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Thread: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

  1. #1
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    Jan 2006
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    Question Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    Hey there, mamas!

    On another forum I'm on, a question has been posed by a mama of a soon-to-be one-year-old. She's concerned that with extended nursing, the child learns to associate food with comfort, which can contribute to obesity and eating disorders. While I know (and have assured her) that toddlers associate comfort from the mom attached to the breast rather than just the "food" within, AND that nursing isn't like having a meal or snack of solids, she and a few others would like to see some "documentation" of this info. I've delved into Kellymom quite a bit and couldn't come up with anything; does anyone have any resources for this?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    I found this here on this site, though I am not sure its exactly what you were looking for. talking abotu the emotional benefits of nursing, and nothing to the contrary or what you were talking about in the other forum.

    "One paper written by a female psychiatrist (Waletzky, 1979) recommends natural weaning. She refers to early forced weanings as emotionally traumatic for the baby and states that most weaning recommendations given by pediatricians are "based on personal feelings and prejudices and not medical documentation." In her words: "Suddenly and prematurely taking from a baby the most emotionally satisfying experience he his ever known could . . . lead to significant immediate and long-term distress.... Such an approach considers breastfeeding only as a source of milk and fails to understand its significance as a means of comfort, pleasure, and communication for both mother and baby." Well said! Yet Waletzky's paper is based on her impressions from her psychiatric practice, not on research. "

    here is one showing that unicef and the american academy of pediatrics reccommending extended nursing. they wouldn't recommend it if it would cause the connections she was talking about.
    http://www.lalecheleague.org/FAQ/advantagetoddler.html

    HTH!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    I was thinking about this and while I have no evidence, it seems to me that if extended breast feeding contributed to obesity (ie food for comfort) then the percentage of obese children and adults would be close to the percentage of babies that are breastfed past a year.

    intuitively it's no where close and the number of obese ppl is far greater than the number of breast fed infants.

    Anyway, I don't think BF and food for comfort are attached... I think we train our kids by our eating habits and poor eating habits lead to obese kids.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    Food for comfort seems to me to be an instinct. That's what makes a newborn continue to suckle it's mother's breast. If this mother is worried about obesity teaching healthy eating habits is the best way to combat obesity.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    There is more information which you can get to on this site, about studies suggesting that breast-feeding -- including extended breastfeeding -- protects against childhood obesity. http://www.lalecheleague.org/cbi/bibobesity.html

    I think one of the major good things about continuing to breastfeed as long as the child feels the need of it, is that you're teaching them that total comfort can come from another human being: other people are the first place to look to find consolation when things are hard. That's very different from teaching that comfort comes from a cookie. It's not like saying, Here's your junk food, now go play in the traffic.

    My daughter is almost 2, and still loves to nurse. But at this stage, I don't think she really conceptualises it like food -- certainly not like any other food. In fact -- well, I've already posted elsewhere about her comical imaginative relationship with my breasts -- but one of the interesting aspects of her games is that she quite often offers food to them. "Nana want a strawberry, have it, Nana!" If the "nana" were itself viewed primarily as food, she wouldn't be offering it food!!! Breasts are comfort objects, associated with maternal love, cuddles, laughter, relaxation, warmth, familiarity, softness, all kinds of good things.

    And yes, they are also food, but only in combination with those other things. Personally I think there's no harm in finding food comforting, too. But it's much better if you can be comforted by a nice healthy meal with people you love, than by a tub of ice cream alone with the TV. That's depressing. My point is that breast-feeding makes it more likely you'll look for the first kind of comfort, not the second.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    Hi jools,
    I am sure I have read something about this idea/concern. I thought it was in Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, but I couldn't find it last night. (That book is a great resource to reassure a mother of the developmental appropriateness of extended nursing, by the way.)
    Anyway, wherever I read it, it was along the lines that the primary comfort comes from the mother and that deep connection with another person, versus simply soothing from food.
    I will keep looking.
    Mary

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    Totally agree with all the above posts.

    I also am just rolling my eyes at the question. According to this perspective, breastfeeding is just food, or essentially food. But critics of breastfeeding also are often quick to allege that breastmilk isn't "real" food, or that past a certain age it's not a necessary or beneficial food.

    As far as proving with documentation that breastfeeding does not promote a food=comfort association, I think you don't have look further than studies that demonstrate an association between not breastfeeding and higher rates of obesity.

    --Rebecca

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    well... since the 3rd world (where a majority of babies are breastfed on demand until they self-wean well into or past toddler-hood) is so full of obese folk who cant find comfort for their depression outside of a bar of chhocolate, then yeah, extended breastfeeding is probably a major cause of that

  9. #9

    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    Quote Originally Posted by majikfaerie
    well... since the 3rd world (where a majority of babies are breastfed on demand until they self-wean well into or past toddler-hood) is so full of obese folk who cant find comfort for their depression outside of a bar of chhocolate, then yeah, extended breastfeeding is probably a major cause of that
    You crack me up, there are folks that say that sarcasm doesn't convey all that well via the written word but you have perfected the art.
    Mother to Emily June, b. Sept 18, 2005 and Lucy Quinn, b. 1/20/2012

    “Buy the ticket, take the ride."
    Hunter S. Thompson

    Excitement on the Side: Who doesn't love a confident woman with long boobs...

  10. #10
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Need info on how EBF does NOT lead to food=comfort

    I also read that bf is associated with reduced likelihood of obesity in a number of different locations (books, mags, www) ... On the other hand, I have two nephews in their early teens who were both bf and they are both prone to chubbiness. So, bf alone is no guarantee - healthy eating habits (of solids) obviously must follow. (E.g. the younger of the nephews will not eat any fruit and only eats a couple of veggies, so his dietary habits certainly could be improved upon.) However, I think bf teaches the child to self-regulate food intake much more than bottle-feeding. Thus, I would think that being able to listen to one's body to determine how much to consume is an important skill that will be beneficial if accompanied by an overall healthy diet. (... and don't forget the exercise )

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