Whistleblower: Infant formula companies boldly violating WHO code, smearing breastmilk

“Imagine that the world had created a new ‘dream product’ to feed and immunize everyone born on Earth. Imagine also that it was available everywhere, required no storage or delivery, and helped mothers plan their families and reduce the risk of cancer. Then imagine that the world refused to use it.” ~ the late Frank Oski, MD, American pediatrician

That “dream product” this renowned child nutrition expert was referring to before his 1996 death from prostate cancer already exists—in breastmilk.

Breastmilk delivers lifelong health benefits to infants that far outweigh substitutes, doubling as both a source of superior nutrition and immunization to disease. Breastfeeding also plays a major role in establishing a foundation for infant mental health, secure mother-infant attachment, and strong family relationships.

Related: Breastmilk and baby’s gut health, the big picture and The link between breastfeeding and mental health

Yet, breastmilk is routinely pitted against the marketing prowess of multi-billion-dollar infant formula companies that in recent years at least have promoted its use as supportive to breastfeeding rather than an alternative.

This seemingly complementary role of formula to breastfeeding, as marketed, is a rather new change in course in the history of infant formula—mostly out of “regard” for the WHO’s International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes, enforceable by law in 136 of 194 developed countries.

Formula companies aren’t foolish when it comes to making money. Even formula companies in the 58 countries that do not prioritize the WHO code in their advertising legalese understand the potential damage to sales that could come with marketing formula as equal to or better than breastmilk in a culture that values advocating for higher breastfeeding rates.

Related: Nature’s case for breastfeeding

This month, the United Kingdom-based infant formula company Bobbie debuted a national U.S. marketing campaign on the first day of World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7, 2021) with a full-page ad in the New York Times that so flagrantly broke the WHO code that there should be outrage from all levels of U.S. breastfeeding support.

The silence is telling. Only one instance of social pushback against this formula company’s challenge to “breast is best” has made it to the top of search-engine lists:

Social media can be a powerful force for good when in the hands of empowered parents.

Well-supported breastfeeding parents are empowered. That support comes from many levels, from La Leche League International leaders to International Board Certified Lactation Consultants to media and culture to societal systems. In the United States, breastfeeding support has long been making gains on an uphill climb. We are not done by any means, as we live in a system that does not put family first.

Yet something has shifted in breastfeeding support internationally, and we are in danger of losing those gains.

Maybe we have become complacent. Maybe we have allowed our capitalistic economy to trump decades of research showing that breastmilk is truly best. In 2018, the U.S. threatened countries with economy-crushing tactics to avoid adopting a United Nations resolution to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. This bewildering rejection of breastfeeding was justified by then-President Donald Trump as a show of support for mothers.

The news media was then relatively quiet in 2019, before COVID-19 struck in 2020—leaving billions of mothers around the world stranded from breastfeeding support, with the pandemic continuing to compromise face-to-face lactation support in the early weeks after childbirth when breastfeeding challenges are most likely to arise.

Infant formula companies filled the gap with questionable claims and overt WHO code violations:

  • In Paraguay, Danone specifically promoted its Nutricia infant formula as the safe infant-feeding method, purporting that COVID-19 could be transmitted to babies via breastfeeding. Danone extended this so-called support to “babies born in the pandemic” in Brazil, India, and parts of Europe.
  • In Mexico and Peru, Abbott claimed its brand Similac strengthens babies’ immune systems against viruses and bacteria.
  • In Southeast Asia, Nestle’s Indonesian brand Dancow ran ads portraying children drinking formula with the tagline (translated): “Mother, protect your sweetheart!”
  • Likewise, Danone’s Indonesian brand SGM promoted a “customer care line” via its Instagram and WhatsApp social media channels, and urged mothers to call with questions about child growth and development.
  • In both Pakistan and India, Nestle’s Lactogrow has been distributed in COVID-19 relief packages.

These and other instances are enough of a red flag that, globally, breastfeeding is on a slippery slope toward losing relevance—again.

Our grandmothers remember when breastfeeding rates dipped to near nonexistence in the U.S. between 1940 and 1970. Less than a century is not so long ago. We need a resurgence of impassioned support of breastfeeding, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed infant formula companies an opportunity to step up their marketing schemes against breastfeeding—which is as much against mothers and fathers, their infants’ health, and a confident beginning for the family.

Related: Interaction and relationships in breastfeeding families with Dr. Keren Epstein-Gilboa

After the struggles that breastfeeding had to endure to overcome formula companies’ misinformation in the 20th century, breastfeeding is not nearly as established as it needs to be in our society to be left to stand on its own against capitalism’s continued manipulation of the public when left unchecked.

We look forward to seeing, and sharing, empowered parents’ protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding.

WBW 2021: Protect breastfeeding by protecting nurturing

As we reflect on this year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7 – “Protect Breastfeeding: A shared responsibility” – it is imperative that we understand that protecting breastfeeding requires us to normalize nurturing.

Nurturing parenting is invariably linked to breastfeeding. While not all mothers are able to breastfeed, we recognize that breastfeeding – and breastfeeding behaviors while giving a bottle – is one of nature’s best teachers of new parents in how to sensitively and consistently respond to their baby as well as learn to develop the reciprocity of a healthy relationship between parent and child.

Related: Nature’s case for breastfeeding

Largely due to cultural pressures, even when mothers are able to get breastfeeding off to a strong start, there is a sharp decline overall in breastfeeding rates in the weeks and months after childbirth. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), of which we are a member, has found that premature weaning tends to happen when mothers are without access to knowledgeable support while encountering problems with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding problems are common, making widespread access to breastfeeding support paramount. International Board Certified Lactation Counselors, La Leche League leaders, and other trained advocates are key players in not only breastfeeding education but also nurturing parenting. The early days, weeks, and months of breastfeeding serve as a crucial time when mothers and fathers learn how to parent…to relate to their baby with nurturing behaviors, or not.

Related: Who will Baby attach to?

These early parenting lessons, which set the stage for years of a secure or insecure mother-infant relationship, are often absorbed in a time of relative isolation.

Traditionally, support to new parents was provided by the family…particularly the new mother’s mother and grandmother. However, as society has changed, mother support must come from a wider circle. This is where community support enters.

A new mother and father may have access to lactation consultants, depending on their geographic location. Some trained health care providers are able to provide ongoing support between medical appointments for acute breastfeeding problems; many are limited by their funding. La Leche League International fills the gap by training mothers with personal breastfeeding experience to volunteer in their communities by offering mother-to-mother support that complements professional care.

Likewise, we provide training to become a Certified Attached at the Heart Parenting Educator to provide holistic support to mothers and fathers in your community as they learn how to incorporate nurturing into the parenting of their children.

Related: Find a parent educator

As certified parenting educators, we offer basic support and community resource referrals to help parents make the best decisions for their families while educating them on the research-backed ways of bringing nurturing into their parenting. We help mothers view breastfeeding within the context of the whole mother-infant relationship and family dynamic, and how the give-and-take interaction that builds the foundation of secure attachment can be applied beyond breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding naturally promotes nurturing parenting. Overcoming the challenges that may come with breastfeeding sets the stage for building resilience through nurturing parenting for years to come.

Connection after breastfeeding

One of the finer things in life is to be able to enjoy some luxury when you rest, and for human beings, rest is a necessary thing when we want our bodies to recharge and operate in an optimal capacity. That is why there really is no limit to splurging on stuff when you want to be comfortable in your bedroom. In fact, one of the things that you can splurge on is a back rest pillow that is not only practical, but luxurious in its capacity.

There are many kinds of backrest pillow available. You can take your pick among Amazon’s many choices. However, for the purpose of achieving a dual goal in comfort and therapeutic benefits, then the typical back rest pillow will have to have more features built into it.

One kind of backrest support that you can opt for is the one specifically designed to help improve your backs condition by ergonomic design to help with your posture and support your lumbar region. There are many people who suffer from chronic back pain, mainly due to poor posture, and sometimes from injury. Much of the advice a therapist or chiropractor will give to a patient will mean having to adjust previously unfitted pillows, beds, and cushions that do not provide support, to orthopedic pillows and mattresses that support the joints and the natural curvature of the body. The perfect backrest support with can mean that people can actually relax and not feel bodily pain after resting for a while, as well you can use stretches and movements to reduce you body pain, for this you can check Erase my back pain reviews and with the help of the professionals find the right technique to solved you body pain.

My 3-year-old daughter recently found our old nursing pillow from this pillow collection in the closet. It had been about a year since we finished nursing, so I was surprised when she said, “Remember I used to lay on this?”

She didn’t remember actually nursing, though, and when I told her that’s how I used to feed her, she had a lot of questions like, “Was the food on the floor?” I explained what nursing was, and she smiled and asked sweetly, “Can we do that now?”

While we couldn’t nurse, I did set the pillow on my lap and let her climb up on it. She lay there smiling up at me and started twirling my hair, her favorite relaxing activity.

I hear a lot of moms who are starting to wean worrying that they’ll be sad once they’re done nursing, or that they’ll miss this time for connection.

My daughter and I have found many other ways of bonding as she’s grown older. There are more “I love yous” and kisses from her and more time for playing her favorite activities one-on-one. We still lie together often and bedshare part of the night. While these activities aren’t quite replacements for nursing, they are wonderful ways that we can keep a strong attachment.

After she laid on the nursing pillow on my lap, we were able to play together for about 30 minutes while her brothers were playing on their own. She created a game for us where she’d pretend that it was nighttime and we would pretend to sleep, sharing a pillow and cuddling under the same blanket.

It’s nice for us to reminisce about the time we nursed and to remember that it was one of the ways that our attachment developed in her earliest years, but we’re still enjoying other opportunities for connection now. And I know that even when she’s older and these games are over, there will be other things to replace them, such as times where we can talk about her day at school or other one-on-one activities we can do together.

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Inspired to read more about breastfeeding?

API’s Breastfeeding Library

Nature’s Case for Breastfeeding

The Real Breastfeeding Story

A story of working and breastfeeding, and staying determined

Editor’s pick: To promote breastfeeding is to promote Attachment Parenting

4 ideas for gentle weaning

Morning cuddles: a story of child-led weaning

When Your Partner Wants You to Wean: Heart Advice for Nursing Mothers

5 tips for a strong nursing relationship while working away from home

10 tips for nurturing attachment during the holidays

pixabay-tips-for-attachment-parenting-during-holidaysThe holidays are an exciting time for children. The gifts, the lights, the decorations, the food, the family gathering — the list goes on and on. But in the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to lose sight of the values we want to pass down to our children, such as strengthening and maintaining a strong parent-child attachment.

Here are 10 tips to nurture attachment with our children during the holidays:

  1. You are the best gift“Living in a split-attention society, many children have rarely experienced the full, uninterrupted attention of a parent.” Stacy inspires us to give our children what they really want: Our time.
  2. Emphasize family time “The best present we are getting each other this year is time together.” Scylla encourages all of us to intentionally spend time together as a family in our annual holiday traditions.
  3. Santa or not, don’t use gifts as a bribe“Our family does Santa, but we don’t use him as a discipline tactic. The kids have no idea of the notion that they ‘must be good’ so Santa will come.” Sarah suggests that we keep the spirit of the holidays without any of the shame.
  4. Protect your child’s sleep“Don’t disrupt your normal sleep arrangements. If you normally cosleep, continue to do so.” Especially while traveling, Jasmine reminds us to continue nighttime parenting and safe infant sleep guidelines despite the holiday.
  5. Inspire the spirit of giving“For the first time ever, the school-aged children beamed with pride over the effort put into their gifts and the expectant joy when the receiver opened them. The emphasis was now on the making and giving rather than the receiving.” Judy offers a list of gifts that children of all ages can make and reclaim the spirit of the holidays.
  6. Rethink holiday treats“Many of my holiday memories revolve around food. Now that we are starting our own family traditions, I am trying to incorporate the fun and pleasure of holiday goodies without the overload of sugar. As a parent, it is my responsibility to nurture a taste for nutritious foods.” Dionna inspires us with tips to make holiday treats that are both special and healthier.
  7. Strive for balance“Especially going into the holidays, I find that it’s easy to lose days to errands, decorating, and purchasing presents. I get to the end of the day and feel like it was lost.” API Leader Sonya Feher reminds us to take some down time for ourselves.
  8. If you’re breastfeeding, take advantage“The holidays can be overwhelming to little ones, so time spent breastfeeding can be like a retreat. It’s a quick and easy way to reconnect and helps restore calm and reduce overstimulation. When I’m nursing, I also get the chance to sit down, put my feet up, and let some other folks do the work for a bit.” Amber encourages breastfeeding mothers to make the most of breastfeeding, both for their children and themselves, during the overstimulating holidays.
  9. Model discipline“Christmas can be a tricky season as far as discipline goes. There are presents stacked under the tree. There are cookies and sweets everywhere. There is constantly family, noise, and activity. It is very hard to stay disciplined ourselves, and it is the same for our children.” Jasmine reminds us to teach our children through example of how to navigate boundaries during the holidays.
  10. Plan on growth — “I resolve to practice positive discipline, not to spank or use rewards or punishments to coerce behavior.” Never big on making New Year resolutions, Christina explains why she had a change of heart.

Nurturing parenting is an essential basic need of all children

“There is a sensible way of treating children. … Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning. Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinarily good job of a difficult task. Try it out. … You will be utterly ashamed of the mawkish, sentimental way you have been handling it. … When I hear a mother say ‘Bless its little heart’ when it falls down, or stubs its toe, or suffers some other ill, I usually have to walk a block or two to let off steam. Can’t the mother train herself when something happens to the child to look at its hurt without saying anything…?” ~ Psychological Care of Infant & Child by James B. Watson, Norton Press, 1928

Reading this excerpt of a wildly popular parenting book from 1928, as you breastfeed your baby or cosleep with your toddler or cuddle with your preschooler or hug your preteen or put your arm around your teen’s shoulders, how do you feel it was like for your great-grandmother to be admonished for instinctively loving her child, only to be told that her instinct is exactly what would damage that child?

Parenting has come along way since 1928. john bowlby with richard bowlbyBy the time our grandparents were caring for their babies in the 1950s, psychoanalyst John Bowlby was making great strides in scientific circles with research demonstrating the enormous impact that nurturing — and lack of nurturing — had on child development. This important body of research has since greatly influenced parenting advice.

Eventually Bowlby’s work would be integrated into the ever-expanding domains of research, including breastfeeding science, that has sent a shock wave of nurturing-oriented parenting around the world.

In 1994, as our parents were caring for us at home, La Leche League Leaders and schoolteachers Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson cofounded Attachment Parenting International as a way to educate and support parents in raising children with abundant warmth and nurturing. The tide was still changing then, but today, we are free to nurture our children without a feeling of shame. We can kiss and hug them. We can let them sit on our laps.

best-gift-yourselfThe child-rearing “experts” just a few generations ago would be appalled at how today’s parent educators encourage affection, nurturing touch, and comforting of our children. Research has since established how incredibly beneficial — in fact, absolutely critical — to child development that we are nurturing toward our babies and children.

But the impacts of the hands-off approach to parenting that our great-grandmothers experienced has had far-reaching effects. Remnants survive still today. They’re there whenever someone asks us if our baby is sleeping through the night yet, or suggests we try “cry it out” to teach our baby to self-soothe, or warns us that holding our baby too much will spoil her, or insists that babies be weaned by their first birthday, or maintains that children be spanked, or advises any parenting approach that promotes so-called early independence and obedience over normal, healthy child development and sensitively met needs.

We hear it from our family members, our schools, our pediatricians, our politicians, parenting books that continue to be published influenced by this old-fashioned thinking despite the mountains of research to the contrary — ideas of how children should be raised, based on personal opinion rather than research-backed fact, subtle revelation of how our society is still scared of giving “too much” nurturing to our children. It’s a pervasive situation that still needs to be addressed.

janetThe fact is, nurturing isn’t damaging. Babies and children need nurturing like they need food or shelter — nurturing is an essential basic need — and they are biologically designed to expect and receive nurturing.

Nurturing parenting is actually easier in the long term than the hands-off approach first touted to our great-grandmothers and continued to be promoted in widespread advice, not only because responsive parents are not constantly fighting their own instincts and therefore undermining their confidence, but also because responsive parenting prevents future parenting lornaissues, like behavior problems, that arise from not meeting our babies’ and children’s biological needs. A child who grows up learning that his biological needs for nurturing will go unmet or be misunderstood is a child who will increasingly develop ways of communication and interaction that are less healthy in future relationships.

Nurturing parenting is an early investment whose payoff continues well beyond the short term. When a child’s biological need for nurturing is consistently met, positive discipline naturally emerges. The trust that children develop 865056_grand_mother_and_childas a result of having their emotional needs met sets a foundation of parent-child interaction that doesn’t have to rely on threats, shame, punishment, rewards, or other forms of coercion for behavior control.

Research and children unanimously agree that warm and nurturing parenting is not only optimal, but required for healthy development. The child’s brain develops in response to the care received, so children with less optimal caregiving are more likely to experience challenges not only in their childhoods but across their lifetimes.

Reams of research tell us the obvious: that high levels of family stress can contribute to profound effects on a child’s ability to learn, remember, emotionally self-regulate, and succeed in adulthood.

Many parents carry with them the unaddressed traumas of childhood with limited nurturing or harshness, passed down through the generations since their great-grandparents’ time. This trauma legacy may show up in subtle, or obvious, over-reactions or under-reactions to normal, healthy child behaviors. We silently pass the legacy to our children and their children when we fail to observe the effect on our families and instead find confirmation and justification in the surviving remnants of 1928 child-rearing advice still popular today.

Research is continually finding new ways to illustrate the impact of abundant nurturing on our children. Brain scans show physical differences between the shape and connectivity of different areas of the brain involved in socio-emotional and cognitive functioning. Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) studies outline shockingly common, everyday interactions and events that are processed, but remain unrecognized, as traumas that can increase risk of not only mental but physical illness. Tests on heart function and hormone levels reflect how the body reacts to emotionally stressful events that were previously assumed limited to our thoughts.

Increasingly, we are learning that our emotional psychology has as physical roots as our bodily health — and how much our experiences as babies and young children, especially, form a foundation that can either be stable and secure, or predispose us to a susceptibility of lifelong difficulties.

Attachment Parenting International works to bring a wide body of authoritative, decades-worth of scientific evidence, as well as emerging research, to support parents and influence professionals and society. The common theme of this research clearly points to the critical importance of nurturing our children and describes behaviors that can provide this type of caregiving.

The research calls for parents to examine their assumptions, expectations, and thoughts regarding child-rearing and to then make changes to how they view themselves, children, and parenting to better reflect their goals, values, and healing. Many parents choose not to do this — to instead parent on autopilot, which is easier than parenting with intention — but our unexamined, default modes of parenting are how family legacies of pain pass silently from one generation to the next.

support1Our children are worth the effort to do the best we can. They’re our future, and we want them to be ready and excited for that future, free of emotional traumas borne of parenting ideas of nearly a century ago. Your donation helps Attachment Parenting International support parents. Every dollar counts.

Breastfeeding bliss

Attachment Parenting International is pleased to announce that we are taking part in World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), August 1-7. Check daily for posts about breastfeeding.

The 2016 theme of World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development” and centers on how breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s healthy development, but also the foundation of a society’s healthy development. This annual observance is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, which has granted permission to reprint the following post:

Many great things emerge from ideas born in basements, there will also be the option to find the multi-award winning breastfeeding covers from Bebitza, an item you need for your breastfeeding experience.

Once upon a time, 25 years ago, in the basement of the UNICEF building in New York City, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action was formed. A year after the Innocenti Declaration of 1990 formally recognized the unique nature of breastfeeding, came the call for concerted global action. So in 1991, a consensus was reached on the need for a global secretariat to coordinate collective efforts.

WABA is now a global alliance with more than 300 organizational endorsers and works across the spectrum to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding — from United Nations institutions to mother support groups, with physicians, midwives, and healthcare professionals, to health ministries, from academics to activists. Over the years, the variety of actions at all levels — from global to local — has contributed to positive change in policy and practice.

WABA today strives to live up to our name:

World — we are global in our ambitions and reach.
Alliance — we work in cooperation with like-minded people and organizations.
Breastfeeding — is basic to human well-being and sustainability and cuts across very many important issue. And finally,
Action — because for change to happen, we need more than just the head and heart to engage in the process. We also need the hands.
Through the annual flagship program, World Breastfeeding Week, WABA has made a significant contribution to keeping breastfeeding on the global development agenda. WBW themes are always relevant and popular, involving established and new partners that make up this movement.

Global breastfeeding rates have stagnated for decades. But some countries and regions have made significant progress. Where coordinated action is at several levels, positive change is not only possible but remarkable.

Globalization and urbanization have brought not only positive effects, but also challenges. Inequities, unemployment, poverty, ill health, war and violence, humanitarian crises, climate change, and environmental degradation have accelerated and are exacerbated. Too many countries face the double burden of both under- and over-nutrition.

The 2016 Lancet series on a review of evidence about breastfeeding dispels any doubt that the key actions to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding are still valid. They are valid in all settings regardless of socioeconomic status. The UN-initiated Global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative is actively demanding a priority spot on the political agenda for breastfeeding. In celebrating our Silver Anniversary, WABA has a golden opportunity to galvanize more coordinated and innovative actions to deal with the changing landscape.

At the center of WABA’s work are the mother and child. They should be surrounded by a warm chain of support for breastfeeding from the husband or partner, extended family and friends, community, health care workers, employers and workplaces, policy makers, and institutions. Empowerment is essential.

Every mother and child should find themselves in an environment that is supportive and enabling toward breastfeeding. WABA believes this is possible, now and for the future of this planet on which we live.

Let’s work for this together!

 

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A Post We Love! I breastfed my preschooler for (somewhat) selfish reasons

Blog post we love badge jpgEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) is so grateful to the parents who share their experiences on this blog. Many of our writers have their own personal blogs where they share more about their unique brand of Attachment Parenting. We want to take the opportunity to highlight blog posts beyond API that capture the essence of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting:

Today, we want to recognize a post written by Krystal Newton, a stay-at-home mom to 2 boys, on her blog, Mommy Laughs:

“I have been parenting the only way that feels right, and it just so happens to fall into the Attachment Parenting message. When I wrote this blog post, I wanted to reach out to women struggling with making the decision to breastfeed long-term. I want them to see that it’s a beautiful relationship and an opportunity to just take a step back, to settle down, and to have a few peaceful moments with your child.” ~ Krystal

krystal newton, mommy laughs, preschool post highlightI Breastfed My Preschooler For Selfish Reasons

… I don’t breastfeed my 3 year old for the nutritional benefits (though those are a plus) or to make a statement. I don’t breastfeed him, because it’s the only way I know to comfort him or because I refuse to let him grow up. I breastfeed my 3 year old, because in those short quiet moments, I have the ability to pause my hectic life and love him, snuggle him, and reminisce on our journey. It forces me to slow down and notice the little things: How his hair sweeps over his eyebrows, how the dimples in his hands are disappearing, how he smirks in his sleep, and how beautiful he is. These quiet snuggles are less frequent as he grows so incredibly independent. While the benefits of extended breastfeeding are endless, my reasoning for choosing to let Colton decide to wean are somewhat selfish in that I love nursing him just as much as he does…

Read the entire post here, and enjoy!

WBW 2016: A story of working and breastfeeding, and staying determined

wbw2016-logo-textEditor’s note: Yesterday, we read 5 tips for breastfeeding mothers returning to work outside the home. For this day of World Breastfeeding Week, we share another breastfeeding mother’s story of working and child-led weaning:

My daughter recently weaned after 3 and 1/2 years of nursing. We did baby-led weaning, so there were no tears shed — on either side. That I was set for failure to begin with in so many ways makes me want to share my story with others, especially working moms.

A Hard Start

As an older parent, with a cesarean birth, I was faced with the same struggles so many new moms struggle with: no to little milk supply for the first few weeks…no milk reflex that every breastfeeding book and counselor tell you about, for weeks…advice about pumping, giving formula, different nursing positions, and so on. But I stayed determined to breastfeed my baby!

My daughter spent some time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). We were given the option of giving her donated breastmilk instead of formula, which we chose. Later, I found out that the breastmilk came from the first milk bank in Oregon, started just 3 years earlier!

At home, I did have to supplement with formula, but before every formula-feeding, I nursed her until she wouldn’t take more. Eventually after a few weeks, my milk supply did improve.

Returning to Work

After 8 weeks of maternity leave, when I got back to work, initially I tried to get to my baby to nurse her once during the day, but it affected both of our day time routines so much that I started pumping while at work instead. Before you return to your work, make sure your child safe with the nurse. It has seen many times nurses, neglect the baby, or abuse them or make them starve while parents are not around. Make sure the nurse don’t abuse your kid or neglect your kid. If any kind of abuse or negligence happened, protect your kid by engaging with the nursing home abuse lawyer Boston MA.

This is usually the time that babies develop a nipple preference — the breast or the bottle. In order to mitigate that, we followed a persistent routine with another caregiver offering her pumped milk and I always breastfed her on demand when home after work and on weekends.

At work, I exchanged notes with other moms who had done this before me. Every bit of encouragement and advice went a long way in taking us through the first year.

Somewhere along the way, during the 4- to 5-month mark, I had more milk than my baby needed and I made sure I froze the extra.

Breastfeeding Beyond 1 Year

The cultural expectation to wean around 1 year was a huge shocker. Most moms, family, and friends I interacted with thought 1 year of breastfeeding was enough and sufficient. Breastfeeding a baby on demand, especially at night, does take a toll on moms and this, I heard, is a big reason why many decide to wean at around the 1-year mark. But the ignorance, for a lack of better word, on why one would breastfeed beyond infancy took me some time to understand.

divya singh 1I educated myself and my family about the benefits of breastfeeding beyond infancy. This was especially important since my own parents had brought me and my siblings up in India in the late 1970s and ’80’s when formula and bottle-feeding were marketed as the pathways to “better nutrition” and “women’s empowerment” for middle-class families. I have lost count of the number of arguments I had with my own mother about why it was so important for me to take breastfeeding into my daughter’s second year.

Nighttime Nursing & Workday Mornings

As a family, we transitioned our daughter from her bassinet to cosleeping as soon as she was done with swaddling and had figured out the night-day difference around 3 to 4 months old. Nighttime and early morning nursings became a lot easier as a result.

My workday mornings were playful, fun, and challenging at the same time, especially to get out of the house. Breastfeeding in the mornings is not easy and for obvious reasons not workable for many working families. My mornings had to start at least 2 to 3 hours before I had to leave for work, so I had enough time before my baby was up to take care of morning chores, not rush her through nursing, and get an early start to work.

During a critical phase of a project at work, for months I would use alarms to wake myself up in the middle of the night after few hours of sleep. In all those moments, I just had to remind myself that even this would pass, to stay determined on my breastfeeding goals, and to keep going.

Our Marriage

At nights, nursing to put her to bed meant often that the dishwasher wasn’t loaded and the kitchen was a mess. Nursing on demand also meant that my husband had to pick up on chores where I left off. What resulted was a true partnership.

A Change in Jobs

When our daughter was born, my husband and I had jobs in different cities. We had figured our leave schedule so we were together the first year. After that, while we were still figuring out how to work it all out, there was an academic semester of my husband’s that I had to manage as a single mom with some domestic help and baby in daycare. It was one of the toughest times I had managing work and home and gave me a better appreciation of what was needed for my family.

At that point, I decided to change my job to one where the immediacy of deadlines was less intense. Leaving a project and team I loved dearly was not an easy decision, but something had to change.

Soon afterwards, as luck would have it, my husband was able to move his academic job to a branch campus much closer to home. All in all, it meant that it was only after her second birthday that we both could see her go to bed and get up in the morning every day of the week. Separation from her father for extended periods of time in the first 2 years also meant that our daughter grew much more attached to me then her father and her need for attachment and comfort with me would have made it very hard to wean her earlier.

Weaning

Two years and counting, I wondered when I was going to get my full night uninterrupted sleep. This is when I reached out to other moms at work who had followed baby-led weaning to hear their stories and experiences. We have this amazing working moms network where members respond to questions on a variety of parenting topics. We also have a moms mentoring program. This is especially important in a workplace that operates around the clock and therefore is obviously fraught with challenges for young families. Hearing from others that every child does wean themselves with some support from the moms when they are ready made all the difference for me.

Another big change was I had a job that offered me much more flexibility in the hours I spent at work or doing weekend coverage. Once we made the decision about following baby-led weaning, I had to come to terms with our nursing routine. By this time, I had nursed her wherever we traveled in India and the United States, from trains to buses, flights and metros, and all kinds of public spaces. We had managed 2 tough winters of daycare infections coming home and the long night nursings that come with a sick baby. By the third winter, however, I could already see the benefits of stronger immunity that my daughter developed due to extended breastfeeding.

And here we are. My daughter has weaned. All in all, my breastfeeding and baby-led weaning experience has given me confidence in my parenting journey.

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