Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Real Reason Not to Cover Up Nursing Mothers (By Martha Neovard)

I was browsing the internet last night at about 3 am, while lying in bed and listening to the crashing of a distant storm, when I came across a recent blogpost, by a woman named loralee (See the blog). The blog itself was fantastic. The author openly admitted she has a level of discomfort when confronted with the sight of an openly nursing mom and baby. Her first reaction is kneejerk, a "cover that up" level of discomfort. Her second reaction is to check herself, take some deep calming breaths, assure herself it is well within the dyad's rights to eat wherever, whenever, no matter what implement they are using to do so. Yes, the article was fantastic, level-headed, pensive, and provoking. A very well-written piece, and after I read it I was left with a sense of relief and satisfaction. So then, stupidly, I moved on to the comments section.

Oy vey.

"I support any mom who wants to breastfeed, and anywhere she wants to, but my old-school upbringing about ‘good girls’ don’t show their boobs in public keeps getting in the way."

"I read your friends’ posts Loralee and I’m sorry, but their posts just made me feel angry. I do NOT agree with what these women feel is their motherly right. Fine, breast feed, go ahead, but cover up first! I feel sorry for the children, who are not theirs, subjected to quite honestly, a traumatic and disgusting event! NO ONE should EVER be subjected to having to see that. I agree, women should NOT have to go to a bathroom, or leave the room, or do it in private. BUT I do feel absolutely, they they CANNOT and SHOULD NEVER be LEGALLY allowed to whip out their tits..." (There is more to this shocking quote, but I will omit the rest, as it would certainly distract from the point of this post.)

"I never comment on anything that can be controversial. Ever. That being said…I nursed all my children and when necessary I did so in public however, it was never obvious. It doesn’t have to be. Nursing our babies is a natural thing but we can be discreet. My youngest child is 29 years old so that was quite a while ago. My daughter-in-law nursed all the grands and she too was discreet. There’s nothing wrong with not putting “it” out for all to see. Just saying…discreet."

I repeat. Oy vey.

For the record, I would never criticize or look down on a woman who wants or needs to use a nursing canopy to feel comfortable nursing her baby out in a public place. In fact, if that is what a mother needs in order to breastfeed when her baby wants/needs to, then I am right behind her, holding the straps (figuratively of course, otherwise I'd be breathing down her neck). They are a useful device, and certainly they are valuable to mothers everywhere. But I digress. The real point of this article is to explain WHY nursing uncovered is so important to breastfeeding moms everywhere, and why they should defend their blanketless state with emphatic arm-waving and raised voices. I repeat, I am NOT opposed to the option of covering whilst nursing, however I am opposed to the idea that some sort of cover is a NECESSITY for breastfeeding in public, and that all moms should use some kind of object to cover themselves so no one can see what they are doing.

Now you are thinking, oh brother here we go. Entereth the raging feminist with her trident of women's rights! No, actually. My concern is not the comfort of wee babies, or overheating, or woman and child rights, or even the reckless abandonment of muted colours in nursing covers (although these do factor in as well). No, instead my concern has to do with brain function and future generations.


You see, as Kathleen Kendall Tackett points out in this 2009 article, breastfeeding is a right-brained activity. That means that no matter how many times we discuss it, how much we read about it, and how much we study pictures of it, we cannot teach our bodies how to do it. We need to be in close proximity to breastfeeding in order to understand the concepts associated with positioning, latch, swallowing, and multiple other small factors that go into breastfeeding successfully. It is something that Nature designed us to learn from our mothers, or from the community of women we interact with daily. Nature intended us to see other women breastfeeding their babies, and to internalize that knowledge to use with our own children. It is not something we can comprehend from the pages of a book, or from staring blearily at a nurse lecturing on the importance of breast milk.

As Kendall-Tackett states in her article, learning to breastfeed is much like learning to ride a bike. So, picture this. You have never seen a bike up close in your life. Maybe you saw it in a movie, but the bike was turned so you could only see the wheel, or the person riding it was mostly offscreen, or they just cracked weird bike jokes the whole time. You know that in 10 months time, you will be in a bike race. This bike race will be one of the most important events of your life. For months, people talk at you about riding a bike. Some people tell you to make sure to put your weight in the back, others say the front. Some say peddle swiftly, others say peddle backwards. Some say grip the handlebars just so, others say don't touch the handlebars, because that didn't work for them. You watch a couple videos about bike-riding, but they seem overly technical, and a lot of the jargon flies right over your head. You ask your parents, but their only reply is "We never rode a bicycle, just give it a try and hope it works for you." You go out in public to garner some information, but almost everyone who rides a bicycle rides them behind very tall hedges that you cannot see through. You feel a bit panicky, and a lot apprehensive. At last, the day of the race arrives. You wobble up to the starting line, someone hands you a bike, you climb on hesitantly, and they give you a good shove down a very steep hill and yell "YOU'LL FIGURE IT OUT!!!"

Metaphor much? Yes, breastfeeding these days is a lot like that. We don't see it done. We get some bits and bites of information in the months leading up to birth, then when the moment arrives, someone puts the baby on you and says "Okay, go!" How are you to know what this should all look like? What should it feel like? And really, how are we to know?

The thing is, most of us can't learn this from our mothers. We lost generations of right-brained hereditary knowledge to aggressive marketing and bottle-feeding. For those moms who do come from a family where breastfeeding was the norm, is it still enough to internalize the breastfeeding knowledge we need? How old were you when your youngest sibling was weaned?

Now what if everywhere we went, we saw moms nursing their babies, comfortably and openly? Every time we witness a friend, relative, or complete stranger breastfeeding their baby, our brains subconsciously make notes. So when it comes to our turn, our brain gathers up what we know, and we remember that the baby went THIS WAY, and mother held him just so. We may have even had the opportunity to ask questions. This is how we learn, and how we will know.

I think there is no better illustration for the necessity of seeing breastfeeding than this story, found in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding:

"In a zoo in Ohio, a female gorilla was born and raised in captivity, got pregnant and had a baby gorilla. On the day she had her baby, she didn't know what to do. She had never seen another gorilla nurse, and she had no concept of breastfeeding. Sadly, the baby gorilla died.

When she became pregnant again the gorilla's keeper called The La Leche League and had volunteer nursing moms come down to the zoo and nurse their own babies in front of the pregnant momma gorilla. At first the gorilla ignored them, but as her delivery date grew closer she became very interested. When the baby gorilla was born the momma gorilla forgot all that she'd learned and started to freak out. The keeper quickly called the La Leche League and another volunteer rushed over and slowly showed the momma gorilla what to do. "She brought her baby's chest to her chest, slowly cradled the baby's head in her left arm, held her breast with her right hand, and tickled the baby's lips with the nipple to get the baby to open his mouth. Then she pulled the open-mouthed baby toward her breast and with one rapid arm motion, got the cooperative baby quickly onto her breast. The gorilla watched, mimicking the moves step by step until, with a nearly audible sigh of relief, the gorilla looked down at her chest and saw her baby feeding happily for the first time."(p 29).

So I ask of you, when next you see a mother breastfeeding her baby without some sort of covering implement, please give her a big smile and bring yourself and your child closer to see. I can guarantee she will smile back, and most will comfortably explain to your child what they are doing. You are doing your child a favour, so that when she has her own baby, the imprint of this encounter will rise in her brain, and assist her instincts in learning to breastfeed your grandchild. If your child is male, he will internalize how to assist and support his partner in her breastfeeding journey. Please, no more calls to "cover up". Anyone who cries for a cover over the beautiful sight of a nursing mother and child is unwittingly and devastatingly calling for the destruction of womanly knowledge, and the handicap of the next generation of breastfeeders.

(Blogger's notes: We are not yet to the point where we see breastfeeding moms everywhere and anywhere, where we are able to internalize by watching. But luckily for us, Nature always has a back-up system where one system fails. Please check out Biological Nurturing and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett's article here to learn about instinctual breastfeeding, and how best to trigger both mom and baby's instincts to achieve a strong latch. Also please consider attending a breastfeeding support group meeting, like La Leche League during your pregnancy. Many women breastfeed openly at these meetings, and they are a great resource both for right-brained knowledge garnering, and for creating a support network, and meeting new mommy friends!)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Guilt As A Chimera (Written by Martha Neovard)

I’m a mother. My baby girl has been around 19 months now. She is boisterous, beautiful, funny, and healthy. I have made mistakes. I am not perfect. No mother is. What would a perfect mother look like anyways? Would she have bright red lipstick, a bright smile, a clean house, a perfect body, children whose noses are never snotty, who never go two days wearing washable marker on their cheek? Would her 6 month old never roll off the change table and plummet a foot and a half? Would her dishes always be done, her forks and spoons always polished, her dogs eternally unshedding? Would her kids eat all-organic free-range chicken, pork, and beef? Would formula ever touch her baby’s lips?

The problem is, the idea of a perfect mom is subjective. We know that. Part of being a mom is staving off annoying criticisms of well-meaning strangers, while simultaneously inwardly cussing all the helpful old ladies who are sure your baby would do better THIS way, because their baby did. When someone approaches me and assures me my child is slowly dying of frostbite because I did not sufficiently clothe her for a balmy 20 degrees Celsius June day, I thank them politely, chuckle inwardly, roll my eyes, and go on my merry way. 98% of the mothers I know react the same way. We’re mature, intelligent women, and we know how to raise our own kids, thanks. We can handle criticism and questioning, we handle it every day.
What I want to know then, is why can’t we feel the same way about infant feeding? Anytime an article expressing the merits of breastfeeding or the demerits of formula feeding arises, there is an almighty chorus of “Don’t make me feel guilty!” Huh? We can take the hard-of-hearing perfume-laden granny up in our faces yelling about whether or not our child is too fat or too skinny, but we can’t take a scientific article from some faceless guy in a white coat, telling us what our baby is consuming may or may not be good for them? Where did this guilt thing come from anyway? Because ladies, it is tripping us up on the road to successful breastfeeding. That’s right. Decrying breastfeeding information because of an onset of guilt is actually stalling the breastfeeding information. Moreover, it is increasingly leading doctors and other health providers to make decisions FOR us, while withholding information, in order to spare us from GASP! Guilt!

I don’t mean to undermine the emotional intensity that accompanies the decisions made about these precious beings in our lives. Our new lives with them are fraught with emotions, love, fear, anxiety, longing, joy, and yes, guilt. When we feel anxious, or fearful, or joyous, or loving, we dissect these feelings endlessly. We run them through in our minds again and again, trying to find the source of them, the reasoning behind them, the likelihood that they are truthful and will reappear in the near-future, whether they will help or cripple us. So, when did guilt become a bad word? It is another emotion; it has a source, a reason, and a truth. It has smaller underlying emotions that make it up. It is not the large, terrifying beast that it has become in the mothering and medical worlds. It is okay to feel guilty. It is a natural reaction, and the emotion will not cripple us. It is not dirty. It is not horrifying. It is not taboo. It is just an emotional reaction to an event or experience. Guilt is designed to make us deal with our feelings. It returns again and again in order to force our minds to dwell on an experience, to dissect it, and to accept it. That is the physiological purpose of guilt. It’s nature’s way of helping us evolve, of forcing us to do things differently next time, and of ensuring that we don’t cripple ourselves emotionally the next time a similar situation comes around, that we do not suffer post-traumatic recollections. It is an important and valid emotion, made from the roots of fear, anger, hurt, and pain. It is necessary, and we need to listen to our bodies and work through it.

The problem is that blocking guilt cripples us. It stops us from making level-headed decisions, because when the time comes to make the decision, if we have not examined, dissected, and accepted our guilt, it rears its ugly head once again and affects our ability to see clearly and to make our decisions based on logic and facts rather than overwhelming emotional intensities. That’s why whenever the choruses of “Don’t tell me this, it makes me feel guilty!” and “Mothers should not be MADE to feel guilty!” arises, whatever the source, I wince and then rage at the conceptions that guilt is an evil, terrible thing that should be avoided at all costs. I believe women should not feel guilty, but for different reasons. I believe they should not feel guilty because they should allow their feelings to come to the surface without holding or restraining them, then those emotions should be examined, explored, dissected and eventually accepted. Only through this process comes healing. This holds true to all aspects of life, and is something I learned at an early age when recovering from a traumatic childhood event. Our feelings, emotions, and reactions define us, and when we block them, we deny ourselves the chance to heal, and to release our anger, hurt, and guilt. As a mom who has formula-fed and breastfed both, I feel this healing is something we do not grant ourselves often enough.

I no longer feel guilty about formula-feeding my daughter early on, but I am still angry, and occasionally I fill up with rage so intense that I desperately want to scream at the next white-coated, stethoscope-touting, smug doctor that I see. I deplore my daughter’s hospital paediatrician, who denied me information essential to recovering our breastfeeding journey, and instead gave me sappy, cliché drivel about “not feeling guilty” because she felt that preventing the horror of guilt was more important than doing her damn job and GIVING ME THE INFORMATION I NEEDED. In her eyes I was no longer a mature, intelligent, capable woman and feminist, but instead a snivelling, emotional mess that needed decisions made for her. She undermined my rights, my capability, and my right to informed choice. She, an almost complete stranger, made a flash decision about me and my ability to handle myself, and took away almost all chance I had of doing something desperately important to me. She determined that I had an emotional fragility that was more important to protect than the health and wellbeing of myself and my baby. She stereotyped me, she prejudged me, she made me into something I am not, and was not. Her fear of guilt tripped up my breastfeeding journey. It is not right. We cannot and should not withhold information from women because we judge them incapable of handling guilt. It is decidedly chauvinist and misogynistic. It is anti-feminist. It is WRONG.

No, instead when a woman has an experience that alters her life, that hurts and sorrows her, we need to support her in her journey of mourning and healing. Don’t tell her not to feel guilty. Don’t assume she is incapable of handling emotion. Don’t shelter her from her own self. Guilt is a tool of sorrow and of mourning. It is an essential ingredient to healing. She needs support, not belittlement and judgements about her strength of character. She needs the tools and the support to examine her guilt, however raw and sore it may be, and to move on to a place of peace. We are crippling ourselves by making guilt into a mythical chimera, an all-encompassing hungry dragon, and a troll under the bridge, lurking to snatch us from our place of safety when we least expect it. Only by facing our fear, our hurt, our sorrow, our rage, and our guilt can we tame them and have peace. We need peace. Be peaceful. You are a woman, you are an incredible creation, a beautiful goddess, an earth mother, an equal being, and a strong vibrant person. Make peace with yourself, let yourself be.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What Formula Is Not

NOTE TO READERS: As always, these kind of posts stir many feelings in readers, particularly in those whom these issues have affected deeply. We all make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time, but the issue of guilt always seems to arise with these kinds of articles. I urge you to move past the guilty feelings and really look at the valuable information contained within. As Maddy Reid said, “We cannot withhold facts for fear of offending, because the importance of the information outweighs people’s rights not to be challenged in their beliefs.”

Ah, the hot button issue. There has been a large kerfuffle of attention lately over the start-up of a new milk-sharing network on Facebook called Human Milk 4 Human Babies (Human Milk 4 Human Babies HERE). The brainchild of fierce Montreal lactivist Emma Kwasnica, Human Milk 4 Human Babies is a network run by merit of individual state, province, and country pages where moms or families who are having difficulty with milk supply can turn to other lactating mothers for donated milk to supplement or feed their children. Moms with oversupply provide the milk, and Human Milk 4 Human Babies provides the space. It is a good setup, with Human Milk 4 Human Babies administrators and creators putting emphasis on the need for informed choice. The FAQ on their page is thorough and provides information on flash-pasteurization, disease transmission, and obtaining medical history from potential donors. Soon after Human Milk 4 Human Babies emerged as a major player (and a major threat to the formula industry), many medical groups jumped to issue vehement statements to the media, with their focus being less about informed choice and more on fear-mongering. The response from Health Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society has been extremely cautionary, focusing on the risks of breast-milk sharing and calling the practice "very dangerous".( See Story HERE) Health Canada states that “unprocessed human milk should not be shared.” (see Health Canada’s statement HERE)

Considering the rapid rise of popularity for informed milk sharing, it should come as no surprise that this spring Health Canada chose to revise and rewrite its existing infant feeding recommendations. What is shocking however, if that the new recommendations state that “Commercial infant formulas are the only acceptable alternative to breastmilk” (See full draft statement HERE). There is no mention of donor breastmilk, either through a milk bank or via less formal channels. In fact, not only is the option of donor breast milk completely ignored, but the make-up and risks of formula feeding are also completely absent. Instead a huge portion of the document focuses on what formula is, what it contains, what types are available, and how it should be prepared.


Not only are the risks of formula feeding skated over, but Health Canada spends more time discussing the benefits of bovine-based formula over soy-based formula than it does on the Ten Steps from the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, an Initiative that is essential to boost and maintain breastfeeding rates in maternity wards.

Come on Health Canada! Doctors receive little to no breastfeeding training during their time in med school. If you are lucky like me, you find a doctor who did his residency in a breastfeeding clinic (and still needs some of the finer points explained to him). Doctors and nurses in Canada turn to Health Canada for their information on infant nutrition, and aside from people in my lucky situation, most doctors still believe that formula is an equal alternative to mommy milk, and shoddy documents like this do nothing to inform them of risks and facts about formula, which can then be passed to new moms. So, in light of this ridiculous oversight of real formula facts, and the (very mild) explanation of what formula is, I will give you an exposition on what formula is NOT. Much of the credit for this list goes to several lovely ladies from the facebook page, “Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene!” (namely, Elizabeth Anthes, Stephanie Knapp Muir, Jo Slamen, Emma Locker, Karen Coffman, Murielle Bourbao, Jennifer Dunston Lane, Kasey-Louise Traynor, Nicky Lawrence, Cheryl Giovenco, Barbara Rail, Lucy Fensom, and the lovely Alison Kennedy. Thanks ladies!)

1. Formula is not sterile.

Have you heard E. Sakazakii? It’s a pathogen commonly found in infant formula that can cause major illness for the baby if formula is not prepared properly. It is essential that all bottles, nipples, and equipment be sterilized before every feed, and that boiling water is used to make the infant formula. It’s not enough that the water be “sterile”, like the companies who make those huge containers of sterile water would lead you to believe. The water needs to be hot enough at the time you prepare the bottle to kill off potential pathogens like E. Sakazakii. This leads us to point two.

(Reference: and

2. Formula is not convenient

For those of us breastfeeding moms who have supplemented or used formula at any point, we fully understand the truth of this statement. It is a million times easier to NOT have to get up, walk to the kitchen, boil the water (to kill the E. Sakazakii), prepare the formula, and then rush back to the baby, while all the while he is shrieking at the top of his lungs to be fed. Nor is it easier to haul all the paraphernalia associated with formula-feeding. The bottles, the sterilizer, the container of powder (oh damn, it spilled AGAIN), not to mention where oh where in this stupid mall can I find a place to boil my water? Oh shoot, we’ve been here for 7 hours, and the pre-mixed formula I made is only good for 30 minutes at room temperature! I forgot my miniature cooler! ( It is so much easier, once the initial bumps of learning are past, to just roll over, pop out a breast, and go back to sleep, or to find a seat (or stand, if you are talented), lift your shirt slightly, and latch baby.

3. Formula is not cheap

Oh boy, is it ever not cheap! That fancy little can costs anywhere from $18 a week to $50 a week, if you need a special kind. Sometimes they come on sale, and lots of moms will stock up then. However, it is not widely known that you should not switch your baby from brand to brand unless it is medically indicated! Feeding a baby a new type of formula every week because there was a sale is not a medical reason. This is very hard on your baby’s gut. If you are formula feeding, you must pick a brand and stick to it, regardless of cost, unless baby becomes ill or rejects the brand and type you have chosen. With formula, bottles, nipples, and other gear, formula feeding can cost the average family around $3000 a year. Breastfeeding is cost-effective. It’s free. No, you don’t have to buy a pump. Have you heard of hand-expression? It works just as well (and in many cases, better than), and is entirely free.


4. Formula will not save you from “breastfeeding problems” like mastitis, engorgement, breast pain, and leaking

Regardless of whether you breastfeed or not, your milk will still come in, you will still get engorged, you may still get mastitis, and you will still need to buy breast pads and special bras. You will leak like mad. That milk has to go somewhere, and since the baby isn’t easing your pain, there will be several days to weeks of suffering while you wait for your milk to “dry up”. Just feed it to the baby. Breastfeeding can be rocky initially, after all, we are designed to learn breastfeeding by watching our mothers and other women breastfeed their children, and there have now been several generations where we lost that opportunity to formula feeding and “modesty” implements, like breastfeeding covers and super top secret nursing areas. (Please see Emma Kwasnica’s amazing note, Why SEEING Breastfeeding Is Important, My Personal Challenge To You) Breastfeeding should be easier, but it’s not. It’s now a learning curve. So let yourself learn, because after 3 months or so, it does become easy. Then formula feeding is not easier.

(No reference needed, engorgement is a mean beotch. Mastitis is a bugger, avoid it!)

5. Formula batches and ingredients are not approved by the FDA or Health Canada

Formula is not a standardized product. Health Canada and the FDA inspect the factories where the formula is made, but the formula itself is not regulated. No one inspects individual batches, no one even regulates the ingredients to ensure the same cocktail is made up for every can, or every batch. Rather, the formula companies use whatever ingredients are available and cheapest at the time. So from batch to batch, the actual % of vitamins and content is different. (Jack Newman and Teresa Pittman, 2009 - Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding - Toronto, Canada - HarperCollins Publishing) Health Canada and the FDA also leave it to consumers to report potential problems or dangers found in the formula can, such as the beetles found in Similac in 2009. Parents were reporting finding beetles for months before the FDA responded, and Similac issued a recall. Formula cans also contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a controversial chemical that was declared toxic by Health Canada in October 2010. Despite the declaration, formula companies continue to line their cans with BPA. BPA can leech into the powdered formula and be absorbed by the infant in greater quantities than found in plastic bottles. ( For more information on formula ingredients not listed on the can, please see THIS GROUP.

(Reference: Jack Newman and Teresa Pittman, 2009 - Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding - Toronto, Canada - HarperCollins Publishing and

6. Formula Is Not A Biologically Normal Food For Babies To Eat

Formula has only existed for less than 200 years. Breast milk has been around since the dawn of humanity, and Nature has been working on perfecting the make-up of it since then.


7. Formula Is Not Risk-Free

Formula is a risky business, not just for baby, but for mom too. There is a lot of information readily available on these risks, but I encourage readers to visit INFACT Canada for a good resource on the risks of formula feeding to mommy and baby.

(Reference provided above at

8. Formula Is Not Safe Or Easily-Available During Natural Disasters

As demonstrated by the earthquake in Haiti last year, or the recent flooding in Australia, natural disaster can hit quickly and without warning. When this happens, moms can be stuck trying to feed an infant. Without a safe water source or access to sterilizing equipment, formula feeding is not safe for babies and children.

“When there is an emergency, the biggest danger to babies is the risk of dying as a result of diarrhoeal illness. Babies who are breastfed have a secure and safe food supply, they are not exposed to disease causing bacteria and parasites that can contaminate water supplies and they receive antibodies and other disease fighting factors that help to prevent and treat illness. They are protected from the worst of the emergency conditions. However, babies who are not breastfed are at great risk. In an emergency, food supplies are disrupted, there may be no clean water, overcrowding is often a problem and the health care system is likely to be stretched beyond breaking point. Outbreaks of diarrhoea are very common and spread easily in these circumstances. Babies who are not breastfed are very likely to contract diarrhoea-causing illnesses from unclean water and, with a weakened immune system and limited treatment, many will die."

(Reference: . Also see

9. Formula Additives Like DHA and ARA Do Not Make Formula “Like Breast Milk”

This one is pretty contentious. Formula companies rip off millions of people every year with their claims that they are closer/closest/the closestestestest EVER to breast milk. DHA and ARA are complicated fats that occur naturally in breast milk and help to build brain tissue. The DHA and ARA added to formula are not naturally occurring. They are extracted with hexane from algae grown in a lab, and then added to the formula. Not only does this allow traces of the neurotoxin hexane into the formula, it also allows the companies to charge exponential amounts of money for a product that has never been proven to actually do what breast milk fatty acids do. Their claims of brain growth are unsubstantiated and unproven, guys. If you are formula feeding, please don’t be taken in and buy the $40 can for the unproven hexane-riddled algae fat. The non-DHA/ARA stuff will serve your baby the same, cost you less, and potentially save them from ingesting trace amounts of a neurotoxin.

(Reference: )

10. Formula Is Not A Safe Way To Make A Baby Sleep Through The Night, Babies Should Not Sleep Through The Night

When a new mom is struggling with sleep deprivation, and trying to figure out ways to catch some extra Z’s, she will often hear the refrain “Top him up with some formula, so he will sleep through the night”. This is a formula-feeding myth that we hear often as new moms, and even during our pregnancy. The idea that formula will make your baby sleep through the night is not true. Ask any formula-feeding mom of a four month old how many times they wake to give the bottle to a baby at night. Ask a co-sleeping, breastfeeding mom. She won’t be able to tell you, because she doesn’t wake up. A recent study found that breastfeeding co-sleeping moms get the most sleep of any moms, and are most rested. Not what you expected to hear? The idea that babies should sleep through the night is a fallacy. There are some major myths that need to be addressed here. First, babies are NOT biologically designed to sleep through the night! Oh yes, you heard me right. All those advertisements about night-time formulas, and magical sleeping tools, and magical sleeping babies are presented to make you buy a product that does not work, and that you should not be using in the first place, because it can endanger your baby’s life. Formula is difficult for a baby’s system to digest. The animal proteins linger in the lining of the stomach and intestines, and the ill-absorbed iron causes it to sit like a lump in the baby’s stomach for much, much longer than breast milk. This throws a newborn baby’s whole biologically perfect sleep/wake system out of whack. They will initially sleep longer and deeper, although that effect generally fades after a few months. Contrary to the belief that sleeping through the night is a good and even necessary thing however, it puts your baby at risk for SIDS. Formula fed babies are at a much higher risk for SIDS death in the first year of life than breastfed babies. Breast milk exits the newborn’s system quickly, causing them to wake every few hours. If a mom is breastfeeding and sleeping with the baby nearby (at least in the same room), she will wake as the baby wakes, put the baby to her breast, and promptly go back to sleep. These kinds of feeding/sleeping arrangements provide the best sleep for moms, and the normal feeding/waking patterns that a baby needs to avoid SIDS.

(Reference: and )

11. Formula Is Not The Only Way Daddy Can Bond With His Baby

This one really bugs me. Babies are not dogs. They don’t automatically bond with whoever feeds them. They don’t ONLY bond with people who feed them. There are a million and a half ways for Daddy to bond with baby that doesn’t involve a bottle. Daddy can bathe, sing to, read to, wear, and cuddle his baby. Daddies who have breastfed babies are not any less close to their babies than dads who give bottles. Feeding can be a special time, and if you want to share that with Daddy while simultaneously breastfeeding, here is what I recommend. My husband and I would often sit together as I breastfed our daughter. He would sit in the corner of the couch with his legs spread out and his knees bent, and I would sit inside the circle of his arms and legs and feed Babe while he looked over my shoulder. She would gaze lovingly and adoringly into my eyes, and then switch her gaze to him and gaze just as lovingly and adoringly into his. At over a year old, Babe is a daddy’s girl. She is five minutes on the breast and off again like a shot. Books are brought to Daddy first to read (he does the character voices soooo much better than I do). Bath time is almost exclusively Daddy’s domain too, except when I take a bath with Babe. She is as closely bonded with her Daddy as I am, without having been bottle-fed by him. Breastfeeding together was a special time for the three of us, and he got to share in the experience without risking my milk supply, or feeding artificial milk.

(See Just One Bottle)

12. If Your Baby Has Food Allergies, Formula Will Not Solve Them

This one seems to come up a lot too. “My doctor said my baby was allergic to my milk.” “My baby is lactose-intolerant and needed special formula.” “My baby would throw up my breast milk after every feeding.” This one is fairly personal for me. If you have read my Birth and Breast story, you know Babe has a severe milk allergy. She spent many miserable hours, days, and nights screaming her little head off, writhing from side to side in pain, and panicking doctors and nurses with her poor weight gain. The first thing that medical professionals will inevitably prescribe (with the exception of a golden few who actually research these things) is highly specialized, highly expensive infant formula. These formulas still contain the allergens that your baby is reacting to in your milk. The proteins that are causing the reaction are hydrolyzed, which means they are broken down into minute size so they will not stick in the baby’s intestine and cause a reaction, or as great of a reaction. The first problem is, the process of hydrolization also breaks down many other essential proteins and nutrients that are needed by your baby for optimal growth. The second problem is, the allergens are still present, and still causing your baby’s immune system to overreact. This continual exposure can worsen the allergy, cause asthma, or create autoimmune disorders. Did you know “Seven to eight percent of babies are allergic to cow's milk formula; 50 percent of these babies also are allergic to soy formulas, [and that] use of cow's milk is not recommended until after the baby is one year old [?] (” For a baby who has milk or other sensitivities, the best solution is not a $60 can of nutrient-deficient hydrolyzed formula, but instead an adjustment to mom’s diet. Dr. Jack Newman has some fabulous information on foreign proteins in momma’s milk at Colic In The Breastfed Baby.

(Reference: )

13. Formula Is Not Custom-Tailored For Your Baby And His Needs, It Is Not Living

There are hundreds of different types of formula, different brands, different flavours, age-specific formulas and so forth, but there is no ONE formula that is exactly made for your little baby. Formula is just that, a formula. It is a guess at what a baby might need at a certain age. Breast milk is tailored according to your baby’s age, health, needs, the time of day, and even the weather outside. It is tailored down to the minute in a feed, with certain fats appearing at certain times of the feed. It contains higher levels of immunities based on your child’s current state of health, and on how often they play in dirt on the floor. It is custom-tailored around their environment, with a higher water content on hot days, and higher fat content during cold days. The amount of fat in your breast milk depends on your baby’s gender, their genetic makeup, and their age. Formula is not that specific, and will never be able to gauge that level of specificity, because it is dead. Breast milk is a living thing.

(Reference: There are pretty much a million other articles about the custom-made nature of breast milk, but to add them would make this thing 8 pages instead of 7, and I just don't think my Toshiba laptop can handle it.)

14. Formula Is Not A Failure, Formula Does Not Mean You Can Never Breastfeed, Formula Is Not Your Only Option

Before making the switch to formula, please do your research. There is a lot of contradictory and wrong advice out there, and many of us make it worse by perpetuating myths about breastfeeding and formula feeding. Do your research ahead of time, don’t make the decision in the hospital delivery room. Attend meetings of your local breastfeeding support groups, read books by notable breastfeeding experts, explore your options. Understand that breastfeeding is a learning curve. Each baby is a new experience. You learn as your baby learns. It takes time, and more than time, it takes patience, namely with yourself. Know where your International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are (Find an IBCLC). Know what you will do in case of trouble. Learn, learn, learn. If you are on your second child, and couldn’t make breastfeeding work with your first, know that you aren’t a failure. Don’t be tripped up by your guilt and anger. Try again. Equip yourself. Don’t be afraid to read breastfeeding articles, don’t let yourself be restricted by guilt, anger or hurt. Forgive yourself. Forgive your body. You can try again. If you have given up on breastfeeding, and wish you hadn’t, you can relactate, if you wish to. If you feed a bottle of formula, there is going back. You can return to breastfeeding, if you so choose. Support is key. Here is a list of amazing internet resources that I turned to in times of breastfeeding trouble. I hope they help you as well. I also recommend calling your local La Leche League Leader, or IBCLC and asking for help if needed. You can do this. You are capable. Breathe in, breathe out. If it is done, if you are at the end of your breastfeeding journey, before you wanted to be at the end, make peace with yourself. You are loving and loved, regardless of how it all turns out.

(Reference: Life experience. Dude, there's no http at the front, but it is lot harder to obtain than by just clicking a mouse.)

La Leche League International

Dr. Jack Newman's website


Eats On Feets

Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene!

The Leaky B@@b