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Bottle-Feeding Moms Ignored by Medical Staff

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Many feel pressured to breast-feed and ill-informed about alternative, researchers find.

woman bottlefeeding baby
HealthDay News: The lack of information and support for mothers who bottle-feed could put the health of their infants at risk, say British researchers who reviewed 23 studies that included more than 13,000 participants.

Most infants will receive some formula milk during their first year of life, even if their mothers have decided to breast-feed, said Dr. Rajalakshmi Lakshman and colleagues, from the University of Cambridge. Variations in bottle-feeding can have long-term health consequences for children, they noted.

Their review of published studies identified several common themes:

Some mothers who bottle-fed -- either because they couldn't breast-feed or because they prefer to bottle-feed -- experienced negative emotions such as guilt, worry about the impact on their baby, concern about health professionals' opinions, uncertainty about how to proceed, a sense of failure and anger at feeling pressure to breast-feed.

Some mothers said they didn't receive enough information on correct bottle-feeding techniques, which made it difficult to make decisions about whether they should bottle-feed and left them unsure about proper feeding frequencies and quantities.

It was common for mothers to make mistakes in bottle-feeding preparation. Incorrect preparation can increase the risk of infection, promote excessive weight gain or leave babies undernourished.

Some mothers who bottle-fed felt that hospital midwives spent far more time with breast-feeding mothers.

The findings appear online July 14 in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

It's important to promote breast-feeding because it's the healthiest option for both mother and baby, said the authors. But they added that it's "also necessary to ensure that the needs of bottle-feeding mothers are met ... Inadequate information and support for mothers who decide to bottle-feed may put the health of their babies at risk."

If health-care professionals don't provide correct information about bottle-feeding, mothers will seek help from family and friends, which may increase the risk of incorrect bottle-feeding practices being handed down, the researchers said.

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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
just saying July 15, 2009, 4:31 PM

I am total PRO-BFing, but if you are going to bottle feed, you should be helped along as well….I’m guessing that the med staff spends more time with BF-ing moms is b/c there are not directions on the side of your breast and there are directions on a can of formula (I assume, never used any)….

Alexandra  July 15, 2009, 8:19 PM

This is extremely truthful. When I was in the hospital my daughter and I had to stay a bit longer than usual, since we both were sick at her birth. Initially, I wanted to breast-feed, but for health reasons I found myself unable to do so.

As soon as I changed my mind and told the nurses I would have to bottle feed instead, all the support vanished. Nurses went from checking on me and the baby an annoyingly frequent amount to me having to actually go make them give me formula so my child wouldn’t starve. I felt like I did something wrong.

RoryBore July 15, 2009, 8:43 PM

It’s true — I called them the nursing Nazi’s in the hospital. I breast-feed my first baby and the support was Great, but I could see how they treated those who decided to bottle feed. And when I got a breast infection w/ my 2nd child, I was encourage to pump, rather than give formula. As I wanted to breast-feed, I did pump, but it was agony!! The infections kept coming back every time I would try to nurse again, but because I suffered such guilt over giving formula, I nearly put myself in an early grave trying to pump 6-8 times/day for her first year. Even my mother in law said “you don’t want to bond with your baby, poor thing” when she saw the bottles. Yes, it is the best way because it is natural, but it also needs to be realized that not everyone can do it. and sometimes circumstances simply prevent you from doing so….no matter how much you want, or how hard you try.

Sarah July 16, 2009, 2:57 AM

I breastfed my 1st child whilst in hospital but as I wasn’t making enough milk and nobody gave me any help as to how to increase this, he spent the 6 days I was in hospital screaming 24/7 because he was starving. The nurses seemed fine with this rather than offer me formula. When we finally worked up the courage to ask for some formula we got a dark look and the nurse basically dumped the bottle, formula and cleaning items in our laps and walked out of the room. When we got home, my husband and I had no idea how to make up formula and didn’t own a single bottle or tin of formula because all that had been impressed upon us in our prebirth classes was breastfeeding. I assumed this was the route I would take without even thinking it wouldn’t work for me. I wished someone had told me to at least be prepared and have these items for backup.

PlumbLucky July 17, 2009, 9:24 AM

I found the hospital staff and doctors equally poor on both topics (of BFing and Bottlefeeding).

And really, the same problem exists with breastfeeding and getting advice from family/friends. It may not be correct.

Then there’s my MIL who is pi$$ed that my son is breastfed because “its gross”, “he’s not getting enough because he’s eating every three hours”, and “but I’m the Grandma and I have a right to feed him!”. ::sigh::

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