Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

Controlled Feeding Times for Newborns: What a terrible idea!

Written by admin on February 4th, 2011. Posted in Boobs & Bottles

While pregnant I had a conversation with a friend who had recently had his first child. It went like this, he said the midwives told him to feed their daughter only every four hours. “It will get her into a good feeding habit” they said. She would scream and scream and he said she was the unhappiest baby. After weeks of this he said they finally ditched the midwife’s advice and fed her on demand. The transformation was evident. She was a new little girl, happy and calm. Given that newborns are meant to put on as much weight as possible and drink as much milk as possible, the midwives were fools. His pivotal advice to me before our girls were born was this, take midwives’ advice with a grain of salt. Just do whatever you feel in your gut is best for YOUR baby.

YOUR baby. That’s the operative word here. The baby you hold tightly in your arms belongs to you and no one else. If you feel that you should be doing something different to midwive’s advice, it’s your call. Don’t be bullied into hanging in there, and ‘that’s not how it should be done’ bollocks. Just do it. I didn’t receive any stifling advice like that from our midwife, it was simply “if they sleep more than 5 hours you should wake them and make them feed as there’s a risk they could become dehydrated“. Now that made sense to me. I agreed with it but only encountered it once with our little Leila while in hospital. After that they were up every 1.5 to 2 hours! We did however have a ‘Lactation Consultant’ (who looked about 25) come around telling me how I should be feeding the girls. From memory she had nothing productive to advise about technique, more picking on things she wasn’t happy with. If her intention was to make me feel bullied and belittled for using nipple shields on my extremely cracked and painful nipples, she succeeded. However my mother, partner and I decided to go ahead and continue using nipple shields anyway and our girls had zero problem adjusting to them, feeding with them, nor any issues with my milk flow because of them. But I was made to feel like it was the worst thing in the world to be doing! I look back at those conversations now and wish I had the mindset to tell her to shove off.

I don’t want to paint all lactation consultants in a poor light. I believe they have a very important role in the community to help new mums give breastfeeding the best shot they can so they don’t fall into the arms of formula. Breastfeeding is such a beautiful, natural, perfect food for your baby and chances are you haven’t had many women around you breastfeeding recently to bounce questions or concerns off. Lactation Consultants have their place in society and that is on the other side of the fence to the super profitable canned formula companies. Which is a good thing in my eyes. Read a great article from ABA that talks about the ‘great divide’ at “Feeding our babies: Choice? Guilt? Anger? Regret?“.

As your newborn becomes an infant (say around 2-3 months) you can implement a sleep/feed cycle that will get them into a healthy routine that will actually make them feel secure and happy. Babies love routine. It gives them a sense of security and knowing what to expect next. Our girls would actually go and rattle the gate when they felt it was time to crawl upstairs and have their nap! I’ll share my experiences with our twins in Sleep Challenges – Save our Sanity: Implementing a Sleep/Feed Routine“.

Feeding our babies: Choice? Guilt? Anger? Regret?

Written by admin on January 20th, 2011. Posted in Boobs & Bottles

On researching this topic I found an article that I wholeheartedly agree with and would like to share with you. Written by Yvette O’Dowd, ABA Breastfeeding Counsellor.

Feeding our babies: Choice? Guilt? Anger? Regret?

There is no real choice involved with breastfeeding.

Like natural conception, pregnancy, childbirth and all the other processes of the human body, breastfeeding is the default when it comes to feeding our babies – just like for all other infant mammals.

However, none of these natural processes are guaranteed failsafe and society has developed alternatives when something goes wrong with nature’s plan.

IVF and other fertility programs, surrogate pregnancy and intensive care for premature infants, caesarean sections … and artificial feeding … each intended to step in when nature stumbles.

Why then, is there such a divide between women who breastfeed and those who resort to artificial baby milk? Why can the apparent decision to do one be taken as criticism of those who do the other? Such conflict can also arise between natural versus medical childbirth proponents but imagine such a personal debate between those who conceive easily and those reliant on IVF? Imagine the full-term mothers in the postnatal ward questioning the actions of those with premmies in NICU! Imagine infertile women complaining about the promotion of contraception and family planning!

So what led to this great divide?
The answer can be found if we turn back a few pages in our history books. Originally, artificial feeding was only intended as the last option for babies unable to access human milk – those abandoned by their mother at birth, foundlings without access to wet nurses, orphans without a lactating relative to take them in. It was insidious marketing by those with a commercial interest which saw artificial feeding leap from last resort to first option and it has taken the best part of the past century to undo the damage of their actions. The repair is far from complete.

It would be bad enough if infant formula had been marketed as just an alternative to human milk, but far worse damage was done. Powerful advertising directed at family and medical communities led many to believe manufactured infant feeds were superior to a mother’s own milk. Generation after generation of new mothers had all choice taken away from them as health advisors passed on the misleading information fed to them by those whose real interest was in the making of money. Lots of money.

The most heartbreaking outcome is not the loss of breastfeeding confidence across the community, rather the failure of society to understand the risks of not feeding babies as nature intended. There are very real detrimental impacts on immediate and future health when we remove human milk from the human diet and replace it with artificially concocted substitutes. Just as there are risks with fertility treatments, premature or surgical birth, so too there are risks when artificial baby milk replaces breastmilk – whether at birth or at any time during the period nature intended humans to be fully or partly breastfed.

Any suggestion of these risks is shouted down by many in our society as unfair to mothers who have resorted to artificial feeding. For many years, these risks were cloaked in softer language and presented as benefits of breastmilk. This technique is akin to suggesting there are advantages to breathing air unpolluted by cigarette smoke! Benefits in not being exposed to toxic levels of radiation! Or perhaps reasons to consider not walking in front of a moving vehicle!! There are no benefits to breastfeeding – breast isn’t best, it is normal!

The decision to introduce artificial baby milk – either partly or fully replacing human milk in a child’s diet – should always follow full risk assessment. Artificial feeding is not about the choice to breastfeed or not to breastfeed. The decision has nothing to do with breastfeeding. When we add or replace a natural process with something else, it must be done with full awareness of the risks against benefit. Like organ replacement or renal dialysis, artificial feeding should only be considered when all else fails.

Emotional conflict
Any health awareness program is designed to alter people’s behaviour, change habits and encourage them to question their lifestyle. Give up smoking. Eat more vegetables, Do more exercise, Drink less alcohol. Avoid sun exposure. Reduce fat in the diet. Have a pap smear. Eat more fibre. Nag, nag, nag! Pick up a magazine, watch TV, visit the doctor or pass by a billboard. The message is simple: there are ways you can improve your health both now and in the future. By ignoring them you are denying your own power to act.

Put up a poster promoting breastfeeding, though, and suddenly people complain it is only being done to make those who are artificially feeding feel guilty! Why is this? How can just another health message seem personalised and threatening? The answer might surprise you. There is certainly emotion involved but it is nothing to do with guilt. Guilt is how you feel having committed an offence; remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offence. It is an internally created feeling and can only occur if the culprit recognises they have done the wrong thing. Surely this description would only apply to the smallest number of mothers who have not breastfed? The real emotion felt by the majority of women who resort to premature weaning is regret: feeling sad about the loss or absence of something treasured or valued. Put simply, when these women see promotion of breastfeeding, it reminds them of a time when they experienced sadness. This can lead to feelings of anger, as unresolved emotions come to the surface. What they need is support and understanding of their grief, recognition of their regret. Unfortunately, what they usually get instead is reassurance about the decision to wean and assurance of their baby’s health and wellbeing despite being fed artificially. This failure to acknowledge their true feelings goes a long way to delaying their emotional recovery. Raise the issue of breastfeeding in a group of women at any life stage – those emotions will come flooding out just as fresh in the retirement village as in the new mothers’ group.

If reminders of the value of breastmilk make you feel angry, then direct that anger not to those trying to increase the awareness of a whole population, rather to those who let you down. Mothers do not fail to breastfeed. Our society fails to help them do so. The real blame lies with:

Health systems that pay lip service to the benefits of breastmilk, yet expel new mothers from hospital before they have even grasped the basics of this learned skill.

Communities who view breastfeeding as an intimate act to only be performed behind closed doors, promoting only the sensual role of breasts and denying their practical use.
A society who expects women to resume paid work after brief, unpaid maternity leave while denying them access to workplace child care and other support for combining work and breastfeeding

A medical system that has charted the growth of breastfed infants against the unnatural growth patterns of those fed artificially (1) in past generations and implied failure to mothers whose babies did not measure up.

Unnecessary birth practices that interfere with the natural progression from womb to breast and strict infant regimes that deny babies access to the breast often enough for adequate nutrition.

A society which destroys body image by portraying the pubescent female form as that of a fully mature woman and displays malnourished celebrities as role models for adolescents and women of child-bearing age.

It is time to break down barriers between mothers and join together. There is no us and them, no good versus bad mother. Every woman has the right to the support and information she needs to birth and breastfeed her baby as nature intended, without pressure from the marketing techniques of multinational drug and breastmilk substitute manufacturers influencing the professionals guiding them along the path of motherhood.
(1) The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2006 released the first growth charts based on the growth patterns of breastfed babies, but to date these have only been adopted in Australia’s Northern Territory. WHO Child Growth Charts
May 2010

Australian Breastfeeding Association free helpline is 1800 MUM 2 MUM (686 2 686) or

Breastfeeding: The Proven Benefits

  • Immunological benefits – protects your baby from illness and infection
  • Provides the correct food for your growing baby
  • Aids the development of your baby’s eyesight, speech and intelligence
  • Promotes a special loving bond between mother and baby

Breastfeeding: The OUCH factor

Written by admin on January 20th, 2011. Posted in Boobs & Bottles

There’s no doubt about it. Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful but awkward feelings for some new mums. There’s a definite knack to breastfeeding successfully and if you’re lucky, your baby is a natch and finds it so simple they can do it with their eyes shut ;) But it can be a tricky thing for new mums to learn and even more challenging for mums of multiples. After giving birth to our twin girls smack in the middle of winter, breastfeeding was a challenging and chilling experience. I didn’t have the luxury of slipping one breast out and leaving all my lovely warm clothes on around my shoulders. No. In the middle of the night, every 2 hours or less, my breastfeeding experience was one where I ripped off all clothing from the waist up for simultaneous feeding on a twin feeding pillow. Which by the way is coated in a very, very, VERY cold plastic. Laugh yes, go on. It’s a funny image. Mum’s Milk Bar. Thankfully for the first 7 weeks my mother stayed with us and draped my shoulders in a blanket and helped each of our girls attach. Using a twin feeding pillow is a wonderful idea….if you’ve got 3 hands.

Breastfeeding – Get it wrong and you’ll be wearing the gash marks for weeks. My nipples looked as though they were taken to with a cheese grater and breastfeeding had me stomping my foot on the ground and gritting my teeth. (Thankfully I never developed Mastitis!). Determined to breastfeed though I pushed on sending my partner to the chemist to buy nipple shields. The midwife of course tutt tutt’ed saying no no no, that’s not a good idea and we wouldn’t recommend using those. We’re taught that learning ‘best technique’ is the remedy for nipple cracking and irritation. Looking at the pushy 25 year old ‘Lactation Consultant’ my thought was “and how many children have you had?”. Put simply, if you’re experiencing intense pain due to existing damage to your nipples the alternatives are slim. You can use nipple shields, express and bottle feed for a few days or a week until your nipples heal enough for your little milk vampire to guzzle on again or you can throw your hands up in the air and fall into the arms of formula. I decided to go with the nipple shields and our girls had absolutely no problem with them. They did look at me a little strangely the first time but they got over it very quickly when the milk started drenching through them.

Having twins I also had to decide whether to feed them formula through the nighttime as feeding two babies every 1.5-2 hours on the breast was exhausting, and slower. If they didn’t wake up at the same time to feed then it was, feed/burp…wait feed/burp, which left about 30 minutes before the first feeder woke up again. Impossible! And after my lesson learned In The Hospital (see “Sleep. There is no Substitute”) I learned not to expect to function like a superwoman on no sleep. It was simply too tiring. I breastfed exclusively the first couple of weeks but then resigned to using formula at night. I knew that if it wasn’t then it’d only be a few weeks later that I’d need to do it. My mother was with us the first 7 weeks and after she left it would be impossible to maneuver the girls onto the twin pillow by myself. I couldn’t wake my partner every 2 hours to help with this as he needed to function for work and couldn’t physically sustain feeding them one at a time. So my choices were slim.

The midwives warned that my milk flow would reduce by using the nipple shields. Where the logic is in that I’m not sure,  I still leaked excess milk like a jersey cow! However their warnings that I would slowly stop producing sufficient breastmilk by using formula at night and not breastfeeding was right. I was too tired to express every 6 hours in between feeding the girls so would wake up with a soaked shirt by early morning and if you’ve done your research, the longer you leave it to express the faster your milk dries up. This is purely because your clever little body establishes that if you aren’t using it, you aren’t needing it!

By the fourth month the girls rejected the breast through the daytime as they were just not getting the speed of flow they enjoyed from the bottle at night. It was very sad but I had to recognise that at the end of the day I didn’t have one baby, I had two and I’m not superwoman. Do I regret relying on formula? Yes. In a perfect world I would have loved the ability to exclusively breastfeed our twin girls (until their teeth came through because after that, forget it!). Our girls jumped 1 percentile in weight during that first week in hospital while receiving exclusively breastmilk. They lost the usual 10% of birthweight before regaining that and more. The midwives were very happy and impressed that our little 5.7 and 4.9 pound twins were accelerating growth so quickly. And during the next few months got bigger and bigger at a rate of knots jumping from the 3rd and 10th percentile to the 25th and 50th respectively! If we have another (single) baby it will be a no-brainer. I will breastfeed until their teeth come through, and even longer if they play nice with their new gnashers!

Before and after birth you should seek the counsel of as many mothers, midwives & lactation consultants as possible. Research the web and get all the facts (but learn to recognise ‘spin’ and who benefits most from it). In the end it’s your decision and doing what feels right for you and your baby is paramount. Take the advice that feels right for you and leave the rest in your wake. By making an informed and carefully weighed choice you will never feel guilt or regret. Now, not breastfeeding because you don’t want your boobs to drop, well that’s another story!

The topic of breastfeeding -vs- bottlefeeding is heated. With the ‘members’ of the two ‘parties’ seemingly at loggerheads. But I don’t think it’s women’s fault that the divide has come to such a heated debate. Clever and very deliberate marketing by the big formula companies have much to do with the information and ‘spin’ that’s out there. A good read is Feeding our Babies: Choice? Guilt? Anger? Regret?article written by Yvette O’Dowd, ABA Breastfeeding Counsellor in this category “Boobs & Bottles”.