Friday, March 09, 2007

breast feeding and wrong advice stories

okay this one is a long rant inspired by a post on

i was lucky to have met Dr. Shoiba Saldanha in bangalore when i was pregnant. i attended the pre-natal classes she conducts. she explained breast feeding in the simplest possible way.

a baby does not require a feed for the first day or two. colostrum is very essential for a baby- the liquidy stuff that comes out before you actually begin lactating.And thats all that is needed for the first few days. Both the baby and the mother need to learn the technique of breast feeding- its not as if the first time the mother holds the baby they both know what to do next. And the first fewdays are going to lead to painful sore nipples( never put the nipple cream- always wipe with wet cotton after a feed. the baby's saliva is acidic making the soreness worse).

And once the feeding routine is established -the more the baby feeds- the more milk is produced by the body. its simple. when a baby goes through a growth spurt ( we all know those days when the baby is feeding ever half hour for no rhyme or reason) - the body produces more milk. if the baby feeds every two to three hours, the body gets the signal how much milk to produce. the moment you introduce formula- something thats harder to digest than mother's milk- the baby is satiated for atleast five hours. the body gets the signal that less milk is required. and lactation gets reduced. the more the formula the less the feeds. until the body eventually does stop producing milk.

no how simple is that. and why wont doctors tell you that. ever since i delivered i can not tell you the number of friends who were adviced not just by visitors, moms, in-laws, but even doctors and nurses that the baby seems to be hungry and what kind of a mother are you- just feed some formula. the first sub-text is- you have failed as a mother ( sometimes a couple of hours after delivery!!!) because you dont seem to have milk- and second you seem to be heartless that you can allow your baby to wail.

so many friends have called totally panicky saying that they dont seem to have enough milk- and the docs/others insist that they should introduce formul. are the damn docs getting some cut from these formula companies or what???

okay these are the docs- who should be sued if you ask me. and what about everyone else who just walk into the room, hear the baby crying and say' are you sure you have enough milk? the baby seems hungry'. damn it, there are many reasons why babies cry- they are wet, they are bored, they are cold, they are hot, they feel like!

i doubt there is a single mother who within the first few weeks hasnt figured out why the baby is crying- and when it is hungry. ( except those damned abnormal growth spurt days)

my sis-in-law clearly had a colicky baby. her mom and mom-in-law convinced her that she did not have enough milk. and even though the doc told her there was no problem- she was so panicky that she began formula. within a few weeks she had to switch completely to formula. it still makes me mad that the very people who should have made her feel adequate, empowered and confident as a mother had reduced her to a nervous wreck. ( she allowed it -i was such a b**** that anyone who even tried to suggest that i might not know what i was doing was ticked off real bad. i had transformed into a growling tigress for the first few months until i calmed down and became truly confident).

a friend of mine a day after she delivered was told by the nurse( at 3 am) when she was trying to position the baby correctly for a feed - god is watching you to see if you put your comfort ahead of your child's hunger. can you even believe that???

a friend, at breach candy no less, asked the nurse to show her how to position the baby for a feed on the first day. she was told that it was not her job, and that mothers know how to nurse. meaning? she was some fake mom who had evicted a baby out of her body by mistake???

i really can go on with horror stories like these- nurses, docs, moms, aunts, bais...its the women, more nervous than the mom around the baby who end up being callous and drain the mother of all confidence.

i must add that my mom knew that the last and only child she had was 35 years back. that she was young, unprepared and clueless and had depended entirely on her mum. both my mum and i read up on pregnancies and babies like we were preparing for our exams! she began calling her older sisters and sisters-in-law asking for recipes and home remedies. ( they were thrilled- my mom had NEVER taken their advice before this). And all she did was to make me feel good and comfortable about being a mother. she also accused me occasionally of being an insane control freak but had to add that she knew where i got the genes from before i gave any nasty retort.

my point is that every mother takes decisions based on her own rhythms. breast feeding exclusively for six months is very good. but if someone opts for formula because she needs to get back to work- or is ill- or for whatever reason does not want to or can not i would be the last person to pass judgements. she knows what works for her- and thats what will work for the baby. the choice is not made out of panic/guilt/fear etc. why cant we help mothers figure their choices rather than impose strictures?

a good site to figure the lactation specialist nearest to you


The Mad Momma said...

lovely.. shall link this up to my post.

Sunayana Roy said...

I had problems too... but what I really relate to is the tigerish feeling. Ask my husband, is what I say! :)

paige said...

I am a Lamaze-trained childbirth educator and doula from the US living in Bangalore. I offer private as well as group childbirth prep classes. Topics covered include anatomy of pregnancy and birth; pregnancy exercise and nutrition; stages of labor; developing and maintaining confidence in the inherent ability to give birth; strategies to facilitate normal birth; movement and positioning which enhance progress and comfort; technology, internventions, and pain medication; cesarean births; postpartum issues; breastfeeding; and newborn appearance, needs and capabilities. For more information, contact me at, or on 99863 80303.

Poppins said...

Reading thru the archives and saw this post. Dr. Shaibia Saldanha was my sister's Dr too. An excellent no-nonsense type who helped her have a normal delivery.. Do you know if she's still in St. John's?

Poppins said...

Thanks for the response Surabhi! Appreciate it.

The Scorpion Ma said...

I just stumbled upon your blog when searching some notes on breastfeeding...Totally agree with you... People whom you count on to support you to breast-feed are the ones who can try to shake your very confidence by telling that you do not have enough milk...
I went thru that too but I totally relate to the "tigress" like mentality.. Nobody could dare get my baby onto formula....And I am indebted to Dr.Shoiba Saldhana for she was my lactation consultant..I have written a post on my feeding experience at