Friday, October 28, 2005

Bringing Home Baby

Whenever I'm pregnant, I become mildly obsessed with pregnancy and baby shows. The latest one on TLC is called "Bringing Home Baby". This show is making me crazy.

Generally they're following first time parents. Now, there's nothing wrong with first time parents, but the amount of misinformation that these women possess regarding breastfeeding, is incredibly frustrating to me.

Where are we going wrong? Are they not given enough information before birth? In the hospital? What is it?

So, I'm going to take a few minutes to clear up a few common misconceptions I'm seeing.

#1: Baby needs formula because she's jaundiced.

Well, generally, no. I saw one mother giving her newborn several bottles of formula a day to help "flush" out the jaundice. A mild asymptomatic case of jaundice, mind you. So, essentially what's happening is she feeds the baby formula for one feeding (that's one breastfeeding session missing) and then baby goes a lot longer between feeds (so that's 2 breastfeeding sessions missed). This means that when mom's milk comes in, the supply will be diminished, and she will begin frustrated, certain she's not making enough.

The way to get a good milk supply is to feed frequently, on demand! The more baby sucks, the more milk you will have.

And formula is not necessary (except for rare cases) to get rid of jaundice.

#2: The baby doesn't want/like the breast. So, give a pacifier or bottle of formula.

This one has come up frequently. Mom will try to breastfeed, and perhaps become frustrated because her latch isn't good, or what have you. Certain that her baby still needs to suck, she offers either a bottle or a pacifier. She thinks that either her baby doesn't want the breast, or doesn't like it.

The truth is they're born to like and want the breast. A newborn placed on it's mother's belly and left alone will actually seek out and latch onto the breast all by themselves! Sucking at the breast not only brings in an abundant milk supply but builds muscle in the baby's face.

When in doubt, give the breast. I would advise moms not to give a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established. And there really isn't any need for formula. If the baby doesn't seem to like/want the breast, my first recommendation would be to make sure that baby doesn't have some other need that isn't being met, like a dirty diaper. My second recommendation would be to try a different position or hold for nursing. Call a friend, lactation consultant, or Le Leche League leader for help. With Bridget, it took me over a week to correct her latch, because she sucked her tongue. It was well worth the trouble and the time.

#3: She's hungry, because I'm only making colostrum.

All they need in their first days is colostrum. It cleanses and seals their bowels, gives them valuable antibodies, is full of protein, and easy to digest. It is specifically designed for them to eat. The more of it they eat, the better for them, and the better mom's milk supply will be when it comes in.

Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand premise. The more your baby eats, the more milk you will produce. Baby doesn't need formula to fill them up until your milk comes in. In fact, if you keep filling them with formula, they won't take the breast and your best efforts may be thwarted before you've even had a chance to get started.

In the end, breastfeeding has challenges, and the first weeks are the hardest. But it's not nearly as hard as we make it for ourselves. And we breastfeeding moms need to be more visible, and need to discuss breastfeeding with our girlfriends and our kids. I love that Reagan says that baby's eat mommy milk.

Now, I wonder if I can convince that show to do an episode on a homeschooling, attachment parenting family, bringing home their fourth baby...

Babies are born to breastfeed.

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