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The Baby Whisperer!

(39 Posts)
lurcherlover Wed 05-Jan-11 19:08:57

Sorry, this has probably been raised before but I am currently reading this book as I'm struggling to get DS to sleep at night and a friend recommended it as being less scary than GF. But I've just read the section on feeding and I'm fuming! Despite apparently being unbiased in terms of breast/formula, it seems to me a lot of what she writes would terrify a pregnant woman thinking of breastfeeding. For example:

- she tells women to express so they can monitor their "yield" (er, are we cows now?!) - she does add that a baby may take an extra ounce in addition to what's expressed. I think babies can take more than an ounce extra!

- she tells pregnant women to stick plasters above and below their nipples at precise locations to practise where they will hold their breasts while feeding.

- she specifies how long baby should be on the breast for (starting with 5 minutes, then working up to 15 mins a side by day three).

And a couple of nice quotations to really make you feel good about breastfeeding:

"many studies trumpet the benefits of breastmilk...while I agree that human milk is undoubtedly good for babies, we mustn't go overboard."

"Breastfeeding changes the look of most women's breasts even more than pregnancy does...small-breasted women who feed for more than a year can become flat as pancakes; large-breasted women may experience sagging."

I can't believe this advice comes from a so-called expert...if I'd read this while pregnant I would have started feeding my baby all wrong. Sorry, but this book has made my blood boil today and I needed to rant angry

tiktok Wed 05-Jan-11 19:12:53

The Baby Whisperer is well-known for utter rubbish about bf (and a lot more besides) - you've only scratched the surface of it.

She makes a lot of the stuff up, she really does.

EauRouge Wed 05-Jan-11 19:15:54

Crikey, every quote you've posted is beaucoup de bolleaux shock No wonder you need to rant! I have heard the plasters thing before, it's very old-fashioned. When was the book originally published? Does the woman that wrote it have any qualifications or is she another one of those self-appointed experts?

dirnty Wed 05-Jan-11 19:23:21

well she died a few years ago now so wrote them early 00's I'd guess.

I had her book, some stuff I didn't rate at all but there were a few tips that I found helped when my two were babies, like the EASY technique.

paddingtonbear1 Wed 05-Jan-11 19:23:26

I actually used to like the Baby Whisperer - found the routines quite useful when struggling with dd. I totally ignored the stuff about feeding though. Plasters?!!
I think the lady who did it orginally is now dead?

organiccarrotcake Wed 05-Jan-11 20:22:37

She died in 2004. Her books were already out of date then. They should be burned.

rubyslippers Wed 05-Jan-11 20:24:54

I saw a prograame where she actually showed a mum to be where to put the plasters on her breasts

I wanted to crawl into the telly and rip them off her

anastasiak Wed 05-Jan-11 21:42:25

there is some really useful information in her books. Some of her tips really, really work for some babies. you can't believe everything you read in any of the baby books, but most of them have some useful tips if you are selective and exercise some common sense about your own baby.

EauRouge Thu 06-Jan-11 07:55:08

Yes, but this is total misinformation that is damaging to BF if women believe it- how will they know what is true and what isn't? If the woman that wrote this book didn't know much about BF (which she clearly didn't) then she should have just not said anything.

MoonUnitAlpha Thu 06-Jan-11 08:10:19

Exactly - if some tips are useful, then how are you supposed to know when she's talking nonsense?

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Thu 06-Jan-11 08:36:38

I'm pretty sure she was an RN.

I would ignore any BF stuff though as the majority of her experience comes from looking after other people's babies and getting them into a routine rather than actively encouraging BFing the way the LLL do. So for sleep and routine she's quite good and relatively pro-BF but I wouldn't take her word as gospel on anything to do with the mechanics of feeding.

chipmonkey Thu 06-Jan-11 09:29:30

AFAIK, she ff her own children.

Jammers Thu 06-Jan-11 09:32:44

It is an evil book. The bf advice is clearly the worst part about it, but all that patronising bollocks about accidental parenting can make a new mother feel totally panicked, inadequate and afraid to trust her own instincts and that she will come to know what is best for her baby in time. I found it much more offensive than GF.

I think my least favourite bit re bf is the constant reference to "poor babies having a boob stuck in their mouths" when they are crying, or words to that effect. When my baby cried I always offered the breast which worked wonderfully until about 4/5mo when he didn't need the comfort element so much and I had worked out what his tired cry was so knew to put him down/offer comfort in other ways. Added to which he was often hungry well before her magic 3 hours or whatever is is. He is not breast dependent, he self settles and now sleeps through which apparently he had no chance of doing as according to this book I was ruining him by offering the breast too often.

In a previous thread I was on, someone made a brilliant suggestion re baby books having some kind of seal of approval from the bf charities...I am pretty clueless on anything being done in this arena, but does anyone know whether this is being worked on/has been suggested/lobbied for?

TheSugarPlumFairy Thu 06-Jan-11 09:44:41

I used the BW routines with DD when i was on Mat Leave and still do a version of them now on my days off. Always found her baby care advice to be great.

I did BF DD for a while and did use the plaster trick to practice getting a decent latch. I have large (G cup) breasts which got even larger when my milk came in. Trying to manage my own breast tissue and get DD's head in the right position was very stressful especially when said DD was screaming her head of for food. I found having the plasters there as a reminder helpful.

BF is not always a walk in the park and frankly anything that makes it a bit easier in the early days is to be applauded i think.

Others might have been lucky enough to have a helpful midwife who had the time and inclination to actually help you learn the correct positions but some of us didnt.

Cant really comment on the other quotes. I dont remember them being in the book i have (they could very well be though). On the overboard statement however i tend to agree. There are a lot of posts on this forum alone from women in acute distress with bleeding nipples, multiple bouts of thrush, mastistis and other ailments who are working themselves into hysterics in an effort to continue to breastfeed. THey seem to think that to switch to formula or to supplement while they heal would mean they have failed their child and that frankly is ridiculous and also a whole other thread.

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Thu 06-Jan-11 12:50:48

Jammers the thing about that idea is that some of these books work well and are very comforting for mothers who don't end up BFing but don't want to be stigmatised as using an anti-BF routine.

I'm a firm believer in happy, confident mother then happy baby and some mothers need a manual. The reasons why they do are a whole other thread....

Plus I know people who've BF successfully on BW and GF which means I personally think it's down to the baby rather than anyone else. Some babies are GF babies, some babies are BW babies, some babies are the woman who was Gwyneth Paltrow's maternity nurse (Rachel someone) babies, some babies are attachment-style babies and some babies don't fit in a box.

jandmmum Thu 06-Jan-11 13:13:23

it all made sense when I was pregnant...didn't quite work out that way in reality. Lost most faith in her though when I saw her on a series on discovery. Nearly all of them were about getting babies or toddlers to take a bottle or cup. There was one mum with I think a 15 month old who wanted her to be less dependant on mum and the boob during the day but I got the impression mum would have liked to keep up some sort of bfing just not all day on and off luke a newborn. BW basically made her go cold turkey and by second day the poor woman was awash with hormones and expressing because of the agony of stopping so suddenly. Was rediculous. There a few good sleep techniques though although probably prefer the NCSS.

tiktok Thu 06-Jan-11 13:50:36

Gold - I agree, confidence is very important. My experience is that some books destroy confidence, by telling mothers what they should do, and when a mothers finds her baby doesn't 'comply', she thinks there is something wrong with i) the baby ii) herself.

Only some mothers conclude there is something wrong with the book!

If I did a tally of calls and contacts I have had (as a bfc) from mothers undermined by something they have read in a book, then BW would top the list, I am sure. I have listened to mothers in tears as early as the first week, because their breastfeeding and their baby's sleeping are somehow different from what the BW says it should be. How does that increase confidence or happiness?

My feeling is people are more sceptical about GF these days.

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Thu 06-Jan-11 14:41:57

It's true that some books destroy confidence, as well as give it but we can't demonise all books on the basis that some people don't find them helpful.

Perhaps we don't hear the stories where mothers have benefits so much because they don't feel the need to reach out for help.

Maybe all books should just come with warning signs printed across the front like cigarette packets 'reading this book is not a guarantee that your child will fit into this pattern'!

AngelsfromtherealmsofgloryDog Thu 06-Jan-11 14:55:19

I think because the BW seems to advocate a 'middle way' between what people might think is 'extreme attachment parenting' and 'extreme routine-bashing', people are more likely to take it seriously (and lose their confidence) than they are something like GF.

It took me quite a while to realise that the problems I had were with the book, not with me & my baby.

All that business about 'accidental parenting' makes my blood boil. After having tried to avoid 'accidental parenting', I I spent weeks wishing DS would feed to sleep. Eventually he started doing it - there was nothing accidental about it as I was so relieved to find something that worked!

The Politics of Breastfeeding cites the BW as a source of misinformation about feeding technique, especially with the plasters technique.

Gold, I think the OP was criticising the BW's feeding advice, not demonising all babycare books. Her advice on bf isn't just 'not helpful', it's factually incorrect.

tiktok Thu 06-Jan-11 14:57:19

Gold - you said "we can't demonise all books on the basis that some people don't find them helpful."

Er, I didn't!

I rubbished the Baby Whisperer because it is rubbish!

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Thu 06-Jan-11 15:10:56

I wasn't saying anyone here was demonising books, just pointing out the problem with giving things a seal of approval - that it has the positive effect of saying 'the BF advice here is good' but the flipside of that is people may perceive any book without that seal as being bad. I agree that some books destroy confidence but that the very same book may be an invaluable support to a mother and then made a general point that if we demonised any book that someone didn't find helpful on any subject, or had selective parts of advice that we didn't agree with, that would be a bad thing. We can't make decisions for other people.

Certain parts of BW are rubbish (like the BF advice). Certain parts, however, are not.

tiktok Thu 06-Jan-11 15:23:12

No, 'tis true...we can't make decisions for other people (what sort of person do you think I am, Gold? confused )

I think the problem is that while no book is perfect for everyone, some books are especially bad because some of what they say is utter tripe, even if there are some good bits in it.... how on earth can a new reader know the difference between chapter X paragraph Y which is useful and chapter A paragraph B which will destroy their confidence if they believe it?

Of course no book is all bad.

Gina Ford is quite good on how to wash woollies, for instance.

AngelsfromtherealmsofgloryDog Thu 06-Jan-11 15:29:23


GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Thu 06-Jan-11 15:43:01

I wasn't casting aspersions on you tiktok (and I think you have excellent advice and I have several posts of yours bookmarked for April!), I just wouldn't want someone to be searching BW and come across this thread and it be filled with 'all the advice in that book is utter shite' when they may have found some parts of it helpful.

There is a slight tendency for people to assume that because one part of a book is bad then all of the rest of the book is bad, particularly if they see it criticised somewhere like here and I agree it's very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff but making sweepting statements doesn't help.

Unfortunately any mention that there might be a kernel of good in some books isn't a very popular idea.

tiktok Thu 06-Jan-11 15:47:48

OK< Gold, thanks for your kind words, but looks like I'm not going to get you to agree that it's actually quite helpful to warn people off a book that has such dreadful info in it, on the off chance that an individual mother might find bits of it helpful (and as you say, which bits are which?).

Anyone reading this - save your £12.99 and buy something else...^anything^ else

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