Sunday, 24 January 2010

A Norvegian study proclaims breastfeeding is a waste of time

Myself and my daughter Michela 'wasting our time'.

If you haven't heard of this, click here to read all about it from the horse's mouth. This study triggered furore in articles, blogs and social media circles. The Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative responded calmy outlining the shortcomings of the study. Click here to read why this small study is flawed compared to larger studies and the simple and unrefutable fact that breast milk has been the only nutrient for babies for centuries (formula arrived in the XXth century). Also bear in mind that Norway has a 99% breastfeeding rate (I found the figure here) and draw your own conclusions.

I'm not surprised that a study has popped out to diminish breasteeding, it's not the only one, what I am really annoyed about is the reaction from some bottle feeding women on various forums. They have an outdated view of breastfeeding organisations and think breastfeeding women are smug and keen on making them feel small and guilty.

Some women are so bitter they leave negative comments under articles who promote breastfeeding. Yesterday I left a comment under an article to say that most breastfeeding organisations are supportive of mums and some even provide bottle feeding information on their sites. There are mums who know this and who ring breastfeeding lines to ask how to stop breasteeding. It's not a taboo subject, if you go cold turkey the pain can be excruciating. Yet there are plenty of formula feeding mums who have an axe to grind.

As a breastfeeding helper I have never treated a mum who mentions formula like an outcast. The aim of my training was to give all the information and leave formula as a last resort because there are mums who cannot breastfeed - although fewer than people think. While researching breastfeeding I came across La Leche League International (LLI), which has a website full of information. I knew of the UK charity but before I trained and received its excellent Book of Breastfeeding Answers, I didn't know you can breastfeed if you have terminal cancer and even HIV.

And did you know that breastfeeding is recommended for smokers? Click here for a great leaflet about breastfeeding versus alcohol, smoking and drugs. Drugs mentioned in this leaflet are medicines, but the LLI has a page on illegal drugs and on this page I found out that you can breastfeed if you are taking methadone to detox.

Formula mothers, the world is not against you and breastfeeding mums encounter as many negative comments from strangers and even family member. I know because of personal experience and because mums told me about their lack of support and negative attitudes towards their decision to breastfeed.

Do you think breastfeeding mums are smug or did you experience negative comments and feedback from your loved ones when you chose to breasteed? Feel free to leave a comment under this blog.


  1. What an amazing attitude you have, and what a stunning picture. I am feeding my 4 month old, and hope to feed for 2yrs or more. It hasn't been easy, but I know it is the best possible food for my daughter. I'm a newly qualified helper with the BfN. These studies are often paid for by formula companies, as it's in their interest to know what's in breastmilk so they can replicate it, and suggest that breasfeeding is not neccessary. Thank you for this blog post, I really enjoyed it xx

  2. It's an interesting issue. All I know is, women tend to be incredibly judgemental of other women (you see? I've just done it there). Why do we care so much what choices other women make – 'Ooh, she's too posh to push!'/'She's gone back to work full time!' – so long as they're not willfully harming their babies? As a sex, we do seem to have a collective desire to 'keep other women in line', and it's not very pleasant!

  3. Hello. Enjoyed your article and the conversation you started on British Mummy Bloggers. I too am a breastfeeding Mum who has experienced negative comments from family and friends. I started my blog to talk about breastfeeding and other mothering issues as I had begun to find myself really isolated in the 'real' world, as breastfeeding mums are in the minority. It is nice to find another one out there! My blog is at if you fancy a look (it's very new so bear with me...) Best wishes, April

  4. I have just read an article by Dr. Jack Newman that was posted on the Kellymom site about this topic. If a women decides to formula feed and makes an educated decision based on the facts not media hype more power to her. But...if a women quits breastfeeding due to lack of support, problems that could be solved by having confidence in her body and support then we really have a problem as a society. It is always so easy to say - just give a bottle of formula.

  5. Thanks everybody for your lovely comments. As a breastfeeding helper I'd rather help a mum than judge her, it's part of our training to listen to what the mums wants.

    I find people who booby bash are not helping and it's not anybody's place to bully a mum whatever she decides to do.

    I agree that is all about information and is personal. I was bottlefed and was quite sickly due to formula intolerance so for me breastfeeding meant not repeating family history. I did top up for a little while as there is this myth that a bottle in the evening makes the baby sleep longer and my partner was pushing for it. The myth is totally bogus, as there is a study that proves that parents of breastfed children get more sleep.

    So I'd say, weigh the pros and cons, get the info and then decide what works best for you.

  6. hi there yup I read that article too and thought it was total rubbish.. it just gets loads of press as to a certain extent I think it is what people want to hear.. I am still b feeding my little girl who was 1 last week - if one more person asks me "so when you are you going to stop?" I think I will scream!! Actually posted an article on it myself here...