Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Is Infant Feeding Really a Choice?

Posted by   + Show Post

Is Infant Feeding Really a Choice?

Many of us talk about breast or bottle as a choice.  I used to think that way, too.  But I’m beginning to see it differently. 

On November 1, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of amazing and inspiring British women who work with breastfeeding mothers as peer counselors.  The night before this talk in West Bromwich, England I stayed with Anne, one of the Training Coordinators of La Leche League of Great Britain’s Peer Counsellor Programme (LLLGB/PCP). 

Anne told me a story I will never forget.  It began when Anne’s son’s partner, Kelly, moved into her home while pregnant with her second child.  Kelly became involved with Anne’s son during this pregnancy, so her unborn baby was not Anne’s biological grandchild. 

Kelly had bottle-fed her first child and was planning to do the same again.  In preparation, she bought a sterilizer and an array of feeding bottles, which one day Anne came home to find covering her kitchen counter.  Knowing that many young mothers would be coming there for breastfeeding help, she asked Kelly to keep her purchases on a shelf out of view.  Anne was concerned about giving one message with her words and another with the obvious bottle-feeding paraphernalia.  Kelly did not really understand Anne’s concern (in Kelly’s mind babies, bottles, and sterilizers all just went together), but she agreed. 

After her baby was born, surprise!  Kelly gave birth in a Baby-Friendly hospital where after delivery all newborns are placed skin-to-skin with their mothers.  When this happened, Kelly’s baby crawled up and attached to her breast.  Kelly responded, “Well, I guess she’s breastfeeding after all.”  She went on to exclusively breastfeed and nursed her for several years.  No doubt her exposure to Anne and the breastfeeding mothers she met helped Kelly make breastfeeding a reality. 

When the baby was about a week old, Kelly said to Anne, “Why don’t they tell you about breastfeeding?  It’s easy, isn’t it?  If I’d known that, I would’ve done it before.”  She had only ever thought of breastfeeding as hard work and a source of problems.  Then Anne asked Kelly something Nancy illustrating a concept with a balloon in West Bromwich, Englandshe’d been wondering for a while: “Why did you choose to formula feed your first baby?”  Kelly’s response startled her: “I didn’t choose.  I just did what I thought you did to feed babies.  It was not a choice as such.  I didn’t think of it that way.” 

Kelly had only ever seen babies bottle-fed.  She didn’t know anyone who had breastfed and she knew nothing about it.  To Kelly, feeding babies by bottle was just how it’s done.   Asking her to consider breastfeeding would have felt to her like asking her to perform surgery or argue a legal case in court.  She knew some people did those things but definitely not her. 

Anne has a special interest in how a mother’s confidence in breastfeeding builds and often asks new mothers when they really began to feel like a breastfeeding mother.  According to Anne, some mothers raised in breastfeeding families see themselves as breastfeeding mothers even before becoming pregnant and giving birth.  In Kelly’s case, it took about a week.  For others it takes a few weeks or even months of breastfeeding.  Anne has noticed that once “breastfeeding mother” becomes part of a woman’s self-image, she is unlikely to let breastfeeding problems get her way.  Some term this phenomenon “breastfeeding self-efficacy,”1 which is really just how much confidence a mother has that breastfeeding will work for her.   Not surprisingly, greater breastfeeding self-efficacy has been associated with longer duration of breastfeeding, even in cultures where fewer women breastfeed.2

What can we do to enhance mothers’ confidence in breastfeeding?  Physician Christina Smillie describes one way as “oozing confidence in the process.”  Most breastfeeding advocates do this naturally.  Showing mothers tricks that make breastfeeding easier is another. Contact with other breastfeeding mothers--either one-on-one or in support groups--is a big one.  Spending time with mothers who enjoy breastfeeding has a major impact, as does their encouragement.

The wonderful women I met in West Bromwich, England do this every day in their role as peer counselors.  It felt good to thank them personally for the important work they do.

References

1Dennis, C.-L. Theoretical underpinnings of breastfeeding confidence: A self-efficacy framework.  J Hum Lact 1999; 15(3):195-201.

2McCarter-Spaulding, D. and Gore, R.  Breastfeeding self-efficacy in women of African descent.  JOGNN 2009; 38(2):230-43.

by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 9:38 AM
Replies (21-25):
cabsmom10
by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 6:00 AM
With my first pregnancy, I quit after 2 weeks. I was in pain and ds ate non stop, and wasn't sure why. I went to WIC (thoight that was my only source) and they told me it wasn't normal to be in pain, and told me he was so hungry because I wasn't producing enough, and signed me up for formula :( so, that is what I did.

When I had my dd, ds was 15 months old, so I was stuck home, by myself during the day while hubby was at work. I wanted to try to nurse again. I was still in so much pain. I didn't want to get 2 kids out to go to WIC, for them to tell me it wasn't "normal". I nursed and nursed....finally after 6 weeks, we were a perfect match. Nursing was beautiful and painless. BUT, once again, I told wic how often she was nursing, and the told me I should supplement, that my supply might be low. So I did. I nursed and bottle fed her formula. She "self weened" at 11 months from nursing.

8 years later I had ds2. I was all prepared this time, from this lovely group. I nursed and nursed through that 6 weeks again until that latch was perfect. Between this group, the support of my husband, I am still nursing my 13 month old. Even the WIC office has changed in that 8 years. The only thing was, if I ever had a question, the lc had to look in a pamphlet to answer my questions. ;-) hey, but at least they are trying to push nursing a little more!!!

I do now feel that nursing is becoming more acceptable. And I think I have changed a lot of minds about nursing. It takes us women to show the world that nursing is normal. Not formula feeding!

Great article by the way!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
MonicaV1982
by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Wow to you mother! BTW, I've never heard of the nurser inserts being for BF babies!


Quoting littlemonaghan:

No one in my family nursed nor did any of the adult friends in my life. My mom mentioned it once to me when I was a kid, I had said I wanted to use drop in nurser bottles when I had my own baby, she made a disgusted face and said those are for people who breastfeed, your not gonna do that right?! Ew

I was like 10 so I agreed with her.

It wasn't until I was 18 away at college in Minnesota that I actually saw a breast feeding mother and dealt with breast milk. I worked in the infant room at the campus daycare. Only 1 baby out if 10 was formula fed, all the others were breastfed and it was so normal there that I learned it wasn't a disgusting thing but a really an amazing thing. I'll never forget the day I saw my professor nursing her daughter while I was working. The sweet look on both if their faces and the bond they clearly had.



I'm still nursing my 19 month old :)



littlemonaghan
by Bronze Member on Feb. 1, 2013 at 6:06 AM
Haha neither have I! But I guess maybe she thought that is what they were for since they are called drop in " nursers" who knows
She to this day makes a remark when I feed Dd. she actually doesn't know we are still nursing she lives on the other coast.
She is very anti-natural anything. She hates that I used to baby wear and cosleeping, she hates that I use cloth diapers, she hates that we did Blwing
She's a hassle to deal with


Quoting MonicaV1982:

Wow to you mother! BTW, I've never heard of the nurser inserts being for BF babies!



Quoting littlemonaghan:

No one in my family nursed nor did any of the adult friends in my life. My mom mentioned it once to me when I was a kid, I had said I wanted to use drop in nurser bottles when I had my own baby, she made a disgusted face and said those are for people who breastfeed, your not gonna do that right?! Ew


I was like 10 so I agreed with her.


It wasn't until I was 18 away at college in Minnesota that I actually saw a breast feeding mother and dealt with breast milk. I worked in the infant room at the campus daycare. Only 1 baby out if 10 was formula fed, all the others were breastfed and it was so normal there that I learned it wasn't a disgusting thing but a really an amazing thing. I'll never forget the day I saw my professor nursing her daughter while I was working. The sweet look on both if their faces and the bond they clearly had.





I'm still nursing my 19 month old :)




Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
Mitzi31
by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 8:33 AM
1 mom liked this

Yep, I was the same way until a few years ago. I'm so glad I didn't have a child until now and now I know all the good things as opposed to what I "thought" we were supposed to do. :-)

Such a touching story! Thanks for posting!

celticgodess
by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 11:46 PM
1 mom liked this

I always planned to BF, joined a local support group with my first and never looked back :)

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)