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Can we have a MN campaign to stop HVs advising people not to BF?

(46 Posts)
threefeethighandrising Thu 04-Aug-11 05:52:42

It seems like so many HVs are still advising mothers not to BF for no good reason.

Can we have a MN campaign to re-educate them? Or at least a standard letter of complaint that mothers can send to the NHS when their HV tries to encourage them not to feed, against the overwhelming evidence that it's a good thing to do, for mother and child. The WHO advises feeding until 2. No HV should advise a mother who is happily feeding her DC to stop before then, if ever!

Why are they still doing this? It makes me angry !

AvrilHeytch Thu 04-Aug-11 06:21:20

Message withdrawn

barbiegrows Thu 04-Aug-11 06:28:12

Totally agree. Why would a HV ever advise NOT to breastfeed? They all know it's the safest and easiest option for most women. The would only advise formula when there is a serious risk to child and mother. I had a similar experience to Avril. It is very difficult to tell when a baby is getting enough milk when breastfeeding, esp. if you are a new mother.

Start a campaign to get HVs involved for longer, or for more HVs, or for HVs to get paid more for the work they do.

learningtofly Thu 04-Aug-11 06:31:38

Sorry I agree with avril.

Each circumstance and situation is different and to try and influence autonomous practitioners who assess each situation would be a rocky road to go down.

Lovesicecream Thu 04-Aug-11 06:43:48

I have never come across any health care professional that has advised not to bf, although im sure they do if the baby is failing to thrive or for other health reasons, if they didn't under some circumstances I feel they would be failing to do their job, I don't think any hv would just advise not to bf without a reason.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Thu 04-Aug-11 06:45:42

i don't think it's as simple as telling hv's not to advice against bf.

Many of them need completely re training re bf. As do gp's, many mw's etc.

They are simply unable to support bf women due to lack of knowledge and so advice formula.

This is coupled with a culture where women have often never seen a baby bf before their own and doubt their ability to feed their baby.

This is reflected in threads from women who are worried about supply in spite of there being no evidence of this and often in the face of reassurance from hv's.

Yes, hv advice does need to reflect individual circumstances. But too often it seems to reflect an hv's individual agenda, lack of knowledge or need to get out of an appointment asap.

NevermindtheNargles Thu 04-Aug-11 07:01:59

Indeed, let's further stigmatise women who are unable to breastfeed, and make sure they can't get any advice about other options.

GotArt Thu 04-Aug-11 07:02:01

threefeet has misunderstood another thread and started this one on that misunderstanding me thinks.

NevermindtheNargles Thu 04-Aug-11 07:02:01

Indeed, let's further stigmatise women who are unable to breastfeed, and make sure they can't get any advice about other options.

fraktious Thu 04-Aug-11 07:06:01

No HV should advise a mother who is happily feeding her DC to stop before then, if ever!

This I agree with. HVs shouldn't interfere with happy successful BFing relationships but saying they should never advise not BFing is ridiculous.

HarrietJones Thu 04-Aug-11 07:28:55

I've heard my local one advise a woman to bottlefeed to get baby to sleep better. It was someone I know wasn't happy to bottlefeed.

EdithWeston Thu 04-Aug-11 07:34:58

"It seems like so many HVs are still advising mothers not to BF for no good reason".

The plural of anecdote is not data.

hildathebuilder Thu 04-Aug-11 07:36:22

there can be good medical reasons not to bf. I bf my ds for 15 monhts when he slef weaned, but in that time depite the fact I was always happy bf he has also had nutirprem, infatrini and fortini. don't be too simplistic somwtimes even if mum and child are happy there is a medical need for formula

exoticfruits Thu 04-Aug-11 07:43:01

These things are never black and white.

singforsupper Thu 04-Aug-11 07:45:15

Harriet perhaps baby was hungry because she couldn't feed well enough, therefore waking at night. My dd had poor muscle control so wasn't able to feed fast enough. I didn't know until the GP said she was starving. Can't bear to think about it now. She looked chubby and well - it was almost impossible to tell. She was being weighed and checked but the disability wasn't evident until 8 months. I was determined to make BF work because it didn't work with my first and I felt a failure.

TimeWasting Thu 04-Aug-11 07:51:39

Ensuring the health professionals are fully knowledgeable about bf is the first step.

If they've exhausted their knowledge trying to help, they are going to advise formula.
For lucky mothers, this will be the right move.
For many it will be because the GP doesn't know how to treat thrush, or the HV thinks babies should be sleeping through at 4 months etc.
Tackling the cause of the bad advice is the only way to improve this.

HollyGoHeavily Thu 04-Aug-11 07:52:53

It seems like so many HVs are still advising mothers not to BF for no good reason

Really? I had a good reason not to breastfeed but i found that every single HV and midwife did their utmost to try and get bf working for us. I was almost embarrassed when I had to tell my HV that despite the weeks of trying, DD2 was still not breastfeeding successfully and i was switching to formula.

It really is not as simple as "all women should be told to be bf, and nothing else".,

fastweb Thu 04-Aug-11 07:56:28

I've heard my local one advise a woman to bottlefeed to get baby to sleep better. It was someone I know wasn't happy to bottlefeed.

Well rather than a national campaign what individuals need to do is report incidents where they have received bad advice so the professionals concerned are asked to account for their actions and for those HVs to get retrained if their response to the issue raised indicates a certain level of misunderstanding re. their role and required knowledge base.

Did you friend write to the appropriate authority and complain about the quality of advice she received ? Did she follow the complaint through and ask for feedback as to how the HV was dealt with ?

If whoever is in charge of HVs is dealing with a significant number of justifiable complaints (that have the added edge of people following through and asking for feedback about the result of the complaint) they are perhaps going to be more motivated to deal with any individual and specific issues than they would be in the face of a generalized campaign. Which will probably elicit soundbites rather than anything of substance.

HarrietJones Thu 04-Aug-11 07:56:48

Only issue was sleep. Baby was putting on weight etc because I knew how much she agonised over the sleep issue.

Lovesicecream Thu 04-Aug-11 08:01:37

Even if there were hv all over the country trying to sabotage bf ( which I doubt) people don't have to listen! Plenty of people ignore advice given by hv on co sleeping and weaning. You can ask to be referred to a lactation consultant, other hv/mw , get advice from other bf mothers, google where to go for help etc

ZeroMinusZero Thu 04-Aug-11 08:06:54

Would be nice to have evidence that this is actually happening systmatically, first. If its just one or two 'rogue' visitors, it hardly warrents a campaign. For what its worth, every single midwife and visitor I encountered when I had my baby five months ago was extremely pro breastfeeding, if anything they were too obsessed with it.

TimeWasting Thu 04-Aug-11 08:11:18

Zero, often they are pro-breastfeeding, but hopelessly uneducated about how to go about supporting it. It's their knowledge that needs addressing as much as their attitude to it.

threefeethighandrising Thu 04-Aug-11 09:31:03

OK, it was 5 o'clock in the morning and I was grumpy!

I'll try again with a more reasonable head on! I wasn't thinking of something aimed at HVs, the majority of whom I'm sure do a great job. The first one I had was certainly excellent. I was thinking more of something to support parents when faced with bad advice from HVs, supporting them in making a complaint.

"Well rather than a national campaign what individuals need to do is report incidents where they have received bad advice so the professionals concerned are asked to account for their actions and for those HVs to get retrained if their response to the issue raised indicates a certain level of misunderstanding re. their role and required knowledge base."

Perhaps a standard letter they could use could be a good tool here. People don't always know what to say, or feel like they're making a fuss.

threefeethighandrising Thu 04-Aug-11 09:45:29

"often they are pro-breastfeeding, but hopelessly uneducated about how to go about supporting it. It's their knowledge that needs addressing as much as their attitude to it."

I agree absolutely. I assumed pre-DC that HVs would be breast feeding experts, but it's not the case.

"every single midwife and visitor I encountered when I had my baby five months ago was extremely pro breastfeeding, if anything they were too obsessed with it." Again I should have been more clear. The breast is best message is repeated so often that yes they do seem a bit obsessed with it!

I suppose I was thinking more about extended BFing. The WHO guidelines are to feed until your DC is 2. In practice although some do feed this long I imagine it's not very common at all - it's our cultural norm to stop way before then isn't it? I do get the impression - from my own experience, from friends' experiences and from mumsnet threads - that mums are discouraged from continued BFing by some HVs. The pressures can be subtle, but very real.

Yes it's anecdotal, but it's definitely happening! Is it systemic? I have no idea. Even if it is just a few rogue HVs it would be good to do something to give parents information and tools to stand up to these HVs, even if it's actually just a handful, they will be seeing lots of new mums.

threefeethighandrising Thu 04-Aug-11 09:56:38

"threefeet has misunderstood another thread and started this one on that misunderstanding me thinks."

GoArt I started this thread on the basis of my own experience, and many threads on mumnet, including most recently the thread you mention but also many other including this one as just one example.

WRT to the thread you mention, I didn't misunderstand it at all. The OP was asking for advice on dropping nightfeeding because "My health visitor (and books I've read) say that babies of this age don't need to feed at night anymore and they only do it or comfort and because its a habit". This is exactly the kind of thing I mean. The mum and baby were happy feeding on demand, but here's the HV telling her not to at night and she's on MN asking how she's supposed to do that. What's the evidence that it isn't beneficial for DCs to feed at night and it's just "habit"? There is an implication there that it's time to cut down BFing, or that they shouldn't really be doing it, it's not important, it's just "habit".

Not all babies sleep through the night when they are young. Perhaps the HV could have advised on ways to cope with this that didn't include an attack on the mother and child's successful BFing.

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