed differently, which hasn't been done before, and controls for all kinds of factors that other studies simply ignore, as though you can erase the positive health effects of wealth and education. If you simply compare siblings and any breastfeeding has large, measurable benefits, you should be able to see a benefit even if one sibling was only breastfed for a month or for two weeks and the other wasn't breastfed at all. But apparently, you don't.

This study doesn't presume formula feeding is the norm, but that's the only (safe) alternative for infants who won't get breastmilk (from their mothers or from donors). There's only two things to compare here and it's common to go back and forth between saying "breastfeeding has benefits over formula" or "formula has benefits over breastfeeding" or the like when talking about comparing two things.

Although, if we're going to talk about norms, it's clearly the norm to formula feed, not to breastfeed. It may be that breastfeeding is physiologically the norm, but that's not what's actually happening, and as with many health and nutrition innovations in civilization, we shouldn't assume an innovation will cause harm over the physiological norm (we can compare: iodized salt, fortified flour, and A&D fortified milk; sanitation; antibiotics, etc.). To claim that is simply a naturalistic fallacy, it's not an argument of any weight.

When you scream about the negative effects of formula feeding (that's what writing in caps on the internet means, if you didn't know), you stigmatize women who either chose to formula feed or need to formula feed, and for most women, those "choices" are structural rather than personal (and for a growing and under-counted number of women, they're medical, so screaming at them is a particular jerk move). You absolutely fail to support women in breastfeeding when you don't recognize the humanity and motherhood of formula-feeding mothers as well and understand why they make the choices they do. The solutions to greater breastfeeding are not more science, they're more structural supports. Which is the same point the writers of the study came to. And we know that there are many other things that would benefit the health of children and families in much larger ways than breastfeeding that aren't being emphasized at all, so it's a particularly facile anti-feminist move to put the weight of the health of the whole world on the "choices" of mothers.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:19 pm 
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Quote:
basically, we're all gonna die because people formula feed.


That is not what she said and I think its really polarizing to misstate what a BFing advocate said to try and feed the myth that BFing women bully other women. We should all support each other, no matter our feeding choices and we all need more structural support as parents. Breast milk isn't the be all end all, for sure.

60-80% of women start of intending to BF, but by 4 months post-partum, just under 30% are still BFing. So the majority of women are using a hybrid approach. Formula or BFing isn't an either/or choice.

Here is the article she was reposting: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-b ... 99803.html

Again, I am just taking issue with deliberately misstating another person's statement on their FB page in this forum, where they can't reply or defend themselves, not taking issue with the study.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:38 pm 
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Trust me, I am an expert on the hybrid approach (both the shift from one to the other, and doing them concurrently), although it didn't work to allow me to continue breastfeeding as it does for many women. And I'm obviously a supporter of breastfeeding (for reasons beyond any real or imagined health benefits). I'm just not a supporter of shouting at people about breastfeeding - that's always going to feel bullying to me, and frankly, it's not a myth that breastfeeding advocates can be bullies. The number of posts I've seen about how formula feeders are actively harming their children, whether that message is subtle or overt, is absolutely insane. Or that formula feeders are lazy, stupid, uninformed, unloving, the list goes on. To pretend that these things don't exist is not helpful.

Her commentary on the article was pretty histrionic. Maybe my paraphrase wasn't perfect, but I don't think it was so far off the mark.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:58 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:

That is not what she said and I think its really polarizing to misstate what a BFing advocate said to try and feed the myth that BFing women bully other women. We should all support each other, no matter our feeding choices and we all need more structural support as parents. Breast milk isn't the be all end all, for sure.


Well, it's what formula feeding mothers have to deal with. It really bothers me that this experience is belittled by being called a myth. And yes, we all should support each other. That goes without saying but sadly it's not the reality.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:02 pm 
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Ariann wrote:
I'm just not a supporter of shouting at people about breastfeeding - that's always going to feel bullying to me, and frankly, it's not a myth that breastfeeding advocates can be bullies. The number of posts I've seen about how formula feeders are actively harming their children, whether that message is subtle or overt, is absolutely insane. Or that formula feeders are lazy, stupid, uninformed, unloving, the list goes on. To pretend that these things don't exist is not helpful.


This.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:30 pm 
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Well, apparently she can't even see your post on her wall, so maybe you want to unblock her so that she can respond to you?

The thing is that she wasn't shouting at you, or saying any of the things you're claiming she did. I just find it troubling to misstate someone's position on another board where they can't defend themselves, in order to polarize a conversation that needs to find common ground, not further polarization.

And I am an ally to FF mothers. I have always intervened when I've seen people say stupid things about FFing mothers, including you Ariann, because I believe that however we feed our children is irrelevant. The key is to support eachother and work together for real structural change.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:40 pm 
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Bringing up facebook conversations on the ppk and vice versa makes me kind of uncomfortable and has caused some tension in the past, so let's not do that.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:03 pm 
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I have seen a lot of bullying in the breastfeeding community. I use to be a part of all the FB pages, and like I said in an above post, many of those women can say downright abusive things towards formula feeders, and even hybrid feeders. Heck, women who breast fed "incorrectly" were subject to bullying. (Not looking at your child the entire half hour you breastfed? He's gonna be a sociopath when he grows up! Put on the TV while you fed your child? You're lazy and don't love your child!) Ugh it never ends.

There was a post from one women who described her experience of having low milk supply. She basically said that she mixed the formula to supplement and wrote that once that "poison" touched his lips, she immediately pulled the bottle away and went and cried and swore to never give him formula ever again. That is what calling formula "poison" is doing to women who may need to supplement. I felt bad for that mother who felt that she was poisoning her child. That post had over 50 likes and the one comment who told her that she wasn't poisoning her child got attacked by several other women. And seriously, telling someone with low supply not to supplement with formula sounds very irresponsible.

I had to leave the breastfeeding community. I say this as a person doing extended breastfeeding and my child has never had formula (mostly because I was way to lazy to make it), but I just can't take the self righteousness and self importance and the nastiness. And honestly, I felt bullied with in the community even though I was supposedly doing everything "correctly". And if breastfeeding doesn't have that much or any benefit over formula feeding, who cares? Why is breastfeeding threatened if formula is just as good? I would see that as a wonderful thing TBH. Now women who can't or don't want to breast feed can feed their child something on par with breast milk or heck, maybe formula could one day be better than breast milk. The whole breast is best can really come off as a control thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:16 pm 
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It's clearly not a myth that many, many women have experienced bullying at the hands of a breastfeeding advocate. At best, they frame formula feeding as a last choice for those who cannot breast feed rather than an equally valid point. The failure of these advocates to acknowledge the benefits and access to resources that being middle or upper class can provide is disingenuous. I know that we don't like to believe that just having a higher income makes such a huge difference to children but it does. Talk to any elementary school teacher who serves low income children and they will provide you with giant piles of evidence.

I also think that it's valid to rationally critique articles like this and to discuss the myths that surround breastfeeding. It's only polarizing if you are unwilling to view evidence and have your beliefs challenged.

I would rather see all the energy and resources directed at breast feeding instead focused on helping poor children in tangible ways that will really improve their chances of success.

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:59 am 
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I just wish people acted like breastfeeding was *normal* -- not superior, not obscene, just normal.

I feel like I'm in the minority as a breastfeeder here (here where I live, not here on the PPK). I've never met anyone outside of people working in the health industry saying breastfeeding is better, but random people have told me to use formula to get my kids to sleep better (although not in a mean way). I live in an area where the majority of people don't breastfeed and the rate in our more deprived areas is really low. I was really scared to breastfeed in public at first because I never see anyone else do it, but no one has ever been rude and a few nice ladies have offered to get me water.

(Not trying to pick a fight here, just blabbing about my experiences.)

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 Post subject: Re: Study: "The benefits of breast-feeding have been oversta
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:39 pm 
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I do think that the benefits are probably vastly overstated by groups like LLL - whenever breastfeeding advocates start referencing things like IQs, I start questioning what other factors they've controlled for. But if this was the study in which the average time a woman had breastfed was only like 4 months, I would expect any effects to be more muddled than if only women who'd breastfed for, say, exclusively 6 months minimum were considered.

The other issue is that it's really hard to separate the benefits of the physical milk from the benefits of less tangible side effects like skin contact and a ton of time being held and actively attended by a parent that breastfeeding basically forces. (Yes, you could look at people who use milk banks for long periods of time, but those aren't going to be very representative samples of the population either)

I nursed because I am lazy and a cheapskate. I would definitely say that it was WAY cheaper than formula. Yeah, I spent $75 or so on a session with a LC, a hundred bucks to rent a hospital grade pump when I was having issues, plus maybe $250 on random pumping supplies… and probably ate some more food. But compared to formula? A bargain, especially since I'm a lazy person and would've just gotten one of those formula keurigs, which everyone made fun of but if I'd formula fed I would've thought were pretty awesome. If I'd been working full time, the considerations probably would have been really different.


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