Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breast Milk or No Breast Milk? That IS the Question

I just finished reading an article in the April 2011 issue of Today's Parent called "I Didn't Have Enough Milk: Why So Many Canadian Moms Quit Breastfeeding."

It reads: "What's the number one reason moms quit (breastfeeding)? Not enough milk. That's the finding of a recent Toronto Public Health survey of more than 900 new mothers. It was also the most common reason given for stopping nursing and introducing formula in the first two weeks of a baby's life" (Hoffman, p. 62).

The article starts out with what appears to be a legitimate low supply anecdote (5 day old child brought to hospital where mom learns she is dehydrated and had lost weight). It then goes on to suggest routine ways to encourage a successful nursing relationship (skin-to-skin contact, no formula unless absolutely necessary, rooming-in and feeding on demand, showing moms how to breastfeed). At no point, however, does the article explicitly mention that more often than not, breastfeeding moms assume low supply when, in fact, that is not the case. This really should have been at the core of the article. Connecting the dots between feeding on demand, supply and demand, frequent nursing in the first few weeks/months, and the popularity of suspected low supply would have been the icing on the cake!

I think the article's heart is in the right place, but the title of the piece needs to be revisited. Breastfeeding moms need to know that although low supply issues can happen (as was the suspected case with the 5 day old mentioned above), they are not as common as we might think. Furthermore, this needs to be explained clearly but sensitively so that mothers who think they might be battling low supply issues do not feel attacked and instead are encouraged to seek out the help they need to reestablish their nursing relationship with their baby or babies.

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