Talk about more pressure on women! A new study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, has recently been released claiming that breast-fed children are several IQ points smarter than those reared on formula.
That’s great for some, but what about the other mothers? I’m surprised at the way in which the information has been presented to the public.
I can only imagine how terrible I’d feel if I had wanted to breast feed but couldn’t for some reason. The self-inflicted guilt that all moms seem to already have perfected would no doubt increase, and become overwhelming. And being a new mom is overwhelming enough without being told you’re doing something wrong, something that will negatively affect your children.
Yes, there are many women who choose not to breastfeed their newborn babes, but there are countless others who don’t have the choice. Why? A variety of reasons: complications at birth, premature delivery, a lack of milk supply, inverted nipples, illness or disability, or adoption.
This study, swallowed whole without considering your own situation and needs, can leave women feeling as though they’ve failed their children - and that’s just not right.
One woman I know nursed her first two children and was having trouble with her third. Her doctor advised her to supplement her breast-feeding with formula. The child took to the formula, and refused to continue nursing. The woman tried everything to amp up her milk supply, but to no avail. It’s been a year since she stopped nursing and she still bemoans taking her doctor’s advice. For her to now learn that her child won’t be as smart as he could have been will knock her for a loop!
The study shows that children who are breast fed longer and more exclusively, are those who will ultimately be smarter. But the details are vague - are we talking about nursing for a few months versus a few weeks, or are we talking years? The American Assosciation of Pediatrics, the Canadian Assosciation of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization all recommend nursing exclusively (no other foods) for six months, followed by continued nursing for two years.
The irony is that even in large metropolitan cities across North America, women are sometimes asked to cover up or leave an area when nursing. And though it’s a woman’s constitutional right to nurse wherever and whenever she deems necessary, nursing mothers still come under judgment.
The greatest lesson I learned after having my first child was that whatever works for you — as a parent, and especially as a new mom — and your baby, is best for you as a family. It worked for us that I breast fed for an extended period. It worked for us to not be on a schedule.
But what worked (and works) for me doesn’t mean it’s right for you. So to all you moms who fed your kids formula — fear not that they’ll be less intelligent. I’m certain they’ll be just fine.
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