Benefits To Breastmilk Or Risks When You Don’t Consume It?

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By: Kristy Kemp 

This may piss some people off , but I’m saying it. It’s not so much that there are all these extra benefits to life when you breastfeed, it’s the risks that can happen when you don’t and yes there is science to back that up.

 No one is saying if you don’t breastfeed, your baby is doomed to an unhealthy life. Many babies who weren’t breastfed go on to lead happy, healthy, productive lives. So now because of  this misconception people are publishing all these articles devaluing breastmilk or trying to show “proof” that these benefits aren’t all they are cut out to be. Well, no one is promising that breastmilk is gonna keep you disease and illness free. Just like with risks, it is not a predetermined future! 

In order to be “politically correct” we started promoting breastfeeding by wording it as breastfeeding benefits, rather than the risks of not breastfeeding and that has a lot to do with where we went wrong. In 2002, the Ad Council conducted focus groups to develop the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign, targeted at reproductive-aged women who would not normally breastfeed. They found that women who were advised about the “benefits of breastfeeding” viewed lactation as a “bonus,” like a multivitamin, that was helpful but not essential for infant health. Women responded differently when the same data was presented as the “risk of not breastfeeding,” and they were far more likely to say that they would breastfeed their infants. [1]

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Breastmilk keeps you normal and a normal life means you may still get sick, you may get a disease, you may not be book smart, because drinking breastmilk is not a guarantee, just like risks aren’t guaranteed, but it doesn’t mean the risks don’t exist. People exercise , eat healthy, and take vitamins as a means to a healthier life, and they can still get heart disease, diabetes, or a terminal illness, but people aren’t publishing articles saying, “Eating Healthy And Exercise Is Overrated, Just Sit On The Couch & Eat Potato Chips & You’ll Be Just As Healthy” , doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Sure some people can go their whole life without a good diet and exercise and they can have a fit healthy body and life, but that is not proof that being a couch potato leads to a healthy life and it sure as hell does not devalue having a good diet and exercise.  We do whatever is in our power to lead healthy lives, but we don’t do those things because we know doing them meant a certain future, we do them to do whatever is in our power to lead a healthier life. You can make all the right choices and still get devastating news about your health. Breastfeeding is like eating healthy and exercising, it’s not a guarantee to a perfect healthy life, it’s trying to stay on track to LEAD a healthy NORMAL life. 

It’s confusing, when you think about it. Is it benefits or is it risks, what are we supposed to see it as? Well, you see it as breastfeeding being the biological norm. You see it as the milk humans make is meant to be consumed by humans. Breastmilk isn’t “best” because that would mean that another form of milk was the normal and that breastmilk was just an “added bonus” like taking a multivitamin everyday. Breastmilk is simply the norm. A mom choosing to breastfeed doesn’t mean she is giving her baby some magical potion that will keep her baby illness free.  Overtime we have changed so much of the wording in a means to educate society and come off “politically correct” which in turn confused the facts and made the alternative to breastmilk be normal & made it seem as breastfeeding meant a guaranteed better & healthier life. Breastmilk isn’t the best milk it’s just normal. People like to argue that because there is an alternative to breastmilk now that technically saying, “breast is best” is correct because out of the two milks breastmilk is better. I can’t really say they are wrong in the technical sense, but saying breastmilk is best also in turn is calling the alternative the norm, which is not technically correct. The line, “Breast is best” insinuates so much more than just breastmilk being better than the alternative. [2]

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Try to see the bigger picture. The point of this article is not to jab or belittle those who did not breastfeed. In fact, the opposite. It’s to point out that choosing to breastfeed does not make you or your baby better. It doesn’t guarantee a healthier life than a formula fed baby. It simply makes you normal. Your baby isn’t getting an “added bonus” when you choose breastmilk over the alternative, your baby is simply getting what your baby and you were biologically meant to get and even when your body gets everything it needs , stuff can still go wrong. Our bodies are mysteries , no rhyme or reason sometimes. 

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