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What's the difference between learning to b/f here and in other countries?

(19 Posts)
prunegirl Wed 09-Feb-05 08:01:56

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Moomina Wed 09-Feb-05 08:21:03

There's some interesting articles here which might give you some answers. Lots of stuff from the WHO and stats for bf-ing in other countries (UNICEF Progress of Nations report etc for bf rates in developing countries - scroll down to 'Other breastfeeding articles'), plus info on the marketing of formula, etc.

I haven't read everything, though, so don't know how up-to-date it all is!

stitch Wed 09-Feb-05 08:31:12

i think the whole formula advertising in the third world has made a lot of people think that formula is better. i know some people who definitly think that. but ( in pakistan anyways) b/f is the only option if you are poor. its not a choice, or even a viable alternative if you are not producing enough milk/ baby wont latch on properly etc. you just have to persevere to feed your baby properly, or they starve.
brutal i know, but life.
also, i think that if you know that that is the only way to do it, then you have a different mental perspective. i think i would compare it to carrying your own baby or having a surrogate mother do it for you. in todays culture in the uk, we woould only choose a surrogate if there was no other option, and we were desperate for a baby. similarly b/f. ??
i know that historically the rich would have wet nurses.

prunegirl Wed 09-Feb-05 09:08:03

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piffle Wed 09-Feb-05 09:23:36

I had my first in NZ and as I had my own independent midwife who saw me at home throughout my pregnancy, actually drove me to the hospital to give birth, and then drove us all home again a few hours later and stayed for dinner, she encouraged me to let him latch on straight away as he was delivered, ds latched on perfectly and she watched the next few feeds, helping me with positioning (I ended up needing the rugby hold due to large boobies)
Had it not been for this positioing help I would never have been able to feed outside my house.
When I had DD over here in England, she also latched on fine straight away and they never actually mentioned anything about it, luckily everything was fine though.
I knew a lot more b/f mothers in NZ than I did here, but it was 11 yrs ago when I had ds and 2 yrs ago with dd, so a lot changes
NZ has high rate of cot death I cannot remember whether b/f was recommended in relation to that - I suspect it was from vague memory
I think more mums over in NZ feed past the 6 wks many stop at here, in my antenatal group everyone on of us (10) bf til a year or more.
I was always really motivated to bf. Not sure if it is to do with my being bf?
And remembering my littlest brother being fed.
There is an almost shame about doing it over here, like you have to explain or apologise for your choices - either way! Ridiculous

Catbert Wed 09-Feb-05 10:18:59

I think this is an intresting question, and one which I have pondered, along with "what happened before formula was invented, and why can noone remember, because it wasn't so long ago?".

I won't even go into my own experience, because I have no particular feelings on however anyone chooses to feed their babies, and have hoped never to make anyone feel they were making a wrong choice. I had my own difficulties with both.

However, once upon a time, babies and mothers died ALOT because of childhood illness, bad water, difficult births - all this is given. Did children die because they could not be fed properly? Most likely they did.

Clearly there has always been an issue with how you feed your babies, and perhaps there has been for a long time. Even Mozart lost babies because it was frowned upon to feed them milk, and therefore many babies were fed upon sugar water and nothing else. (!) Rich people, as has been mentioned, had wet nurses. Is this because of a class issue about breast feeding? Or was it because rich mothers did not want to go through the emotional and physical difficulties of breastfeeding, and didn't have to?

If it was a class issue, is this somehow related to some underlying "British" problem we have with b/f (I do think the Victorians had a lot to answer for in modern thinking!). NOT, I hasten to add the difficulties in doing so, but the problems some people have integrating b/f into everyday life with other people, public places, family, husbands etc?

Are we all so keen to "get our lives back" once our babies are born, that we want our babies to be fed by other people so we can gain a sense of self again. I think this is a particular cultural issue that stems from a very materialistic and selfish upbringing that everyone in this day and age has been brought up to expect as a personal right. I am not saying it's wrong per se, just that's sometimes how cultures change. We are surrounded by images of the things we are told we want and need, the things we feel we are missing from our lives. Sometimes having children puts everything into perspective, but sometimes it causes us to have another path of materialistic greed to follow. Sales of children's designer wear, copious pointless toys, expensive pushchairs and so forth.

It was only a generation or so ago, that formula was hailed as the best thing since sliced bread. My mother never even gave b/f a thought - because it was no longer something you did!

But, when we live in a country where for the magority heating, clean water, medical care, general personal comfort is a given is it no wonder that we should not have to suffer to feed our babies, when we can ensure they are given the next best thing? And why not? I sometimes think b/f is hankered after as yet another sign of social standing.

Feeding babies is a primal urge, and whatever route we take, it is ensuring our babies are fed, happy, contented which drives all mothers, whichever feeding route they take. It has to be looked at in context with a whole bunch of other social and economic factors, as most of these seemingly simple questions are.

Bimely. I can burble on somewhat can't I?

Erinleigh Wed 09-Feb-05 10:39:52

I am living in the UK now, but am originally from the States. I think there are some cultural differences between the countries, but I think there are even more differences between different regions, particularly in the States.

My mum is from California; she moved to Indiana to marry my dad in the Seventies. Calif. always about 20 years ahead of rest of US; Indiana always about 20 years behind - it proved to be quite the culture clash. She discovered this when assuming she would B/F me, even though I was 7 wks early and low weight. Doctors freaked, etc. She finally convinced them to let her at least express the milk for them to give to me. Unfortunately my sis has just had a baby, in Indiana, and situation still similar. However, mom remembers 30 yrs ago in Calif. similar situation was treated as no problem, and general assumption was that babies would be B/F!

I grew up seeing 5 younger siblings all B/F; it was normal. Bottles were unknown territory; wouldn't have even thought of using them for feeding my twins. They were born 4 wks early, and though Ds1 fed instantly, Ds2 was sleepier and slower. Midwife threatened to put him on formula; I freaked, as I didn't know anything about bottlefeeding. Fortunately he became more alert about 3rd day and started eating normally.

I can imagine, though, if situation was reversed: if I knew nothing about B/F probably wouldn't have thought twice about using bottles. I guess the core of what I am rattling on about is: You are more likely to choose what you are exposed to, in whatever way the exposure happens: for me it was seeing my mum do it.

Maybe in the UK it is more of a class issue (I'm saying this only b/c I live in Walsall, near Birmingham - and most mothers here are between 14-18, and would never dream of B/F b/c it would mean no more clubbing... so much easier to leave baby w/ mum. Besides, can get free formula anyhow w/ milk tokens) Sorry, didn't mean to turn this into a rant!

Erinleigh Wed 09-Feb-05 10:40:57

Sorry - shouldn't have been the rude american that i am and butted in so hastily, so...

Hello all - finding your discussion v interesting.

eidsvold Wed 09-Feb-05 11:47:30

support here in Aus for women breastfeeding takes many forms...

Australian Breastfeeding Association - publications, counsellors, groups etc, they also have hospital visitors.

Hospitals have clinics and counsellors, midwives are to check that you are okay with feeding and assist and support you with breastfeeding.

Community Health centres have clinics and counsellors - help line to call also

Parents rooms in Shopping centres etc with small rooms and comfortable chairs for breastfeeding and microwave/warm water for bottles

Not sure about statistics, I am more aware of breastfeeding mothers out and about - could be becuase I am now one of them though

Unlike other places - stage one formula milk is often on sale in the supermarkets.

highlander Wed 09-Feb-05 18:58:15

I'm temporarily living in Vancouver, Canada. Here, the assumption is that you'll BF. Your rarely see wee babies on the bottle.

What I noticed most is the consistency of advice, fom midwives in hospital through to the BF consultant down at the health centre. Yes, we have free access to a BF consultant every week!

My neighbour had a traumatic time delivering her DD. The baby was recusitated at birth and consequently sleepy, wouldn't feed very well and lost an awful lot of weight. Mum's milk took 6 days to come in. There was no mention of a bottle. Mum was helped to express every few hours and the baby was fed from a spoon. Once the milk came in they were off and are still BF today! This sort of story isn't unusual over here.

prunegirl Wed 09-Feb-05 19:49:25

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NotQuiteCockney Wed 09-Feb-05 21:39:05

Vancouver is the California of Canada. I don't know what attitudes are like in the rest of Canada (will check when I next go home). But I do know that my sister, in Toronto, got from the government the same sort of antenatal care I paid for - continuity of care, two midwives she knew, both of whom would come to her for a home birth, and provide post-natal care as well. That's got to help with breastfeeding.

All my Canadian friends, breastfeed, but it's a bit of a self-selecting group. I do think attachment parenting is more popular there.

moondog Wed 09-Feb-05 21:51:52

Mentioned on another thread the fact that i was brought up in Papua New Guinea. A group of (predominantly Australian) women were very instrumental in having bottles made available only on prescription in the early/mid 70s in order to reverse the appalling infant mortality rate which was the result of formula feeding and all its attendant difficulties in a developing country.
Grew up surrounded by bare breasts and b/feeding, and neither I or my sisters considered anything other than b/feeding.

Now that I live in Turkey with two small children (one a 7 mth old baby!) I'm really interested in how things are here. Will settle in a bit however before I launch into questioning all and sundry!

My sister lives in France. Says that b/feeding rates there are hopeless-most women just obsessed with getting their figures back. This also seems to be the main thrust of baby magazines!

eidsvold Wed 09-Feb-05 23:41:06

yes but I mean discounted... on sale with so much off rather than available.

Gwenick Wed 09-Feb-05 23:44:18

Haven't actually learnt to BF in Zimbabwe, but my in-laws are from there. When SIL1 was expecting her 1st she called me frequently to ask about BF......and was quite relieved that I was able to tell her more about it and where to get help if she needed it.

If she had have been living back in Zimbabwe she would have been 'expected' to get on with, no midwifes/bf councellors, relatives etc rushing to help her.........

highlander Thu 10-Feb-05 17:41:25

NQC, you're right - Vancouver is like another world compared to the rest of Canada! However, I think all provinces throw tons of money at BF initiatives.

What helps in Canada is the right of parents to take 1 year's maternity leave. It can be taken wholly by mum or split so that dad can take a few months off too. Most mothers are off for a whole year, so there's less pressure to wean at 6 months. Certainly in Vancouver, most babies are BF until 9 months.

californiagirl Thu 10-Feb-05 18:11:23

With reference to "What did people do before formula": One of my friends likes to send me old books, and for a wedding present sent me a handy household manual from 1908. It's firm on the importance of not weaning the baby early (by which it means before 9 months), and has several Very Stern paragraphs about the importance of breastfeeding in saving baby's lives. It also has instructions for preparing your own formula at home (and what a lot of faff that was, too, what with boiling the milk and all). It's clear that the author believed that even then, a significant number of women chose to formula feed.

Kiwicath Thu 10-Feb-05 18:28:06

Prunegirl. I gave birth in Cairo, Egypt and received no help what so ever. Over here though that job is left up to the family and as I had none I was left to my own devises. I was adamant I wanted to breastfeed so simply got on with it. I can't really explain it but I just seemed to know what to do. I've never been bashful about watching other mums feed so I guess I just picked it up from them. Despite the no help, breastfeeding has been wonderful over here. Apparently in the Koran they advise to feed till 2 years so have had no snid remarks or embarrassed looks from passers by (I'm always decrete though).

Kiwicath Thu 10-Feb-05 18:30:35

.... blimey!!! forgot to mention Mumsnet. Got oooodles of help through this site. Thank you all so much

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