Amby Baby Motion
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your pediatrician Pro breastfeeding?
All health professionals say they are supportive
of breastfeeding and recommend it. But many are
supportive only when breastfeeding is going well.
Some might even discourage it even when breastfeeding
is going well.
As soon as breastfeeding, or
anything in the life of the new mother and baby
is not perfect, too many advice are given on weaning
The following is a partial list
of clues that help you chose a health professional
that is supportive of breastfeeding, at least
supportive enough so that if there is any trouble,
will not discourage but put in effort to help
you to continue breastfeeding.
How to Know a
Health Professional is NOT supportive
- S/he gives you formula samples or formula company
literature when you are pregnant, or after you have
had the baby. These samples and literature are inducements
to use the product, and their distribution is called
marketing. There is no evidence that any particular
formula is better or worse than any other for the
normal baby. The literature, CD's or videos accompanying
samples are a means of subtly and some not so subtly
undermining breastfeeding and glorifying formula.
If you do not believe this, ask yourself why the formula
companies are using cutthroat tactics to make sure
that your doctor or hospital gives out their literature
and samples and not other companies? Should you not
also wonder why the health care professionals are
not marketing breastfeeding?
- S/he tells you that breastfeeding and bottle feeding
are essentially the same. eg Most bottle fed babies
grow up healthy and secure and not all breastfed babies
grow up healthy and secure.
This does not mean that breastfeeding and bottle feeding
are essentially the same. Infant formula is a rough
copy of what we knew several years ago about breastmilk
which is in itself only a rough approximation of something
we are only beginning to get an inkling of and are
constantly being surprised by. The differences have
important health consequences. Certain elements in
breastmilk are not in artificial baby milk (formula)
even though we have known of their importance to the
baby for several years-for example, antibodies and
cells for protection of the baby against infection,
and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for optimal
development of the baby's vision and brain. And breastfeeding
is not the same as bottle feeding, it is a whole different
relationship. If you have been unable to breastfeed,
that is unfortunate (though most times the problems
could have been avoided), but to imply it is of no
importance is patronizing and just plain wrong. A
baby does not have to be breastfed to grow up happy,
healthy and secure, but it does help.
- S/he tells you that formula X is best. This usually
means that s/he is listening too much to a particular
formula representative. It may mean that her/his children
tolerated this particular formula better than other
formulas. It means that s/he has unsubstantiated prejudices.
Breast milk with more than 50+ antibodies and other
benefits still being discovered is still the best.
- S/he tells you that it is not necessary to feed
the baby immediately after the birth since you are
(will be) tired and the baby is often not interested
It is not necessary, but it is very helpful immediately
Babies can nurse while the mother is lying down or
sleeping, though most mothers do not want to sleep
at a moment such as this. Babies do not always show
an interest in feeding immediately, but this is not
a reason to prevent them from having the opportunity.
Many babies latch on in the hour or two after delivery,
and this is the time that is most conducive to getting
started well, but they can't do it if they are separated
from their mothers. If you are getting the impression
that the baby's getting weighed, eye drops and vitamin
K injection have priority over establishing breastfeeding,
you might wonder about your health care providers
commitment to breastfeeding.
- S/he tells you that there is no such thing as nipple
confusion and you should start giving bottles early
to your baby to make sure that the baby accepts a
bottle nipple. Why do you have to start giving bottles
early if there is no such thing as nipple confusion?
Arguing that there is no evidence for the existence
of nipple confusion is putting the cart before the
horse. It is the artificial nipple, which no mammal
until man had ever used, and even man, not commonly
before the end of the nineteenth century, which needs
to be shown to be harmless. But the artificial nipple
has not been proved harmless to breastfeeding. The
health professional who assumes the artificial nipple
is harmless is looking at the world as if bottle feeding,
not breastfeeding, were the normal physiologic method
of infant feeding. By the way, just because not all,
or perhaps even not most, babies who get artificial
nipples have trouble with breastfeeding, it does not
follow that the early use of these things cannot cause
problems for some babies. It is often a combination
of factors, one of which could be the using of an
artificial nipple, which add up to trouble.
- S/he tells you that you must stop breastfeeding
because you or your baby is sick, or because you will
be taking medicine or you will have a medical test
done. There are occasional, rare, situations when
breastfeeding cannot continue, but often health professionals
only assume that the mother cannot continue and often
they are wrong. The health professional who is supportive
of breastfeeding will make efforts to find out how
to avoid interruption of breastfeeding (the information
in white pages of the blue Compendium of Pharmaceutical
Specialties is not a good reference-every drug is
contraindicated according to it as the drug companies
are more interested in their liability than in the
interests of mothers and babies).
When a mother must take medicine, the concerned and
pro breastfeeding health professional will try to
use medication that does not require the mother to
stop breastfeeding. (In fact, very few medications
require the mother to stop breastfeeding). It is extremely
uncommon for there to be only one medication that
can be used for a particular problem. If the first
choice of the health professional is a medication
that requires you to stop breastfeeding, you have
a right to be concerned that s/he has not really thought
about the importance of breastfeeding for you and
- S/he is surprised to learn that your 6 month old
is still breastfeeding. Many health professionals
believe that babies continue on artificial baby milk
for at least nine months and even twelve months from
birth. At the same time these healthcare professionals
seem to believe that breastmilk and breastfeeding
are unnecessary and even harmful if continued longer
than six months. Why is the imitation better than
the original? You should wonder why this line of reasoning
implies. In most of the world, breastfeeding to 2
or 3 years of age is common and normal.
- S/he tells you that there breastmilk has no nutritional
value after the baby is 6 months or older. Even if
it were true, there is still value in breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a unique interaction between two
people in, a mother's love for her baby even without
But statement about no nutritional value in breastmilk
is not true. Breastmilk is still milk, with fat, protein,
calories, vitamins and the rest, and the antibodies
and other elements(more than 50++) which protect the
baby against infections are still there, some in greater
quantities than when the baby was younger. Anyone
who tells you this doesn't know the first thing about
- S/he tells you that you must never allow your baby
to fall asleep at the breast. Why not?
It might be less work for a mother to have a baby
who can fall asleep without nursing, but one of the
advantages of breastfeeding is that you have a handy
way of putting your tired baby to sleep.
Mothers around the world since the beginning of mammalian
time have done just that. One of the great pleasures
of parenthood is having a child fall asleep in your
arms, feeling the warmth he gives off as sleep overcomes
him. It is one of the pleasures of breastfeeding,
both for the mother and probably also for the baby,
when the baby falls asleep at the breast.
- S/he tells you that you should not stay in hospital
to nurse your sick child because it is important you
rest at home.
It is important you rest, and the hospital that is
supportive of breastfeeding will arrange it so that
you can rest while you stay in the hospital to nurse
your baby. Sick babies do not need breastfeeding less
than a healthy baby, they need it more.
- S/he does not try to get you help if you are having
trouble with breastfeeding. Most breastfeeding problems
can be solved, and most of the time the answer to
breastfeeding problems is not giving formula. Unfortunately,
many health professionals, particularly physicians,
and even more particularly pediatricians, do not know
how to help. But there is help out there. Insist on
getting it.The statement "You do not have to
breastfeed to be a good mother," is true, but
this statment is not an answer to a breastfeeding
by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, Reproduced with his permission
Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, graduated from the University
of Toronto medical school as a pediatrician in 1970.
He started the first hospital-based breastfeeding clinic
in Canada in 1984 at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.
He has been a consultant with UNICEF for the Baby Friendly
Hospital Initiative in Africa and has published articles
on the subject of breastfeeding in Scientific American
and several medical journals. Dr. Newman has practiced
as a physician in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Dr. Jack Newman is a leading authority on infant care
who has implemented breastfeeding clinics throughout
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