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The 'hard sell' on bf and people getting obsessed with ebf - does it really make THAT much difference?

(46 Posts)
aamia Tue 09-Oct-12 13:26:28

An honest question, prompted by the government leaflet thingy that doesn't list earth shattering benefits tbh. Yes, it is better for baby and mum 'cause there ARE benefits to doing it. Are those benefits really enough to bf when in excruciating pain as some people on here report doing, or to delay adding formula when baby's weight drops and won't improve quickly, or to delay medications for mum/subject baby to those while mum is taking them if she bfs. I'm not in either 'camp' so no personal agenda here, just curious really. I'm having to mix feed now and while if we're lucky we might get back to ebf, I'd rather he continued to gain weight, was healthy and happy.

So, is a smaller (so not no chance) chance of:
Developing eczema.
Getting ear, chest and tummy bugs and having to go to hospital as a result.
Being fussy about new foods.
Being constipated.
Being obese and developing diabetes when they are older

Really worth it when bf is stubbornly refusing to go well, and child and/or mother is/are suffering emotionally/physically? I'm in no doubt it is the rest of the time, but just wonder if we're over propaganda'd a bit as a population...

DinosaurSchool Tue 09-Oct-12 13:35:59

For me - no it wasn't worth it. I was utterly miserable and felt a million times better when I decided to stop. I've seen countless friends struggle for months and months persevering with bf and I want to ask if they really think the benefits are worth it.

But like everything, it's an individual choice isn't it?

And despite believing what I wrote above I still cried the other day that I had failed in not doing it beyond a week or two with my 3dcs. Madness.

SamSmalaidh Tue 09-Oct-12 13:45:54

Actually none of those things are benefits of breastfeeding - breastmilk isn't magic and doesn't make you healthier than you should be. Adding formula just increases the risks of those things happening. Increased obesity, diabetes, eczema, infections, constipation and tummy bugs is because of formula, breastfeeding doesn't give any immunity from them.

But of course, you have to weigh up the risks and benefits. For some it might be worth it and for some not.

EauRouge Tue 09-Oct-12 13:48:33

I don't think it's a case that the information is wrong- breastmilk is far and away the best food for a baby. But if a woman is in agony and her baby is losing weight because he has a tongue tie then simply telling her that breastmilk is better is extremely unhelpful, patronising and unsupportive. What is needed is better trained staff who can spot problems and help with them.

I don't think bf has been over promoted. It's just because you read mumsnet. If you ask a random mum on the street, I bet most will say 'ofc you feed baby with formula and a bottle'. Many people were shocked I don't give DD formula. Just last month, I was given a pack of formula as a free gift, and I have to kindly tell the girl DD is just drinking cow's milk now. (She's 18mo).

If you are really struggling, and you can say to yourself you have done your best, then you'll not regret the decision to you've made. This will be the same for all the things to come, be it jarred baby food, SAHM/WOHM, private/state school.

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 09-Oct-12 13:53:12

BFing is after the initial agony just a billion times easier.

Done both and there is no competition long term.

However, BF DD is the ridiculously fussy eaterwink

Oh yes, weaning will be your next big battle. Remember be kind to yourself on that! There is nothing better than home made food, but it's not possible to feed LO solely on homemade, organic food.

BTW, BF DD is a gannet.

Loobylou222 Tue 09-Oct-12 14:01:51

I ebf for the first 4 months of my daughters life, a it made me miserable! I wasn't producing enough milk and she was not gaining weight, I wasn't shown or supported enough by health visitors or midwives when my daughter was born and was even told by one hv to simply 'eat more' which I did I ate everything in sight an it didn't make one bit of difference! I eventual got to see a breaatfeeding councillor who wod have been a god send if I had been seeing her from the beggining, she gave me a lot of helpful tips but unfortunately it was too little too late.

Another reason I had south trouble was because my oh was totally against formula and was putting me under so much pressure to bf, causing me to get stressed, unhappy and consequently my milk supply slowed even more. I'm glad I gave breastfeeding a go but putting her on formula was the best thing I ever did! I dnt believe the bond between me and my daughter would be any different if I didnt bf at all and she also suffers from eczema!

Fair play too ppl who are all for it and believe its the best thing for their child but from my experience that's not always the case!

Teapot13 Tue 09-Oct-12 14:07:17

But many women who are having a tough time are getting crap support. I had a really hard time starting out, and the advice I got from the midwives (in hospital and community) was spotty but the advice from the BF advisor that visited was actively unhelpful. Luckily my mother was here, who BF my brother and me well into toddlerhood, and eventually things sorted themselves out, but not many new mothers have that kind of resource. The choice for them should not be, "carry on with this thing that isn't working, even though you would like it to work, or use formula."

I don't like the use of the word "propaganda" in relation to BF. It is the biological norm -- it doesn't make sense to me to call it "propaganda" when people are encouraged to do it.

Loobylou222 Tue 09-Oct-12 14:18:14

I dont like the word propaganda used either, I agree bf is the norm and totally believe everyone should give it a try and had I been given the right support I like to think I would still be happily bf now unfortunately it didn't work out that way for me, If I go on to have more children I will make sure I'm doing it right from the begginging and hopefully have. Happier experience x

tiktok Tue 09-Oct-12 14:20:25

Breastfeeding is the normal, physiological way to feed babies. Anything else has risks. In the developed world, these risks are smaller than they would otherwise be, because formula fed babies can have sufficient formula to grow (as opposed to poverty reducing the ability of the family to pay for it) and first-world access to clean water reduces the risk of life-threatening infection.

However, ff babies in the first world still experience negative health impact. Whether or not you feel these are 'earth shattering' is a personal choice - but there are many things we choose/choose not to do for our children that would not be 'earth shattering' if we did/didn't do them.

Breastfeeding is counter-cultural in the first world and the many problems and challenges that happen with it don't always get resolved before they become too huge - and the result is that babies may need formula instead or alongside, in order to grow. It's a personal choice how long and how far any individual struggles to fully breastfeed or to continue doing any breastfeeding - for some women it just feels right to go further along the road, despite problems, and for others it feels wrong and they would rather ff happily than bf unhappily.

I am always a tad exasperated when I read complaints about 'propaganda'. Why wouldn't the health service and other agencies explain the health effects of infant feeding? Why is that 'propaganda'? Of course it should be backed up with adequate practical help and the removal of 'barriers', but the very facts don't need to be hidden.

And I am also bound to point out that there are whole swathes of the population to whom the very idea of bf is mad and peculiar, and where virtually nobody does it - you think they'd have least heard of it as an option, but it feels as much of an option as wearing hand-knitted cashmere knickers. Yes, some people may do this somewhere, is the idea, but not us, not here, not now.

worldgonecrazy Tue 09-Oct-12 14:25:10

Definitely not over-propagandad as a nation. The breastfeeding rates in this country are very low, not aided by the lack of real life support for new mums. I often say that the NHS should spend less money on posters about how "breast is best" and more money on fully-trained support workers to help mums get through their initial wobbles.

flagnogbagnog Tue 09-Oct-12 14:26:54

I think there is massive pressure to ebf. I really do feel like I've been 'conditioned' into it. I feel like formula is a bad thing when realistically I know it's not.

Ive got 4 DC's. I bf the first 3 until over a year old. Currently still bfing dc4 who is 3 months old. I've spent the whole time with all of them wanting to stop bf but just couldn't bring myself to do it. My baby has thrush in his mouth and I have it on my breasts. We've been treating it for 8 weeks now but still it's there. It hurts, and makes me feel horrible. But I still can't bring myself to stop. I just keep thinking I'll regret it immensely. I think the baby will go through a period of a few days of sadness and panic because his comfort has been withdrawn. I think it's not fair to have fed his brothers and sister for longer etc etc. I just feel so guilty. sad

But I know if I do go for ff and stop bf, the thrush will go, baby will start sleeping better, I will get more independence, I will have more time for the other 3 dc's and i can burn the awful nursing bra's!

I'm genuinely scared to mention to hv that I'd like to stop. I know that she would try and persuade me otherwise and it would just add to the guilt. Basically I think my attitude towards it is all wrong but I don't know how to shake off the hang ups.

stargirl1701 Tue 09-Oct-12 14:29:02

I think, in the UK, it doesn't make as much difference as it would in, say, Somalia. It is the natural way to feed a baby though. I was really disappointed and saddened to give up bf at 2 weeks. I did feel supported in my decision by the doctors, midwives and dh. Everyone involved felt it was the correct decision. I still feel I made the correct decision despite feeling so sad.

Back story: I was re-admitted to hospital 10 days post birth with infective mastitis. The breast milk from my right breast was unfit for consumption. I stopped producing milk after my temperature went above 39 degrees. I tried to keep going with the left breast and formula top up but the IV anti-biotics began to effect baby star too. It was a pretty traumatic experience sad. I will try to bf my next baby - hopefully I'll have more success.

SamSmalaidh Tue 09-Oct-12 14:30:58

If you've been treating thrush for 8 weeks and still have it, it sounds like it hasn't been treated properly - I would get on to the HV about that.

Loobylou222 Tue 09-Oct-12 14:31:23

The thing is yea formula maybe full or rubbish and bf babies are getting natural nutrition etc but the Minute you start weaning your baby you are filling your baby with just as much rubbish! I try to give my dd home cooked food but that isn't always possible, however it is impossible to use everything organic and 'natural' etc I use the baby stock cubes, but does anyone actually know what is in them?

tiktok Tue 09-Oct-12 14:35:09

flag, you are a confident, grown woman and an experienced mother. There is no need to even see your health visitor if you dont want to, let alone give details of your feeding choices. If she is a 'persuader' then she is not doing her job properly anyway.

But where do these mixed feelings of guilt and confusion come from? Are these not simply the normal conflicted responses of any mother faced with a difficult decision she knows has consequences, either for health or for longer-term feelings?

I doubt very much they come from leaflets or what midwives said to you - tell me I;m wrong and I'll believe you, of course, but to me, if you bf all your kids for a year without 100 per cent wanting to do it, then you clearly have a strong impulse to do so that goes beyond what you have read or heard from others.

mawbroon Tue 09-Oct-12 14:38:03

It is hugely important.

read this Don't just have a glance, read it properly.

I have heard Dr Palmer talk about "benefits" of breastfeeding being threefold. There is the nutritive/immunological aspect, the emotional aspect and the impact on the structural formation of the skull.

DS1 is 6yo and because of undiagnosed tongue tie, he has not "benefitted" from the structural aspects despite being breastfed long term, and has suffered lots of ill health. We have now had his ties (lip and tongue) revised and are about to begin orthodontic treatment to correct the distortions in his palate and facial structure (they are not hideous, you wouldn't know there was anything wrong unless you knew what to look for).

He has suffered from reflux, sleep apnoea, allergies and intolerances, ear problems, fussy eating, to name but a few of the problems. Had we not figured out what the problem was, he would have gone on to have a lifetime of ill health caused by his tongue tie and less than ideal orofacial structure.

There is more to it than a bit of asthma/eczema risk!!

tiktok Tue 09-Oct-12 14:39:40

looby, I don't think it is true that formula is full of 'rubbish' (does anyone sensible really think this?) - it is processed cows milk, and not breastmilk, but this does not make it 'rubbish'.

Your point about 'what's in solids?' makes no sense, either. Baby foods are regulated to be safe, and home cooked food does not have to be organic to be perfectly ok and healthy....but the point is that formula/breastmilk in the first weeks and mths is the sole source of nutrition for a baby at a time when his major organs are undergoing growth and change at a faster rate than at any other time of life.

That's why some people feel the choice of 'diet' at this time is important.

psychedelic1 Tue 09-Oct-12 14:41:20

What about the protection against cot death for the length of time you bf for? I think that has to be one reason to do it for at least 6 months (when babies are much less likely to suffer from SIDS)

mumtocuddlebundle Tue 09-Oct-12 14:46:24

Totally agree that more money should be spent on breastfeeding support and less on posters! With my first baby I remember when he was a few days old, a midwife asking how often he fed. I said every couple of hours and she said that was too often and I should wait 3 to 4 hours for breasts to fill back up again. Luckily I knew this was nonsense. But how could a supposedly trained midwife say that?
I think its unfair to put new mothers under so much pressure to bf. But not provide decent support.

Loobylou222 Tue 09-Oct-12 14:48:02

How does it not make sense? The recommended weaning age is 6 months however a lot of jars say 'from 4 months' ( they can't be that well regulated!) why do they say this? To make money that's why!

aamia Tue 09-Oct-12 14:49:53

I'm sure if they looked for tongue tie in the initial pediatrician check, that bf rates would go up in this country. My son would be ebf if his tongue tie had been caught early enough, and from reading posts on here, so would many other babies have been!

flagnogbagnog Tue 09-Oct-12 15:04:59

Tictok - yes I think you are right to am extent. I do feel I should breastfeed. There are times when I think 'this is definitely the way it should be'. But I do have an irrational worry what will be thought of me if I stop. I know it shouldn't be a concern of mine, what others think?

To the poster who said that the thrush isn't being treated properly, can you expand on that? I have cream for myself, I wash myself before and after feeds. Baby has had two courses of nystatin drops and now has been on daktarin oral gel for 4 weeks. I think the cream I put on myself is just simply not on for long enough. Baby feeds every couple of hours really.

beancurd Tue 09-Oct-12 15:33:05

Poor you flag, not the frequency though most babies feed like that, look up the bfn and their leaflet. Look at medications and doses, you sound like you haven't had the right meds/doses. Also you can try cutting down in sugar, taking acidophilous and grapefruit seed extract. The latter often seems v effective (holland and barrett).

On the op question, I see info not propaganda. Actually it does make a big difference to the most vulnerable. Premmies are much less likely to contract nec for example.

Guilt? Meh you make yourself feel this. I feel non and one of mine had not a drop another 4yrs worth. You do the best you can at the time and variables change your decisions. More support needed...yes indeed.

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