I’m thinking the economy must be better than everything thinks, because some pretty inane studies are still managing to get funding. Like this one, reported on CNN.com, that shows how formula feeding moms and breastfeeding moms get “the same amount of sleep”. (I’m not bothering to read this one because frankly it’s too ridiculous for words, but I would venture a guess that “the same amount” = not much in either case, unless you’re one of those lucky women who gets blessed with a baby that sleeps through the night at 2 weeks. For the record, I kind of hate you, and also want to be you.)
This is not news, people. I understand it’s an old wives’ tale (and possibly a marketing ploy by the formula companies, since as we all know, everything is. They were responsible for the Kennedy Assassination and 9/11 too…although I should probably cut the sarcasm since Enfamil did put out that ridiculous “Restful” formula which set the cause of formula feeding rights back about 50 years) that formula makes babies sleep better, but as the mom of a baby who was fed both breastmilk from a bottle and later straight formula, and who never slept more than 3 hours at a time until he was 5 months old, I can attest that this is far from the truth. I know breastfed babies who slept like lambs, and formula fed babies who kept their poor parents up all night.
Now, I do think formula allows mom one luxury – the night feedings can be shared by partners, whereas breastfeeding moms have no choice but to be involved in the feeding, as the feeding apparatus is attached to their bodies. But in a completely anecdotal, uncontrolled study, performed by myself using my group of mom friends as subjects, I found that no matter how the baby was being fed, the non-primary-caregiving parent woke up far less than the primary caregiver. Sometimes it was because the significant other had to work the next day, whereas the primary caregiver was staying at home, or at least on maternity leave; in other cases, even when both parents were working, the primary caregiver was just more attuned to the baby’s needs and woke up faster and more efficiently than her partner. In my case, Fearless Husband was far more stoic when I was pumping exclusively, waking up to feed Fearless Child a bottle of my pumped milk while I pumped more of the stuff. When we switched to formula, he was suddenly way less apt to wake up; even if his intentions were good, I’d sit up straight the second FC started crying, but no amount of smacking upside the head could wake my beloved. It was just easier for me to get up and make the bottle.
So, I would imagine that these things kind of even out. Yeah, formula feeding moms can share the burden of night feedings, but breastfeeding moms – if they are sharing a room with their infants – can simply roll over and let the kiddo feed. That always sounded blissful to me, especially as I was knocking into furniture in the pitch dark, stumbling into our bathroom to mix up a bottle….
Point being – I’m 100% not surprised about this finding. I’m just surprised someone would bother to conduct a study looking into this issue, when there are so many more important things to be researching. I should have learned my lesson by now, though, because the end of the CNN article made it all perfectly clear:
So what should new moms take from this study? Researchers hope it will encourage moms-to-be who are thinking about exclusively formula feeding their babies to consider nursing as well. When it comes to breast milk, says Hawley E. Montgomery-Downs, the study’s lead researcher and assistant professor of psychology at West Virginia University, “the benefits for mom and baby are unequivocal. Yes, they are exhausted, but getting better sleep can’t be used as a reason not to breastfeed.”
Oh, right. That’s why Montgomery-Downs conducted this study, as an “assistant professor of psychology” – not a sleep expert, or a lactation consultant, but someone who should arguably be more concerned with the effect of lack of sleep on a person’s psychological makeup than worrying about some stupid petty argument between new moms, or giving prescriptive advice about the “unequivocal” benefits of breastfeeding – to ensure that no woman can use “I’m tired” as a reason not to breastfeed. I’ve also yet to meet a mom who seriously factored the rumor about formula helping babies sleep into their decision. It may have been an after-the-fact silver lining, but a reason to go directly to formula? Not so much. And I’d testify in court that I’ve talked to at least 80 formula feeding moms at length, which is the same sample size as this study.
Maybe we need to start a new feature on FFF… Studies That Make You Want to Bang Your Head Repeatedly Against a Brick Wall? STMYWBYHRABW for short? You like?