I want to start with an acknowledgment and appreciation to ALL moms, for all what they do for the wellbeing of their children. They say: “if you always wonder whether you are a perfect mom, then you definitely are one”
I am a mom of two, a boy and a girl. My first-born inspired me 6 years ago to follow my dreams in becoming a breastfeeding specialist.
I started in 2012 my trainings in breastfeeding, until I became a trainer myself. Coming from a health background, I could combine my knowledge in health with my breastfeeding information and experience, to help mommies and their tiny human beings get the best start in breastfeeding.
The more I worked in breastfeeding, the more I realized how much awareness we still need in our society regarding this healthcare topic. I heard the affirmations of “your milk is not enough”, “your milk will turn into water”, and “why don’t you top off with formula” quite often. Our culture in Lebanon, and in many countries around the world, is more of a bottle-feeding one. So what we really need is more awareness about breastfeeding, and not the opposite.
And here comes this article! You can find below the link to an article that has been circulating for the last month on the internet and on mommies Facebook groups, unfortunately, misleading parents about breastfeeding.
As a breastfeeding specialist myself and as someone who has the moms and babies health at heart, I would like to share two concerns about this article:
1- The article was published by an organization “Fed is Best” who claim to be helping moms “provide information on the safest, most brain-protective methods for breastfeeding, mixed-feeding, formula-feeding, pumped-milk-feeding and tube-feeding mothers and families to prevent complications to babies that have become too common in today’s “Breast is Best” world.”
Oops! “Breast is best” world?
Well the American Academy of Breastfeeding (AAP) clearly states “Infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice”.
So the AAP agrees that breast is best following this link http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/02/22/peds.2011-3552
What’s ironic is that on their website, the “Fed is Best” organization misleads parents in quoting research that is not relevant to their statements!
As an example look at the following!
They state: “10-18% of babies experience starvation jaundice from insufficient milk intake” and they hyperlink it to this article which is a protocol of the American Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM)!
However, the mentioned article only states that: as many as 10–18% of exclusively breastfed U.S. newborns lose more than 10% of birth weight.
Nowhwere did they say that 10-18% of breastfed babies are starved!
Weight loss has NOTHING to do with starvation! Of course if babies lose a lot of weight, they MIGHT not be feeding well, but they definitely are not starving, at least not in 10-18% of the cases!
Also, directly after this statement, the protocol CLEARLY states that: “close follow-up of the breastfeeding neonate to insure against excessive weight loss from birth and adequate weight gain in the first month assures the detection and intervention for potentially toxic serum bilirubin concentrations.”
However, did Fed is Best website mention that? They did not!
Another statement on their website is: “10% of EBF babies undergoing current breastfeeding protocols experience levels of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can be associated with developmental complications.”
The study they mentioned for this statement is the following:
But they fail to mention what the actual conclusion of this article is:
“There was a higher recording of hypoglycemia when breast feeding was initiated more than 1 hour after delivery (16.67%) than when breast feeding was initiated within one hour of delivery (7.89%).”
Yes of course!! This is what you should be preaching and spreading awareness about: “Breastfeeding Initiation within one hour of birth” and not how breastfed babies are at risk of developing hypoglycemia!
Breastfed babies are NOT at risk of hypoglycemia. Breastfed babies who are not breastfed EARLY are at risk of hypoglycemia. So what to do in this case? Do I formula feed? Do I scare mothers (like Fed is Best are doing) from breastfeeding? NO! Of course not! What I do is I teach mothers, hospitals, hospital staff, and everyone concerned in babies’ health, to feed babies EARLY and reinforce good breastfeeding support and management.
2- My second concern is how this article singled out one incident and generalized it to the public. They got it viral on the internet, in a perfect way, to advertise against breastfeeding and promote their hidden agenda of formula/artificial milk advertising.
“Many studies have shown that we care more about the threat of bad things than we do about the prospect of good things. Our negative brain tripwires are far more sensitive than our positive triggers. And this is exactly why this article became viral”.
This is one incident that happened with one mom, and it is purely related to ineffective breastfeeding management. She basically didn’t get the right help from the beginning in breastfeeding.
But did this article mention how many lives are saved each year by only breastfeeding? Of course not!
Statistics from the World Health Organization confirms that breastfeeding saves more than 800,000 lives each year.
Another statistic from the United States says that “If 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess of 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants.”
Formula feeding is associated with risks to the health of moms and babies. And even though babies can be underfed, the solution to this is definitely not scaring moms about initiating breastfeeding. Only in rare cases, do babies need to be formula fed, and in those cases, the mom should be advised how formula, like any other drugs, is helping her baby.
So what to do to prevent breastfeeding mismanagement:
- Attend a Preparation to birth class during pregnancy. Here is the link to Sophia Maternity’s next classes: http://www.lebtivity.com/event/prenatal-classes-lebanon
- I always advise moms about this: Directly after birth: Latch, Compress, Switch! And make sure you have a good “Poop Report” as I like to call it You can know all about normal physical findings in a newborn in a preparation to birth class.
- If you feel that your baby is sleeping too much, sleeping too little, not settling easily, or if you are having painful latch, then always consult with your breastfeeding specialist. Your pediatrician should refer you for breastfeeding help in those cases, as many pediatricians are not equipped enough to provide detailed breastfeeding help in these situations.
I am actually spreading more awareness now about the necessity of having all first time moms, being checked by a lactation consultant, knowing how important, successful breastfeeding is for the health of the baby.
I would like to end my article with this message that I received, ironically, the same time as this article was published. This mom came to me when her daughter was one month old (same age as the baby in the article), and her pediatrician was concerned about her baby not gaining enough weight. We worked on breastfeeding, and guess what? Yes, it worked and her baby gained 750 grams in one month, which is excellent for her age!
I would also like to thank the beautiful mommies that I had the honor to help with breastfeeding, for sending the pictures of their healthy breastfeeding babies. The babies in the pictures below, were fed breastmilk exclusively and they are all healthy and happy. The common thing between them is that they got adequate breastfeeding information and help.
We all have the health of newborn and babies at heart and we all want the best and safest for babies. Today we might differ on “how” to provide babies with the best. Instead of looking for and promoting “alternatives to breastfeeding” for “safety” reasons; our common goal should be to teach moms and healthcare professionals how to ensure the adequate, safe and ideal way of feeding babies: Breastfeeding with the help, support and monitoring of trained consultants.
If you have any breastfeeding question, or if you would like to share your story with me, please do not hesitate to contact me/ Joanna Nawfal 03076276.