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Breastfeeding 101: Getting Support
I originally planned this section for one of the last topics, but realized recently that this should have been one of the FIRST topics. I'm sorry that I dropped the ball on this one, but I'm ready to make amends. Before I get into a series of topics on things that can go wrong and how to deal with them, I want to talk to you about support and advice – the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you can find the right person to walk you through this, the rest is almost moot. They can steer you through to smoother waters before your problem becomes too serious. In my experience on Babyfit's Breastfeeding Support forum, the worst breastfeeding problems are usually small problems made far worse by bad advice.
Everyone has breastfeeding advice, whether they breastfed or not, whether they have read anything on the topic or not, and whether or not they have any training in the subject area.
***A LOT of the advice you will hear about in person and read about on message boards is based on myths, rumors, and hearsay. This is why I back up what I say with credible references. There's enough bad advice out there.
Some of the most common places I have seen bad advice include:
3.Family (especially mothers and mother-in-laws)
Wait, did I say DOCTORS AND NURSES? Why, yes, I did! I sure as heck wish I had not, but I mean it very seriously. Doctors, even pediatricians, usually have no formal training when it comes to breastfeeding. It is not typically included in medical school training and very few of them bother to pick up any information afterward. In fact, most of the information pediatricians receive on infant feeding comes from FORMULA companies.
By default, it is not safe to assume that your doctor knows anything about breast feeding or when it's time to supplement.
Doctors recommend supplements FAR too often. The AAP may say breast is best for at least a year, but in practice many doctors act as if formula is the safer way to go because it's what they understand.
Hospital nurses are hit and miss. It helps to find a breastfeeding friendly hospital. (I'll talk more about that in a bit.)
Family is often a problem as well – giving bottles against your wishes, urging you to give formula during a cluster feed because the baby seems hungry, and making you doubt yourself are just a few of the ways that I have seen women struggle with family.
HOW TO FIND A SUPPORTIVE DOCTOR
Before you give birth, you need to interview several doctors in your area in order to choose the best pediatrician. These prenatal visits are common and should usually be scheduled early in the third trimester. (This is true however you choose to feed your baby; it is not a breastfeeding specific visit.)
Here are some key signs that the doctor you have visited is the WRONG one:
HOW TO FIND A SUPPORTIVE HOSPITAL
A good start is so important to long-term breastfeeding success. A recent study found that if certain breastfeeding-supportive procedures were used, 2/3 of mothers were still nursing at 4 months. Overall, the number is less than half, so that's huge!
There are currently only 61 approved baby-friendly hospitals in the US:
Here are the 10 specific steps a hospital must take to be on that list:
Personally, no hospital in my area is on that list of 61 hospitals, but when I talk to local hospitals, I have that list in mind. I look for the ones that are the most breastfeeding supportive.
What I personally did, was talk to my Dr. about it, and then went to the RNs in labor and delivery about my wishes.. I was so shocked about how supportive they were of breastfeeding!
WHO CAN HELP ME?
1.A board certified lactation consultant.
2.La Leche League
3.Hospital support groups
4.On-line support groups. Babyfit has a breastfeeding support group that I have been active in for over two years. I have also recently joined a breastfeeding support group on Gather. Be aware that the advice of well-meaning supporters on the Internet should not be a substitute for professional medical advice. These groups can give you ideas, encouragement, share stories of similar problems, etc., but they are not health professionals (even if they are...you can't be sure).
5.A *breastfeeding friendly* doctor. Even the BF-friendly ones will be more useful for medical issues than for BF-specific issues, though. If you think your baby has GERD, for example, a doctor should be involved. If you are having a latch problem, the doctor won't be your best line of defense. Don't be afraid to get second opinions. It also often helps to work with a lactation consultant as well as a doctor if there are serious concerns.
Other suggestions and thoughts are welcome!
I would like to give a sweet mama from babyfit a special thank you for giving me permission to use her info. Thank you Christine Amsden!! Also, I want to invite you all to look at her new website! www.christineamsden.com
Edited by: ROAD2HEALTHY at: 1/5/2009 (16:20)
~Lisa~ Pagan mama of three boys! road2healthy-simplelife.blogspot.com
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