Have you heard that a long-term study has pointed to a link between breastfeeding and intelligence?
The research in Brazil published in The Lancet Global Health traced nearly 3,500 babies and found those who had been breastfed for longer went on to score higher on IQ tests as adults.
I am not against research but sometimes I wish they would tell us why they are researching something in the first place together with who is funding the research and the gender balance in who is coming up with the conclusions.
Day in and day out, mums wake up to these sort of stories often after a sleep-deprived night or where they really are doing their utmost to juggle it all. In my experience, most mums question themselves constantly and make decisions with the basic idea of doing the best by their children. Such stories and the attention they get in the media do little to build self-esteem of the mum which for me is a very good thing for a child to have in their life.
If we are going to say that mums should do something, please can we ensure that funding and other resources are put in place to help them to do so?
I wanted to breastfeed but struggled to do so. I felt very bullied by some midwives. Breastfeeding hurt and I was concerned my son was not getting enough nourishment. Nobody had warned me not every mum finds it easy so I felt a failure.
When I was pregnant with my second child and a midwife told me I had a choice whether to bottle-feed or breastfeed, I felt so relieved and it made for a happier pregnancy.
Having said that, I wanted to breastfeed all my babies. I just did not feel capable and lacked support.
As for myself, I doubt I was breastfed considering the circumstances of my birth but I managed to get into Cambridge University if that is a marker of intelligence.
I have 3 children and only the one who was breastfed has learning difficulties.
For me, these facts prove nothing and I am not sure the research does either.
Apparently experts say that much more research is needed to explore any possible link between breastfeeding and intelligence.
Does it matter? Is it desirable to force every mum to breastfeed so we can have a society full of highly intelligent people? Shouldn’t the research be watertight before the media take it up and beat mums over the head with it?
Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing, Public Health England, said there was strong evidence said “PHE’s advice remains that exclusive breastfeeding for around the first six months of life provides health benefits to babies.
“We recognise however, that not all mothers choose, or are able, to breastfeed and infant formula is the only alternative to breast milk for babies under 12 months old.”
Dr Colin Michie, chairman of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s nutrition committee, said: “It is important to note that breastfeeding is one of many factors that can contribute to a child’s outcomes, however this study emphasises the need for continued and enhanced breastfeeding promotion so expectant mothers are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding.”
Janet Fyle of the Royal College of Midwives said new mothers needed breastfeeding support.
Very interesting how it is a woman and a mum who highlights the need for support.
In conclusion, I am not a big fan of the parenting police particularly when there is still a woeful lack of support for some women who are trying to be the best mum they can be.