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If you formula feed your baby, you’re not a bad mom, and society needs to stop making you feel like you are. That’s the premise of the new book, Is Breast Best? Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood, by women’s and gender studies professor Joan Wolf.
That's certainly true -- but Wolf is also taking on the scientific theory that breastfeeding is more beneficial. All the studies saying breastfeeding is better for babies is based on “weak and insufficient” science, says Wolf.
“On average, breastfed babies are healthier, but that doesn’t mean breast milk causes better health.” she said in a recent interview. “Women who breastfeed are more likely to do other things that will make their babies healthier… If I make sure that anyone who comes to my house is not sick, that they wash their hands before they handle the baby… I am doing all sorts of things that could prevent my child from contracting a virus.”
Controversial? You betcha. The author says that some people say she’s condoning child abuse. Most opinions are probably not that strong, but breastfeeding is pretty universally understood to be the healthiest way to feed your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until four to six months of age and then pairing breastmilk with solid food until at least baby's first birthday, a recommendation based on countless medical studies.
Wolf’s other points? That women think anything natural is better; that doctors and organizations advocate breastfeeding too heavily; and that breast milk is not the magical elixir society has made it out to be. The book is very research- and history-heavy, and boldly takes on the AAP, the American Public Health Association and La Leche League. It says that when society talks about breastfeeding, it focuses more on how it’s part of being the perfect mom -- and not about its true benefits.
While the author says she isn’t against breastfeeding, she says, “there are life circumstances that I think will make [either] breastfeeding or bottle-feeding a better choice. And the medical evidence in the developed world is certainly not strong enough to be telling mothers that breastfeeding is the greatest gift they can give to their babies.”
Do you think breast is best -- or do you agree with this author? Chime in below!