i really hate it when i hear moms say that they can’t eat this that and the other because it upsets the baby.. this may be the case in very rare cases but i think that often it is the product of mom-shaming by doctors who seek to use breastfeeding as a scapegoat and recommend severe restrictions to the mom or formula and an ‘easy’ solution.
Last week I was at a big family dinner and my sister in law’s cousin was there with her 10 day old baby girl. From the first few minutes after she walked in I was already judging her as all parents do of each other’s children and baby raising practices. I was judging her because she was feeding her baby from a bottle. Such a little baby drinking from a bottle always confuses me and saddens me because I know that in most likely cases whatever issue has led to formula-feeding probably could have been and definitely should have been resolved. But as I watched her feed this little baby from the bottle and saw the baby guzzling down this milk, I looked more closely and I had this feeling it was breastmilk, since I know how that looks compared to formula. I didn’t approach her at first, I figured she didn’t want that. But then later my mother suggested to her that she should speak to me because clearly she was upset about what was going on with breastfeeding her baby. What I learned was ridiculous. For no apparent reason her pediatrician had told her when the baby was three or four days old and had lost the expected 10% of her birth weight, just barely, that he was concerned about her weight and that she should be supplementing with formula and if she really wanted to continue breastfeeding she should be pumping after a feed and then feeding the baby with additional breastmilk from a bottle at any and every opportunity. I was floored. There were no complaints with this baby. She was born at 9 and a half pounds, and the mom had had a C-section and an IV so clearly there would have been more fluid in this baby to lose in the first place. She was making wet and dirty diapers normally. She was relatively content. But for some crazy reason, which is the case with so many pediatricians that parents trust wholeheartedly, this mother was made to feel as though she was doing something wrong by trusting her body to feed this baby. She knew it sounded crazy and she really wanted to make breastfeeding work. But without a science or medical background herself who was she to argue with this professional? So after that appointment she had started pumping all the time, stressing herself out, and this led to bringing the bottle of breastmilk to this family gathering. Sure, she was inhibited about nursing in public because she was new at it and that is understandable. But the last thing she needed was to feel like she had to juggle the bottle and the breast because of something a supposed professional had told her. As we were speaking, she was trying to BF, and it was really OK! There was nothing obvious wrong with baby’s latch or feeding. EVERYTHING WAS FINE. Until this mama was nearly sabotaged. Things I told her:
– stop pumping until you really have to (baby will be 4 months when she goes back to school)
– yes Daddy being about to feed baby is cute but there are other ways to bond that don’t disrupt establishing solid BF skills and supply
– find another doctor
– doctors don’t know $hit about breastfeeding
– she’s doing a great job
– her body has evolved to do this
– every time baby cries, shove a boob in there
As to the latter point, this worked 90% of the time with Q and maybe 40% of the time with K. But the important thing for this new breastfeeding mom to recognize is that there’s nothing wrong with using the boob as her front line of defense against a crying baby. Mamas have been doing that since boobs have existed. Having the bottle of milk there just totally confused everything.
I told her to find her mama tribe – aka some good Facebook groups and her local lactation support group.
This sort of thing happens every day. And most of the time, there’s no lactating superhero to swoop in and set things right.