Thursday, August 05, 2010

Visions of Breastfeeding

I wrote this post back in August during World Breastfeeding Week and am finally getting a chance to post it.

Some reminders to the pediatricians, perinatologists, and other care providers who may have forgotten (or never learned otherwise):

  • Breastmilk DOES have everything all of the vitamins and nutrients that babies need. Really, they don't need vitamin drops made by a huge artificial baby milk company given to them daily. (Since Vitamin D is the 'hot button' on this topic, read this page if you want more info.)
  • The amount that you express, by hand or with a pump, is NOT reflective of how much your baby gets when nursing, nor of your milk supply as a whole.
  • Babies don't know how to read a clock. Please follow babies' signs and signals for as to when and how often to breastfeed. (Imagine someone telling you that you may not eat as it hasn't been X number of hours yet, even though your body is telling you that you are hungry.)
  • Co-sleeping is SAFE and one of the best ways to promote breastfeeding in the early weeks. Please don't tell parents to simply not co-sleep, telling them they will kill their baby. Instead, please teach parents how to co-sleep safely. Sleeping snuggled in bed with baby happily nursing at the breast is far safer than an exhausted mother sitting in her arm chair nursing her baby, trying desperately to not drift off to sleep.)
  • Nipple shields can be a useful tool when used judiciously. They are not a band-aid fix for sore nipples, baby not latching or not latching well, or every breastfeeding mother. Yes, nipple shields can save the breastfeeding relationship, but 99% of the times when I encounter them, they were unnecessary and cause problems.
  • Babies do not all gain at the same rate. Read this, please! An excerpt:
    Many rules about weight gain are taken from observations of growth of formula feeding babies. They do not necessarily apply to breastfeeding babies. A slow start may be compensated for later by fixing the breastfeeding. Growth charts are guidelines only.
  • Six months of age isn't a magic number. Babies don't suddenly begin needing solids at six months old. Many babies aren't interested in solids until they are 8-9 months old, and sometimes not until they are 12 months old. That is ok. Breastmilk is enough to meet the nutritional needs of a healthy baby for the first 12 months (and sometimes beyond).
  • Rice cereal is not necessary. In fact, 'baby food' (the sort you buy in cans) is not necessary. Please, tell parents to skip the processed food (mainly, boxed rice cereal) and offer their baby real food when they are ready for solids. Fruit, vegetables, beans, meat, whole grains. The sort of iron that is in frortified baby cereals is nasty junk, nothing near as effective or good for your baby as the iron that is in breastmilk.
  • Please visit Dr. Jack Newman's site. He is an amazing resource, and you can even email him directly with clinical questions.
I leave you with a quote from Dr. Grantly Dick-Read
A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.