Audrey shared this article, titled "The Case Against Breastfeeding", with me. She warned me that "it might make your blood pressure go up", and if you are a breastfeeding supporter, it probably will indeed. However, I was tempted to read it, and once I did I couldn't pass without reviewing this masterpiece. So, go ahead and read the original article if you have the time - I'm warning you, it's long, and you might have steam coming out of your ears by the time you finish.
Summary: Hanna Rosin finds out that breastfeeding takes time, effort and patience, becomes frustrated, and attempts to prove that it really isn't worth the trouble by pointing out the lack of clear-cut scientific evidence. I think the following statement reveals the true spirit behind the article:
"Being stuck at home breast-feeding as he [the husband] walked out the door for work just made me unreasonably furious, at him and everyone else."
While discussing the possible long-term health benefits of breastfeeding, the author says:
"The past few decades have turned up many promising leads, hypotheses, and theories, all suggestive and nifty but never confirmed in the lab."
Researching breastfeeding is difficult, because virtually all we have to rely on are observational studies. We cannot take a group of mothers who would be of the same age, ethnicity, social background, lifestyle and many other variables, and tell one half of them to breastfeed their babies and the other half not to. That would be unethical. So researchers find mostly correlations, and that's something that's easy to second-guess, especially if you're skeptical in the first place.
This kind of ambivalence in research findings is typical in anything that has to do with nutrition, because it's always so complex and involves so many interactions. That's why there are so many fads, trends, and hysterical claims that such-and-such food is a killer or otherwise the ultimate remedy for anything and everything.
But you know what? I don't need scientists to tell me breastfeeding is the best thing for my baby. I'm sure research of breastfeeding will continue, and perhaps revolutionary findings will be revealed, but regardless of whether or not this happens I know my milk is the perfect food, because God made it. Formula can never measure up. It's not only about the milk, either; it's how the babe is nestled in its mother's arms, skin to skin, the naturally longer, more relaxed feedings, and the entire comforting nature of it all.
And yes, it makes me sad and angry when someone flippantly dismisses the rich blessings of breastfeeding and at the same time blames it for the difficulties of the adjustment period that comes with new motherhood:
"And in any case, if a breast-feeding mother is miserable, or stressed out, or alienated by nursing, as many women are, if her marriage is under stress and breast-feeding is making things worse, surely that can have a greater effect on a kid’s future success than a few IQ points."
Right. Just mix a bottle of formula, and there will be no more stress, no night feedings, no challenges of transition to life with a new baby. And above all, we will be equal, because then the father can feed the baby too, and isn't that the most important thing?
I'm not saying all this to inflict guilt, pain or shame upon mothers who for some reason couldn't breastfeed. Not breastfeeding doesn't make anyone a bad mother. Maybe there were medical reasons, maybe the mother didn't have the knowledge, help, support, or whatever it was needed to make breastfeeding successful. Truly, there should never be shameful remarks directed towards any mother who is committed to doing the best she can with what she has. But in love, and only in love, my heart aches for every mother and baby who could have enjoyed the wonderful, miraculous, sweet relationship that breastfeeding is, and for some reason did not.
Breastfeeding is not egalitarian - God, in spite of what would have been politically correct, only gave milk to mothers. Breastfeeding requires patience - you aren't going to be in peace with it if you are constantly on the run, impatiently tapping your foot while your baby is nursing. No, it doesn't fit into the mold of modern life, but it fits perfectly into God's plan for mothers, babies and families.
"Recently, my husband and I noticed that we had reached the age at which friends from high school and college now hold positions of serious power. When we went down the list, we had to work hard to find any women. Where had all our female friends strayed? Why had they disappeared during the years they’d had small children?"
Now we are starting to really get to the point: poor women didn't reach their full potential, because they were brainwashed and allowed themselves to be enslaved by breastfeeding. How unjust and oppressive!
"It [breastfeeding] is a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way... This is why, when people say that breast-feeding is “free,” I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing."
Because nursing a baby isn't meaningful work, you know what I mean? You should only do it if you have nothing better to do with your time. Such as going out there to "hold positions of serious power" (anywhere but in your own home).
Like Audrey said, I feel like my blood pressure is going up indeed. And that isn't good for me or my baby girl. So I'd better get up from the chair now and do something cheerful, productive and relaxing. Shira is asleep, but soon she will wake up looking for Mommy's milk.
And I will hold her, and nurse her, and rock her. Cuddle her and play with her, and comfort her, and make her laugh and laugh with her. And I will be forever thankful. Thank You, God, for giving us such a precious baby, a bundle of pure, sweet joy. Thank You for giving me milk to nourish her, You made it and I hope I will have plenty for my baby. It's rightfully hers and I will continue giving it to her with much love for as long as she wants.