Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Breastfed baby risk investigated (from BBC News)

I'm not sure what to think about this research. Obviously it's good that risks to babies are investigated, but making people unnecessarily worried about something that's actually extremely rare is problematic. I do think hospitals already push formula on to nervous mums too much as it is, and the message from this article is hardly going to help. What is needed is proper breastfeeding support for mums who want to do it, so that they can go home confident in their feeding and not panicking and not enjoying the time with their babies.

The number of times I've heard people say they gave up BFing because they didn't have enough milk is huge, and sadly most of the time it just isn't the case. But health professionals don't have the necessary training to help mums who think they are in this situation, and to distinguish between mums who genuinely don't have enough milk and those who do but are worrying unnecessarily.

It's sad that only 1% of mums are still bfeeding their babies at six months, but I can understand why. The lack of support is a real problem, and not just in the early days. The four-month growth spurt can be a real nightmare, and yet it's hardly talked about. A lot of mums remain unaware of it, assuming that as baby is suddenly wanting to feed more that they must be ready for solids, or that they haven't got enough milk. Yet the reality is that in most cases it can be got through with lots of feeding and perhaps some sleepless nights. I'm the first to moan about Claudia's lack of sleep, but it's only for a short time in the great scheme of things, and I think, for me, wanting to give her the best possible start was important enough to put up with it.

I'm proud that I've managed to be one of the 1% this time around. But the support when I had James was shocking, and to be honest there was next to none when I had Claudia (don't give birth on a Friday peeps, none of the BF counsellors are in at the weekends...), and it was only my own determination to do it that stopped me giving formula to her. The paediatricians wanted me to and it's so hard to stand up to a doctor and say no... And now they'll be obsessing about this on top of their obsessions with measuring babies' milk intake.

Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a rant, and isn't the most focussed piece of writing I've ever done, but blame baby brain and sleep deprivation for that one!

(Incidentally, C slept from 11 til 7 last night, what a star!)


Andy said...

Dr Sam Oddie, seems to be on the right track..

Clare Griffiths said...

Andy - agreed.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with everything you wrote! I gave birth to Lentil (by emcs too) at 3am on a Sat and got no bf support, was just given leaflets FFS!!. Lentil couldn't latch, took 6 weeks to get diagnosis of tongue tie. I pumped & fed him expressed milk for 12 weeks before I gave up just exhausted from everything that had happened...better support is definitely needed, massive shortfall between official Gov 'breast is best' message and what really happens on maternity wards.

Clare Griffiths said...

Misselaineneous - the provision varies wildly from hospital to hospital which is a nightmare. You'd also think they'd be better at diagnosing tongue tie, as it seems to be more common than you'd think.

You did brilliantly to express for 12 weeks. I managed 6 for James and never once got out enough for a full feed.

Ameda ultra said...

Breastfed babies are twice healthy than than those that are not breastfed!