This post is not about nursing in public. I’m so over that one. Moms aren’t stopping that one anytime soon and people have a long way to go before getting over it. Meanwhile, I’ll feed my baby whenever and wherever I need to, using whatever amount of coverage that I feel is comfortable or appropriate.
In this post I want to talk about unsolicited advice, specifically about breastfeeding. As a new mom and apparently this is true regardless of the number of children you’ve had, people from all walks of life feel like they have to tell you something about how and what to do with your baby. Honestly, I think most people mean well. They are sincerely trying to keep you from a pitfall that they’ve experienced or seen someone else experience. And I’ll even say that most of the time, their advice isn’t harmful.
In the case of breastfeeding, things can become harmful even dangerous. Especially if you take the wrong advice from the wrong person. Particularly a person who’s never done it or have no formal education in the subject. Again, I think they mean well. Unfortunately, most of the time they simple lack the correct information or any information really about breastfeeding.
I’m going to address specific advice that I’ve been given and the reasons why this advice is wrong.
Your baby isn’t eating enough
This simply isn’t true. Unless you see that your baby isn’t making enough pee and poo diapers. It’s true that you can not “see” how much milk your baby is consuming but that doesn’t mean that they are not getting enough to eat. http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/enough-milk/
Your milk isn’t nutritious enough
Again, this simply isn’t true. Even a mother with a mediocre diet, her milk has far more benefits than formula. A chunky formula fed baby vs. my tiny preemie is no indication that my breast milk isn’t good enough. My baby was preemie, she was going to be tiny even on formula. I was a smallish child and a smallish adult for a long time. Genetics folks!! I know breastfed babies that are both chunky and skinny, both are healthy and eating enough. http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/bmilk-composition/
You are nursing her too much, something must wrong
No, you are wrong. Nursing isn’t about just eating. It’s about comfort and soothing as well. Also there’s this:
Breast milk is digested for more efficiently than formula and creates far less waste. That means a tiny stomach becomes empty faster and baby eats more frequently. It also means that sometimes there is no solid waste. So while formula feed babies may poop all day long, sometimes breastfed babies (older babies) can go days without a poo diaper. (Totally freaked me out the first time that happened! I had a great pro breastfeeding pediatrician though that explained it all to me and said give it a few more days before freaking out, she eventually pooped and when she did…. BOY did she LOL)
She needs to drink from a bottle
For your convenience or mine? She’s with me 99% of the time. How much effort do you want me to put into a 1% possibility? Yes, I plan to build a stash in the freezer for such situations when I have to be away. And I won’t be away if I can help it in the first month if i can help it. I will not be introducing a bottle or pacifier before she is 4-6 weeks old so that I do not harm her latch or my supply. After that time, I may or may not introduce the bottle. But I tell you what I won’t be doing. I will not be pumping all day long every day, to bag milk to freeze. Only to have to thaw that milk and pour it into a bottle to feed my baby….eight times a day. That’s inefficient and really just plain stupid for me. I’m not working, she’s not being baby sat. She can get her milk directly from the source. It’s quicker, more comfortable for both of us and NO BOTTLES/PUMP PARTS TO WASH!! YAY!! Why would I, as a stay at home mom, add more work than necessary to an already pretty busy and complicated time is beyond me. I’ve been called LAZY for this with my older daughter and I’ve been told that I’ll be HURTING my new baby by not introducing and using bottles. My older daughter took a bottle when she needed to which was very rare was she left the NICU. I don’t have a link for this one, it’s just common sense and what works for me.
You need to put some cereal in the bottle so she’ll sleep longer
No, just no. That is a choke hazard. Cereal is a solid and babies that are not old enough to sit on their own, unsupported or babies that are still pushing food back out of their mouths with their tongue (that’s a survival instinct) are not ready for solid foods. Newborns, need to eat more frequently. Plain and simple, formula or breast milk. As children get past those initial few weeks or months, they’ll sleep longer. Over feeding you baby and adding cereal to the bottle can create more problems than it will solve. It can cause gas, painful constipation and other digestion problems and nothing hurts more than seeing your tiny baby in pain and you can’t stop it. http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/solids-sleep/
She’s too old, you need to wean
She’s still benefiting from nursing and I’m still trying to understand how it’s affecting you. She’s not latching on to your breast, so how is it your concern? Ok that was snarky but seriously, 1 year is the minimum suggestion for weaning. It’s well recommended to nurse until 2 years or later. Until formula was mass marketed, it was completely normal to breastfeed children well past 3 years old even. I never imagined when we started that I’d breastfeed my daughter for 29 months. I was hoping in 90 days increments because she was a preemie and I was expecting that we’d have problems. But we didn’t, well none that we couldn’t overcome. By the time we reached the year mark, I was so pleased at how well she’d benefited, I decided we’d go as long as she wanted up until two. Now, I will admit, I was definitely over it after two years and when I became pregnant, my supply diminished and it became painful. I decided one day that waiting for her to self wean was no longer an option, I just couldn’t take it anymore. We weaned in less than two days. It was far, far easier than I imagined. I just knew she would scream and fight me days or weeks. She did not, so I think she was ready too. The best advice I’ve heard regarding weaning is that when either you or the child is no longer happy, it’s time to let it go. Breastfeeding is a mutual arrangement between mother and child.
I could write forever with the amount of opinions/advice I’ve received but these are the biggest ones that either come up the most frequently or were the most potentially damaging. I’m the first person in my immediate family to successfully breast feed as long as I did, really I’m the first person that I know personally that has breastfed as long as I have. I had very little knowledgeable support. I was fortunate to get great lactation support in the NICU and I read Ina May Gaskin’s book, “Guide to Breastfeeding” (it was my bible) and I relied heavily on websites like www.kellymom.com .
I have to recognize the person that was my biggest supporter and cheerleader. My husband! We knew from the very beginning that we would not use formula. And when I would falter or find myself questioning myself, he’d say, “Don’t give my baby any formula! I don’t know what’s in that stuff!” I’d laugh and remember he’s right! He’d tell me to let it go when people said crazy stuff to me and offered me the crazy advice. He helped me as I became comfortable nursing in public. He never ever had anything negative to say, even when we were still nursing way past the point that either of us thought I would. He is and was by far the best person to have in my corner as we embarked on this journey and I will always be grateful.
Finally, the only advice I would give in general to a new breastfeeding mother is DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR OR LOOK FOR QUALIFIED HELP…… Get a lactation consultant, utilize your local WIC office, research using websites like Kellymom and read books. Talk to other experienced mothers that have had successful breastfeeding experiences.