Doctor, Author Says Breastfeeding Should Not Be Optional

Breastfeeding should not be considered optional any longer, according to Dr. Darcia Narvaez writing for Psychology Today in an article that is gaining significant online attention. Dr. Narvaez says that while women actually can choose not to breastfeed, the risks caused by choosing to feed a baby formula over breast milk are significant enough that women should not see it as a choice between two equal options.

"Not for baby, and not if you understand the facts," Dr. Narvaez answered her own question asking if breastfeeding is optional. Dr. Narvaez says that breastfeeding should not just be considered optional, because in order to grow optimally, babies need breast milk. She asks, "And what baby does not want that?"

She calls out the book Lactivism calling it "sloppy reporting" that misread the evidence.

"It's astounding to anyone who knows anything about breast milk," she said of the book Lactivism, which she says claims that there is little difference between formula feeding and breastfeeding.

The Psychology Today writer says that breast milk is a "30 million year old substance with thousands of ingredients" and that there is no way that even the best formula created by scientists could possibly be equivalent, regardless of some studies to the contrary.

"It's amazing that people who think themselves so smart and superior to everyone else, can be so, shall we say, ignorant. They fail to understand other types of knowledge gathering, like observation. Or, how with evolutionary processes, the natural world has 'done the experimenting' over eons and provided us with many adaptations that are very intelligent," Dr. Narvaez writes.

Dr. Narvaez writes that social mammals emerged more than 30 million years ago and have been breastfeeding ever since. She says that in small-band hunter-gatherer communities around the world, people breastfeed between two and eight years. The average age of weaning in these communities is four-years-old, she says."The average length for our ancestors (and small-band hunter-gatherers) is shocking for mothers in advanced nations where societies are built around work and workplaces and not families and child development," she says.

Breastfeeding is not just about food, she asserts. She points out that breast milk provides immunoglobulins that are needed for strong immune systems, which normally take about five years to develop fully. Additionally, she says that experiments comparing pumped milk verses formula will not accurately portray the benefits of breastfeeding.

"This is why doing experiments with pumped milk is not going to work. Or doing experiments at all. Every child is different, developing at their own pace. Every feeding is different. It's an interaction between mom's science-laboratory breasts and the child's needs."
Dr. Narvaez says that the book Lactivism places a mother's rights over her baby's rights. She believes that if at all possible, a baby has a right to breastfeed. An earlier Inquisitr report explained that recent research indicates that the United States could reduce SIDS deaths by one-third by universally breastfeeding. The lead researcher from that study, which was published in The Lancet recently, said that the newest finding about breastfeeding impacts "leaves no doubt that the decision not to breastfeed has major long-term negative effects on the health, nutrition and development of children and on women's health."She says that people who argue against breastfeeding may suffer from "inherited epigenetic effects of trauma from their mother or medical interference through baby-mother unfriendly practices that undermine bonding."
"These are societal issues that will plague us until we put child wellbeing at the center of policies and practices, and until we ensure that future parents are supported and have all the capacities to provide their children what they evolved to need."
What do you think? Should breastfeeding be considered optional or a child's right?

[Image via Pixabay]