Apologies for those of you who've been eying this page and wondering just how lazy one blogger can get - posting a link with no post. Answer is, obviously, I hit 'save' rather than 'save draft' and forgot about it. Since I saw it show up in my bloglines this morning, perhaps I should just get on and blog about it and save the other pending posts (I'm getting really behind - now got a list that includes: Pob at 10 months, Secondary infertility, progress on this cycle, the trip to the zoo, the naming ceremony. Argh) for another day.
So yes, this article. Apparently breastfeeding promotes the release of a 'trust' hormone - oxytocin - in the mother's brain. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they don't know what's going on in the baby's brain simultaneously. I would imagine perhaps something similar - although perhaps baby brains have a lot else going on so this may be just one change of many they are experiencing during that period of extraordinary growth and change in the first year, and hence lost in the shuffle.
It's not really a ground-breaking study, nor is it telling us something we didn't really know. But it got me thinking. I wonder what it misses out. Does the same thing happen when someone takes their baby in their arms and lovingly offers them a bottle? Does thinking about your baby while you sit attached to a breast pump have some of the same effect? I know the aim of much of this research - or much of the promotion of this kind of research - is to promote breastfeeding, but what is there out there for those of us who struggled to succeed at breastfeeding, and for whom, therefore, these kind of articles are like a poke in the eye with a large sharp stick? Is there any evidence (I bet there isn't) that women who didn't breastfeed their babies - or didn't breastfeed for long - have weaker attachment to their children? I know the evidence for the health benefits, but I'm less clear that there is evidence to show stronger attachment - after all, how exactly would you measure it without being confounded by a lot of additional factors that are hard to identify and pull out of the data?
Having said that, I am delighted I persevered in my totally insane way with breastfeeding, despite everyone (except some of you, dear ladies in the computer) telling me to give it up as a bad job. The last two months of breastfeeding, where Pob seemed to really know what to do, and where I was less stressed, and where she started to need less from the bottle (perhaps because she started solids around six months), were lovely. Some of the times earlier were lovely too, but they also involved me being chained to the house most of the time, and constantly measuring what I was producing and what she was getting, which was less fun. Not to mention the part where I cried all the time. But despite that, for us it was worth it. Those moments were lovely.
Might I have had those lovely moments with bottle feeding? Yes, I might. And we'll never know what the difference would have been. For us, it was right to persevere. I would do it again if I had the time over again. For others, it might not be right to persevere in the same way, and that's ok. I don't think it means that 'trust' between mother and baby is necessarily less, just perhaps that the way trust is formed might be a bit different. But isn't each relationship between a mother and baby quite unique? Let's bear that in mind when reporting about breastfeeding issues and talking about breastfeeding in general (cue another post about the breastfeeding websites that come up when you're having trouble, and how much like shit they can make you feel if things aren't going well).