This is not anti formula, it is not anti mothers who choose to formula feed, it is against formula companies increasing their profits by undermining the confidence of mothers that chose to breastfeed.
I encourage you to participate by taking a picture of you and your baby (or baby bump) with a sign a long the lines of “No formula ads in hospitals” and post it on the Facebook wall for Enfamil and Nestle and Tweet your picture and share it on other social media.
In over 2.5 years I have counseled over 3,000 breastfeeding mothers as part of my paid work as a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and as a volunteer La Leche League Leader. As a supporter and volunteer for Best for Babes Foundation, I am very aware of the many “Booby Traps” to breastfeeding because sadly, I have encountered many of them myself.
While I don’t get tired of talking about breastfeeding, it can be very hard to not take things personally and feel defeated when a mom doesn’t reach her breastfeeding goal. It saddens me to see so much unnecessary supplementation and premature weaning that could have been easily avoided if mom had more confidence in herself and learned to listen to her gut. Oftentimes I can’t blame the mom as the bad advice comes from a health authority figure that they mistakenly assume to be an expert even if their lactation knowledge is minimal at best.
I hear it all of the time, a nurse says “your baby lost weight, you are not making enough so you have to supplement” or “your baby has jaundice so you will have to stop breastfeeding for 24/48 hours and give formula”. That could have been me…
When Shammy was 2 days old a nurse woke me up at 2am to say that he had lost weight and had to be given formula right now, I must have been the first mother in her career to question that order. In my groggy state I had to attempt to engage my brain because the nurse was pushing all of my emotional buttons to get me to agree. To her it was just standard protocol of infant weight loss= give formula. She didn’t know about breastfeeding and adamant that I couldn’t wait until I asked the doctor in the morning about the formula, she insisted that my sleeping newborn had to have formula RIGHT NOW.
So I told her that if it’s truly such an emergency that he needs to supplemented that she will then wake up the doctor and have me tell him himself. Obviously that wasn’t an option so I insisted that if he had to be supplemented he would be supplemented with my breastmilk so please get my a breast pump.
After almost 15 minutes of arguing she finally gave up and came back with a breastpump. My milk wasn’t in so I pump some colostrum and she complained about how that wasn’t enough but put it in the fridge anyway. Shammy never got that milk. The next morning I asked the doctor and he agreed that while supplementing with formula would help, it wasn’t necessary and I did NOT have to do it.
The next day my milk came in and Shammy gained all of the weight loss plus some. But how many new mothers know to question a nurse? They think the nurse knows it all, oftentimes they mistakenly assume that the nurse is acting on doctor’s orders. How much supplementation could be avoided? Also a lot of mothers think that supplementation = formula. It doesn’t occur to them that their baby can be supplemented with their own breastmilk.
A lot of people say “it’s just one bottle, what harm can it do?”. If you spend 1 day with me at the WIC office and you’ll be surprised at how much damage just one bottle can do to breastfeeding. Not counting the fact that a lot of nurses and doctors tell a mother to supplement but don’t tell her for how long so mom thinks she will always have to supplement when in reality they could have stopped days ago and by the time they get to me we are faced with the problem of dropping milk supply, lazy latch, nipple confusion, etc.
Jaundice does not equal formula supplementation. Zen was born Coombs +, what this means is that his blood type is different from mine so he gets jaundice while his blood clears out the leftovers from mine so he had to be under bili lights as a preventative and still got mild jaundice. On top of that he had (at the moment undiagnosed) posterior tongue tie and upper lip tie so his latch was not good and he was losing weight due to improper milk transfer. The first nurse said that I could only nurse for 20 mins every 3 hours due to the lights. The second nurse said that I had to supplement because he was losing weight and his bili levels were rising.
I saw another argument like the one with Shammy’s nurse brewing but thankfully this time it was daytime and my demand for a doctors order wasn’t so unreasonable. I knew that limiting nursing would only make his jaundice and weight loss worse but the nurse was set in her ways. The doctor agreed with me and I got permission to nurse on demand by getting under the lights with baby as long as I wore sunglasses. The doctor had no trouble discharging us from the hospital despite still rising bilirubin levels and weight loss because she knew that I would “nurse him a million times a day”.
As soon as we were discharged I made an appointment with Dr. Punger to get Zen’s tongue tie and upper lip tie diagnosed and fixed and while his jaundice took a while to fully clear, we never had to supplement, we never had to go back to the hospital and he gained all of the weight loss plus some.
The moral of the story is:
Always ask questions if you are told that your baby has to be supplemented. If a nurse tells you to supplement, demand to hear it straight from the doctor.
Know that you can supplement with your own breastmilk.
Pediatricians can still be quick to recommend supplementation when it’s not truly needed so it’s ok to get a second opinion and talk to an IBCLC
If you are told to pump and dump or stop breastfeeding due to medication, contact an IBCLC or LLL that can look up the drug on Hale’s Medication’s and Mother’s Milk. Doctors and pharmacists play it safe and tell you not to breastfeed because they don’t know better when in reality it’s perfectly safe. Most drugs are compatible with breastfeeding. Lactmed and the Infant Risk Centers are also good resources for this. (You can use the Lactnet search widget on the right column of this page to research a medication).
If you are told to supplement “until your milk supply increases” know that your milk supply will go further down because production is supply and demand and every ounce of formula that baby drinks is one less ounce that baby will drain from the breast sending a signal to your body that it’s not needed. While pumping can help, a breastpump is not as efficient as baby to increase milk supply.
If you must supplement it doesn’t have to be with a bottle (anything but a bottle is preferred; SNS, syringe, cup, spoon or finger feeding are options) and get clear instructions on exactly how long that is necessary while getting counseling on how to protect your milk supply and baby’s latch.
I believe that breastfeeding support is important for pediatric practice and which that all pediatrician offices either have a CLC/IBCLC on site or were quick to refer a mother to one as needed.
Last month we celebrated Zen’s 1st birthday and Shammy’s 3rd birthday. This also marks 3 years of breastfeeding and 1 year of tandem nursing.
My boys are growing up fast and the older they get the more they look alike.
This week I celebrated World Breastfeeding Week by organizing our local Big Latch On event. This is my 3rd and final time organizing, it’s been a fun ride but I am burnt out and it’s time to step back and allow a fresh face to take over the wheel. I still look forward to attending next year and actually enjoy the event instead of running around coordinating everything.
I wish I had good news to report on my quest for closure after the incident where I was harassed by nursing in a restaurant. The restaurant’s lawyers are taking the “ignore the problem and it will go away” approach and have not responded to any of my lawyer’s letters. The only option left is to file a lawsuit. Sadly due to my very part time work hours (thank you Congress) I don’t have the money for court filing fees. I am very blessed to be a part of an online group of breastfeeding mothers that despite never meeting me in person are trying to help but I know that times are tough and they may not be able to raise the $400 and change needed. I still feel very humbled and grateful for their efforts.
So right before I was going to take the first step in furthering my education, the new fiscal year starts and with it comes a drastic budget reduction and my hours at work have been slashed by 67%, so much for paying bills or doing anything else.
At least I still have my Breastfeeding Counselor course to look forward to. I recently took an 81 question pre-test to determine if I needed to take the full course starting at the basics or if I could go straight to the accelerated course, IBCLCs are the ones that would usually take this test. The test was open book but because of the constraints of trying to finish it quickly before the toddler destroyed the living room I only got to look up one question, as a result I am very proud that I scored 93.75 on the test given that I didn’t get to research or review my answers. I’m still waiting on my grade for the essay part but it looks like I am definitely going on the accelerated course.
One of the side effects of becoming a parent, and something that I’m pretty sure happens to everyone (probably to a lesser degree) is the creation of strong opinions on methods and subjects. If you’ve read anything on this blog before this you know what my big issues are. I am opinionated and I have to get it out, hence the beauty of having this blog. I can get the vents out of my system without abusing someone in particular with my rant and whoever doesn’t like it doesn’t have to read it, it’s a win/win in my book.
This system works great on most aspects, I am able to keep my mouth shut when I see a mother feeding formula, leaving their baby in a bucket for hours or buying them a McDonald’s happy meal. But there are some things where it’s much harder for me to be quiet, improper car seat use, feeding horrible crap to an infant, specially before they’re truly ready for solids and physical violence. I have no qualms about intervening in a blatant case of child abuse as defined by the police but it’s much harder the rest of the time.
After all, what do I know? I only have 1 kid and some of these people have been around the block more than I have. Just because I read a bunch of books, participate in a bunch of forums and try to educate myself more than the average parent doesn’t give me a license to attack the mother that is giving a lolly pop to her 4 month old or the father that is holding his baby in one arm and a cigarette in the other. Yes, there is a LOT of tongue biting involved. All the more reason for me to be grateful that my husband agrees with me and that I have this venue for when ranting to my husband alone doesn’t cut it. It is still a conscious effort to not to turn into the parenting police.
I am not perfect, I am sure that I have been judged the same way by other parents that were kind enough to stay quiet and I thank them for that.
Which part do I suck at the most? that would have to be food. Even though Shammy doesn’t know what candy, ice cream or McDonald’s is and he thinks that a cookie is a rice cracker, I feel like a failure when trying to present food in his high chair.
His father and I don’t have the best eating habits and we don’t want to just give him a slice of pizza, this means that sometimes Shammy has a separate menu from us. It’s annoying to prepare a micro portion of something and try to make it balanced and quick. Making big batches and using leftovers later is not really feasible because he’s the only one to eat the stuff so there is always something going to waste. It’s always a conscious effort to make sure that I include enough fruits and vegetables.
At least I like to think that he eats better than a lot of kids I see on the street but breastmilk only offsets so much. Add to that the fact that he is now starting to develop that typical toddler pickyness and sometimes that meal that I spent 20 minutes preparing just for him ends up on the floor and I’m scrambling to figure out what I can feed him.
At least another toddler trait that he’s developed and I’m loving is that he is now big on hugs ::heart melts::
And because I sometimes feel like I am going around in circles trying to defend my opinions from other’s attacks, this installment’s rant has a familiar theme as there has been a lot of debate lately over my support of enforcing the WHO Code for Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
I support a woman’s right to choose to feed her baby formula, but I absolutely do NOT support the drug company’s “right” to be in the delivery room, handing out products that are only designed to stand between the mother and her breastmilk.
And contrary to the popular (misguided) belief, the UNICEF “Baby-Friendly” hospitals are NOT denying access to formula, or even preventing women from receiving free formula. It is still there for the mothers who need it. Those who don’t have a medical need for it can elect to purchase it just about anywhere. Those who cannot afford it can get it through WIC. If your baby really needs it for medical reasons, insurance will even help pay for it.
Nobody is in any danger of losing their choice to formula feed, even if we start enforcing the WHO code.
“When we trust the makers of baby formula more than we do our own ability to nourish our babies, we lose a chance to claim an aspect of our power as women. Thinking that baby formula is as good as breast milk is believing that thirty years of technology is superior to three million years of nature’s evolution. Countless women have regained trust in their bodies through nursing their children, even if they weren’t sure at first that they could do it. It is an act of female power, and I think of it as feminism in its purest form.” ~ Christine Northrup
A lot has happened over the past few weeks, not all of it worth reporting. After months of constant stress over having care for Shammy while I worked, we have finally found a long term solution.
I had a very strong aversion to commercial daycares when Shammy was an infant but I am ok with the idea after 1 years old. So after our babysitter put in her notice we then started the frustrating search for the right place. It was quite an adventure to navigate all of the options available. Our friends and acquaintances seemed to think that we were made out of money or really needed to save our son’s soul for all of the recommendations that we were getting cost more than I make in a day at work thus making it cheaper for me to just stay home or it was religious based.
We do believe in exposing our son to different religious to foster understanding, acceptance and help him find his path when he is old enough to make that choice but we are against emphasizing a religion that is not our own on a daily basis by sending him to a place that has bible time in lieu of story time.
For a while I was so frustrated and overwhelmed that I started to considering private babysitters again, what a barrel of rotten apples that was. In previous occasions we had found the right person very quickly, but this time it took us almost 2 weeks to find the right place.
Early in my search I had come in contact with a brand new licensed home day care not far from our house. It looked good on paper and the address had symbolism special to us, it took us a week to finally set up a meeting. It has a maximum enrollment of 5 and it is set up like a preschool classroom with a play based curriculum. The price is right, home cooked nutritious meals are included and cloth diapers are cool.
How do I know that we found the right place? When I go to pick up Shammy and at first he is happy to see me and eager to nurse but as soon as he’s done breastfeeding he waves bye bye and goes back to play. He is only going 3 days a week but so far he likes going to “school”.
Over the past month I have been doing in depth research on educational options. Despite what some people may think, I don’t aspire to become a doula or midwife, I don’t have what it takes and quite frankly I’m not very interested in that. Since I get paid to talk about breastfeeding and I still don’t tire of it I feel most drawn to pursuing a breastfeeding specialty certification. The ultimate goal would be the IBCLC certification since it’s the only title that is widely recognized but sadly the fact that when I went to college I took the wrong classes since I never imagined myself working in the health field means that I would have to go back to college for 8 classes in addition to the lactation education required.
I would totally do this is if wasn’t for the fact that I can’t afford such a large tuition cost ($300 per class plus fees at the local college). I’m still struggling with my student loans from my first stint in college over 10 years ago which messes up my changes for financial aid.
So IBCLC is out for the time being but there are a variety of other options available. The title earned varies by school but the course content is practically the same. The tuition ranges from $700-$1,000, still steep in our current situation but not so impossible. There is one program that offers me a payment plan that I can almost afford so I may just go that route, depending on how much time I find to study it can take me 6 months or 2 years. Since the Certified Breastfeeding Counselor title doesn’t open as many doors or brings as much money as IBCLC I have also looked into becoming a Certified Childbirth Educator as an additional revenue stream. So I just need to find a spare $1,200 to get this all accomplished.
So in the meantime, I’ll start small with Breastfeeding USA, it’s very affordable to become an accredited Breastfeeding Counselor through them because it’s a volunteer gig and I’m already doing it with every non-WIC mom that I help. The most expensive thing is the textbook, which is also the required text for the bigger course so if you really want to support me I could use this book
Some people mistakenly assume that I have a problem with mothers that choose to formula feed, my problem is not with the mother but rather with the formula companies and their marketing tactics. While I listened to the Health Department’s Head of Tobacco Prevention discuss their program I saw many similarities between what tobacco companies do in their marketing that formula companies do as well and wonder if we (meaning lactivists) should take the same approach of grassroots work to get local resolutions or ordinances to regulate the marketing of Artificial Baby Milk. I am not advocating a formula ban, not at all, but rather for Enfamil/Similac/Nestle/etc to stop their predatory practices undermining breastfeeding.
And then we come across the latest big debate about the free formula samples given in hospitals, my boss firmly believes that there would be riots in the local hospital if the free samples were no longer available. But like a popular article recent states on hospitals sending breastfeeding newborns home with formula “is like giving somebody divorce papers at their wedding.”
So since formula freebies are an addition for some just like cigarettes and every body ears violence at the unfairness of completely removing them from hospital cold turkey, how about locking them behind a key and distribute BY REQUEST ONLY to moms that are only formula feeding! that way the mom that is breastfeeding and doesn’t need a confidence buster won’t be tempted and the mom that is dead set on her god given right to give her baby substandard nutrition can still get her free can.
And this installment’s rant:
As you all know I hate bucket babies, I totally get the convenience of getting a sleeping baby out of the car without waking them up by just taking the car seat out, we’ve done that here. What I hate is when the baby spends the better part of the day in the bucket and gets minimal skin to skin.
So imagine my disgust when at a consignment sale I come across a contraction that allows the mother to “wear” the car seat, OMG! I’m all in favor of babywearing but this is just ridiculous, those car seats are heavy without the baby and this is far from ergonomic. The one I saw for sale was practically new indicating that the mom didn’t get the benefit intended from it, I would be that the money she was hoping to make selling it would go towards her chiropractic expenses after messing up her back.