Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Bottle feeding paves the way to child obesity, could it be true?
Here is the answer that I got. The reason why breastfeeding babies have less chances of becoming obese is because it is very hard to force a baby to breastfeed AND breast milk is perfect for the baby and varies according to the baby's needs. I am not a lactacting expert but I have met a couple recently and read books and they all tell me that the milk that a mother produces for her baby is always perfectly adjusted to the baby's needs. If the weather's hot and the baby is thirsty the milk will be more "runny" and watery. It adapts to the baby's needs at any point and at any moment of the day, and even to its needs if it's unwell. It evolves as the child grows and so the milk a mother produces for a new born is not the same as the milk she might produce when her child is eighteen months old or even two years old. How does this happen? Apparently (and again I have to hold up my hand I say, hey, I am not an expert just a four time mum who is more and more fascinated by breastfeeding) the breast analyses the saliva from the baby and produces what's needed on the basis of it. I can't prove it. I don't know the science behind it and would really love to hear more about this. But this mere fact is fascinating me.
Powdered milk on the other hand is.... let's face reality cows' milk. Cows have calves (am I using the right word here? Yes you know I am French so bear with my English please) and their milk is adapted to cows. I love stating the obvious. Now what are the needs of calves compared to a human baby? Calves need to grow very fast and are already running around literally hours after they are born. Look I am a city girl as well as being in French so if anyone knows more about calves than me (it won't be difficult) come to my rescue. However, it doesn't take a degree in farming to know that as a consequence the milk produced by cows is very fattening and extremely rich... and frankly probably not the best milk suited for our babies. Now I really don't mean to make mums who bottle fed their babies feel bad at this point because I stopped breastfeeding my first three at eight weeks and then moved onto the bottle, but if you have not switched yet OR if you are pregnant, please continue reading this and really look at your options. Think twice before you reach for that bottle. Also think twice before you supplement your milk with a bottle (as I am told that it can compromise your milk production AND cause nipple confusion) as this might make breastfeeding more difficult for you and your baby (dummies, too by the way).
You might also want to read my other blog about breastfeeding My Gentle Birth which looks into whether bottle feeding is really that much easier than breastfeeding because I am here to blast a few myths here. And in terms of child rearing, and feeding there are masses of myths that need to be blasted.
So this is the first reason why cow's milk can produce obese babies and later on toddlers. It is too rich, not adapted to our babies... and not adapted to their brain development. It is not only that. Powdered milk (infant formula) is really processed milk. Now I don't need to write a treaty about food to make you realise that processed food is always more fattening and not as healthy as natural food straight from the source as mother nature's intended it. Again, I don't mean to make mums who bottle feed their babies guilty or bad. It is however a fact. There is no pussy footing about it. It doesn't meant that all bottle fed babies will end up obese but it will probably take mums who bottle feed their babies a lot more work to prevent their babies becoming obese than the ones who breastfeed them.
In terms of slimming, and I am an advocate of natural holistic slimming, any processed food is a baddie. It is always too fattening, lots of things are added to it and basically the natural nutrients of the milk have been pretty much destroyed by all that pasteurisation plus the process to make it into powder. How can it be compared to the real thing? My advice is: please avoid feeding your children formula milk if you can.
If it wasn't enough.... the third reason why bottle fed babies have more chances of becoming obese is very simple. Bottle fed babies have more chances of being overfed. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that mums who bottle feed their babies tend to rely a lot on experts to tell them how much their babies need to eat and on charts of growth and possibly also on baby monitoring to find out if they babies eat as much as they should. And the problem is... they have a way of measuring how much their babies eat. Why is that a problem may you ask? Well, as the author of the journey of the slim soul, I can tell you that the best way to stay slim is to eat when you are hungry and to stop when you are full (this is actually Golden Rule Number 3 of the Seven Golden Rules of slimming that I describe in my book). And we learn that from... as young as being a baby. Now what do we do to bottle fed babies? It's not as bad as in the days of my mother who exclusively bottle fed me (I do touch upon that in my book) and on schedule, but we do tend to go by the book instead of trusting our instinct or even worse instead of listening to our babies. And there is a danger that we overfeed our babies. Whereas in my experience, it is very difficult, although not impossible, but in any case much more difficult to overfeed a breastfeeding baby. And even if you did, the consequences are not as... dire (see above about breast milk being healthier anyway).
If you combine all of the above, you can still have a child that is bottle fed which is not obese later on in life, but the likelihood is... it is not giving him or her a very good start. She (or he) will already have a taste for processed foods... for things that are not natural. A lot of milks are enriched.... but they are still artificial.
And this is the reason why I have, as an expert in holistic slimming and complementary therapies and a mother (not as a nutritionist nor a lactation consultant but I do listen to experts who make sense to me), I am fairly confident in stating that when we choose to bottle feed our babies, we run the risk of them being overweight later on in life. I know the studies prove it, but I haven't read them and I am not a scientist - although I nearly was one (I was really good at science as a child).
I want to finish this blog with this quote that fell on my lap a few days ago:
"Whilst breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby" Amy Spangler
Blessings of lightness
Anges de Lumiere