This is an amazing
article I found this morning, and the author has been kind enough to let me share it. It's so well-written, and so...true
Credit goes to Jan Andrea.
Kind of long, but it's definitely worth it.
So often, breastfeeding advocates are met with the assertion that they're just trying to "make women feel guilty" for formula-feeding. Is this truly the case? Is guilt even the appropriate term?
First of all, let's look at guilt. In order to be guilty of something, you have to have done something wrong. In order to feel guilt, you have to be aware of it. Guilt implies not just wrongdoing, but the choice to do wrong. I don't think that guilt applies universally to women who don't breastfeed. Often, they should *not* feel guilty for that; though sometimes, they should.
Analogies often help, so I'll try one. When I was growing up, people believed that the cholesterol and saturated fats in butter were really, really bad for you, so my parents used margarine (which has no cholesterol and less saturated fat) with us instead. They didn't want to give us all the cholesterol and saturated fats in lard, so they used vegetable shortening. Now, current evidence suggests that the trans-fats present in partially-hydrogenated oils -- what margarine and shortening are made of -- are far, far more harmful than the naturally-occuring (but still not exactly healthy) cholesterol and sat. fats in butter. So it turns out that in giving us margarine and shortening instead of butter, my parents were actually doing something harmful to us, more harmful than what they were trying to prevent.
Should they feel guilty? No. They were doing the best that they could based on what was known then. As far as they knew, they were making the healthier choice for us. Now we know differently, and it would be natural for them to feel badly for having made that choice, but they shouldn't for one minute feel guilty for doing so.
Here's another. Consider Pop-Tarts® and related snacks. They're certainly not health foods; indeed, they contain partially-hydrogenated fats, simple sugars that break down quickly and can contribute to insulin resistance; and when eaten to excess, take up room in the child's diet that would be far better filled with healthier choices. If there are healthier choices available to me and I give my children Pop-Tarts® every morning anyway, knowing that they are contributing to potential health problems, should I feel guilty? Absolutely! However, if there were a natural disaster and all I could find to give them -- if all we had to live on -- were Pop-Tarts®, I would not feel the least bit guilty about giving them to my children. In the absense of healthier choices, they would keep them alive, and given the natural disaster, I'd far rather have them kept alive on unhealthy foods than starving to death.
So it goes with breastfeeding and formula feeding. Breastfeeding is our biological norm -- it's what babies evolved to eat (or were created to eat, if that happens to be your persuasion). As mammals, our breasts are there to feed babies (fringe benefits aside), and our babies are meant to have breastmilk when they are infants. Breastmilk changes from day to day, month to month, so that it's specifically crafted not just for the age of the child and her needs, but it also responds to immunological factors. Breastmilk contains thousands of compounds that ensure proper brain development, healthy gut development and flora, jaw alignment, teeth placement, and hundreds of other factors that are only now being discovered. Many of these will never be replicated by artificial milk, no matter how ingenious the scientists who work on it are trying, unless we get involved with recombinant bacteria, and even then, the immune benefits will be absent. So clearly, anything less than breastmilk will tend to have health effects on the infant -- that's just a fact. Many babies will do "fine" on artificial breastmilk, or appear to do so, just as a child who eats only Pop-Tarts® can still grow and be relatively healthy. But clearly, there's no comparison.
However. ( Wanna read the rest?Collapse )