Atlanta Parent Magazine Editorial

In the March 2010 Atlanta Parent Magazine there was an article entitled “Mom to Mom: The Practical Side of Breastfeeding” by Kimberly Kennedy. I have no idea who she is and what her credentials are as the article does not say. But I was sooooo disappointed in the article. I thought I would share my dislike with you- I have already left the editorial staff a message on their voice mail.

The first paragraph was about how hard can it be. The suggestion is that they need to start by consulting a lactation consultant. And although I like using a lactation consultant if there is a problem- it is not the first course of action that is recommended. The studies actually show that the first thing- the most beneficial thing to preventing nipple trauma is taking a good lactation class prenatally. The writer does suggest consulting La Leche League- but there is no mention of attending a class or going to a LLL meeting prior to having the baby. Both of these things would make a huge difference- you know- prevention is worth a pound of cure!

The writer goes on to say wearing a sexy bra with a nursing pad after pumping first is ideal if you are going to have sex due to having a let down when having sex. I thought – what? Pump before having sex… there goes anything spontaneous- or one more thing to deter someone from having sex. Why not say, “You may have a let down if you are lucky enough to have an orgasm during sex… and I certainly hope you are. So, keep a small towel handy to press against your breasts when this happens.” Now isn’t that easier than putting the pressure on the mom to wear a sexy bra and pump beforehand? Come on we are talking what breasts were really made for here- nursing!

Then for the new mom who is already a bit neurotic about having enough milk- she puts in this comment, ” babies have suffered brain damage, even death, from insufficient milk supply. Fortunately, this is rarely a problem.” Rarely a problem- but now you have given that mom one more thing to worry about and perhaps even deter her from breastfeeding. Come on- if it is so rare- and it is- then why not give practicals about counting wet and poopy diapers- and encourage the mom that more nursing brings in more milk- so warn her about not scheduling a baby in the first few weeks!

And then she pops in one more negative piece, “Breast reduction surgery can affect supply.” Why not then refer her to Defining Your Own Success, a great book regarding how to assist a mom with this issue. And why not say this is usually only a problem if the nipple was removed and then reattached. Again, yes this happens- but let’s help this mom not offer a reason to not try.

Then this part about made me scream, “How long will the baby eat? She says they drink for 5-10 minutes for the first few weeks and then will work up to 10-20 minutes each side when well established. But if the baby drinks for 30-40 minutes there could be a problem.” Hello??? This is not true at all. Every baby is different- every baby has different sucking needs. And it is not about drinking milk alone- it is about sucking needs as well. So giving rigid guidelines like this is a recipe for disaster for many moms.

Then the question is posed how often will he eat? And she says at first, “every 3 to 4 hours.” She goes on to say that “demand feeding” many moms find “impractical and instead schedule feedings.” She goes on to say if the baby is acting hungry after 1 1/2 to 2 hours and isn’t sated with a pacifier or other distractions, feed him” And I had to scream out loud for a minute! Who is this article for? For the mom who does not want to breastfeed but does in a very token way to say she tried? Is breastfeeding all about her? I am sorry- I am a baby advocate here. Demand feeding is best- the studies show it is best for a mom’s milk supply to be well established and for the baby’s needs. Period. Scheduling in the first few months is a recipe for low milk supply, gassy babies who are full of gas due to pacifiers and crying, and nipple trauma from nipple confusion due to the pacifier. And everyone knows that most babies in the first few weeks if not a bit longer- nurse ever 2 to 2 1/2 hours from the start of a nursing to the start of the next nursing.

Then the next section of the article is subtitled; Meeting Your Needs. I thought the first section sounded like that- after all it did not sound like it was in the best interest of the baby at all! She then goes on to say how you have to plan when you are breastfeeding- for appointments and such. Hmmm- why? Because she also discusses later where to nurse- she suggests your car! Well why not explain the law regarding breastfeeding publicly. Why not discuss how you can learn to breastfeed publicly in a way that is comfortable for you. That may be the car. But that may be in the chair in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Why do we need to try to plan our nursing times in such a way to not have to nurse when we are out. The feeling that breastfeeding moms are banished to the bathrooms or cars makes me get out my soap box for sure!

Then she says, “after baby is a few months old and is able to sleep six hours at a time, you may choose to wean him from nighttime feedings.” Well what is a few months old? And six hours? Come on! I thought the accepted term “sleeping through the night” was five hours. And the studies again show that usually occurs at 15 pounds and/or 3 months of age. She again suggests offering a pacifier. Augh!

And then the big push to offer a bottle begins. Does she realize that often times a mom can actually have a nursing dyad with her baby without a bottle or pacifier coming into play? She suggests starting too soon may cause nipple confusion- thank you! And then suggests waiting til 6 weeks could cause bottle rejection- “a nightmare for any mom who’d like an occasional break!” She then suggests “offering a bottle within the first month, after breastfeeding is well established. Keep her accustomed to bottles by offering them once every day or two.” Well let me say- I wonder how long she was successful nursing her baby. This is the recipe for early weaning- in fact it is weaning a baby from the breasts. There is that not so subtle way of also implying that a mom needs a break from her baby and must bottle feed in order to do so. There are many moms who enjoy their breaks with their babies. And many who can find time to slip away for a few hours to grab dessert with their friends or hubby and not leave a bottle. And most moms are still establishing their milk supplies in the first month!

The pump advise is ludicrous. If you miss a feeding you do not need to necessarily pump to keep yourself from getting a plugged duct. You can massage your breasts and express a bit off while away from your baby- and nurse well when you are back with your baby.

The what do you need section sounds like you need a basket of stuff in two locations in your home… hmmm not true. You may not need any of these things she suggests- they may be helpful. But again to nurse you need a baby and a breast… not much else. It is really quite simple- in fact minimal things are even helpful to be honest- we make it sound like you have to have a bunch of stuff to make this work. I do not believe history or third world countries with nursing moms will agree with you!

The advice regarding what to wear is ludicrous as well. “Loose fitting tunics… bunched up around the breasts…” Hmm how about a camisole and a shirt that buttons down the front- unbuttoned from the bottom. You pull up the camisole or light weight tank and unbutton the shirt from the bottom- thus keeping your breast fairly concealed and nursing easily?

And I already addressed her “where do I nurse in public?” comments. But let me say- wherever YOU are comfortable. I have nursed while walking down the mall- wearing a baby in the sling- so discretely that my husband was not even aware I was doing so! I have nursed on benches, sitting on the floor, in booths at restaurants, on the curb at a street fair, in the stands at a fire works display on the fourth of July, in my car, on the swings at the playground, in church on the pew… you get my drift… but I have never nursed in the bathroom… or in a special nursing area in all my years of nursing three children.

So, Parent magazine… please tell me who this chick who wrote this is- what her background is- what made her an authority on breastfeeding? She certainly is not indicative of the places she refers to for web breastfeeding help. I am glad she at least put those resources in the article. Perhaps folks will forgo her advice and head there to get correct information.