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Breastfeeding and Guilt- Kellymom article

Posted by on Aug. 20, 2012 at 8:35 PM
  • 9 Replies

do you agree with this?

Breastfeeding and Guilt

August 1, 2011. Posted in: Advocacy

Written by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
(revised January 2000)

One of the most powerful arguments many health professionals, government agencies and formula company manufacturers make for not promoting and supporting breastfeeding is that we should "not make the mother feel guilty for not breastfeeding". Even some strong breastfeeding advocates are disarmed by this "not making mothers feel guilty" ploy.

It is, in fact, nothing more than a ploy. It is an argument that deflects attention from the lack of knowledge and understanding of too many health professionals about breastfeeding. This allows them not to feel guilty for their ignorance of how to help women overcome difficulties with breastfeeding, which could have been overcome and usually could have been prevented in the first place if mothers were not so undermined in their attempts to breastfeed. This argument also seems to allow formula companies and health professionals to pass out formula company literature and free samples of formula to pregnant women and new mothers without pangs of guilt, despite the fact that it has been well demonstrated that this literature and the free samples decrease the rate and duration of breastfeeding.

Let's look at real life. If a pregnant woman went to her physician and admitted she smoked a pack of cigarettes, is there not a strong chance that she would leave the office feeling guilty for endangering her developing baby? If she admitted to drinking a couple of beers every so often, is there not a strong chance that she would leave the office feeling guilty? If a mother admitted to sleeping in the same bed with her baby, would most physicians not make her feel guilty for this even though it is, in fact, the best thing for her and the baby? If she went to the office with her one week old baby and told the physician that she was feeding her baby homogenized milk, what would be the reaction of her physician? Most would practically collapse and have a fit. And they would have no problem at all making that mother feel guilty for feeding her baby cow's milk, and then pressuring her to feed the baby formula. (Not pressuring her to breastfeed, it should be noted, because "you wouldn't want to make a woman feel guilty for not breastfeeding".)

Why such indulgence for formula? The reason of course, is that the formula companies have succeeded so brilliantly with their advertising to convince most of the world that formula feeding is just about as good as breastfeeding, and therefore there is no need to make such a big deal about women not breastfeeding. As a vice-president of Nestle here in Toronto was quoted as saying "Obviously, advertising works". It is also a balm for the consciences of many health professionals who, themselves, did not breastfeed, or their wives did not breastfeed. "I will not make women feel guilty for not breastfeeding, because I don't want to feel guilty for my child not being breastfed".

Let's look at this a little more closely. Formula is certainly theoretically more appropriate for babies than cow's milk. But, in fact, there are no clinical studies that show that there is any difference between babies fed cow's milk and those fed formula. Not one. Breastmilk, and breastfeeding, which is not the same as breastmilk feeding, has many many more theoretical advantages over formula than formula has over cow's milk (or other animal milk). And we are just learning about many of these advantages. Almost every day there are more studies telling us about these theoretical advantages. But there is also a wealth of clinical data showing that, even in affluent societies, breastfed babies, and their mothers, incidentally, are much better off than formula fed babies. They have fewer ear infections, fewer gut infections, a lesser chance of developing juvenile diabetes and many other illnesses. The mother has a lesser chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and is probably protected against osteoporosis. And these are just a few examples.

So how should we approach support for breastfeeding? All pregnant women and their families need to know the risks of artificial feeding. All should be encouraged to breastfeed, and all should get the best support available for starting breastfeeding once the baby is born. Because all the good intentions in the world will not help a mother who has developed terribly sore nipples because of the baby's poor latch at the breast. Or a mother who has been told, almost always inappropriately, that she must stop breastfeeding because of some medication or illness in her or her baby. Or a mother whose supply has not built up properly because she was given wrong information. Make no mistake about itラhealth professionals' advice is often the single most significant reason for mothers' failing at breastfeeding! Not the only one, and other factors are important, but health professionals often have influence and authority far beyond their knowledge and experience.

If mothers get the information about the risks of formula feeding and decide to formula feed, they will have made an informed decision. This information must not come from the formula companies themselves, as it often does. Their pamphlets give some advantages of breastfeeding and then go on to imply that their formula is almost, well, between us, actually, just as good. If mothers get the best help possible with breastfeeding, and find breastfeeding is not for them, they will get no grief from me. It is important to know that a woman can easily switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. In the first days or weeksラno big problem. But the same is not true for switching from bottle feeding to breastfeeding. It is often very difficult or impossible, though not always.

Finally, who does feel guilty about breastfeeding? Not the women who make an informed choice to bottle feed. It is the woman who wanted to breastfeed, who tried, but was unable to breastfeed who feels guilty. In order to prevent women feeling guilty about not breastfeeding what is required is not avoiding promotion of breastfeeding, but promotion of breastfeeding coupled with good, knowledgeable and skillful support. This is not happening in most North American or European societies.

 

from: http://kellymom.com/bf/advocacy/bf_and_guilt_01-00/

by on Aug. 20, 2012 at 8:35 PM
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sreichelt26
by Gold Member on Aug. 20, 2012 at 8:42 PM
3 moms liked this
I agree. And really, no one can make anyone feel guilty but themselves. I'm not responsible for how someone feels for making a choice that differed from mine. And I shouldn't have to keep my mouth shut because of that.

People need to own their decisions. The medical field needs to buck up and women need to advocate for their children. If you want to breastfeed, fight to make it happen. And if, after exhausting every avenue, you truly cannot do it, then be thankful that there are options available such as donor milk or formula.
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catholicmamamia
by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 2:34 AM

Agreed. 


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catholicmamamia
by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 2:35 AM
1 mom liked this

LOVE Dr Jack Newman! 


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Robbiesmommy99
by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 9:08 AM

I mean, I do and don't agree.  I tried every avenue with both my last baby and this one.  Even though I couldn't bf my last one by no fault of my own, I did still feel guilty that I was not the one that was providing her with the food she needed and was best from me.  But eventually I got over it.  With this one, I prepared and had an lc and two dr's check her for everything from a tongue tie to high palette just in case so we could catch it early if necessary.  And due to medical reasons, I suffer from low supply AND this baby does have a huge appetite.  So, we use to donor milk in addition to mine and unlike last time, I am ok with it much more easily and I think I wouldn't feel too guilty if I couldn't bf anymore because in my eyes, after doing everything possible to make it work, we have been successful this far since I have been able to actually give her something that I was able to make.  I think that breasfeeding is an amazing thing and for my body to not be able to work the way it is supposed to can be a little disheartening, especially when you see and hear about all these other moms who are able to do it so easily.  lol.  I dunno if any of that made any sense, sorry.  :)

mostlymaydays
by Group Mod-Stacy on Aug. 21, 2012 at 9:35 AM
Agree. After I read that a while back, I decided to post with more honesty instead of tip toeing around the truth merely in fear of offending someone. That further does a mom a disservice. Women are already getting crap advice from their doctors, family and friends.
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Titana
by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 9:35 AM
I agree! I will say that I have had people try to make me feel guilty for ebf. I think its a woman's choice to be honest and as long as she has all the info whatever choice she makes is ok. I love bfing and I wouldn't trade it for the world! I am lucky, I have a Dr who did bf her children and supports it 1000%. Makes my life a lot easier that is for sure.
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sreichelt26
by Gold Member on Aug. 21, 2012 at 9:43 AM
1 mom liked this
I completely understand what you're saying, and I think "disheartening" is completely appropriate. If I was unable to bf, I'd be devastated. But you have nothing to feel guilty about! You tried everything, armed yourself with knowledge, and fought for your kids. Guilt is feeling bad that you didn't do/try something else and it sounds like you tried everything :)

Quoting Robbiesmommy99:

I mean, I do and don't agree.  I tried every avenue with both my last baby and this one.  Even though I couldn't bf my last one by no fault of my own, I did still feel guilty that I was not the one that was providing her with the food she needed and was best from me.  But eventually I got over it.  With this one, I prepared and had an lc and two dr's check her for everything from a tongue tie to high palette just in case so we could catch it early if necessary.  And due to medical reasons, I suffer from low supply AND this baby does have a huge appetite.  So, we use to donor milk in addition to mine and unlike last time, I am ok with it much more easily and I think I wouldn't feel too guilty if I couldn't bf anymore because in my eyes, after doing everything possible to make it work, we have been successful this far since I have been able to actually give her something that I was able to make.  I think that breasfeeding is an amazing thing and for my body to not be able to work the way it is supposed to can be a little disheartening, especially when you see and hear about all these other moms who are able to do it so easily.  lol.  I dunno if any of that made any sense, sorry.  :)

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Robbiesmommy99
by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Thanks!!!  Yeah, the only thing I haven't ried is fenugreek (sp?)  and that is because I can't take it since I am a diabetic.  BUT, this we have finally been able to get this lil peanut to cooperate and use an at breast supplementer so it has really helped in making me feel better about it all.  PLUS since we use donor milk, I am also taking comfort in knowing she is still getting the best and it isn't hurting her little tummy like formula was.  Even though it has been hard, she is our last and has made me even more determined and not willing to give up.  Even if the days comes where I have no more milk to give, I will continue to supplement at the breast.  Unless I am away from her of course.  :)

Quoting sreichelt26:

I completely understand what you're saying, and I think "disheartening" is completely appropriate. If I was unable to bf, I'd be devastated. But you have nothing to feel guilty about! You tried everything, armed yourself with knowledge, and fought for your kids. Guilt is feeling bad that you didn't do/try something else and it sounds like you tried everything :)

Quoting Robbiesmommy99:

I mean, I do and don't agree.  I tried every avenue with both my last baby and this one.  Even though I couldn't bf my last one by no fault of my own, I did still feel guilty that I was not the one that was providing her with the food she needed and was best from me.  But eventually I got over it.  With this one, I prepared and had an lc and two dr's check her for everything from a tongue tie to high palette just in case so we could catch it early if necessary.  And due to medical reasons, I suffer from low supply AND this baby does have a huge appetite.  So, we use to donor milk in addition to mine and unlike last time, I am ok with it much more easily and I think I wouldn't feel too guilty if I couldn't bf anymore because in my eyes, after doing everything possible to make it work, we have been successful this far since I have been able to actually give her something that I was able to make.  I think that breasfeeding is an amazing thing and for my body to not be able to work the way it is supposed to can be a little disheartening, especially when you see and hear about all these other moms who are able to do it so easily.  lol.  I dunno if any of that made any sense, sorry.  :)


Precious333
by Group Mod-Julia on Aug. 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM

totally agree. Very well written!

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