For as long as I have been a midwife I’ve seen many women start to breast feed and stop after 2 weeks. Looking at the statistics this pattern seems to have been going on for a long time.
A woman has a right to change her mind about her feeding choices, and guilt should never be the feeling she is left with, but what I object to is the amount of substandard advice and information given to breast feeding women by so called birth professionals.
Often the support offered is in direct conflict with what we know about how breast feeding works, what’s going on? Do some midwives not fully understand the physiology of breast feeding?
‘Top your baby up with a bottle, you need the rest’.
‘Wake your baby in the day to feed, you need to get this baby into a routine’.
‘Nipple shields are a good way to get you through this painful feeding period’
‘Your new born is sleeping too much, wake the baby up and offer the Breast’.
This is said to women who have had a ‘straight forward’ birth and whose baby is a good weight, physically well in every other way, just sleeping.
I’m sure you could add your own example to this list.
Even a basic understanding of the physiology of lactation would cure this pernicious sabotage of breast feeding which often leads to the demoralisation of desperately tired and worried new mothers.
Breast feeding subsequently stops because the advice has been acted on thus impacting on this ancient process, a process that has kept man kind (mammals after all) alive on the planet for millions of years.
Like the process of birth, breast feeding works perfectly and birth professionals would do well to humbly step back, deferring to a woman’s inner intuitive knowing.
I am working on a resource aimed at men who are supporting their breast feeding lovers.
It will include video clips , a full explanation of how breast feeding works, liking that physiology to our evolutionary development over many years.
Examples of baby feeding signals, good ‘latching on’ and position for feeding will be shown to him. He will understand the function of the brown fat across his baby’s scapular in those early hours as the placental hormones flushes out of his lovers body allowing prolactin to do its work.
After a man has seen the video and worked through some written material including exercises designed to reinforce this knowledge, he will intuitively know what is poor/good advice (this can be done on his own or in a facilitated group).
He will then be able to support his partner in her feeding choices. The truth will set him free from the constraints of having to ignorantly follow the advice of professionals visiting his home.
Watch this space for further developments. If you have examples of the kind of poor advice given to breast feeding women please post in the comments section below.
I am speaking at the ABM conference in June 2015 and hope to present the fruit of this work there.