Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Toronto Hospitals push for breastfeeding

I am all for breastfeeding. I breastfed both my girls for at least 10 months of each of their lives. I am happy that I was able to have successful breastfeeding relationships with both of them. However, they were not easy to establish.

I have been reading the recent articles about the push in Toronto hospitals for breastfeeding as statistics say that most new moms are not breastfeeding their babies exclusively 6 months after their child's birth. While I think that breastfeeding should be encouraged in the hospital and that breastfeeding clinics are wonderful if they are able to provide support to moms; what I find objectionable is the militant approach suggested by some doctors to stop providing formula in the hospital.

I truly believe that if formula had not been available to me with my daughters, instead of a successful breastfeeding relationship, I would have given up and not had one at all. I had a c-section with Ainsley after 12 hours of labour and pushing and oodles of drugs. My milk did not come in for 4 days. Ainsley was a hungry baby and started losing weight. She had lost 10% of her weight before the hospital finally suggested I supplement with formula.

I had never considered formula at all and took it for granted that I would breastfeed. However, my daughter was hungry, losing weight and I felt like a failure. The supplementation with formula bought my body the time to catch up and produce milk. I found the whole breastfeeding process up to this point very stressful and to be able to feed my child and satisfy her hunger with formula enabled me to relax and take the time to learn to breastfeed properly.

I feel uncomfortable with nurses and doctors taking formula out of the equation all together as it is sometimes necessary. It can be helpful and ultimately, the health of your baby is most important. Ironically, after the initial 2 weeks of formula Ainsley drank, she refused to drink formula after that and we exclusively breast fed until we started solids. With Juliet, I gave her one bottle of formula a day while breastfeeding the remaining feeds. This one bottle gave me a little break and I breastfed her until 11 1/2 months.

Breastfeeding was not easy for me when I started and it was discouraging at times. There is a lot of pressure on moms to get it right. I think some of this pressure needs to be taken off of moms and it should be ok to tell them that breastfeeding is not always easy, you sometimes have to work for it, but that it is ok if you struggle because there is support out there. The key is education and making the support available.

I welcome your comments about your own experiences with breastfeeding as almost every mom I know has had some sort of difficulty.