Bottle feeding or breast feeding?
by Dr Robert Mendelsohn, M.D.

Pediatricians are as determined as obstetricians to weaken the family. They start by making the new mother feel absolutely unequal to the task of looking after the welfare of her baby. Before the doctor even appears on the scene, the stage for submission is set by a platoon of pediatric nurses who incessantly badger the mother with dos and don'ts regarding every aspect of the baby's care. Of course, they're only following orders.

The first broadside the pediatrician delivers to the new mother-child relationship is his "advice" regarding the feeding of the infant. As if God made a mistake in not filling her breasts with Similac, the new mother is told that man-made formula is every bit as good for the baby as her own breast milk. Early in my own pediatric training I was taught that if a mother questioned whether she should breastfeed or bottlefeed, the proper answer is: "The decision is strictly up to you; I will assist you in whatever method you decide to use.

Of course, that answer is an outright lie. Bottlefeeding, the grandaddy of all junk food, wasn't then, isn't now, and never will be "as good as " breastfeeding. Human milk is designed for human babies, cow's milk for calves. The structure and composition of each is suited to the particular needs of the intended recipient. Among animals, switching milk sources, say, for example, giving a calf sow's milk, results in sickness and, often, death for the newborn.

The bottlefed human baby is substantially more likely to suffer a whole nightmare of illnesses: diarrhea, colic, gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, meningitis, asthma, hives, other allergies, pneumonia, eczema, obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, dermatitis, growth retardation, hypocalcemic tetany, neonatal hypothyroidism, necrotizing enterocolitis, and sudden infant death syndrome. From a scientific, biological standpoint, formula feeding cannot be considered an acceptable alternative to breastfeeding, especially since more than ninety-nine percent of new mothers are perfectly capable of doing it.

Even premature infants should get breastmilk. When I had my pediatric training more than twenty-five years ago, I was strongly (and thankfully) influenced by one of the great nurses in the field of premature babies, Evelyn Lundeen. Miss Lundeen not only encouraged but insisted that mothers supply breastmilk to their premies even to those who weighed only two pounds. I can remember watching husbands deliver the bottles of milk their wives had pumped. There's no doubt in my mind that the premature infant fed breastmilk does much better than the premature infant fed formula In my own practice I have discharged from the hospital many babies who weighed less than five pounds, all breastfed, of course, since now I won't accept a child as a patient unless the mother is determined to breastfeed.

Telling mothers that breastfeeding is superior to formula feeding is my recipe for eliminating a pediatric practice. If a pediatrician tells a mother the truth that breastfeeding is good and bottlefeeding is dangerous, it will lead to feelings of guilt on the part of the mother who chooses not to breastfeed. The guilty mother then will scurry off to a pediatrician who's willing to relieve that guilt by telling her that it makes no difference whether or not she breast feeds. On the other hand, those women who do breastfeed will have babies that never get sick. There goes the pediatric practice!

You won't find many pediatricians who insist that a woman breastfeed her baby. Instead, you'll find what I call Pediatric doublethink, the statement that breastfeeding is best, but formula is just as good. You'll find pediatricians who hand out free sample six packs of infant formula to new mothers; you'll find pediatricians who insist that newborns waste their sucking reflex and energy on sugar-water bottles; you'll find pediatricians who push free "supplementary formula" kits on mothers who are breastfeeding; and you’ll find pediatricians who discourage a mother from breastfeeding if her baby doesn't gain as much weight as the manual provided by the formula company says it should. You'll find pediatricians neglecting to inform mothers that infant formula can contain from ten to I000 times as much lead as breastmilk; neglecting to tell a mother that breastfeeding protects her infant from all infectious diseases she has had or fought off through her immune system; neglecting to tell mothers that breastfeeding promotes better bone maturation and intellectual development; and neglecting to tell them that breastfeeding will help protect the mothers themselves from cancer of the breast.

Breastfeeding is better for the family too. The bond between a mother and her child is secure and healthy when the mother breastfeeds. Not only does the sucking of the infant stimulate hormones that reduce postnatal bleeding and discomfort and cause the uterus to shrink back sooner, but it also gives the mother sensual pleasure as well. Bottlefeeding, however, gives the mother no such pleasure. It does make possible-indeed necessary the sacred four-hour feeding schedule, which does untold damage to all involved, in the name of "regularity."

Dr Robert Mendelsohn, M.D. (Confessions of a Medical Heretic).

[Vaccination]   [Dr Mendelsohn]