Enough With the Breast-feeding Wars!

Filed under: Breast-Feeding, Opinions

And we think men are obsessed with breasts? Geez, can we possibly call a time-out on the mom vs. mom breast-feeding wars?

The latest skirmish erupted recently when Michelle Obama said she wants to promote breast-feeding, particularly among African Americans, even as the IRS announced it will now give a tax break on breast pumps.

To which Michelle Bachmann said that this just shows the left thinks "government is the answer to everything," while Sarah Palin said that of course Mrs. O says you "better" breast-feed your baby -- "because the price of milk is so high."

Yap, yap, yap. You know what is truly optimal, when it comes to feeding your baby?

Whatever works best for you.

It's a measure of how crazed we have become on this topic that just saying, "It's not such a big deal!" is a big deal. Our culture is hung up on mama's milk, and the undercurrent is: Why should anyone consider what is best for the mom when the baby's whole future is at stake?

I'll tell you why. Because a baby's whole future is not at stake. That's the conclusion I came to after reading the new book, "Is Breast Best?" by Joan B. Wolf.

As Wolf points out, we are treating "Breast vs. Formula" as though it were "Safety vs. Danger" -- even though we know that millions of American babies have been brought up on formula and are doing just fine.

Are they doing as outstandingly fine as they could be if only they'd been breast-fed from day one through day 365? Pretty much, yes.

Wolf knows that this is heresy, but after poring over countless studies, she realized that, aside from a measurably lower risk of GI infections, the differences between breast- and formula-fed babies could not definitively be traced back to what those kids were drinking. It's quite possible that the breast-fed babies enjoyed some advantages simply by being parented by health-conscious moms.

Moreover, the advantages were not so overwhelming that they trumped a mother's desire to not breast-feed. If we are set on giving our kids every single advantage, "no matter how high the cost to the mother or how marginal the risk to the baby," Wolf points out, then why don't we tell the families of newborns to move out of the city? After all, clean air is better for the baby, too.

Her point is that we face decisions on an almost daily basis about what is best for our kids. Some things that sound good we do, some we don't, and that's okay. Life is never perfect. We cannot prevent (or even predict) all risks down the road.

Our culture makes it sound as if accepting even a tiny risk is evil, but it's not. It's life. Let's quit beating our breasts -- and everyone else's -- about it.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.