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Monday, March 11, 2013

Breast Milk vs. Cow's Milk

This is one of those subjects that tends to get women all worked up.
So I want to preface it by saying...

This is NOT a discussion about whether "breast is best" in comparison to formula use.  This is not about making woman who choose not to breastfeed / couldn't breastfeed / had a difficult time breastfeeding / "insert your situation", etc., feel uncomfortable or bad or sad or even mad! So, although discussions such as this may arouse certain emotions, I won't allow that to deter me from opening up the topic for discussion as I feel it is important.

Now, what I'd like to have a discussion about is the transition to cow's milk  (i.e. Whole Milk) at age one, as it relates to the breastfeeding mother who was able to maintain breastfeeding up through this age.


I've been breastfeeding exclusively, with issues here and there, for 12 months and I must admit I'm very ready to call these bad boys (i.e. my boobies) my own again!  Madison recently had her 1 year appointment the day after her birthday.  Naturally, the pediatrician asked if I had introduced milk yet and I stated that I hadn't.  He went on to tell me that I could start transitioning her to whole milk (~16-24 oz / day).  Note:  He's made it clear in previous appointments that he didn't feel that breastfeeding beyond year one was necessary as the nutritional benefits, in his opinion, diminish. He made this point again during this appointment. These are his thoughts, which he is entitled to; however, I disagree.

These are my thoughts / questions...

If a mother has decided to breastfeed and has done so for a year, then why does it make sense to transition the child from mother's milk to cow's milk if the mother is able and willing to continue? Better yet, why is breastfeeding to age one the recommendation /common, goal instead of age two, so that there wouldn't be a need to ever introduce milk, except as a choice (vs. a requirement)?!?  Sort of like the choice to give any other solid / drink...it's not necessarily needed / required but something the family likes / wants to includes in their diet.  If the cow's milk is good and wholesome then wouldn't the mother's milk (which was formulated just for the baby) be just as good (I don't even care to argue whether it's better, I'd at least think it'd be on the same playing field)?!?

Are we too eager to go along with our pediatrician's recommendation(s) (not just as it relates to this subject, but in general)? Or better yet, are we too eager to go along with what is considered the "normal" progression / transition for a child, whether breastfed or formula fed, to cow's milk?!? Are these our only alternatives / best options?!? Basically, the mentality that this is how it has always been done, or how it is usually done, therefore, it is has to be appropriate.

Is it because breast milk doesn't contain the Vitamin D / Calcium / dietary fats that cow's milk possesses (which is needed for growth and brain development)?!? Or, can these nutrients be obtained through other food sources; thereby ruling the previous question null and void?

These are all things I've been ruminating on since just before Madison's first birthday.  With the information I've gathered about breast milk and cow's milk, I've decided to try to breastfeed for one more year. I recognize that in this country the older a child gets the more breastfeeding tends to be frowned upon (some may argue that this isn't true; however, this statement is based on my own personal experience, which makes it a true statement for me).  However, in my opinion, when it comes to breastfeeding / formula feeding / cow's milk / etc. it's the parent(s) choice how they'd like to go about providing for their child's needs. You don't have to support it, but you definitely don't have to criticize it either.  


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I believe one should do their own research in order to draw their own conclusions, so there aren't really any facts here that should / could sway a person one way or the other (except my bias, maybe, but hey, at least I'm admitting it)! I'd just like to hear candid thoughts on the subject!

Let's talk!  The floor is open...
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6 comments

  1. I agree with you - I think the decisions should be well informed and well researched. I think nowadays too many people turn to the Internet without really scrutinizing the credibility of what they read. I like how you've discussed the options here, I don't have much to say about the actual issue as I'm not a mum but I will definitely be checking back to see how your other readers respond to it xoxox

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    1. Exactly, Vanisha! I get worried that we have that same approach when it comes to other aspects of our lives as well. Such as healthcare, for example. My instincts as a mom tell me one thing, yet my doctor is telling me another...which is correct? I think it's important to listen to ourselves and do the necessary research when we feel uncertain about certain suggestion(s) in order to make the best decision(s).

      I had hoped to have more discussion on this!

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  2. in our country, philippines, pedias are recommending mommies in breastfeeding their babies up to 3 years old or at least one year ;-) then, mommies should eat healthy food and have healthy diet to give enough nutrients to their babies. i totally agree with you that it's better to breastfeed than formula milks

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    1. That was one of the points I wanted to make, Phioxee, that in this country that isn't the case; whereas in other countries breastfeeding is recommended as a long-term option for the baby.

      I'm not trying to say that breastfeeding is better than formula here, I'm trying to argue that if breast milk is better than transitioning to whole milk, if you are willing to continue breastfeeding. I think that distinction is important!

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  3. Cows milk is for cows - not humans. The baby is going to grow best on her own milk. I would say that you should keep her on the breast - if you are willing. I breastfed both my other kids almost 3 years.

    Back in olden times (old and new testament times) those women had those boobies working for 5 years. Yeah, i wouldn't keep a kid on the boob that long - but 2-3 years - in my opinion is okay.

    I remember being in Nordies when my son was about 2. I was feeding him. This lady came in with her 3 year old, and was like - cool. It's good to see a momma feeding her toddler

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  4. Oh goodness Nicole! I was just telling CB about this conversation you and I had the other day!!

    Of course, I'm in no position to give an opinion about which I think is "better". I've only gotten so far as to know that I want to breastfeed. I definitely haven't thought about how long. As you've said, it's up to the mother and father what they choose to do. You've done your research and you also have the recommendations of the pediatrician. You are a very smart woman capable of making good decisions. There won't be severe damaging repercussions if you choose one over the other...so I say go for it!!

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