Support a Breastfeeding Mother Day

Special thanks to Grethel for the beautiful photo.

Today, on Facebook, Breastfeeding Mothers Unite is sponsoring a “Support a Breastfeeding Mother Day.

Breastfeeding is so crucial. We talk about it a lot on this blog. So far:

One thing that continually stresses new moms out and causes them to bottle feed though often isn’t discussed. Women frequently get told that their baby has lost too much weight and she will need to supplement. Of course, that’s usually wrong, but the information comes from a trusted professional, so the mother listens. We must all realize this very pertinent fact. OFTEN women are told very blatantly, “If you do not switch to bottles of formula, your baby will starve.”

So, she switches to bottles.

Then, the breastfeeding cops get on social networks and accuse her of being a crappy, selfish mom.

Crappy? Selfish? For what? For switching to formula when told her baby will starve without formula?

Never mind that it’s not usually true.  Today is Support a Breastfeeding Mom Day. The very best way to support a breast feeding mom is to be helpful and not condemning when she is faced with the wrong information.

Rarely do women who start off breastfeeding stop simply because they are selfish. Most of the time, if they quit, it is because they have not been given the support they need or the information they deserve.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the weight loss scare. A breastfed baby may lose more weight initially after birth than a formula fed baby. It’s OK, it’s normal, and it’s safe. The mother will need to know exact numbers though, because this is her BABY she’s thinking about. Arm her with this knowledge:

  • Babies may lose as much as 10% of their birth weight; however, a loss of more than 5-7% might indicate that help is needed with breastfeeding management. (source)
  • “In the first 24 to 72 hours after birth babies tend to lose about 3-10% of their birth weight. (source)
  • If a mother receives lots of IV fluids during labor, the baby could be born “heavier” because of the increased water. The doctor or lactation consultant should consider the birth weight after the baby first urinates, not before, to compensate. The post-urination weight should then be compared with the weight gained or not gained after being released from the hospital. (source)
  • Babies may continue to lose weight for up to four days before they begin gaining weight after birth. This is normal. (source)
  • Breastmilk should “come in” 2-5 days after the baby is born.  (source)
  • Babies are born with extra fluid in their tissues, which is excreted during the first couple pf days that results in weight loss. This weight loss is generally about 7-8 ounces.  (source)
  • During the first couple of days  the baby’s kidneys are not equipped to handle large amounts of fluid. The small amount of colostrum that is made during that time is perfect for the newborn.  (source)
  • During the first 24 hours after birth, women generally only produce about 37 ml of colostrum (30 ml is an ounce). The baby will get only 7-14 ml at each feeding and this is normal, OK and good. (source)

Armed with this information, women should feel comfortable with the fact that they are not starving their newborn.  If the weight loss, weight gain, and breast milk production doesn’t fall into this average area, she can then discuss how to proceed with her professional. If it does fall into the normal range, she will be able to have a much more productive discussion with the medical professional or lactation consultant that was scaring her and pressuring her to supplement in the first place.

Please bookmark this post so that you will have the information available in a pinch. If you can’t support a breastfeeding mother today, you can pledge today to support a breastfeeding mom in the future. To not pressure her. To not stress her out. To not challenge her, but to support her. To educate her peacefully. To listen to her concerns and not invalidate them.

Who supported you when you were just starting? Were you let down by your support team? If so, I want to hear that too…

 

3 Comments

  1. Ariel

    My hubby was absolutely amazing. He took on the role of breastfeeding dad perfectly, and even now continues to remind me how important it is that I’m nursing.

    Doctors/hospital staff were awful. For example, the NICU pediatricians wouldn’t let me nurse until my baby was 10 hours old (even though ALL his tests and stats were normal) and they told me I would probably have to supplement (before I even got started). Thankfully I had done my homework, so I was pumping during the first 10 hours and I just ignored their pessimistic opinion on supplementing.

    We’re still going strong at 16 months and have never needed a drop of formula:) I love all your bfing posts.

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