Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Breastfeeding Is Smart

A recent study has been over the news lately stating that breastfeeding leads to a higher IQ.

We all know "breast is best" for both mama and baby, and the more we get this information out, the better.

Still, I have a problem with how this study is being publicized.

Keep in mind that Hana has been formula fed since the day after she was born, and exclusively on formula since 19 days old. I was also formula fed, as were the vast majority of the people in my family. And we're pretty smart people (In high school I tested 136 on an IQ test, but that was before mommy hood stole my brain). This is not intended to make anyone feel guilty, or whatever. We make our choices and we live with them, and we all survive.

The problem I have is that the wording makes it seem as though formula feeding is the norm, the standard. As in, normally baby x would have an IQ of ***, but if breastfed, it would be higher. That's wrong. Human babies are designed to have human milk. All the potential within that child will be released as different conditions are met - food, shelter, love, education, whatever. It's not that breastfeeding raises that potential, it's that formula feeding lacks something that would release it. Breast milk doesn't raise IQ, formula lowers it.

Again, not saying formula fed children are not smart, they're just not as smart as they could be were they breastfed. Like an athlete - if they aren't given the proper training and instruction, they can't preform at the level they would if they did have those things.

I find it astounding that as a culture we have effectively stunted ourselves - but there is no sense guessing at what could have been. Unfortunately, as long as formula is seen as the norm (or at least the norm after x amount of months) we will never see the full potential of our children. To continue talking about breastfeeding as tho it is super human, special, or above the norm only reinforces that it isn't the norm. Mothers have enough stress and worry and choices with their children, so if their kids can be "normal" without the pain, hassle and stress of breastfeeding (because honestly that's what it often is portrayed as, and can feel like at first), then why put themselves through it? Breastfeeding really should be normalized, not specialized.

1 comment:

Jes said...

Hi! I've never posted before, but I read your blog regularly, and always enjoy your take on life.

This is an excellent point about that study. I'm a LLL member, and at our last meeting they talked about the study, but no one mentioned the "specialized" -ness of it! It's important to realize that we sometimes unknowingly promote breastfeeding as subnormal, which doesn't help it become more mainstream. Very good thought!