Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thoughts On Breastfeeding

I was going to post in this space about breastfeeding eventually.  It started when I joined Twitter recently as @triplethedad (follow me!) and started following a bunch of Mom and Dad types.  Although I previously experienced the ferver of the breastfeeding crowd, I was still taken aback by the militartism of some of them and the "us against them" attitude.

I knew I would have to address it at some point, but honestly, as a Dad to formula fed triplets, I don't have a lot of experience or knowledge.  And further, while I'm not 100% comfortable around breastfeeding women, I have no problem with them/it and realize what they are doing is totally and completely natural.  So, between the lack of deep understanding and acceptance, I wasn't sure where to start.  What I did know was that I wanted to address the unnecassary ferver around the topic and the seeming war between formula and breast.

Luckily, Jamie Lynn of beat me to it in a post on blogher, and she did it better.  What follows are merely my comments on some of the ideas in her much better post on things breastfeaders (BF) need to stop saying, especially to formula feeders (FF).

Lynn suggests BFs stop telling FF that formula is poison.  She notes that while no formula truly mimics breast milk, its quality improves every year.  I would add that someday in the very near future we will probably be able to completely match breast milk, and even better it.  And if you don't think science can do this out of thin area and from scratch, consider that it already grows beef in labs and organs are not far behind.  Once we can do that, how long till we can not only make formula the mimics breastmilk, but actually replicate breast milk?  Lynn notes that allergy from breast milk is unlikely and that we need to keep an eye on the production of formula, just as Moms regulate what goes into their bodies.  But this ignores that formula companies can control what goes into their product 100%.  At best, Moms can control what they eat and their environment to an extent.  There are literally 100 ways Moms could be exposed to harmful things without their knowledge.

Lynn challenges the idea that breast is best by noting that while it is biologically normal, its not always best.  As parents to triplets, it was nearly impossible for my wife to breastfeed.  I trust the decision she made to FF was the right one for her, our kids, and our family.  That said, its not the decision for everyone, and maybe especially not for singletons. 
Regarding judging women who choose no FF over BFing, Lynn says "there are just some women and families where breastfeeding is never going to be a good option for them. And that is okay, too!"  Imagine that; on a planet of several hundred million people, there might not be a single fit for all of them.

Lynne rejects that FF don't try hard enough, saying that they are making the right choice for their family.  Well, duh.  Every child is different, every case is different; as I said above, why would one solution fit every situation?
To women who think FFing Moms are lazy, Lynn says "and I just think you’re an asshole."  Isn't one of the BFers' arguments that BF is easier, because they don't have to carry all the stuff us FFers do?

Lynn also takes down the idea that BF babies are smarter.  She notes that FFers can also be very smart and notes that many of the BF studies involved older women, who I assume had better economic means.  Both would make for smarter children, I imagine.  Its also very possible, though Lynn doesn't mention it, that those who BF are more involved parents and thus likely to have their children reach their full potential.  That doesn't mean BF makes your child smarter, since an "as involved" FF should produce the same outcome.  Its a correlation/causation problem.  Lastly, I would note that many twins and multiples studies suggest that you are born with X intelligence level and other traits and that absent total neglect you will very likely reach that level.


  1. I'm all for breastfeeding, but yeah, there are limits, and I doubt your wife could have done it.

    My coworker did it for a while, pumping at work and all, but eventually they were supplementing so much with formula because the kid was growing so fast and she wasn't producing. She said she felt like she was being a bad mother for a bit, because "breast is best". Which is sad, cause she gave it her best, which I think is what's really best.

  2. I was able to BF my son until he decided he was over it at about 9 months. We were ok with that. My best friend, tried as she might, just could not produce enough breastmilk and had no option but to formula feed. The complete bullshit she experienced from breastfeeding is best moms made me cringe. It wasn't even a 'choice' for her, but even had it been so, no one else has a right to judge her. Formula is a perfectly fine option for those who choose it.