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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More medical breakthroughs to make mums feel guilty

A new study suggests breastfeeding reduces a woman's risk of developing type II diabetes. That each year of breastfeeding means a 15% drop, and the longer you breast feed for, the more the risk is reduced.

I would like to say 'good stuff', learning more about diabetes, and type II which affects 2.5% of the UK population is a good thing. But I am a little worried about how this information will be used.

Like 'breastfeeding is good for babies IQ', is it set to becomes is just another in a barage of pro-breastfeeding propaganda fed to new mothers to guilt them into breastfeeding, even if they don't want to or can't?

Both the new mothers I know can't breastfeed, and one was so messed up about it, so bullied by the midwives to breastfeed no matter what, that her new baby became ill. She kept trying, but the baby wouldn't feed, so she kept trying and trying until the little bab was poorly and had to go back to hospital. This was a direct consequence of the guilt she was made to feel.

Also, the study showed the 'protective' effects of breastfeeding lasted up to 15 years after the last birth. Bear in mind most people do not develop type II diabetes until they are at least over 40. So, once you hit 40 you might get 5-10 years 'protection' from type II diabetes because you breastfeed, but once this wears off, are you just as vulnerable as everyone else? Is it a really a totally pointless excercise?

It's pretty damn obvious that breastfeeding is good for babies, duh, that's what nature designed for them to eat. And it's pretty plain that this can't be terrible for the mother's health (although I am sure there will be cases in which it is). In fact, my noggin will happily accept this because nature is prett clever and wonderful in the way it figures stuff out. But I can see a big red flashing sign saying 'Warning, Pro-breastfeeding propaganda', and I hope this doesn't just become another way for health professionals, and the community, to make mothers who can't or won't breastfeed feel guilty.

I am terrible at Maths, but if you're not, and you can figure out what a 2.5% chance reduced by 15% actually means in terms of chance compared to the general population please tell us, is it a big difference? My bad maths tell me it's not, but then I might have my equation the wrong way round...


Winter said...

My Mum couldn't breastfeed and now I'm doing a PhD, so I'm not going to worry too much about my brain. I'm sure breasfeeding is better if you can do it, but there are so many other factors that matter more when it comes to child raising. I also object to breastfeeding propaganda because it's one of the myriad ways in which our culture makes mothers feel guilty.

Andrea said...

See, I also think there's another reason why breastfeeding is pushed so much, it removes all parental responsibility from the father from the very beginning. Arguing that breast milk is better than formula is fair, though this must depend on the diet of the mother to a certain extent, but they wholeheartedly push the actual breast feeding itself as though bottle feeding would prevent you from 'bonding' and all that shit. Seeing as babies can't see their own feet I doubt they have the cognitive ability to distinguish a bottle from a boob.

Andrea said...

oh, and type II diabetes is usually linked to a bad diet and obesity. So I'm not sure how breast feeding could prevent its onset.

Joel said...

You know, I think this is blatantly sexist and unfair. Just because I don't lactate doesn't mean that I shouldn't have the extra protection against Type II that breast-feeding mothers have. You can bet that I will protest this to the proper authorities. I am going to demand that my Type II diabetes be removed from my body at once.

Andrea: I suspect it might have something to do with allowing excess fat to leave the body? Or maybe more insulin is released? Or the two facts may be entirely coincidental?

Joel said...

Andrea: mothers can get even by milking themselves and making dad bottle feed junior with that milk.