Monday, July 4, 2005

The Feeding Debate

We have a family friend who has a 2 1/2 month old daughter. Like all new parents she is very proud, so she has started a website to show off pictures and post news about their little one. I visited the site last night and was shocked to see her feeding cereal to her two month old. Granted, not much appeared to be going in, but they were solids, none the less.

I breastfed my daughter, and I knew before I had even conceived that I wanted to breastfeed. I did a lot of research and reading, talked to people who used formula and who nursed, but when it came right down to it, I just knew that I should nurse my children. I am not militant about it, but I do encourage any new moms of my acquaintance to consider it, I have educated my family out of some of their long-held beliefs against breastfeeding, and have really struggled to make the people around me receptive to the "new" idea of breastfeeding your child. But the discussion about our family friend today shows me just how far I have not gotten.

I mentioned to my step-mom what I had seen on Anne's site and also told her that I later found out that the baby became severely constipated, so her mother had given her doses of Karo syrup, which led to enough diarrhea that they now had her on Pedialyte. I expected her to be equally shocked and concerned, but quite the opposite happened. I was informed that she had fed her children rice cereal from two weeks on because "they were starving to death. The doctor told me not to, but he didn't have to deal with screaming hungry babies. Besides, they turned out fine, and I even used Karo syrup myself. You young girls just believe everything some expert tells you, and most of the time they don't even know what they are talking about. Look how much of a hassle it was for you to breastfeed, always trying to find someplace to nurse, but you stuck with it, probably because you read it in some book somewhere. You should have just used bottles and been done with it!"

I was taken aback by her vehemence. I had no idea that she felt this way about my nursing. She had always been a little uncomfortable with my nursing in public, ("would you mind going into the other room, I don't think your nephew needs to see you with your shirt pulled up") but I always had written it off to the fact that she just wasn't used to nursing mothers. Apparently, I was wrong.

I don't know if she felt I was attacking her mothering by bringing up what I believed to be a serious situation, but that she saw as completely normal. Maybe I had been too pushy around her when it came to my "new age" ideas of mothering and baby care. Perhaps I am over-reacting to a two month old on solid food, and I am the crazy one.
All I do know for certain is that the body of the little baby concerned is obviously having trouble processing something, or she would not have her system so disturbed.

So what do you think? Have you dealt with similar situations? Did you start your children on solids at an early age? Did you have to deal with breastfeeding non-awareness? Drop me your two cents so that I can feel a little more enlightened.


Monika said...

Sigh. This is typical. Folks just don't get it: breast is best and you dont' need no suppliments!

I'm not militant either (meaning I'm discreet when I nurse) but I will encourage any mother to chose the breast over the bottle for their baby.

Rice ceral at 3 months? No way. Lord willing, Lucy will not get solids until she is ready. No baby is ready at 3 months.

MegLogan said...

Well, I nursed, my son. I am very INTO nursing and believe it to be the BEST food for an infant. However, my son was not gaining weight well, because he spit up too much breast milk. So at 3 months, I too started cereal. My son took to it just fine! No constipation etc. However, he mostly nursed. I also did give him a bottle, because i wanted the convenience of being able to leave him for short periods of time with family. (One time I had to leave him for a long period of time, and I was ever so grateful that he would take a bottle.)

However, with the next one i have no plans to introduce solids until much later, and no bottle. I feel that the bottle and solids caused my son to wean himself from the breast too early (7 months). I happen to think that the antibodies and immune system boost that a baby and young child gets from breast milk is too precious to waste! I realize now just how hard it is to nurse exclusively, but also , just how important.

I think your mom might be upset because she felt personally attacked. I think it is painfully obvious that the Lord created a womans body to feed an infant, and all women KNOW this deep down. But nursing exclusively in our society is VERY difficult. It is terribly hard to find a "place" to nurse. Etc... so many women seem to succumb to the "expert" opinion that formula is just as good!

Do i think that feeding that baby solids at two months will hurt her long run?? NO. but I definately dont think it is the best solution.

Ok there is my two cents, or more like fifty!! lol.


Bernadette said...

Diplomacy is difficult when a baby's health is being compromised!

No solids here for at least one year for my eleven babies. I had wonderful support from my dear mother-in-law who nursed all six of her children, delayed solids, and let her little ones wean at their own pace.

You certainly have my support!!

mothersong said...

Well, I agree diplomacy is best. I have difficulty pulling it off however.

It may be experts saying exclusive breastfeeding is best, but it's lots of them, not just one or two. Newest research shows that exclusive breastfeeding at least until six months reduces the risk of diabetes. Exclusive breastfeeding is just that, no other foods or liquids.

Breastmilk is a living tissue. It's composition changes depending on the age of the child, the viruses and other germs you have been exposed to, and other factors. A mere two ounces of breastmilk a day will provide a toddler with all the immunological benefits that breastmilk provides.

No offense, but your stepmother's personal prejudice against nursing doesn't begin to touch the real live medical and psychological benefits that nursing provides.

FWIW, I have 5 breastfed kids and one breastfed grandchild. All of them nursed at least 2 years and only one of them had solids before 8 to 9 months of age. The oldest is 27 and the youngest is 3, and still nursing now and again.

Christi said...

Weeeellll, I tried to nurse both of my boys. My milk NEVER came in, either time, so I reluctantly switched to formula. My oldest, I started on cereal at an early age, and he didn't have any problems. I didn't with my youngest... he's 6 months old and just now starting solids. He wasn't as "ready" to me as my oldest, and I'll admit, it was easier to just not fool with it.

All that said, I KNOW that nutritionally, babies don't need anything other than breastmilk/formula; my pediatrician says until age 1.

Angelize said...

I tried to breastfeed my son. I honestly did. It didn't work out. He would barely eat, and would projectile vomit when he did. I was careful with my diet, but it just didn't work out. Its not for everyone, but I think everyone should give it a try as it is whats best for the baby's health. I don't think mothers should be put down though for not breastfeeding. It's a very individual choice. If the mother isn't comfortable, it passes on to the baby I think.