What’s the point of breastfeeding then?

I am a healthcare executive who is also a reseach scientist and an advocate. I like being multi-layered. I like nuance. I like looking at data but I also mightily believe in my gut. The power of one’s gut can’t be underestimated. In the healthcare field it is quite ironic that there is this emphasis on evidenced based practices considering that around 75% of the time doctors cant figure out out what’s wrong. That number may be a slight exageration but many agree the percentage is quite high. Where am I going with this? Maybe I’m in the wrong field. Maybe I am perfectly suited for it due to my skepticism, use of gut, and my keen love of crunching data.


Now, I am heading to a larger point here. I’m not just waxing philosophical about my career choice.


I saw a few newsfeed noet a recent research study that supposedly found that breastfed children are not necessarily smarter.  Oh No! You mean to tell me that I breastfed for 16 months and won’t have a smart child? I can only shake my head at this. Yes, I suppose it advances science to do such research and find our what are the benefits of breastfeeding. But I will tell you this. I don’t care whether it leads to kids being smarter or not.   If you do a quick search on this study with certain key words, you get over 733,000 results.  And this is just a few days after the results were published.  I can tell you most research studies are lucky if a total of 100 people read them.


But back to me. I am glad that I breastfed and would do it again regardless of whether it leads to my kid scoring slightly higher on an exam. There are so many other benefits to it such as free food. Just kidding.  But there are intangible benefits. I liked having my son so close to me and I hope that we remain psychologically close. There is something so beautiful to the act.


My sister didn’t breastfeed and that is ok. I am not one of those people that thinks that every mother has to have the same script. We have different lives and different contexts. For me it worked. If he gets a higher IQ that’s just the icing on the cake. But its not the end all, be all.  Thus, I won’t even give such research any more attention. In this instance, I don’t need any data. Its my gut and heart that led.

11 replies »

  1. I breastfed all three our girls, so we are four breastfeeding supporters. My 6 grandchildren had the same privilege, to be breastfed by their moms. It was our choice, and it was good.


  2. We nearly starved our first child trying to breastfeed her, there was an issue with the plumbing and it was very difficult and painful, made the switch to formula and she flourished. Number 2 went straight to the bottle after 3 days for those important nutrients and immunological benefits. did I say that right?
    we wanted to and Mom was devastated when she had to make the choice. Pertinent piece for me. Thank You


  3. I am not a mom, but I plan to have kids someday. I believe that breastfeeding has a more emotional and psychological positive impact on kids/people. It creates a close bond. Some women, like my sister, can’t produce milk after their baby is born, so formula is the only option. I think that’s okay too, but doesn’t have the same effect as breastfeeding.
    I was breastfed by my mom for the first 4 months of my life, and I am not a genius nor super smart. I am average in intelligence.


  4. I breastfed my little one for over 2 months because people kept saying about how it would be terrible if I were to bottle feed and I was producing so much milk that he couldn’t latch properly. This led to permanent breast damage and a lot of scarring. It’s sad how people feed like they have to but it’s cool if they can


  5. I breastfed my son ( 31 years ago) and my daughter ( 29 years ago) and I loved doing it. I never considered if it would make them smarter. But it was just such a lovely time to be close to them and besides that it was so convenient; milk always ready at just the right temperature, anytime and anywhere!


  6. I think you’ve touched on a particularly challenging issue of science reporting. Many people don’t understand the nature of understanding evidence based practice and knowledge and will go with whatever latest study has been reported to them. Even to the point of not realizing that studies tend to focus on a narrow band of outcomes and its only with systematic review and meta-analysis should we really come to conclusion about whether or not to do something.
    A similar issue occurred with flossing – a study showed no benefit to plaque/filling rates for people long term, which people claimed undermined any benefit of flossing. They didn’t mention gum disease, and other oral health issues which I’m confident flossing does help with.
    Great post


  7. Great post!
    Having a smarter child was, in fact, one of the main benefits touted during my childbirth education class (there were SO many things wrong with that class. But I digress.) I chose to nurse my daughter, and am continuing to do so, for purely selfish reasons. I love the connection we have while she’s nursing. I love that she now recognizes where the milk comes from and will gently pat my boobs when she’s ready to nurse.
    And saving on formula doesn’t hurt either …


  8. Yeah, OK, I was selfish! I was kind of a nervous and stressed out mom who felt like the only way to keep them calm was to have a nipple in their mouth, and I was damned if I’d walk around 24/7 with a baby attached to my boob!🍼


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