So they found yet another "benefit" of breastfeeding. This time it's all about the child's metabolism: "It could impact your child's metabolism." The article goes on to describe the different behaviour of the metabolism of a breast fed versus a formula fed baby.
What strikes me as wrong about this article is that it talks of "benefit of breastfeeding" and breastfeeding having an effect on the child's metabolism.
This implies that the "normal" way to feed a baby is formula feeding. And if you're brave and breastfeed, hey, you may reap a benefit!
However, it's really formula feeding that impacts on the child's metabolism. This is because in a world where the baseline is breastfeeding (we're mammals, hello?), this does not have an impact but is just the way things are, because human milk is what human babies drink. The research, then, shows that formula feeding has a negative impact on the metabolism of the baby. Yet somehow, this is not the way the media puts it and it leaves me wondering why.
Is it because the media is daft and unwittingly promotes the normality of formula feeding? Or is it out of fear of guilt tripping any formula feeding mums? (NB: the whole guilt tripping thing about formula feeding is another post in the offing, so I leave that unelaborated for now - let me just say that I think nobody should ever feel or be made to feel guilty) Or could it be that they fear the wrath of the baby food industry in the form of being sued?
Am I missing something or is it just me who finds it odd that breastfeeding is labelled as having benefits all the time, but formula feeding is never labelled to have a potential negative impact? As if, by breastfeeding, you're giving your child something extra. When in fact, by giving formula, the child gets something less.
Then there's the invariable comment on the fact that one breast fed child had allergies while a formula fed child didn't. As if anecdotal evidence ever won against scientific facts. My baby had pneumococcal meningitis, which is linked to formula feeding, yet she hasn't had a drop of formula so far. You know what? There are no guarantees. If you breastfeed you have no guarantee your child will never have allergies or will not fall ill with a tummy bug or be forever healthy. And of course there will be lots of formula fed children who won't get allergies, who won't have tummy bugs. Yet it's still true that formula feeding increases the risk and that every parent should know that formula feeding carries these risks - and then make an informed choice between the two. And not end up topping up like I did without knowing that this innocent little bottle of formula destroyed a virgin gut at 12 weeks, and again at 20 weeks when told to do so by a German pediatrician. (I don't feel guilty about this because at the time I didn't know. Now I do and wouldn't do it again).
For the record, I was formula fed, I do have allergies and a tendency towards weight gain. There may be a link, but who can tell? It might be just in my genes. I don't blame my mother at all - she was told she couldn't breastfeed (though I doubt that this was really the case) and at the time this was not questioned and formula was considered to be as good. She did as best as she knew. Today we know better and there should be sufficient and quality support to help everyone to successfully breastfeed who wants to breastfeed, and information for every parent to be that doesn't just talk about the "benefits" of breastfeeding but also the risks of formula feeding, so that they know the facts and don't find out, like me, after well over 2 years of breastfeeding. And all of this without the guilt tripping of course.