Breastfeeding advice from social media: Buyer beware

Asking for medical advise from social media forums, especially mommy groups, is like asking a mother who’s had a baby to deliver yours. Just because she has experience in the field does not make her qualified to give technical advice in that area. She can give you her opinions or share her experience, but she did never be relied on as a trustworthy source when providing care to YOUR child.

 

Breastfeeding is especially one of those areas that we need to tread wisely into when asking for help and advice. Or culture has hidden breastfeeding from the norm and made it this mysterious, murky action where myths and misunderstandings abound. So much of the information found in quick Google searches are anecdotal, antiquated, or based off formula feeding data which is completely distinct and sometimes totally opposite of true breastfeeding. We should be seeking community support for breastfeeding, but not when medical advice is being solicited.

When mothers give out advice on social media platforms, they are not taking into consideration the whole breastfeeding picture and may inadvertently give advice that could care harm or actually negatively impact breastfeeding. For instance, when a mother of a two month old asks for advice on increasing her breastmilk supply and mother start giving advice on herbs, lactation cookies, or teas, they may not be considering WHY she is needing to increase her supply. Is her baby in the NICU? Is she going back to work and stressed with the pumping process? Does she have. History of sexual abuse that she actually needs to work through? Did her pediatrician have her supplement which impacted her supply? Is she trying to sleep train and sabotaging her own supply? Is she ALLERGIC to the herbs in those teas and supplements? How often is she feeding? Does she have a metabolic or hormonal disorder impacting her supply? Does she have enough glandular breast tissue to even produce sufficient milk supply? Does her baby have a tongue tie? Does the baby simply have a poor latch? These are the questions that are crucial in giving appropriate breastfeeding advice to protect the breastfeeding relationship. The best advice a mother can give on the social media platform is to have the questioning mother contact a lactation consultant.

The gold standard for breastfeeding advice is the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). There are other forms of lactation consultants that teach and serve out of a variety of backgrounds. The IBCLC is the top most coveted professional because of the extensive education and rigorous testing they need to go through in order to be able to assist lactating mothers. In order to sit for the FOUR HOUR board exam, candidates must have extensive education in specific health science subjects, like nutrition, psychology, and childhood development; 90 college level credit hours of education in human lactation and breastfeeding, and hundreds to thousands of clinical practice in providing care to breastfeeding families. They must also maintain a high level of continuing education courses and continue to sit for the board exam every 10 years.

So when you see moms with questions related to breastfeeding in social media forums that are beyond opinions or personal experience, the best advice is professional advice.

Food for Thought

How long should I breastfeed my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be EXCLUSIVELY breastfed for about the first six months of life. This means that your baby needs no additional food (except Vitamin D) or fluids unless medically necessary. Babies should continue to breastfeed for one to two years or for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.

When should I start solid foods with my baby?

How do you know when your baby is ready for solid food? After six months of age, they should be able to do these three things:

  1. They sit unsupported for an extended length of time
  2. They are starting to use a pincher grasp (thumb and forefinger together to grab little objects)
  3. They start to have eye-hand coordination to bring their hands to their mouth

 

Feeding Amounts

Feeding amounts:
Did you know that when a baby is born her stomach is only the size of her own fist? That’s only ⅙th of an ounce! At one month her stomach is still only the size of her own fist! In other words, her stomach grows at the same rate she does. Her stomach does have the capacity to stretch and fill with the right amount of milk she needs at each feeding.

Proper feeding amounts ensures your baby’s optimal health. How can you tell your baby is hungry and how much should you give her? Hunger cues include lip smacking and tongue licking, rooting with the lips to find a nipple, hands up by the face, and becoming awake but still quiet. Late hunger cues include crying or fussing, arching of the back, and a decreased ability to latch onto a nipple. You can tell if a baby is eating well by achieving a good latch, listening for audible swallows, and making sure baby is given plenty of time at both breasts. A baby is getting enough milk if they are making enough wet and poopy diapers and gaining weight at each pediatrician appointment. For more information on achieving a good latch, knowing what a swallow sounds like, and other strategies for knowing if you’re making enough milk, sign up for one of my classes or personal consultations.

Frequency breakdown:
In the first few weeks after birth you will want to feed every 2-3 hours or sooner if baby is exhibiting hunger cues.
10+ feedings every 24 hours.
Alternate breasts each feeding.