It’s not fair that I have to watch what I say in regards to breastfeeding lest I have my throat jumped down for ‘scaring’ women, or ‘making them worry’. It’s not fair that I generally encourage trying it, because you never know until you do, seeking the help of qualified professionals and being prepared and get flack. It’s not fair because those that go around saying ‘just believe in your body, milk production is in your mind'(seriously?), real (as opposed to fake or imaginary?)low supply is ‘soo soo so rare’, or better yet ‘98% of women can breastfeed’ do so with near impunity, yet are so quick to jump on those who say: stuff doesn’t always go to plan.
For the past year or so I’ve spent a lot of my spare time offering advice on the breastfeeding section of a parenting forum. I started there when I was pregnant and stayed after having my baby. It became a bit of an unhealthy hobby, helping people. Why? Because when I was blindsided by our issues I went there for help when I wasn’t getting any elsewhere and I got terrible advice. I didn’t want any other women struggling to be left with the advice I got. ‘Just breastfeed her more’ (ok well, 18 hours per day for 10+ days in a row seems abnormal to me. Not sure how I can fit more feeding in there as we both need to sleep a little), ‘don’t listen to the midwives, that weight loss isn’t so bad. It can go up to 20%’ (seriously? What awful advice. I recall getting a snippy telling off when I pointed out that LLL guidelines are to supplement if over 10% loss), ‘she’s probably just a slow gainer’ (yes except all she did was lose). Regardless of what our issue was all the advice I got was more or less telling me to get the latch checked (at least 20 various professionals observed the latch, not one had anything to say about it), or to just trust my body and ignore my midwives.
Here’s what the real guidelines are: If over 10% loss increase feeding frequency and seek help. If over 12% have infant evaluated, and potentially readmitted for dehydration treatment. Some systems class over 7% as observation time, and over 10% as supplement now. 20% is not ‘just fine’.
So I’ve been spending my time telling people who present with symptoms that seem all so familiar to seek professional help now, things they can do if they want to continue breastfeeding, signs to look for for tongue tie, where to get help and support and similar, and so very often I have to beat back those that say that giving formula will cause them to lose their supply ( it dries it right up like sun on a hot day don’tcha know), that they don’t need to supplement, that if they just feed their baby more, if they just want this enough that they can do it… And I hang my head and back away. I’m tired of being told I’m scaring women when those with concerns ask questions and I give real answers and real symptoms to watch for instead of pattering off that low supply is soo soo rare and all it takes is determination.
I know I’ve helped some people in the last year to feel better about whatever they had to do. I can think of quite a few women who asked for help and have described low supply or inefficient milk transfer symptoms in the last year. It barely makes me feel better because there’s an unending tide of well meaning but quite unhelpful advice.
I think it’s time to back away. I can’t fight this.