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How to Know a Health Professional is not Supportive of Breastfeeding


All health professionals say they are supportive of breastfeeding. But many are supportive only when breastfeeding is going well, and some, not even then. As soon as breastfeeding, or anything in the life of the new mother is not perfect, too many advise weaning or supplementation. The following is a list of clues which help you judge whether the health professional is supportive of breastfeeding, at least
supportive enough so that if there is trouble, s/he will make efforts to help you continue breastfeeding.

How to know a health professional is not supportive:

S/he gives you formula samples or formula company literature when you are pregnant, or after you have had the baby. These samples and literature are inducements to use the product, and their distribution is called marketing. There is no evidence that any particular formula is better or worse than any other for the normal baby. The literature or videos accompanying samples are a means of subtly and not so subtly undermining breastfeeding and glorifying formula. If you do not believe this, ask yourself why the formula companies are using cutthroat tactics to make sure that your doctor or
hospital gives out their literature and samples and not other companies'? Should you not also wonder why the health professional is not marketing breastfeeding?

S/he tells you that breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are essentially the same. Most bottle-fed babies grow up healthy and secure and not all breastfed babies grow up healthy and secure. However, this does not mean that breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are essentially the same. Infant formula is a rough approximation of what we knew several years ago about breastmilk which is in itself a rough approximation of something we are only beginning to get an inkling of and are constantly being surprised by. The differences have important health consequences. Certain elements in breastmilk
are not in artificial baby milk (formula) even though we have known of their importance to the baby for several years-for example, antibodies and cells for protection of the baby against infection, and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids for optimal development of the baby's vision and brain. Moreover,
breastfeeding is not the same as bottle-feeding; it is a completely different relationship. If you have been unable to breastfeed, that is unfortunate (though most times the problems could have been avoided), but to imply it is of no importance is patronizing and just plain wrong. A baby does not have to be breastfed to grow up happy, healthy and secure, but it is an advantage.
S/he tells you that formula x is best. This usually means that s/he is listening too much to a particular formula representative. It may mean that her/his children tolerated this particular formula better than other formulas. It means that s/he has unsubstantiated prejudices.
S/he tells you that it is not necessary to feed the baby immediately after the birth since you are (will be) tired and the baby is often not interested anyhow. It is not necessary, but it is very helpful. Babies can nurse while the mother is lying down or sleeping, though most mothers do not want to sleep at a moment such as this. Babies do not always show an interest in feeding immediately, but this is not a reason to prevent them from having the opportunity. Many babies latch on in the hour or two after delivery, and this is the time that is most conducive to getting started well, but they cannot
do it if they are separated from their mothers. If you are getting theimpression that the baby's getting weighed, eye drops and vitamin K injection have priority over establishing breastfeeding, you might wonder about someone's commitment to breastfeeding.
S/he tells you that there is no such thing as nipple confusion and you should start giving bottles early to your baby to make sure that the baby accepts a bottle nipple. Why do you have to start giving bottles early if there is no such thing as nipple confusion? Arguing that there is no evidence for
the existence of nipple confusion is putting the cart before the horse. It is the artificial nipple, which no mammal until man had ever used, and even man, not commonly before the end of the nineteenth century, which needs to be shown to be harmless. But the artificial nipple has not proved harmless to breastfeeding. The health professional who assumes the artificial nipple is harmless is looking at the world as if bottle-feeding, not breastfeeding, were the normal physiologic method of infant feeding.
By the way, just because not all or perhaps even not most babies who get artificial nipples have trouble with breastfeeding, it does not follow that the early use of these things cannot cause problems for some babies. It is often a combination of factors, one of which could be the using of an artificial nipple, which add up to trouble.

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Disclaimer: All material provided at Breastfeedingindia.org is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Consult with your doctor regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation.