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Lessons about breastfeeding

A young mother is breastfeeding her baby in

A young mother is breastfeeding her baby in a cafe by the window on a sunny day Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

n regard to Randi F. Marshall’s column [“Don’t be misled about breastfeeding,” Opinion, July 13], I am writing as a mother who breastfed five children. Her message to new mothers that “your baby will be fine whichever path you choose” is untrue.

Breastfeeding gives immunity to the baby that formula cannot duplicate. It lowers risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, increases cognitive development and increases the health of the mother.

As a maternity ward nurse, my daughter-in-law can attest to the aggressive marketing techniques of baby formula companies. Marshall might assume that as a journalist she is beyond their influence, but the study she cited from the Journal of Pediatrics was co-authored by Dr. Michael D. Cabana, a paid consultant to Nestle, one of the largest formula manufacturers.

As a new mother, it was upsetting when my pediatrician told me I did not have enough milk and suggested formula. I then switched pediatricians and he told me to nurse more often to increase my milk and the baby gained two pounds the next month!

God made the system to adjust to the baby’s needs. When you supplement with formula, you decrease the demand thus lowering the amount of breast milk. I was able to breastfeed my baby as well as my next four children successfully!

Rosalie Malkiel, Syosset

All mammals breastfeed their babies and the milk is species specific, with the exact proportions of nutrients for that species. It is indisputable that breastfeeding is beneficial to the human baby and mother.

Success at breastfeeding is more likely when the mother is encouraged to feed early and often. However, there can be anatomical deviations and medical conditions in baby and/or mother which can delay or prevent breastfeeding.

No mother should be made to feel she is a “failure” but it is our obligation as a medical community to maximize her potential to breastfeed, because of the benefits. Formula should not be encouraged for the purpose of financial gain but to supplement when it is necessary.

Janet Herskovits, Flushing

Editor’s note: The writer is a lactation consultant.