This mother, tired, still learning how to breastfeed, having two other children to care for, followed the advice, only to learn too late that formula does not solve colic or reflux, or any of the other woes her child went through- in fact- it made it worse. It caused more spit up, more tummy aches, and did not help her child sleep at night.
This was a booby trap. We as a society acknowledge the importance of breastfeeding, we encourage it during pregnancy, but once the mom makes the decision to breastfeed, and is trying to work through any complications that arise, suddenly, that support has vanished. We have myths, wives tales and that friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend anecdote that says whatever breastfeeding problem ails you- formula fixes it.
When Lil Man was born, I fell "victim" to many such booby traps. From supplementing, to PCOS and low supply to more...looking back, I realized how so many suggestions, beliefs, and more were actually booby traps.
So what are some of the most common booby traps- I have listed a few. After reading- feel free to leave a comment with any other booby traps you have heard or encountered.
- Supplementation- If baby loses more than X amount of weight, doesn't get back to birth weight by X date, etc- you need to supplement. There is a lot more to your child's health then the number on the scale. It took me a long time to realize this. Lil Man has always been small, and seeing his numbers slowly creep up was hard. He has always been in the 1-3% for his weight (and height). I took me a long time to realize that those percentiles were not test grades, my son's health was not failing, and as much as the resident pediatrician wanted to make it sound like it- the fact that he lost a little over 10% of his body weight DID NOT mean I needed to supplement. I learned the hard way. Their are a lot of things to consider when considering supplementation- and yes, in a VERY FEW cases, it is necessary, and then should be done with great caution. Supplementation is a booby trap. Why- because it is a slippery slope. Supplementing takes time away from the breast- and that hurts supply, and then eventually, if this pattern continues, will harm supply until supplementation is actually necessary, and sometimes leads to bottle preference and early weaning by a parent.
- Breastfeeding keeps Dad and others from bonding with the baby- SERIOUSLY??? So how did others bond with babies before there was formula? Bathing the baby is not bonding? Playing with the baby is not bonding? So basically, the only way people believe you can bond with a child is by feeding them? WOW- no wonder why so many people smother others with food, our population is overweight, and we really do not understand how to eat in moderation. We feel it is the only way to bond with other humans. Let's get serious though.....there are plenty of other ways for Daddy, and others, to bond with the baby.
- Breastfeeding Supplies Cost A Lot Of Money, You need certain "stuff" to make breastfeeding work- Breastfeeding is pretty simple, 95% of the time, all you need is mom's breast and baby. Seriously! So you are going back to work- you may want to purchase a pump, but I had a friend who found hand expression worked better then her pump. Boppy- yes they are nice, but not necessary at all. In fact, after about 2 months, I hated using the boppy while nursing my son. It was just an extra thing I had to worry about. Nursing clothes- NOPE- I, as well as many other mamas I know, just lifted my shirt up and if I was worried about my belly showing- I wore a cami under the shirt I pulled down. Ointments- NOT NEEDED! Breastmilk is better for your nipples than lanolin cream. Just hand express and rub it in.
- Formula fed babies sleep through the night sooner- Dr Jay Gordon, in his article on night weaning, as well as many other pediatricians and health experts, have found that until 1 year in age, MOST children will need to wake at night for nourishment. I have had several friends go to formula hoping to get more sleep, only to find they get less sleep. Not only do they have to feed baby, they have to wake to make a bottle. Also, studies have shown breastfeeding moms get as much or MORE rest then formula feeding moms. Many of my friends have weaned hoping their children would sleep better- only to find that it makes no change in their sleep schedule.
- Breast is Best- I have addressed this before, but I would like to really look at this now. Breast is not BEST it is NORMAL! You know who wants us using the term Breast is Best- FORMULA COMPANIES! You know why- Think about this....Organic is best! That also makes you think organic is for those with a higher status. But non-organic is healthy too. I am not using this analogy to start a debate on organic vs non-organic. Just think about the mind set- BEST means only the best should get it, NORMAL means EVERYONE can and should be able to have/do/access an item. Breast is NORMAL!
- If it hurts-something is wrong- Those first few weeks may be painful. Even if your child has a perfect latch, there are no issues, etc. Of course, pain can be a sign of an issue and you should seek the help of a certified LC or medical professional to be sure everything is okay, but no that even if everything is "perfect" it can still hurt. If the pain is SEVERE- this is not normal, but some pain is.
- Breastfeeding moms can't go out, enjoy certain foods, or drink (aka lifestyle is prohibited)- This has really bugged me lately as I found out someone I know was choosing formula simply for this reason. I personally did not leave Lil Man for more than an hour or so until he was over 8 months of age, do not drink alcohol or go out and party....but those are personal choices and parenting choices I have made. A breastfeeding mom CAN drink now and then. The rule is- if you are sober enough to drive, you can breastfeed. If you drink more- waiting for the alcohol to leave the body, or if you become engorged-pumping and dumping are some ways to keep the alcohol from reaching baby.Diet wise- yes, some babies have intolerances (mostly to high amounts of dairy), but in general, mom can eat most anything she wants. One of the wonderful things about breastmilk is how tailored it is to your baby's needs. Women around the world have different diets- but all can breastfeed and their babies get the nutrition needed to grow.
- The Perfect Latch, Feeding schedules- I have shared before how the breastfeeding class offered by my hospital focused so much on latch and baby eating every 2 hours that I thought this was a requirement. Later, I learned that newborns can eat ALL. THE. TIME. and this is perfectly normal. The 2 hour rule is actually based more on formula fed babies then breastfed ones. WHOA- sorry to go random thoughts on you- but that is another type of booby trap- the fact that we stress how formula fed babies eat less. Maybe instead, we should focus on why they eat less and the fact that it is because formula is not easily digested by their bodies and converted into the nutrients they need. The latch thing is a common reason women stop breastfeeding. Latch should be thought of like chopsticks- you don't have to use them properly as long as how you use them works for you! If baby is on and sucking, milk is flowing and you are not in extreme pain- there is no need to worry about having a "perfect" latch. In rare occasions there will be physical reasons that latch is bad and prohibits the breastfeeding relationship- but their is usually a solution to these issues. If you are concerned about lath- please seek help from a certified LC.
Have you encountered any booby traps? If so what and how did you handle them?