In today’s world, there seems to be two distinct views when it comes to breastfeeding vs. formula.
One side of that debate is best described in the 2015 book Lactivism. In the book, author Courtney Jung attempted to smear breastfeeding advocacy as a matter of self interest and contrary to women’s rights. In Jung’s general assertion, breastfeeding doesn’t matter to babies.
While her stance is somewhat understandable, her conclusions and opinions were thrown around with arrogance, and she didn’t care to any scientific fact checking.
You may be wondering how it came to this point. When exactly did the idea that manmade formula is equal to–or as Jung’s understands, greater than–a mother’s natural supply of nourishment? How did the idea that non-human ingredients and chemicals could be more beneficial to the proper brain and body development of a nursing child?
In her new book, Unlatched, Jennifer Grayson takes on this mystery. Using her family history of breastfeeding and a surplus of relevant historical information, she discusses her interviews with researchers and reviews of research findings.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights of her findings from her book. Specifically, a historical overview of formula:
“Prior to the industrial revolution, breastfeeding took place for at least two years if not longer. Things changed with the development of the industrial revolution. Mothers often lived away from extended family members who would otherwise have helped establish breastfeeding, a difficult challenge for most first time mothers. As a result many of these family-isolated first-time mothers failed in their attempts to breastfeed and moved to homemade formula.”
Grayson also found that the rise of baby formulas came as a result of more and more women beginning to work away from home. “Baby deaths and illness led ‘men of science’ to intervene with more scientific formulations. Baby illness and deaths also led to the field of pediatrics, whose doctors began to monitor the use of infant formulas.”
“Formula companies began to make themselves indispensable when births became largely medicalized in the US after World War II. They swooped into hospitals with free samples and pervasive presence so that mothers and doctors considered formula the normal choice.”
Simply put, the shift to and defense of formula feeding is manufactured. Grayson offers a powerful analogy that helps put this into perspective. On page 272 of her book, she writes, “during the past century, we had decided to swap out the blood supply in our bodies. To replace it with an artificial blood substitute—and then demanded that the people who support real blood prove that it really worked better than the manufactured alternate.”
Learn more about Unlatched, and take a look at some of the staggering stats found in Grayson’s research! Click next for more!
Here are some of the more staggering statistics found in Grayson’s book. Take a look for yourself:
- 70% of babies in the USA are cared for by someone other than parents in the first year of life.
- One hopes that these are caring caregivers who get to know the signals of the baby and respond appropriately, build the interactive “conversations” with baby that ensure the baby feels grounded in relational response.
- A human baby consuming 27 ounces of breast milk will receive from 100,000 to 10 million probiotic bacteria per day.
- Recall that babies grow their immune systems in the first 5 years of life, and breastmilk has all the immunoglobulins to build it. A tremendous amount of growth occurs after birth that depends on breastmilk.
- In a 2004 study, nearly half of pediatricians believed breastfeeding and formula feeding were equally acceptable feeding methods.
- Sadly again, doctors are not educated about the need for breast milk for proper development of brain and body.
- Only 13 of 190 nations are obsessed with breasts, since in virtually all nations, breasts are used for babies, not lovers (which satisfies the need for breast connection in babyhood).
Towards the conclusion of her book, Grayson asks an important question: “In the epidemic of our nation’s ill heath, what if we are overlooking an utterly simple piece of the puzzle–that what and the way we feed our young, radically altered for the first time in human history, has played a role?” (273).
There’s a lot more to this heated debate, but one thing is for certain, taking a stance without checking facts is never the way to address any debate. You must fact check and make a conscious choice based upon facts, not solely opinion. For mothers who are physically able to breastfeed, Grayson’s book may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. It’s an inspiring and important read for both sides of the debate, and is surely worth your time!
[H/T] Psychology Today
READ: Dads speak up about supporting moms breastfeeding in public
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