Breastfeeding advice

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AlyssaEimers's picture
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Breastfeeding advice

So on FB a new mother is asking about her child that screams 24 hours a day. She admits the doctor told her that the baby might not be getting enough to eat.

Debate - Why is it such blaspheme to suggest giving the baby a bottle of formula? Reading the commits, you would think the politically correct thing to do would be to let the baby starve to death before you offered some formula. If a breastfeeding mother asks for advice, why is it so taboo to suggest something that might help?

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I think a lot of people worry that the advice that the baby is not getting enough is wrong and therefore giving a bottle of formula would not be helpful and could possibly cause problems with breastfeeding.

I do think incorrect advice is often given....but honestly I don't think its great to butt in as a third party. If she is talking to her doctor about it, then there is no point in trying to get involved. She will either trust his/her advice or not.

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If someone asks on Facebook, they are opening up themselves to other peoples opinions.

It is not true that if someone is breastfeeding every two hours the baby is not automatically getting enough to eat. My niece almost died because her mother faulsey was told and believed that no matter what her baby was fine as long as she was nursing every two hours. Two of my own children had great problems because of this. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. If you give the baby a bottle and everything is fine, then ok that was your problem. If you give the baby a bottle and the baby is still screaming 24 hours a day then obviously something else is the matter. Regardless of what the person does, I do not understand why even suggesting it is such a huge no no. It seems like it would go over better to suggest giving the baby dog food than to give a baby a bottle of formula. If it is to the point that the baby screaming all of the time that it is effecting every aspect of your life (she has said it has), then why is it such a capitol offence to suggest formula?

FTR - No one has been rude, it just has bothered me for a long time why it is pushed so much to never give a breast fed baby a bottle when babies can and do starve from this advice.

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As you said, your niece almost died because her mother was given bad advice. There are ways to make sure that baby is getting milk, mainly weighing them before and after a feed. Advice to give a bottle is often frowned on because if the baby is not getting enough to eat, and then they get a bottle, they may refuse to take the breast back and then mom is stuck formula feeding. With many woman who feel strongly about breastfeeding this can lead to ppd which is not good for anyone in the family. Eventually, yes, in some situations a bottle may ultimately have to be given, however there are many things that should be tried first if the mother feels strongly about breastfeeding. As long as the baby is under the care of a responsible doctor and is being checked regularly there really should be no danger in doing so. There are other, better, ways of supplementing if it is deemed necessary.

So, I guess to answer your question, it is really looked down on to suggest a bottle when women are looking for advice on nursing, because these women are looking for support, and no matter how politely it is worded, 'give the baby a bottle' is easily interpreted as 'give up, you cant do this'. I also want to add the caveat that we are talking about women who have just given birth and are filled with a stew of hormones, so.....what you say, and how it will sound through that lens might be two different things.

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Babies will not starve on the advice to not give a bottle. They can and do starve because of bad advice about how to breastfeed. The advice to feed baby every two hours is just plain wrong, horrible advice! (It might be OK for some babies later in life, but not for most newborns.) The two hour thing is almost as bad as the "feed for 10 minutes on each side," advice. They are both just bad bad bad advice, and one of the most wrongest ways to feed your baby. Milk is a supply & demand kind of thing, the more demand, the supply will increase, so giving baby a bottle is NOT the answer. You nurse your baby when he's hungry, and you nurse him as long as he needs to nurse. You sleep skin to skin so that the closeness of your baby stimulates your body to make milk, and you hold baby close as much as possible during the day for the same reason. You make sure he's getting enough by watching his growth, and by weighing him before & after each feed if you're not sure. You tickle his feet to keep him from falling asleep, and you avoid things like mint & caffeine that will reduce your milk supply. You consult an LC or a breastfeeding peer counselor to make sure there aren't problems with his latch or with your nipples (which a few hours with hard breast shells in your bra will likely help.) Even if baby has a physical problem with nursing, you can pump and give baby EBM in a bottle which will keep your production up while the baby's physical problems are addressed. There are an incredibly very few women who truly can not feed their baby enough breast milk, if they really want to do it, and those cases usually involve hormone issues or breast surgery. New moms absolutely should be encouraged to do everything they can to breast feed. Formula should be for emergencies, and bad advice is not an emergency, at least not for a while.

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"Spacers" wrote:

Babies will not starve on the advice to not give a bottle.

This is simply not true in every case. Maybe in many cases, but not every case. With my oldest, she was born 6 weeks early at 4 lbs 9 oz. I had 3 different lactation consultants tell me she simply was not capable of sucking to nurse. We fed her with a medicine cup for several days until her ped told us that he would have to admit her to the hospital if she did not start gaining weight. We gave in and gave her a bottle (pumped breast milk) as we did not have any other choice. There was a huge amount of guilt from A. feeling like a failure because so many people had told me not to give her a bottle under any circumstance and B. realising that I had been starving my own child. With my second daughter she could not nurse right away either. I pumped and fed her in a bottle. After two months, one night I was just two tired to get up and pump and fix a bottle so I gave her my breast as a passifier. She latched on and never looked back. With my 3rd daughter she was born 8 weeks early and in the NICU for 2 1/2 weeks. She obviously could not nurse right away. (Or take a bottle. She was on a feeding tube.) I pumped and easily got 6-8oz at a time as I had with both my other two girls. Then I got two very bad infections. MIRSA and I forget the name of the other. I pumped and dumped the whole time I was on the antibiotic, but it somehow damaged my milk supply. I did everything everyone gives as advice. Tons of herbs and teas. Pumping and nursing around the clock. Nothing worked. Either the infection or the antibiotic killed my supply. If I had been relying on the above advice of just nurse, nurse, nurse she would have starved. My body just stopped producing milk. No amount of nursing helped. With my niece's mother, she nursed, nursed, nursed just like everyone told her to. Her baby withered down to almost nothing. CPS became involved and she was not given a choice but to start giving formula. For some people, for whatever reason their body does not produce enough milk. Or, the baby is just not have the ability to suck. The amount of guilt and pressure that is put on a mother to never try a bottle no matter what is incredible. If it comes to the point that the baby is screaming around the clock obviously in pain, anything and everything should be tried to help. Including a bottle.

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For me it is the bottle that is the issue, not the supplementation. I would never suggest that a woman who is breast feeding give a bottle, but I might suggest she try a SNS (is that right? The one that puts the formula at your breast?). As I said, a baby who is properly monitored will not starve without a 'bottle'. Your niece was either not being monitored, or her mother was ignoring her Drs advice, as for your babies, you are talking about preemies who are a different creature entirely, IMO. A baby who still has the energy to scream all day and night might be hungry, but is not starving or in imminent danger. This is not the life and death situation you are making it out to be.

As for the two hour advice, I have always heard it as 'at least' every two hours. My first was a sleepy baby and we did not do well with nursing on demand, had to go to an every 2 hours system for a few weeks. A big difference to your stories though Bonita is that I had proper support in the form of a lactation nurse run clinic, where I would take DD every 2 days to be weighed and observed nursing. They did everything they could to help me and then eventually told me I would need to start supplementing if she lost any more weight. BOTTLES were never mentioned! Lucky for us my milk came in and she started gaining and that was that, but I remember how devastated I was when I head that, and how much I cried those 2 days, and I cant imagine what it would have done for my well being if I had given her a bottle and never been able to nurse again. We really need to acknowledge that there are 2 people in the nursing relationship and although the babies health is the most important, moms well being NEEDS to be considered for a healthy bond to form.

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I feel like bottles is a such a bad word in the BF community. My first had no interest in nursing and I had all the nurses and an LC trying to get her to latch. After a certain point (18hr?) they said they had to give her something to eat but if she had tried to latch they wouldn't have. I cried so much because I was convinced based on everything that I read that because they were doing this, I would not be able to BF. I gave bottles from then on. I started pumping and we did a mix of BM and formula in a bottle. It took about 4 days for her to latch. We saw an LC 5 times in the first 2 weeks. I was going crazy in that time of the try to nurse (20 minutes) - supplement feed (20 minutes) - pump (20 minutes) every 3 hours. At one point the LC told me to relax and ask myself if it was important that I do all that every time because a crazy mom wasn't a good mom. After having all those bottles, by 5 months we couldn't get her to take a bottle and she nursed until she self weaned around a year.

DD2 was a preemie with a feeding tube. I had the choice to try to nurse her or bottles. It took over a week for her to take a bottle and three weeks to latch. When she came home, I worked on transitioning to nursing and that took 6 weeks. I can totally see why someone wouldn't do that but it was important to me.

I always get frustrated with the BF movement being all or nothing because I see moms who can't BF 100% so they give up. There are many ways to be successful BF but it does take support.

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"ftmom" wrote:

moms well being NEEDS to be considered for a healthy bond to form.

That is exactly right, and if a baby is screaming 24 hours a day and affecting every aspect of your life. Making it so you can't sleep, function, or take care of your other children, then you are not a bad mom or a bad person if you give the occasional bottle. The amount of judgment and pressure on this issue is unreal. It took me a long time to get to sleep last night as I was thinking about this. I did not realise I still have such strong feelings about this subject.

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Funny, as a working mom the idea of a bottle doesn't alarm me too much...i had to give all my babies bottles from pretty early on since I had to go back to work. Replacing breastmilk with formula/supplementing concerns me more because I think it hurts your breastmilk supply.*

If someone really has their heart set on breastfeeding then i think supplementing should only be tried after trying everything else, which can be difficult if you don't have a good support system. I really don't think its good when the first suggestion off the bat is to supplement, but its hard because when asking the general populous for advice, they might not be the most knowledgeable about breastfeeding. I think it should be done as a last resort...only if the mother had very serious intentions about breastfeeding for the long term to begin with. If not, then i don't think it matters as much.

Yep it can be tough, a difficult bumpy road, lots of stress and many disagreements about what the best course of action is but what part of motherhood is not like that? If someone asks for advice...then I think no one should be put off if someone says "Hey, i think doing this could really hurt your chances of keeping a long term breastfeeding relationship with your baby" And thats what 'don't supplement unless you absolutely have to' amounts to.

*to clarify when i say "conerns" i don't mean that someone tells me they are supplementing and then i become concerned about the baby or anything like that. I mean "if someone is interested in breastfeeding long term and they ask for advice, i would tell them that supplementing unless you absolutely have to is concerning"

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I don't understand why people get so volatile about it. I have no judgment either way. Women attach judgment and emotion to these things and get enraged when someone suggests the "wrong" thing (whether it's to keep nursing, stop nursing, whatever). I don't know why emotions and judgments get so out of control when it comes to breastfeeding. It's a little crazy.

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Yeah but at the same time if someone asks for advice and several people in the group say they disagree with certain advice and think there is a better way... That's not judgement, that's giving advice.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I don't understand why people get so volatile about it. I have no judgment either way. Women attach judgment and emotion to these things and get enraged when someone suggests the "wrong" thing (whether it's to keep nursing, stop nursing, whatever). I don't know why emotions and judgments get so out of control when it comes to breastfeeding. It's a little crazy.

There is a HUGE amount of judgement. Giving a baby a bottle or even suggesting it is like a horrible crime. Never to be forgiven. If a mother is to the point of a mental break down, that is too bad. The best thing is to be with your baby 24/7 and just endure... That is not always the best situation.

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With my first, I was on day 3 or 4 of the schedule from hell. My ILs thought I was nuts because if it was that hard I should just switch. The nurse came over (a nurse does a home visit a few days after you leave the hospital). She asked me how it was going and I burst into tears. She was so sympathetic about what I was going through and said I can't do it all and that I was a much better mom if I was happy. Based on her recommendation, I started only pumping at night, my husband took over bottle feeding and I stopped trying to nurse. I felt so much better when I got more than an hour sleep. Shortly after, my daughter started latching.

I was getting so much grief from my ILs about not switching to formula, the last thing I needed was to told that that bottle feeding was screwing up my chances and I should only be nursing because that is best for breast feeding.

I used to be more judgemental about people BF. I used to hear people's stories and be like "that's nothing, you didn't try hard enough" or "if you had more support you could have done it". Now I think some of it is support and some of it is personal based on the mom, her friends and family, her experiences and everything else she has going on in her life. Now I feel like if you want to BF and you feel like you did everything possible based on your life but then switched to formula, then good for you for trying. IF you went straight to formula, that is fine too.

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I think a lot of people are judgey, but I also think some things are often taken as judgey that are not. I think its likely due to the emotions involved in these types of decision, its easy to take things as judgement that are actually being presented as advice.

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Yes people can be judgmental for sure especially with BF and FF. However, if you put a question out for advice you can't get all huffy when people are suggesting different things. If you don't want advice, don't ask.

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This is why I hate when people ask for advice on things like facebook. Most times I see moms that are on Facebook asking for advice, and most times they really just want someone to tell them what they are doing it right

People are all kinds of judgy when it comes to this topic, I think moms need to seek advice from moms that are close to them. I sought out friends and family and when I had unanswered questions I found a LC.