Podcast up: Breastfeeding

My latest podcast on breastfeeding is up at http://housecalldoctor.quickanddirtytips.com and in iTunes.  My bottom line is that breastfeeding is the best way for babies to be fed.
When I was discussing this with Dr. Gwen, we got into an interesting discussion.  The dilemma pediatricians face is that if we strongly push nursing, we are criticizing anyone who chooses otherwise.  How strongly do we push breastfeeding when a large number of parents in our practice choose to nurse.  Beyond that, the advances in the quality of the formulas available have been great.  We have lots of bottle-fed babies in our practices and very few of them seem to suffer from it.

Doing the research for this podcast has swayed me back toward pushing breast milk more.  The studies I cite are fairly convincing to me that babies who are breastfed are at an advantage over those who are not.  At the very least, breastfeeding early in the baby\’s life is a very good idea.

This underlines one of the basic things I have learned about being a parent: you can\’t always do what is best.  There are lots of choices we make when raising kids: whether they should participate in sports or take music lessons, public or private schools, spending more time working to support them or spending more time at home.  It is rarely black and white.  Parenthood is full of second-guessing and can be burdened with lots of \”if I had only done x\” in retrospect.  Adding more guilt trips to an already self-conscious group may not be constructive.

I just think that telling parents the facts – in this case that breastfeeding is more advantageous than bottle-feeding – is the best I can do.  The choice is not always straightforward, so I won\’t criticize parents who do otherwise.  I do think, however, that some parents don\’t really know the facts.  I didn\’t even know all of the facts before researching this podcast.  As long as we give good information and communicate it clearly, the parents are the one who need to make the decision in the end.  I need to state the case for breastfeeding and then back off.

24 thoughts on “Podcast up: Breastfeeding”

  1. Great post. I nursed all my kids.
    Slightly off your main topic: “There are lots of choices we make when raising kids: … public or private schools … ” Please don’t limit education choices to public/private schools. Another option is legal in all 50 states and in many other countries around the world. A customized, tutorial approach to education is more advantageous than the conventional one-size-fits-all classroom. Homeschooling. Like breastfeeding, it takes effort. Like breastfeeding, it doesn’t work for everyone. But it can at least be listed as an option.

  2. Great post. I nursed all my kids.
    Slightly off your main topic: “There are lots of choices we make when raising kids: … public or private schools … ” Please don’t limit education choices to public/private schools. Another option is legal in all 50 states and in many other countries around the world. A customized, tutorial approach to education is more advantageous than the conventional one-size-fits-all classroom. Homeschooling. Like breastfeeding, it takes effort. Like breastfeeding, it doesn’t work for everyone. But it can at least be listed as an option.

  3. I agree that homeschooling is an option. It is similar to breastfeeding in that there is sometimes a lot of guilt put on people who don’t think it is for them (in certain circles). The point is that you do your best, and you have to define what your best is. Other people shouldn’t have that job.

  4. I agree that homeschooling is an option. It is similar to breastfeeding in that there is sometimes a lot of guilt put on people who don’t think it is for them (in certain circles). The point is that you do your best, and you have to define what your best is. Other people shouldn’t have that job.

  5. There’s one thing I wish more doctors were aware of about breastfeeding.
    There are many women out there who believe that it’s the best thing for the baby. They educate themselves about breastfeeding, prepare for the work of it, expect it not to be easy…….BUT then that tiny, tiny baby comes and between you and him/her you just can’t make it happen. You watch the itsy-bitsy center of your universe drop weight and be hungry day after day. Everybody tells you that if you just stick it out it’ll get easier. Sometimes it doesn’t. I am well-endowed, and have always enjoyed the attention. Suddenly my big boobs seemed like the biggest joke on the planet. I tried with all three of my kids. And felt horrible guilt each time I gave it up and used a bottle. I’m a bit of a hippy and that bottle made me feel like I was pumping DDT straight into their bloodstream.

    I’d dread health care encounters because I always had to explain “yes, he’s bottle fed, but I really, really tried.” I’m sure there are many women like me who wanted to with their whole heart, but it just didn’t work. It felt terrible, and if only one doctor or nurse had taken the time to talk to me about still being a good mommy it would have made a big difference. A bit of professional sympathy would have been wonderful.

    My boys are all pretty much grown now. And wonderful young men I’m very proud of. I’ll never forget those horrible days of hunger with each one, and how very, very good it felt when I caved in and suddenly they turned into fat, happy, shiny bundles of joy.

  6. There’s one thing I wish more doctors were aware of about breastfeeding.
    There are many women out there who believe that it’s the best thing for the baby. They educate themselves about breastfeeding, prepare for the work of it, expect it not to be easy…….BUT then that tiny, tiny baby comes and between you and him/her you just can’t make it happen. You watch the itsy-bitsy center of your universe drop weight and be hungry day after day. Everybody tells you that if you just stick it out it’ll get easier. Sometimes it doesn’t. I am well-endowed, and have always enjoyed the attention. Suddenly my big boobs seemed like the biggest joke on the planet. I tried with all three of my kids. And felt horrible guilt each time I gave it up and used a bottle. I’m a bit of a hippy and that bottle made me feel like I was pumping DDT straight into their bloodstream.

    I’d dread health care encounters because I always had to explain “yes, he’s bottle fed, but I really, really tried.” I’m sure there are many women like me who wanted to with their whole heart, but it just didn’t work. It felt terrible, and if only one doctor or nurse had taken the time to talk to me about still being a good mommy it would have made a big difference. A bit of professional sympathy would have been wonderful.

    My boys are all pretty much grown now. And wonderful young men I’m very proud of. I’ll never forget those horrible days of hunger with each one, and how very, very good it felt when I caved in and suddenly they turned into fat, happy, shiny bundles of joy.

  7. I had postnatal complications, and my daughter had oral-motor issues that made any eating very difficult for her. (Not diagnosed until much later.). We tried absolutely everything, but I never had enough milk for exclusive nursing. My pediatrician was very supportive- breast is best, but they couldn’t pick out a breast fed kid from a bottle fed kid, and that a nourished child was the primary goal.
    I was reassured that my child was loved and nourished and it was OK to not be perfect. They struck the perfect balance between support and “permission” to stop.

    I ended up going to bottles and pumping, and was able to get my daughter at least some breastmilk every day for 6 months. And she’s smart, sassy, and healthy as a horse now. I’ll always appreciate the support the pedi gave me- their attitude made a huge difference.

  8. I had postnatal complications, and my daughter had oral-motor issues that made any eating very difficult for her. (Not diagnosed until much later.). We tried absolutely everything, but I never had enough milk for exclusive nursing. My pediatrician was very supportive- breast is best, but they couldn’t pick out a breast fed kid from a bottle fed kid, and that a nourished child was the primary goal.
    I was reassured that my child was loved and nourished and it was OK to not be perfect. They struck the perfect balance between support and “permission” to stop.

    I ended up going to bottles and pumping, and was able to get my daughter at least some breastmilk every day for 6 months. And she’s smart, sassy, and healthy as a horse now. I’ll always appreciate the support the pedi gave me- their attitude made a huge difference.

  9. I meant to also say that I was not just told to stop- I was told that any amount of breastmilk was better than none. So if she got 2 ounces or 22 ounces that day, I was still giving her “the good stuff.”.

  10. I meant to also say that I was not just told to stop- I was told that any amount of breastmilk was better than none. So if she got 2 ounces or 22 ounces that day, I was still giving her “the good stuff.”.

  11. All of you give very good points – there are women who simply can’t do it. There should be no guilt-trips. As long as the pediatrician gives you the info and you understand it, your decision should not be second-guessed. It’s a shame that anyone would make moms guilty about this.

  12. All of you give very good points – there are women who simply can’t do it. There should be no guilt-trips. As long as the pediatrician gives you the info and you understand it, your decision should not be second-guessed. It’s a shame that anyone would make moms guilty about this.

  13. It sounds like had a wonderful pediatrician. I was given the impression that letting that rubber nipple past the baby’s lips even one time meant doom as far as successfully breastfeeding. If I had thought that I could do both, that it wasn’t all or nothing, those first few precious days would have been so much more wonderful.

  14. It sounds like had a wonderful pediatrician. I was given the impression that letting that rubber nipple past the baby’s lips even one time meant doom as far as successfully breastfeeding. If I had thought that I could do both, that it wasn’t all or nothing, those first few precious days would have been so much more wonderful.

  15. I wish more people knew how hard being a new mom can be. When you’ve been a mom for a couple years you get used to being “wrong” about everything in somebody’s eyes. Ignoring the peanut gallery is hard enough on veteran moms- Its brutal on exhausted rookies.
    Pedis and FP docs can make things much better or much worse for new moms- kudos for being aware and for wanting to support parents and patients!

  16. I wish more people knew how hard being a new mom can be. When you’ve been a mom for a couple years you get used to being “wrong” about everything in somebody’s eyes. Ignoring the peanut gallery is hard enough on veteran moms- Its brutal on exhausted rookies.
    Pedis and FP docs can make things much better or much worse for new moms- kudos for being aware and for wanting to support parents and patients!

  17. It’s probably good for docs to remember that mothers of infants may also be hearing loads of crap from the kind of people who act as though infant formula might as well be arsenic-laced cyanide. Even women who can physiologically breastfeed don’t necessarily have the kind of job that allows them the time and privacy to pump at work, or a refrigerator to keep the breastmilk in.

  18. It’s probably good for docs to remember that mothers of infants may also be hearing loads of crap from the kind of people who act as though infant formula might as well be arsenic-laced cyanide. Even women who can physiologically breastfeed don’t necessarily have the kind of job that allows them the time and privacy to pump at work, or a refrigerator to keep the breastmilk in.

  19. Excellent post. I mean, yeah, breastfeeding is more advantageous (I like that phrasing), but so are many other things that we can or cannot do for our children. Parenting is all about making choices, and sometimes nature or circumstances make those choices for us, and highly possible those choices that we didn’t make happen to be opposite our personal preference.
    If someone asked me which I’d recommend, just as a mother who’s been there, I’d vote for the breastfeeding out of sheer laziness. I’m not into doing dishes, and breastfeeding both my kids kept me out of having to scrub bottles at least. But that said, sometimes nursing doesn’t work out. Sometimes there are priorities that supercede it. Ultimately, as parents I think we’d like to always make the optimal choice for our children; but when it boils down to it we have to weigh the reality of our own very personal situations and go from there.

  20. Excellent post. I mean, yeah, breastfeeding is more advantageous (I like that phrasing), but so are many other things that we can or cannot do for our children. Parenting is all about making choices, and sometimes nature or circumstances make those choices for us, and highly possible those choices that we didn’t make happen to be opposite our personal preference.
    If someone asked me which I’d recommend, just as a mother who’s been there, I’d vote for the breastfeeding out of sheer laziness. I’m not into doing dishes, and breastfeeding both my kids kept me out of having to scrub bottles at least. But that said, sometimes nursing doesn’t work out. Sometimes there are priorities that supercede it. Ultimately, as parents I think we’d like to always make the optimal choice for our children; but when it boils down to it we have to weigh the reality of our own very personal situations and go from there.

  21. Honestly, I don’t think the guilt that’s heaped on mothers who bottle feed comes from professionals as much as it does from other mothers. It’s almost a cult.
    Yes, breast milk is optimal, but how often do any of us get optimal care? Not to get on a soap box, but health takes an exceedingly quick back seat in our current culture to economics.

    I went back to work 9 days after a c-section, primarily because I didn’t want to lose my job. My baby was too young to go to daycare and came to work with me – I simply packed up a few bottles of formula, and off we went. Today, she’s a healthy and happy 9 year-old little girl.

    God bless my pediatrician. He asked whether I was planning to feed by breast or bottle and when I began to tell him my reasons for considering the bottle, he held up his hand. “Your baby will be just fine,” he said. “No need to explain.” The kindest thing anyone has ever said to me as a mother!

  22. Honestly, I don’t think the guilt that’s heaped on mothers who bottle feed comes from professionals as much as it does from other mothers. It’s almost a cult.
    Yes, breast milk is optimal, but how often do any of us get optimal care? Not to get on a soap box, but health takes an exceedingly quick back seat in our current culture to economics.

    I went back to work 9 days after a c-section, primarily because I didn’t want to lose my job. My baby was too young to go to daycare and came to work with me – I simply packed up a few bottles of formula, and off we went. Today, she’s a healthy and happy 9 year-old little girl.

    God bless my pediatrician. He asked whether I was planning to feed by breast or bottle and when I began to tell him my reasons for considering the bottle, he held up his hand. “Your baby will be just fine,” he said. “No need to explain.” The kindest thing anyone has ever said to me as a mother!

  23. One commenter wrote “breastfeeding is more advantageous (I like that phrasing)” but I have to disagree. I prefer the phrasing “formula feeding is less advantageous than breastfeeding.” I think that breastfeeding should be the presumed norm. I do NOT think women should be guilt-tripped. Breastfeeding for me was what I assumed I would do. When I had terrible trouble with my first, my doctor was very supportive, thank goodness. He said “no one would fault you for stopping now, you know – but if you want to try to keep going, here’s what i recommend…” and I muddled through. That’s not the point, though. It upset me very much when, for example, a relative of mine went through an entire pregnancy without ever once being told “formula-fed babies have higher risks of certain problems than breastfed babies do.” All her doctors ever told her was “breast is best, yeah, but formula is also good so don’t feel bad whatever you choose.” That is not giving a mom the right information. How can a mom make an informed choice without being explicitly told “these are the risks of formula feeding”? OF COURSE mom is going to have to weigh those risks against the risks of nipple trauma, becoming “touched out” and disliking being around the baby, having problems with work or heaven forbid losing her job — there are a lot of reasons for not breastfeeding and some of them outweigh the risks associated with formula feeding. But that’s what we’re talking about – the RISKS of formula feeding vs the biological norm of breastfeeding – not the BENEFIT of breastfeeding over the societal norm of bottlefeeding. That’s my opinion anyway.

  24. One commenter wrote “breastfeeding is more advantageous (I like that phrasing)” but I have to disagree. I prefer the phrasing “formula feeding is less advantageous than breastfeeding.” I think that breastfeeding should be the presumed norm. I do NOT think women should be guilt-tripped. Breastfeeding for me was what I assumed I would do. When I had terrible trouble with my first, my doctor was very supportive, thank goodness. He said “no one would fault you for stopping now, you know – but if you want to try to keep going, here’s what i recommend…” and I muddled through. That’s not the point, though. It upset me very much when, for example, a relative of mine went through an entire pregnancy without ever once being told “formula-fed babies have higher risks of certain problems than breastfed babies do.” All her doctors ever told her was “breast is best, yeah, but formula is also good so don’t feel bad whatever you choose.” That is not giving a mom the right information. How can a mom make an informed choice without being explicitly told “these are the risks of formula feeding”? OF COURSE mom is going to have to weigh those risks against the risks of nipple trauma, becoming “touched out” and disliking being around the baby, having problems with work or heaven forbid losing her job — there are a lot of reasons for not breastfeeding and some of them outweigh the risks associated with formula feeding. But that’s what we’re talking about – the RISKS of formula feeding vs the biological norm of breastfeeding – not the BENEFIT of breastfeeding over the societal norm of bottlefeeding. That’s my opinion anyway.

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