News/Trending Parenting

Study Finds No Long-Term Benefits of Breastfeeding, So Can We Stop Being So Judgy About It?

In a story that’s sure to get your Facebook mom group in a tizzy, new research is calling into question some of the long-term benefits of breastfeeding. Turns out, nursing your kiddo is not going to turn them into a super genius.

An Irish study published in the Journal Pediatrics followed the progress of more than 7,000 babies. Though it found that the babies who were breastfed for 6 months or longer were less likely to be hyperactive and had better problem-solving skills at 3 years old, that bump leveled off by the time the kids were 5. By that age, there were no significant differences between those who were breastfed and those who weren’t.

Many studies have looked at the issue before, and some have found that breastfed babies did have higher IQs— but they usually failed to take into account that moms who have the ability to exclusively breastfeed are often in higher income brackets and are better educated.

So why is this study important?

Because as you might have noticed, there is still a ridiculous amount of pressure and judgment when it comes to breastfeeding versus formula-feeding. No one, not even the people behind this study, is trying to say that breastfeeding is a waste of time. Breast milk helps babies bolster their immune systems and it’s hugely beneficial to babies born early.

But it’s not so wildly important that it’s worth more than a mom’s sanity or emotional well-being if she doesn’t want to do it.

I’ve noticed that lately that there’s more and more lip service paid to the fact that moms need to take time to themselves and that self-care is important. Let’s try to remember that self-care for a mom may mean making the choice to stop breastfeeding or to never breastfeed at all.

Let’s let moms make those decisions based off of evidence-based, scientifically sound studies (like this one), rather than peer pressure and fear of being judged.