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#1 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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"the Case Against Breastfeeding"

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/20090...-breastfeeding


I haven't gotten all the way through it yet. thus far she said the science sucks saying that breastfeeding is superior by a large margin.
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#2 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 10:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Can Dance View Post
"the Case Against Breastfeeding"

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/20090...-breastfeeding


I haven't gotten all the way through it yet. thus far she said the science sucks saying that breastfeeding is superior by a large margin.
That's because BFing is not superior. It is normal. FFing is inferior.

Also, the burden of proof is on FFing to PROVE it is adequate. So far I have not seen any medical proof to say that artifical breast milk is anything close to real human milk.

I can't access the article right now, but if it's the author I'm thinking of she is :.

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#3 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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well she is saying there are razor thin benefits to bfing, or breastmilk itself.

its interesting. she breastfeeds, but doesn't think there are realistically any benefits to it.
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#4 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 11:09 AM
 
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Ugh. She spends three full pages practically vilifying the doctors and researchers who have told parents for years that breastmilk is the best start. She whines throughout about the difficulties of breastfeeding - how it sucks your time and your independence, how you (supposedly) can't be an effective worker while breastfeeding (HORRORS! ), how the parenting burden on mother becomes crushingly uneven.

Then, as a sop to those of us who read her article getting more and more disgusted by the paragraph, she ends with this:

"My best guess is something I can’t quite articulate. Breast-feeding does not belong in the realm of facts and hard numbers; it is much too intimate and elemental. It contains all of my awe about motherhood, and also my ambivalence. Right now, even part-time, it’s a strain. But I also know that this is probably my last chance to feel warm baby skin up against mine, and one day I will miss it."

What was that???

I'm not saying a few of her points aren't valid, but she adopts the same strident and unforgiving tone (IMO) that she accuses the breastfeeding advocates of using. I don't like to be bossed by anybody.
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#5 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 03:17 PM
 
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Ugh. I do see where she is coming from in terms of how difficult it is to maintain a career and breastfeed...the US is not an easy place to do both with the piss-poor maternity leave it provides (IMHO). It's a heck of a lot easier to meet that 1 year mark when your leave matches it. I get that and I admire those that return to work and pump from 6 weeks or 3 months onward. I am not sure I could do that.

Still, this sentence REALLY bugs me:
Quote:
It is a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way.
("it" being breastfeeding)

Meaningful work being, then, non-family work (either outside the home or within the home...either way, a "real" job). I happen to think that the work of mothering is pretty meaningful work!
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#6 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 03:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bluepetals View Post
Ugh. I do see where she is coming from in terms of how difficult it is to maintain a career and breastfeed...the US is not an easy place to do both with the piss-poor maternity leave it provides (IMHO). It's a heck of a lot easier to meet that 1 year mark when your leave matches it. I get that and I admire those that return to work and pump from 6 weeks or 3 months onward. I am not sure I could do that.

Still, this sentence REALLY bugs me:


("it" being breastfeeding)

Meaningful work being, then, non-family work (either outside the home or within the home...either way, a "real" job). I happen to think that the work of mothering is pretty meaningful work!
:

Thank you! That's what I was getting at. I really wish that our "developed" country would realize that family-friendly work and leave practices are what's best for EVERYONE'S bottom line in the long run. How can that not be "meaningful?"
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#7 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 06:11 PM
 
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:

Thank you! That's what I was getting at. I really wish that our "developed" country would realize that family-friendly work and leave practices are what's best for EVERYONE'S bottom line in the long run. How can that not be "meaningful?"
She would be against extended bf (past 3 months) even if maternity leave were given to everyone. She's just not that into attachment parenting. She laments that her baby wants her in the middle of the night, instead of her dh. And let's face it: I know dozens and dozens of moms who are sahm and don't bf.

I find it a privilege that my babies have all wanted me AND I have something to offer them---a boob!
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#8 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 06:18 PM
 
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"the Case Against Breastfeeding"



I haven't gotten all the way through it yet. thus far she said the science sucks saying that breastfeeding is superior by a large margin.

She never discusses the science showing that bf reduces breast cancer rates. Probably bc it's really GOOD science and she can't refute that. WHenever I talk about benefits of breastfeeding, I always mention benefits to mom too.

Her science is rather poor--sure, there are no "double-blind" studies showing bf is good etc. And it is hard to control for all the variables---she says moms who bf are more often older. How can age be such a strong impacting variable.

And, c'mon, anyone who pays attention on the playground knows that bf babies and toddlers are sick much less often.
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#9 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 06:24 PM
 
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I just came home to my new Atlantic in the mailbox to find this article. I don't know. I find her tone really strident, defensive and overly personal. I've liked her previous articles, but this one comes across as trying to get science to support her whining.

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#10 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 06:33 PM
 
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Her science is rather poor--sure, there are no "double-blind" studies showing bf is good etc.
What burns me is that there actually has been a randomized controlled trial that shows the benefits of breastfeeding (I wish it had been set up to show the risks of formula feeding...) and she quotes the primary investigator! Kramer is very pro breastfeeding and has actually conducted this huge RCT that now gives some 'gold standard' evidence about breastfeeding (IQ among others).

And sure some of the risks of not breastfeeding may be 'small' on an individual scale (if you drop baby's chance of getting leukemia in half it may be only 1 in 20,000 instead of 1 in 10,000 - still pretty rare) but if you look at the entire country or the world those numbers add up!
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#11 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 08:30 PM
 
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I found the article pretty nauseating. The author seems overly defensive--my guess is that she was kind of obnoxious when she did her "playground experiment" that supposedly proved that people are judgmental about breastfeeding. I just don't buy it. I am as devoted to BF as anyone can be, and I have never, ever snubbed someone for using formula. There are a variety of reasons people don't BF and there is no way you can judge a stranger.

All the "scientific studies" don't PROVE breastfeeding is better is tantamount to the study showing that using cloth diapers can cause pollution that people love to tout in order to justify the use of disposables. I am sure there is little scientific proof that eating a diet of vitamin supplements and slim fast rather than a diet of organic meats and vegetables increases your chances of getting a number of diseases and I am sure there is no proof that it lowers your IQ.

If I knew this author I would basically say, "Listen, if breastfeeding is somehow so odious to you that you would rather feed your child powder that is the ultimate product of the industrial food complex, go ahead. Please use your forum for something that will do more good in the world than assuaging guilt. In addition, your perspective is that of a middle class educated person with access to clean water and resources to purchase adequate formula, which is completely inapplicable to many people in the world."

And that work line is BOGUS. I nursed dd while at work for a long time, and I nursed DS while completing my masters thesis.

Her description on the origins of formula use is also BOGUS.
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#12 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 09:08 PM
 
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Haven't read it yet but I think I may have read an article by her (similar tone) a few years ago. What I think is unfortunate is the implication that once we have reached a certain point of education and economic status, physically mothering our own children is beneath us. (Why even bother conceiving them, I wonder?) Plus, isn't there pretty good science showing that bfing reduces mom's risk of breast cancer and post partum depression? (I truly believe it saved *me* from PPD - I have had depression before and in the all-important first few weeks of DS's life I would get close to the edge and feeling kind of panicky and the only thing that would calm me down was nursing. It was like a miracle drug. It was bizarre.)

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#13 of 143 Old 03-12-2009, 11:01 PM
 
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She would be against extended bf (past 3 months) even if maternity leave were given to everyone. She's just not that into attachment parenting. She laments that her baby wants her in the middle of the night, instead of her dh. And let's face it: I know dozens and dozens of moms who are sahm and don't bf.

I find it a privilege that my babies have all wanted me AND I have something to offer them---a boob!
Thank you, yes! My second point got muddled into my first one, trying to be inclusive and failing...probably because I have a flu-addled brain right now. Wish my mom had had the support to ebf me like I did my daughter - she's never sick!

After thinking about it a little more today, I think the saddest part of this article is the feeling I'm getting from the author that she's tired of being necessary to her tiny kids. Like it or not, parents are necessary! I am with my daughter 24/7 and it can be very tough, but I'm still so grateful to be a mother. Whenever I get frustrated, I think of a quotation I read somewhere: "The days are long, but the years are short."

I think I've just found a new signature.
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#14 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 12:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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can anyone address the scientific points she brings up better than me? who is like HARD CORE and knows their stuff SUPER well?
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#15 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 12:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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here are my thoughts on it, for what its worth:
thinking about the blood thing. I am not sure that flies either. I have read that in other cultures, "less developed" they would actually breastfeed their sick elders as well as their babies. so it has to be more than just an intestinal thing I would think.

Secondly, FF is a *way* bigger deal even the first 6 weeks of life. though I know she states that it mostly protects from gasto intestinal stuff, that is what babies end up dying from *in the USA*. most sicknesses that children die from will be related to uncontrollable diarrhea which can lead to other things which cause death. 700 babies a year in the USA die and it can be directly linked to formula. and it will often happen in the first 6 weeks. who is the least likely to get their mothers milk? black children in poor families. what is interesting is that Hispanic/Latino or however its phrased nowadays are less likely to have sick babies because they are much more likely to breastfeed, though it is seen as a status symbol to not *have to* as well.

Thirdly if you give a baby artificial milk that intestinal track she is talking about actually gets messed up because it does not close until the baby is 6 months old. therefore making other sicknesses more likely to happen. so I guess I am a bit confused about how that part is debatable in her mind.

Fourthly, this makes no comment either on the oral development of babies who recieve almost exclusively bottles. quite frankly it can mess with it pretty badly. my own mouth was a rather large disaster and braces were needed because my arch was so pathetically small that my teeth were crowded. breastfeeding does not solve all orthodontic issues, but that in itself should not be downplayed. there are a lot of families who cannot afford braces later in life either.
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#16 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 12:17 AM
 
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After thinking about it a little more today, I think the saddest part of this article is the feeling I'm getting from the author that she's tired of being necessary to her tiny kids.
:

I kept thinking "Why does she have these kids if she doesn't want to do anything to care for them?" She goes on and on about how jealous she is about her husband heading off to work while she's "stuck at home" breastfeeding. I started twitching about the time she said she was sitting half-naked in the pediatrician's office because she was nursing. Seriously, if she has to get half-naked to nurse, she needs help. Most people thought DS was sleeping when I nursed him, especially if he was in the sling.

She works at home. Does she really think preparing bottles takes less time than nursing? Especially if you hold the baby to feed them (which I very much doubt she does, based on this article). And it's not like there's nothing you can do while they eat except sit there and stare at the walls and wait for them to finish. Pop the kid in the sling or set a pillow on your lap, latch them on, and get some work done on your computer. It's not that difficult.

I went back to work when DS was 10 weeks old. I pumped twice a day for seven months and I nursed him for two years. I was active duty military at the time. A WAHM really has no basis for saying they don't have time to nurse.

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#17 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 12:42 AM
 
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can anyone address the scientific points she brings up better than me? who is like HARD CORE and knows their stuff SUPER well?
Hard core? Not so sure about that! I do know that she does select some studies and ignore others (like the PROBIT RCT) - definitely a bias there.

And she is looking at this in a very individualistic way. What are my risks of not breastfeeding, rather than a societal way (what are our risks of not breastfeeding.)

For example, the PROBIT trial showed that breastfeed babies were 40% less likely to get eczema than non-breastfed babies, and 46% less likly to get a GI infection in the 1st 12 months of life. Now those are HUGE numbers, but only ~13% of non-breastfed babies got GI infections, so chances weren't that high to start with. So the 40% decrease in actuality is 'just' 7/100 babies.

So 7/100 more babies get sick with GI infections if not breastfed. Eczema: a 46% decrease, but again, 'just' 3/100 'extra babies' sick from formula feeding.

The thing is, this happens for many different conditions. Small absolute numbers, but a big impact on society when you multipy the risk by all the babies who are not breastfed...
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#18 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 01:31 AM
 
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I couldn't really read straight as I was seeing red the whole time.

I know women who don't like breastfeeding very much, but to twist the science and not think in terms of the environment and the essence of motherhood (until the disgusting last paragraph) reallllllllllllly irks me. This article will speak to so many American women and that makes me really sad.

I also found her attitude towards "those people" in Africa who just didn't know how to use the formula correctly insanely disgusting and patronizing. No mention of greedy multi-nationals in the history of formula either.

Yuck. I need a bath and get me out of this handbasket!!!!!!!!

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#19 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 11:01 AM
 
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The good thing is that no one reads Atlantic magazine.

Atlantic Magazine (an almost dead print magazine) is so desperate for eyeballs to look at the magazine, they know writing this type of provocative article gets a lot of reaction and hits on their website.

The last words in the article she goes on to say she continues to breastfeed her son because it's so warm and fuzzy.

They got the eyeballs they want for the month.
Reminds me of sweeps week in TV.
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#20 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 11:33 AM
 
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I kept thinking "Why does she have these kids if she doesn't want to do anything to care for them?" She goes on and on about how jealous she is about her husband heading off to work while she's "stuck at home" breastfeeding. I started twitching about the time she said she was sitting half-naked in the pediatrician's office because she was nursing. Seriously, if she has to get half-naked to nurse, she needs help. Most people thought DS was sleeping when I nursed him, especially if he was in the sling.

She works at home. Does she really think preparing bottles takes less time than nursing? Especially if you hold the baby to feed them (which I very much doubt she does, based on this article). And it's not like there's nothing you can do while they eat except sit there and stare at the walls and wait for them to finish. Pop the kid in the sling or set a pillow on your lap, latch them on, and get some work done on your computer. It's not that difficult.

I went back to work when DS was 10 weeks old. I pumped twice a day for seven months and I nursed him for two years. I was active duty military at the time. A WAHM really has no basis for saying they don't have time to nurse.
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I couldn't really read straight as I was seeing red the whole time.

I know women who don't like breastfeeding very much, but to twist the science and not think in terms of the environment and the essence of motherhood (until the disgusting last paragraph) reallllllllllllly irks me. This article will speak to so many American women and that makes me really sad.

I also found her attitude towards "those people" in Africa who just didn't know how to use the formula correctly insanely disgusting and patronizing. No mention of greedy multi-nationals in the history of formula either.

Yuck. I need a bath and get me out of this handbasket!!!!!!!!
Yes!

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Atlantic Magazine (an almost dead print magazine) is so desperate for eyeballs to look at the magazine, they know writing this type of provocative article gets a lot of reaction and hits on their website.
Exactly.
What also pi$$es me off is that she seems to think equality for women is the same as doing what men do. Argh! What about things that only women can do, like breastfeeding, being valuable in themselves??? Unfortunately, this woman's brand of "feminism" is what most people know as feminism. As a feminist, I support this woman's right to make her own reproductive choices, but I think she has her priorities all wrong.
Obviously it's great that if breastfeeding is impossible for some reason there is formula that will most likely raise a relatively healthy baby. But to attack breastfeeding to make that point is just ridiculous.

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#21 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 12:03 PM
 
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Hi, I have a lot of problems with the article and the way that it was written -- though I do think it is valuable for presenting another perspective (and for trying to peel back some of the hype).

I just want to encourage readers to look at the original paper Rosin cites (by the economists Eirik Evenhouse and Siobhan Reilly), because it is more nuanced, more cautious, and more precisely focused than Rosin suggests.

Also, it should be noted that Evenhouse and Reilly -- two Berkeley-trained economists who are married to each other -- have 4 kids, all home-birthed, all breastfed past the age of 3. Believe me, if they could have made the data say that the studies demonstrated a huge health advantage for breastfeeding, they would have.
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#22 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 12:58 PM
 
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I find her tone to be the nasty underbelly of second wave feminism. I think this is something that the third wave has tried to correct: men and women can be different and still be equal. Second wave feminism often sought to eliminate differences in the name of equality, which is ridiculous. Second wave feminism also often prioritized economic equality- and now, that's important, don't get me wrong, but it's not the only thing. Just like the author of this article points out, NOW came out with a statement about how the HHS campaign against formula feeding would place a burden on WOH moms. Even at the time, I found this to be a brain dead statement. I am pro-BF because I am a feminist. It's not an either/or position. And yes, while I want to see paid maternity leave so more women BF for a year, I'll be d@mned if I'm going to use some excuse about our gov't being negligent to whine about how or why I can't do it. If women did that, feminism would have never gotten anywhere.

About the author's science: her grasp of what makes a good study good and how to apply study results is miserable. I have a degree in public health (pursued at full time status while nursing/pumping for an infant, work that I found very meaningful, TYVM), and there is way more to epidemiology than knowing that correlation is not causation.

For me to refute all the psuedo scientific points in this article would take forever, but I'll hit the high points:

-She points out that many of the infant deaths caused by formula feeding are due to tainted water and/or the expense of formula, especially in third world countries, but she seems to think that this does not make the case for breastfeeding. This is patently illogical (and without logic, kids, we'd have no science). What's the baby supposed to eat if not formula or BM? Air? Dirt? Formula or BM is an either or proposition in the first year of life. It's a zero sum game- those who do not BF will FF, and vice versa.

Now, if she were saying that lack of potable water is a problem, and we need to fix that, and it's not an entirely separate problem from infant mortality, okay then. But the fact is, if a mom BFs her child exclusively for 6 months, and continues on for another 18 months, that child has a much better chance of surviving one of the bugs that has tainted the family's water, because s/he's been exposed to the mom's antibodies through BF.

-There is a heckuva lot more going on with the human immune system than cutting edge science can grasp, much less old, flawed science. The author's statement about IGA being the only immunological factor in breastfeeding is just plain wrong.
Also just plain wrong: her statement that IGA just sits in the baby's gut, and never makes it into the bloodstream. I literally laughed aloud when I read that. How does she think stuff gets into the human bloodstream? Fairy dust? Tiny demons? Or does everything have to get there though a needle? All kinds of stuff, good and bad, gets into the bloodstream through the digestive system. The author really reveals her cluelessness (not to mention her editor's) in this one statement.

The transfer of antibodies and other immunological factors is our best hope for fighting diabetes, cancer, lupus, and a ton of other autoimmune problems. Now, the reason that BF'd people have less autoimmune disorders isn't because of a single immunological factor- IGA isn't the magic bullet, neither is IGT or interferon or whatever. Science isn't quite sure what the mechanisms are, but the best guess is that it's no one single thing- it's that BFing sets up the immune system. The baby's immune system learns from the mother's via milk. Just because we haven't figured out the precise mechanisms by which this happens doesn't mean we don't have a good idea, borne out by real epidemiology, what direction we should be looking toward.

-The author takes worldwide statistics and tries to apply them to a specific group of well educated, upper middle class Americans. Epidemiology doesn't work that way. To say, "Oh, I don't live near a Superfund site... therefore, my child probably won't get leukemia... therefore I don't need to breastfeed," is ridiculous. I understand her point that studies about BFed babies and IQ were generally small and flawed, and didn't control for other factors... but the IQ test isn't scientific, in and of itself.
The primary reason to BF is physical health, period.
To discount all studies that indicate the inferiority of FF because the IQ studies are stupid is... well, stupid.

-The major study that indicated that dietary fiber reduces the chances of colon cancer was conducted on U.S. and Ugandan men. Ugandan men eat three to five times the fiber that U.S. men do, on average. Therefore, Ugandan men poop a lot more often. Also, they tend to squat, rather than sit, when pooping, so they poop faster.

Now, I've heard the argument that it's not the fiber that's preventing colon cancer, it's the pooping frequency and speed that's preventing colon cancer. Silly- you aren't going to poop more or faster without more fiber in your diet.

The author's take on BFing studies are basically the same false logic. It's not that U.S. babies who are breastfed are healthier, it's that they come from more priveleged backgrounds. Well, no- U.S. babies from more priveleged backgrounds are more likely to be breastfed. She has it backward, as is proven by all the worldwide studies of people from all sorts of educational and economic situations proving that BFed babies are healthier.

Bottom line: she's a journalist, not a scientist. She's out of her depth, and her conclusions are not based in science- they're based in emotion, and she's tried to twist the science to back up her emotion. It isn't working.

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#23 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 01:07 PM
 
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Great post, Leta -- thanks!
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#24 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 01:19 PM
 
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Great post, Leta -- thanks!
Oh yes, yes, yes! Ditto!

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#25 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 02:04 PM
 
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What upset me more than anything else is her description of a pumping mother. "a footnote from the Josef Mengele years."! I have a friend who exclusively pumps, but that is her CHOICE. I can't believe the author even went there. I am offended.

She is obviously in a hard place emotionally, but this article seemed like an attempt to support her discontent with her own life with selective science and sensational journalism.

Oh, and just to spite her I bf'd my son during the last two pages of her diatribe.

><> I'm a Christian, knitting, sewing, cooking SAHM to the fearless adventurer Jack born 11/08, and  a  USCG wife
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#26 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 04:54 PM
 
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Leta--a third you expressed so many of the things I was feeling MUCH more eloquently than I ever could.

Dewi--re: The Atlantic--I totally agree. My first thought was actually, shame on them for printing such a divisive and blatantly "hotbutton" story just to get people to read their obscure magazine. (And as a lit teacher, I actually used to subscribe.)
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#27 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 06:01 PM
 
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Hello ladies, I'm new here and I have to say it's so refreshing to read what you guys have to say about this article. It's very nice to discuss with like-minded mamas. I'd just hate for someone to read this and not breastfeed because of it. I'm usually pretty supportive of moms no matter how they want to feed their babies but this article really ticked me off.

Lana: Mama to Mya Oct/2007 and Ainsley July/2010
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#28 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 06:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrgs View Post
and multiple people have commented about how it proves they were right in deciding not to breastfeed their babies (really?....based on one article?). I'm usually pretty supportive of moms no matter how they want to feed their babies but this article really ticked me off.

welcome!

I just wanted to say this is one of my big fears: some younger women will read this and keep it in the back of their heads....so when they are having babies, and they have a rough 2 weeks (which I did), they'll just quit and this article will make them feel better.

Argh!

And, I do feel sorry for her kids. How is she going to feel when she realizes her 10 year old needs to be driven around to 4 activities a week? Will she resent that too? Oh, wait, maybe she'll enjoy her kids when they're driving and gone all the time. No bother there. Makes me sad.

It reminds me of an ob in our town who had an elective primary c/s. She said, "I don't do labor." Oh, well, gee, what else don't you do? Don't do middle of the night feedings? Don't do middle of the mud stains on clothes?? Why do some people have children if they are always seen as such a burden?
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#29 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 06:24 PM
 
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I get the frustration with this article, but some of the responses questioning her dedication to her children cross a line. Also, I don't think the article was anti-breastfeeding altogether, just a response to what she perceives to be judgment about her ambivalence.
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#30 of 143 Old 03-13-2009, 06:29 PM
 
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puke- it was very hard for me to read the article and take in that perspective-It really seems logic is lost many times, what she is using as why BF is not better then FF is beyond the basic point of why we are intended to feed our babies. Which IMO does not need science to back it up because it's just obvious IMO.

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