The Right to breastfeed 关于母乳喂养的权利
Many women who would like to breastfeed are not given the right to decide about breastfeeding their baby or continuing breastfeeding their baby. In fact, many mothers are being told that there is no difference between breastfeeding and artificial feeding and thus are not, in fact, being given the information to make an informed choice. What woman would choose formula feeding if she were told that there is considerable evidence that mothers who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and possibly uterine cancer and that the longer she breastfed the lower the risk?
Am I kidding? Who is going to stop a mother from breastfeeding?
The truth of the matter is that mothers do not seem to have the right to breastfeed and are forced, by health professionals, judges and child protective agencies not to breastfeed from the earliest days after the birth of their baby as well as to stop breastfeeding if they have started.
Even when things are going well, mothers are frequently told they must add cow’s milk to the baby’s diet, presumably because “there is nothing in breastmilk after a year”. They are often told they must stop breastfeeding altogether for this very reason, or because their child will be “overdependent” or incredible as it may sound, because breastfeeding past a certain age is abuse. This is not commonly said, but one child psychiatrist in France did make this statement to a newspaper. “One does not share the breast: to extend breastfeeding past 7 months is without doubt sexual abuse”. The mind boggles.
即使母乳喂养进展顺利，母亲们也经常被告知她们必须在婴儿的饮食中添加牛奶，大概的说辞是“母乳在一年后什么营养都没有了”。 她们经常被告知必须停止母乳喂养。理由多种多样，或者基于上述理由，或者会说孩子会因此变得 “过度依赖”或其它不可思议的理由，或者说母乳喂养过了一定年龄是对儿童的虐待。 最后一种说法不是很普遍，但法国的一位小儿精神科医生确实在报纸发表过这种观点：“乳房不能够被分享：延长母乳喂养超过7个月毫无疑问是性虐待。”真是令人难以置信！
Mothers who had wanted to breastfeed and had trusted the health care system to help them prevent problems with breastfeeding or overcome problems with breastfeeding, are frequently left feeling guilty for not breastfeeding, feeling that they “failed” or feeling that they “couldn’t” breastfeed for medical reasons. They do not know that the health system actually undermined their breastfeeding and so they blame themselves, not the practices around labour and birth and after the baby was born that destroyed their breastfeeding. A lot of formula feeding by mothers who had originally intended to breastfeed would never have been necessary had the mothers been given the correct information that their medical condition or use of medication had not required them to stop breastfeeding. In addition, the mother’s fear of the baby starving or his health being compromised are used as scare tactics to get mothers to consent to formula feeding and to shake her resolve to breastfeed. If health providers actually knew how to know a baby is well latched on and how to know a baby is getting milk from the breast even in the first few days after birth, then the health provider would know if the breastfeeding is going well or not and would know how to help the mother and baby if the breastfeeding is not going well, before the baby gets into trouble. Because they do get milk in the first days, even with the first latch, as shown by the pause in the chin as the baby opens to the maximum, where the pauses are rather short but present. This 24 hour old baby shows quite definite pauses in the chin showing he is taking in a lot of milk. And the health providers usually don’t know how to increase the flow of milk to the baby if that is necessary.
The medical professional’s knowledge of breastfeeding is, in general, so poor that if the slightest breastfeeding problem arises, the first thing many mothers will hear from a large majority of doctors is “give the baby formula” or even “stop breastfeeding altogether”. Mothers are often forced to supplement, or stop breastfeeding altogether, not infrequently in cases of slow weight gain, with a threat of the child protection services taking away the baby if they don’t comply with “doctor’s orders”. This is appalling because the doctors who would do this, without referring to someone expert in management of breastfeeding problems, often haven’t the slightest notion of what is going on and what can be done to improve the situation and depend only on the baby’s weight. And weights are unreliable as a way of evaluating the adequacy of breastfeeding.
It is clear from our experience with many thousands of mothers having come to our breastfeeding clinic during the past 33 years, that much can be done to help the mother and her baby who is not gaining weight satisfactorily. With a little good help, the mother could carry on breastfeeding exclusively. However, in only a small minority of cases do the mothers actually get the help they need because the mother and baby are not referred to someone who can help, and, unfortunately, that is not the pediatrician, who should know, but only rarely does know.
Sometimes the solution is easy. The way the baby is latching on can be adjusted so that the mother no longer has sore nipples and the baby gets more milk from the breast with this adjustment of the latch.
Another way of adjusting the latch is by releasing a baby’s tongue tie. Sometimes the effect of releasing the tongue tie is dramatic in increasing the baby’s intake of breastmilk. Quite often using breast compression will increase the baby’s intake of milk enough so that the baby does not need supplementation.
But, true, sometimes it’s not so easy. However, even if the baby needs to be supplemented, the baby can be supplemented at the breast with a lactation aid at the breast. This preserves the breastfeeding whereas supplementing with a bottle, the usual way recommended by health professionals, most often ends up with the baby refusing the breast.
Need help in the Toronto area? Make an appointment with International Breastfeeding Centre