Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Did I mention breastfeeding? No. Then do you need to jump down my throat?

Ok today was a normal Wednesday morning...

I woke up fairly happy, which is a good thing seeing as to be honest I could have had a better start to 2011 and the last week has been especially difficult. I fed my daughter, got up, came downstairs with her & quickly logged onto Facebook to check how things were going on my business page and this is where things started going wrong...

I noticed a company of whom I am a 'fan' of on Facebook post an advert to a special type of bottle that heats the contents to room temperature in 60 seconds. This is great for Mum's who regulary express their milk or use pre-made formula in cartons but surely dangerous to Mum's using powdered formula as the World Health Organisation states formula should be made with water not cooler than 70 degrees please see here for full details. This advert contained no information of this. I could not let this pass (which I probably should have done) as I feel that Mum's are given enough incorrect advice without large companies deliberately (yes deliberately! This is no error, I can assure you, call me a sceptic but this is the tip of a huge iceburg where infant feeding companies are concerned) misleading them. So me, being me & not being able to let things be posted this comment:

But surely DANGEROUS for formula feeding when the water should be at least 70 degrees before adding powder...doesnt seem to mention that on their site though....

Underneath the advert. I was the first to post & this was aimed at the company advertising the product.

The next barrage of comments were awful, very defensive Mum's told me water does not have to be 70 degrees & others practically bragged about making up their feed incorrectly with sarcastic responses such as this:

"I'm going to shock u all then ... I made all my day feed in the morning. I would just put boiling water in all the bottles, cool them down, then put them in the fridge. When Little one wanted a feed I would heat the bottle up to room temp, and yes using a microwave then add the formula. I never had a problem and would have loved to have had XXXXX bottles."

There were a few people fighting my corner & also posting relevant links to the NHS website where it states clearly some of the bacteria found in formula but the Mum's carried on being defensive.

I must state not at any point did I mention that I am a breastfeeding mother and none of my comments mentioned breastfeeding (apart from mentioning the WHO code on marketing breastmilk substitutes) yet all the Mum's seemed to think I was attacking their feeding choice. I had to later point out that I had not mentioned breastfeeding yet no one responded to that but kept saying things like 'it's ok for you if you can breastfeed'. I was so tactful in my argument & it was actually aimed at the company advertising the bottles (who I also emailed and got nowhere with) yet why did so many Mum's jump down my throat about it?

Another thing that really upset me was the amount of people on the thread who knowingly feed their babies infant formula made up incorrectly. A fellow breastfeeder mum who agreed with the points I was making did reference to the fact that you would not usually feed your baby runny eggs, unpasturised cheese or honey due to the risks of poisoning so why put your baby at risk by making feeds incorrectly, again no one replied to that, just carried on with their defensive remarks about breastfeeders being all high and mighty etc etc.

I am not a 'fan' of formula but I do understand that it has its place. These bottles are going to be very tempting for a bottle feeding Mum in the middle of the night. Breastfeeding Mum's have it there on tap and pre-made cartons can be stored at room temparature so surely these bottle are going to be mainly bought by Mum's who want a quick fix at silly-o-clock in the morning. I think thats very wrong and very dangerous.

I stayed calm and did not ''attack'' anyone today (although I very nearly did!!) but is it so hard to make sure you make up babies feed correctly? I do not generally have car accidents yet that does not stop me from strapping my daughter into the car, why is it so different? Surely there is a risk in preparing the feed incorrectly & as a Mum, our jobs are to do as much as we can to eliminate risks to our babies.

The trouble is this is not a one-time thing, this happens ALOT on Facebook. A breastfeeding Mum mentions something about the WHO code or similar on a page also vacated by Mum's who bottle feed and all of a sudden it is battle of the breast vs bottles. A lot of the time it is just someone like me, trying to point out the corrupt marketing to the larger companies and before you know it everyone's hackles are up and bra wars has descended along with insults such as 'breastfeeding nazi's' and other unhelpful things.

Would the world not be a lovely place if people thanked each other for bringing this information to people's attention? I can only hope...

A crying shame :-(

I am not a sleep 'expert' although, it seems anyone can claim to be one...

Or thats how I am left feeling after reading some articles and books regarding 'sleep training' in toddlers, babies & infants.

Ok, I will start from the beginning...

When pregnant I bought copious amounts of pregnancy & new baby magazines, I thought by doing this I would be better informed of childbirth, breastfeeding & how to care for my baby. Looking back at that, it was the wrong thing to do as these magazines make a large amount of advertising infant formula (which is illegal but the companies have got round this by calling it follow-on milk), disposable nappies & they give away watered down versions of 'baby books' from famous authors with their advice on how to care for you baby.

Ok, you are probably thinking that the first is a little concerning (or you may not be) but whats wrong with the last two? Well, disposable nappies is not that bad, it just is just a shame that so many go to landfill, in the UK alone that figure is estimated at 8 million a day, stewing in toxic landfills - yuk! But the third, wow! This is a BIG problem, yes these 'taster' books from the 'experts' may not be quite as helpful as they may seem.

I recieved a book explaining how I could have a routine with my baby right from the beginning, this would apparently help me get my life back quicker. it advised that 'if' breastfeeding, I should start with xx amount of minutes on each breast so many hours apart. It told me I could use a method of controlled crying as soon as my baby reached 10lb in weight, this 'controlled-crying' suggested leaving my baby for a set amount of time & increasing in intervals, for babies under 6 months it was called the 'cry-down method' yet its principle was virtually identicle. There was other advice in the book that is questionable but I am going to focus on the above two for now, I will blog about weaning another time as its a complex separate issue!

Why breastfeed in a routine & not on demand?
That was the question I was asking myself and this book made me feel that feeding in a set schedule would be better for me & baby, it would help me get my sleep back quicker & seemed like the perfect solution to the ''sleepless first year'' (this is the name a close friend called babies first year). After reading this small 'taster' book, I was going to buy the full edition but never got round to it (thankfully). I did take the book into hospital with me though with the idea I would follow the routines from the start.

The problems started when my darling daughter was only a few hours old. This book told me to feed ASAP for so many minutes but my gorgeous little bundle didn't want to, she did not know how to latch on & no matter how hard we tried she just could not get the hang of it. When she did finally latch on she ended up feeding for longer than the 2 minutes it suggested but then did not wake up in time for the next feed. When she had still not woken, the midwives checked her blood sugars and she had very low levels - they decided 'it was best' (this was inaccurate but again for another blog!) to give her some formula and told me to forget about the routine for now. I was devastated as the midwife sat there and fed my daughter from a bottle. The following day, my little girl was transferred to SCBU as she still had low blood sugars, later we found she was infected with Group B Strep. Hmmm....nothing about feeding troubles in the book...

Once in SCBU a very kind Lactation Consultant and Nurse told me to have lots of skin to skin contact & breastfeed on demand, she told me milk production was not all about the active feeding but just having baby by the breast can help give my body the message that it needs to produc milk. I spent the next few days trapsing from the Maternity Ward to SCBU to 'feed on demand' I was shattered being seperate from my baby and on the third night nurses in SCBU decided my baby could come to the ward with me and just go downstairs for her antibiotics. This was fantastic but my milk had still not come in so my daughter was on me all the time, I was worried about ''setting a rod for my own back'' and questioned breastfeeding altogether. Luckily, the lady I questioned it to was the lovely lactation consultant who advised me that my milk will come in and then things will be much easier. My milk came in on day 6 and I no longer felt the need to use formula. We went home the same day and just had to come back to the hospital twice a day for antibiotics.

Once at home I decided to try the routine again & I ended up in a right mess! My darling daughter did not want to feed every 4 hours, she wanted booby every hour and for sometimes an hour and a half at a time! I was in bits, exhausted from the night feeds.

I started to go to a breastfeeding support group at 3 weeks, the health visitor there was AMAZING and diagnosed my daughters tongue tie. This was the probably cause for the hour long feeds. I had it snipped when my daughter was 10 weeks & the difference was amazing. By now I had (thankfully) given up on the routine but picked it up again to read the paragraph on sleep training now that my daugher was 10lb

Why should I let my baby learn to soothe herself?
When pregnant, the thought of letting my baby cry herself to sleep did not bother me. I had been at friends when they had done similar things and controlled crying was something I thought was a 'normal' part of parenting. When she was here though things were different, her cry seemed really loud to me and every cell in my body made me want to stop the noise, the easiest way to do that was to latch her onto my boob, it seemed to cure everthing! However, she was still waking upto 4 times a night and well-meaning friends and family were sowing the seed that she should be only waking for one feed at 10 weeks. This led me back to the 'book'.

I had all good intentions of teaching my baby to self-soothe but when it came down to it I just could not do it. I let her cry for 60 seconds then peered into her moses basket and saw her red little face crying for attention and immediately picked her up, she relaxed as soon as she was in my arms but sobbed for a while after. It dawned on me that she NEEDED me to SOOTHE HER. She could not do it herself, she was sobbing, she was scared and there was no way I could do any more of abandoning my instincts for a bit of sleep.

The lactation consultant who had been so helpful in hospital came to my home to observe a breastfeed for a study she was doing. She asked me if we co-sleep, I honestly did not as I was worried about SIDS, she advised that many Mums do and there is conflicting research. That night I decided to lie down and feed my daughter to see what happened.

After a few nights I had learned to sleep with her feeding, so this is what I started doing in the small hours I always followed the the guidlines for safe co-sleeping and this made my life so much easier. My daughter seemed to actually start to sleep for longer periods & seemed more relaxed - as did I!

This is when I started to question the ethics of breastfeeding to a routine and 'sleep training'...

I started to look at breastfeeding on demand first, and realised that the NHS (see page 6 of this PDF), The World Health Organistion (WHO), The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and many other organisations all recommend breasfeeding on demand. This is to allow baby to send the messages to your body of how much milk they need along with providing them comfort, warmth & love. If you do not breastfeed on demand, then all hosts of problems can arise such as low weight gain, low milk supply and even jaundice.

Milk production is a very complex issue, explained in detail here. I am sure once understanding how it works, breastfeeding to a routine for Newborns must be virtually impossible? Especially if baby has other problems such as tongue tie...

Sleep training is more of a difficult subject to question. Babies under 6 months do not understand action & consequence so they are actually crying for a reason. Therefore, it is not possible to make a rod for your own back but responding to their needs, making sure they are comfortable helps to make a baby feel secure. When a newborn baby cries the cortisol is released into the brain, this increases over the amount of time a baby is left to cry and when no one attends to the baby eventually, baby shut's down and goes to sleep...this then fools parents into thinking it has 'worked' when actually baby has just given up.

There is very limited research out there on controlled crying although most experts seem to agree it should not be used in children under 6 experts I do not mean the authors of books telling you how to 'train' your baby as some of these recommend teaching a newborn to self me this is disturbing!

I am hoping that in the days/weeks/months/years that pass more research will come to light & more mothers will question the needs of the baby before resulting to controlled this space for developments in the area but in the meantime, it may be helpful to know that there is even less research to show allowing a baby to cry it out or practise controlled crying is actually for me, I will stay safe in the knowledge that my daughter, if waking at night, knows that Mummy will come to her...