Breast IS Best, But Giselle — Really??

As I’m sure you’ve heard, supermodel Giselle Bundchen was recently quoted as saying that mothers should be required by law to breastfeed for the first six months of a baby’s life. And boy, is she ever getting super-attention for it.

”Some people here (in the US) think they don’t have to breastfeed, and I think ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?’ I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.”

Some moms are outraged, and with good reason. Do we really need to be lectured about the rules of parenting by supermodels? Has our celebrity culture gone totally over the line? Here’s what the … ummm … more qualified professionals have to say.

From HealthyChildren.org, the web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics:

The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates breastfeeding as the optimal form of infant feeding. Even though formula feeding is not identical to breastfeeding, formulas do provide appropriate nutrition. Both approaches are safe and healthy for your baby, and each has its advantages.

The most practical benefits of breastfeeding are convenience and cost, but there are some real medical benefits, too. Breastmilk provides your baby with natural antibodies that help her resist some types of infections (including ear, respiratory, and intestinal infections). Breastfed babies also are less likely to suffer from allergies that occasionally occur in babies fed cow’s milk formulas. Breastfed infants also may be less likely to develop asthma and diabetes, or become overweight, than those who are bottle-fed.

Mothers who nurse their babies feel there are many emotional rewards. Once the milk supply is established and the baby is nursing well, both mother and child experience a tremendous sense of closeness and comfort, a bond that continues throughout infancy. The first week or two can be challenging for some, but most pediatricians can offer guidance or refer you to a certified lactation consultant for assistance if needed.

If there is a medical reason you cannot breastfeed or you choose not to do so, you still can achieve similar feelings of closeness during bottle-feedings. Rocking, cuddling, stroking, and gazing into your baby’s eyes will enhance the experience for both of you, regardless of the milk source.

So you decide. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Some moms want to breastfeed and can’t, and they should not feel guilty about it. We all know scores of happy, healthy adults who were bottle fed and did just fine. There are no breastfeeding police, thank goodness.

And as always, consider the source.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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