U.S. Study Shows Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Does Not Work

by Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, M.D.

On October 14, 2019, the Journal of Pediatrics published astonishing findings regarding the effects of the Baby-Friendly hospital certification on sustained breastfeeding rates as defined by the 2020 Healthy People Goals of: 

  1. any breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months
  2. exclusive breastfeeding at 3 and 6 months. 

They did so by measuring the relationship between statewide breastfeeding initiation rates data and the above breastfeeding rates. They then measured the contribution of Baby-Friendly hospital designation on these same breastfeeding outcomes.

According to the study authors, the increase in hospital designation in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) began in 2011 when the U.S. Surgeon General issued a call to action for maternity care practices throughout the U.S. to support breastfeeding. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) became involved in promoting the BFHI policies in hospitals and health facilities, as breastfeeding was thought to be associated with lower rates of childhood obesity. The assumption was that by increasing breastfeeding rates through the BFHI, there would be a concomitant decline in childhood obesity. Upon initiation of this program, the CDC initiated surveillance of state-specific data on breastfeeding outcomes after discharge including BFHI designation rates. This data is made available to the public through the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, which provides annual reports from 2007 through 2014 and biennial reports from 2014.

As expected, they found that states with higher breastfeeding initiation rates had higher rates of these sustained breastfeeding outcomes. You cannot have high breastfeeding rates unless mothers are given education and successfully initiate breastfeeding. However, when they measured the effects of Baby-Friendly certification, this is what they found.

“Baby-Friendly designation did not demonstrate a significant association with any post-discharge breastfeeding outcome (Figures 1, B and 2, B). There was no association between Baby-Friendly designation and breastfeeding initiation rates.” Continue reading

World Health Organization Revised Breastfeeding Guidelines Put Babies at Risk Despite Pleas from Experts—Informing the Public “Not a Top Priority”

By the Senior Advisory Board of the Fed is Best Foundation

A key recommendation of the 1989 World Health Organization Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding which guides the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is: “give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.” This has led to serious complications from accidental starvation of babies, including dehydration, hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) — known causes of infant brain injury and permanent disability. Last week, the WHO issued draft revised breastfeeding guidelines, failing to revise this recommendation. These guidelines define the standard of care for breastfeeding management in all healthcare facilities worldwide. Nearly 500 U.S. hospitals and birthing centers and thousands more worldwide that meet the criteria of the BFHI are certified as Baby-Friendly, adhering to the application of the WHO’s Ten Steps.

On Sept. 22, 2017, senior members of the Fed is Best Foundation, and guests including a neonatologist from a leading U.S. tertiary care hospital and a pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Paul Thornton, M.D, from Cook Children’s Hospital Fort Worth, lead author of the Pediatric Endocrine Society’s newborn hypoglycemia guidelines, met via teleconference with top officials of the WHO Breastfeeding Program: Dr. Laurence Grummer-Strawn, Ph.D., Dr. Nigel Rollins, M.D. and Dr. Wilson Were, M.D. to express their concerns about the complications arising from the BFHI Ten Steps and to ask what, if any, monitoring, research, or public outreach the WHO has planned regarding the risks of accidental starvation of exclusively breastfed newborns. The Foundation members who attended were 1) Christie del Castillo-Hegyi, MD, Co-Founder, 2) Jody Segrave-Daly, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder, 3) Julie Tibbets, JD, Partner at Alston & Bird, LLP, Pro-Bono Attorney for the Foundation, 4) Brian Symon, MD, Senior Advisor, and 5) Hillary Kuzdeba, MPH, former quality improvement program coordinator at a children’s hospital, managing infant feeding projects and Senior Advisor.

Emails confirming meeting between the WHO and the Fed is Best Foundation available here.

Continue reading

If I Had Given Him Just One Bottle, He Would Still Be Alive.

by Jillian Johnson with commentary from Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi

Landon would be five today if he were still alive. It’s a very hard birthday–five. It’s a milestone birthday. Most kiddos would be starting kindergarten at this age. But not my little guy. I wanted to share for a long time about what happened to Landon, but I always feared what others would say and how I’d be judged. But I want people to know how much deeper the pain gets.

I share his story in hopes that no other family ever experiences the loss that we have.

Jarrod and I wanted what was best for Landon as every parent does for their child. We took all of the classes. Bought and read all of the books. We were ready! Or so we thought….every class and book was geared toward breastfeeding and how it’s so important if you want a healthy child. Landon was born in a “Baby-Friendly” hospital. (What this means is everything is geared toward breastfeeding. Unless you’d had a breast augmentation or cancer or some serious medical reason as to why you couldn’t breastfeed, your baby would not be given formula unless a prescription was written by the pediatrician.)

Continue reading

Why this Lactation Consultant Smuggled A Pacifier To Her Patient Who Requested One

“Can I have a pacifier?” 

After helping a third-time mother latch her new baby, she requested the comfort tool she had used with her other two babies, whom she successfully breastfed until she went back to work and chose to wean. Our hospital policy is to educate patients on the many ways pacifiers can disrupt breastfeeding, rather than simply respecting the mother’s choice. The problems with this approach are twofold: there is recent good quality research showing pacifiers do not disrupt breastfeeding and actually reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Even the WHO agrees—in 2018 they changed their Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding to reflect the fact that pacifiers are compatible with breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding and pacifier use have a protective effect on sudden infant death syndrome

In responding to my patient, I had to choose between scientific evidence and maternal autonomy on the one hand, and our hospital protocol on the other. I chose to sneak her a pacifier at her request. To do otherwise would have been disrespectful towards this experienced mother, denying her autonomy over her baby and her body, and would have been contrary to my Code of Professional Conduct as an IBCLC, which emphasizes evidence-based practice. 

Cochran Review: Pacifier use versus no pacifier use in breastfeeding term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, I fully expect that my decision to provide a pacifier will be heavily criticized by some lactation professionals. While the thought of that is disappointing, I recognized my patient had the right to choose what was best for her, and current scientific research supported her decision too. In addition, as a woman of color, it’s likely that she had probably also experienced too many medical providers failing to listen to her and respect her wishes.

Even Partial Breast-Feeding Lowers SIDS Risk

New research confirms that breast-feeding for two to four months of a newborn’s life can significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).But the study also found moms don’t need to breast-feed exclusively to reap that benefit. Even partial breast-feeding will do, the 20-region study found. “What is, perhaps, surprising is that there does not appear to be any benefit of exclusive breast-feeding over partial breast-feeding in relation to SIDS.

 

I hope that the tide will turn away from patronizing women with scripted responses minimizing their concerns and desires, and toward respecting our patients’ bodily and parental authority, and following current scientific evidence rather than outdated practices. 

Example of scripted responses when asking for a pacifier.

-Mary Ellen S.

 

For more information about pacifier use:

Cochrane Review: Pacifier use versus no pacifier use in breastfeeding term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ebch.1853

WHO and UNICEF issue new guidance to promote breastfeeding in health facilities globally  https://www.who.int/activities/promoting-baby-friendly-hospitals/ten-steps-to-successful-breastfeeding

Pacifiers and Exclusive Breastfeeding: Does Risk for Postpartum Depression Modify the Association?   Conclusion: Pacifiers may help protect against the early cessation of EBF among mothers at high risk for depression. Additional research is needed to better understand this association.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28841401/ 

 Even Partial Breast-Feeding Lowers SIDS Risk 

 New research confirms that breast-feeding for two to four months of a newborn’s life can significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

But the study also found moms don’t need to breast-feed exclusively to reap that benefit. Even partial breast-feeding will do, the 20-region study found.

“What is, perhaps, surprising is that there does not appear to be any benefit of exclusive breast-feeding over partial breast-feeding in relation to SIDS,

 https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20171031/even-partial-breast-feeding-lowers-sids-risk#1

When Is the Use of Pacifiers Justifiable in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Context? A Clinician’s Guide  

In such situations, the use of pacifiers can be considered therapeutic and even provide medical benefits to infants, including reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The argument opposing pacifier use, however, is based on potential risks such as nipple confusion and early cessation of breastfeeding. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as embedded in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative initially prohibited the use of pacifiers in a breastfeeding friendly environment to prevent potential associated risks. This article provides a summary of the evidence on the benefits of non-nutritive sucking, risks associated with pacifier use, an identification of the implications regarded as ‘justifiable’ in the clinical use of pacifiers and a comprehensive discussion to support the recommendations for safe pacifier use in healthy, full-term, and ill and preterm infants. The use of pacifiers is justifiable in certain situations and will support breastfeeding rather than interfere with it. Justifiable conditions have been identified as: low-birth weight and premature infants; infants at risk for hypoglycemia; infants in need of oral stimulation to develop, maintain and mature the sucking reflex in preterm infants; and the achievement of neurobehavioural organisation. Medical benefits associated with the use of pacifiers include providing comfort, contributing towards neurobehavioural organisation, and reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Guidelines are presented for assessing and guiding safe pacifier use, for specific design to ensure safety, and for cessation of use to ensure normal childhood development. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ebch.1853


HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST

There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

  1. Join us in any of the Fed is Best volunteer and advocacy, groups. Click here to join our health care professionals group. We have:  FIBF Advocacy Group, Research Group, Volunteer Group, Editing Group, Social Media Group, Legal Group, Marketing Group, Perinatal Mental Health Advocacy Group, Private Infant Feeding Support Group, Global Advocacy Group, and Fundraising Group.    Please send an email to Jody@fedisbest.org  if you are interested in joining any of our volunteer groups. 
  2. If you need infant feeding support, we have a private support group– Join us here.
  3. If you or your baby were harmed from complications of insufficient breastfeeding please send a message to contact@fedisbest.org 
  4. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
  5. Sign our petition!  Help us reach our policymakers, and drive change at a global level. Help us stand up for the lives of millions of infants who deserve a fighting chance.   Sign the Fed is Best Petition at Change.org  today, and share it with others.
  6. Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page and by sending our FREE infant feeding educational resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  7. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write to them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  8. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  9. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for the legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and of mother’s rights to honest informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
  10. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and everything in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
  11. Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.
  12.  Shop at Amazon Smile and Amazon donates to Fed Is Best Foundation.

Or simply send us a message to find out how you can help make a difference with new ideas!

For any urgent messages or questions about infant feeding, please do not leave a message on this page as it will not get to us immediately. Instead, please email christie@fedisbest.org.

 Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

Click here to join us!

 

I Am Back From My Breastfeeding Battle And Here’s What I Have Learned

Hopefully, my experiences will help another family avoid the psychological trauma that I endured while breastfeeding my daughter. This is what I learned:

  • Sacrificing your mental health or your baby’s health (or both!) to exclusively breastfeed is not worth it. 
  • Some breastfeeding advocates don’t see (or don’t want to see) the risks of exclusive breastfeeding which include a baby who isn’t gaining weight sufficiently, an emotionally suffering mum, or a strained mother–baby relationship.  
  • Seek help from lactation professionals who are open-minded enough to suggest combo-feeding as an option and are willing to support your choice because sometimes exclusive breastfeeding is not an option.

While pregnant, when imagining myself with my new baby, I was always breastfeeding her. That image defined my new role as a mum. I was glowing with love, she was happily eating, and I felt so proud of being able to provide her with “the best.”  There was no alternative in my mind. I was planning on staying at home for a whole year anyway, so it would be easy to breastfeed her for as long as I wanted. I had heard that some women didn’t exclusively breastfeed for long, but I simply wasn’t going to be one of them. I didn’t even care about what their reasons were. I always thought that if you tried enough, it would work. It was natural, so nature was going to work for me and my baby. Right? Wrong.

Breastfeeding has been one of the least natural things I have ever experienced. 

I was lucky enough to be blessed with a wonderful pregnancy and a beautiful, natural birth. I was waiting for my daughter to crawl to my breast and start suckling right after, but she soon fell asleep instead. She spent the first 24 hours mostly sleeping and didn’t eat at all. We then started giving her formula and my expressed colostrum and went on to give her a bottle of formula the next day, as she was dehydrated and had lost 10 percent of her birth weight. I was still hopeful that once my milk came in, things would fall into place and she would be exclusively breastfed.

Babies cry when they are hungry, I was told. Mine didn’t. I had to wake her up and literally force her to latch. For the next few weeks, I triple fed her: I woke her up every three hours, which took several minutes; tried to breastfeed her using a nipple shield (I say try because those 15 minutes on each side were spent trying to keep her awake after an initial latch and a couple of weak sucks—she almost never activated my letdown reflex); then my husband would give her a bottle of formula or pumped milk, which she would gulp right down; then I would pump for 30 minutes. Every three hours. Needless to say, I hardly slept. Because she wouldn’t really stimulate my breasts, I got mastitis and, I realized later, a low supply. I was a wreck and could hardly utter a sentence without crying. Why was it so hard for us? Why did she prefer the bottle instead of my breast? My only duty during those first months was to feed her. I felt like I was failing as a mum already. 

Unfortunately, triple feeding has become the default method that is recommended by medical and lactation professionals for a large number of breastfeeding challenges, with no regard to the psychological maternal complications that will eventually occur, or the likelihood of it solving the problem of low milk supply.

Despite people telling me that it was ok to “give up and feed her formula,” I was determined to make it work. Because again, in my mind, there was no alternative. So I made an appointment with a lactation consultant who gave us an SNS system, forbade us from using the bottle to avoid nipple confusion, and put me on a medication that promotes milk production. I would again try to nurse, then use the SNS system with my pumped milk or formula, then pump—so basically still triple feeding. My girl was still very sleepy, had a weak suck, and was not putting on a lot of weight. I could only nurse her at home because it was too complicated to use the SNS system outside. She was already two months old at this time. I was yearning to go out and meet other people. My soul was lonely. I was lonely. I wanted to be one of those smiling, calm mums who breastfeed their babies anywhere. I wanted to experience feeding her without it being a struggle every single time. 

At some point and when my baby was around three months old, I was given the green light to exclusively breastfeed her by this lactation consultant.

I was pumping enough milk to supplement her feedings—a set amount which didn’t really take into account whether or not she was satisfied—so “no more pumping, no more SNS,” she said. I hardly felt ready for it, but I followed her advice nonetheless because she was the expert.  

My daughter was and still is a very “easy” baby. In those early days, she hardly ever cried from hunger. I realised much later that I wasn’t interpreting her hunger cues correctly, but nobody had told me how to. After we stopped bottle-feeding her with formula, she only put on 100 g maximum per week, for weeks on end.

I kept asking the lactation consultant if this was ok, and she said that I simply had a thin baby, that the average is 150 g per week, so “a little bit less than that is fine.” But a voice inside me was telling me that it wasn’t fine. Something just didn’t feel right. 

This picture clearly shows how extreme lactivism will sacrifice a baby to sustain exclusive breastfeeding even though babies are malnourished. How can anyone believe the baby on the right is not malnourished?

I started getting so worried about her eating enough that every single nursing session would almost be preceded by a panic attack and the same torturing thoughts: “Will she have enough? Is she having enough? Has she had enough?” These panic attacks got so bad that at times my letdown would literally disappear, leaving her hungry. But I still wasn’t “allowed” to give her a bottle of formula. It was obvious that despite all our efforts, things weren’t quite working out for us. Breastfeeding had become a never-ending battle.

Only my husband saw what this whole effort was doing to me. The tears before and after a nursing session, the agony of countless clogged ducts, the frustration of having to take antibiotics because of another breast infection. I was slowly reaching a point of postpartum depression when I decided to hear the voice that was telling me that my baby wasn’t getting enough. I gave her a bottle with formula and started my own version of unguided combo-feeding. I didn’t let the lactation consultant know; I felt like I would be disappointing her somehow.

I realise now how wrong that was. Nobody should have a say as to how I feed my baby except for me.  

According to Fed is Best’s feeding plan, my baby and I had many of the risk factors for feeding complications. Giving her formula at the very beginning was not only not a mistake, it was necessary. She is now exclusively formula fed, and even though I am entirely sure of my choice to end our breastfeeding journey, it still hurts.

I live in a country where breastfeeding is the norm. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I see women breastfeeding their babies. Breastfeeding grief and trauma are real, and they are not about the baby.  How do you get over a trauma when you’re confronted with it over and over again anyway? I am still working that one out, with the help of a therapist. 

These results suggest that public responses causing a mother to feel guilty for using infant formula result in negative feelings of self-worth and dysfunctional maternal behaviors.

 

I wish I had discovered the  Fed is Best  Foundation before, or had a professional to turn to when I decided that combo-feeding was the way to go.  Who knows?  If the weight of “all or nothing” had been lifted earlier, if I didn’t feel like giving formula meant that I had failed, if I had been given—and given myself—permission, perhaps I would still be breastfeeding on my own terms right now.

-Jannie R.

Mothers Describe Their Triple Feeding Experiences And The Impact It Had On Their Mental And Physical Health

Liquid Courage Sometimes Comes In The Form Of Baby Formula

 

Feeding Your Baby—When Supplementing Saves Breastfeeding and Saves Lives

I Attempted Suicide From The Pressure Of Breast Is Best

Clinicians’ Guide to Supporting Parents with Guilt About Breastfeeding Challenges

Infant Feeding Educational Resources

 

Contact Us/Volunteer

 

 

 

Liquid Courage Sometimes Comes In The Form Of Baby Formula

Written by: Sarah L. R.

“I think it would be very courageous for you to do this.” 

My psychiatrist leaned forward in his chair, clasped his hands together, and smiled at me. 

Grabbing a tissue from the box on the table, I sniffed, “Then why do I feel like the biggest coward for making this decision?!” 

“Sarah, what’s braver than making sure you’re the best mother you can be?”

It took several more conversations and even more tissues, but eventually, I made the decision to forgo breastfeeding entirely, and feed my daughter formula milk from birth. In doing so, I hoped to avoid postpartum depression and anxiety that haunted my earlier experiences as a new mother. 

Continue reading

No Breastfeeding Zone; I’m A Breast Cancer Previvor

Hakuna Ma-“tata” [my emphasis] means no worries for the rest of your days!

Have you ever felt like you wanted to trade your genes for better ones after seeing many of your loved ones suffer from breast cancer at a very young age? I have. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37, and I lived with the constant worry that the same thing would happen to me. But it took my sisters and I losing our mom at the age of 52 from metastatic breast cancer, and seeing our maternal Grandma and Auntie fight their own battles with cancer, for me to finally feel the push to find out if there was a hereditary link that caused our family’s history of cancer. My primary care doctor gave me a referral to the genetic counseling clinic, and I booked my appointment.

In October 2015, I sat in the clinic waiting for the genetic counselor to call me back. I was a bit nervous after filling out the book of paperwork. I thought to myself, wow, I am really here to get tested after learning my grandmother was positive for the BRCA2 mutation. I thought about how it could affect my future ahead if I was also BRCA2 positive. I knew right away that if my sample came back positive that I would go ahead and have prophylactic (preventative) surgeries to reduce my risks of breast cancer.

What is BRCA?

The name “BRCA” is an abbreviation for “BReast CAncer gene.” BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two different genes that have been found to impact a person’s chances of developing breast cancer.

Two weeks went by, and finally I got the long-awaited phone call from my genetic counselor.  She asked if I would like the results over the phone. I said “of course, I would like to know right now,” and that’s when she told me: “you tested positive for the same genetic mutation your maternal grandma had.”  This means that in order for me to have inherited the mutation, my mom must have also been positive for BRCA2. Right away I shared the news with my family and close friends. I made more doctor’s appointments with BRCA specialists. They developed a surveillance plan in which they would see me every three months. Should I get cancer, they would likely catch it early. I then started my search to find surgeons who I personally connected with to do my mastectomy surgery. I needed a general surgeon and a plastic surgeon. Once I found the perfect surgeons, we booked my surgery.

March 1, 2017 was surgery day. I had elected non–nipple sparing bilateral mastectomy with expander placement. During the first surgery, the surgeons removed all the tissue they could, to reduce my risks from 87% down to less than 5%. Expander placement is called delayed reconstruction. I knew I would have another surgery just a few months later, once the area was expanded sufficiently.

On July 21, 2017, I had my exchange surgery. It was an outpatient surgery, in which they used my initial incisions to reopen me, take the expanders out, and put my silicone implants in. Once that was done, my husband and I were finally ready to start our own family.

We began trying to conceive in July of 2018. After a month, we had a spontaneous pregnancy! Six weeks later, we received the news that our baby hadn’t developed a heartbeat, and that the pregnancy wasn’t viable. We continued to try for the next eight months but had no luck. We reached out to fertility doctors, and they figured out that PCOS was the problem causing our infertility. We began treatment, but after a cycle of fertility medication, I developed an ovarian cyst, and I needed to have surgery. But, within a month we were pregnant with our rainbow baby boy D.C.! We were over the moon with joy.

The pregnancy went smoothly but during a few of my prenatal appointments, I would have a nurse or doctor not read my chart and ask me if I planned to breastfeed. It was so hard to understand why every mom was automatically assumed to be breastfeeding and even harder to politely tell them I plan to formula feed because I had a double mastectomy.

Throughout my pregnancy, I had several  people make rude and judgemental remarks, like “how could you not give your child breast milk when it’s what’s best for them?” It was difficult to comprehend why mothers are judged by the way their baby is fed. 

After reading  infant feeding stories of other Previvors I decided to make this sign —similar to a Breast Cancer Survivors sign—that clearly says that I cannot breastfeed, and that my hospital room was a “no-breastfeeding zone.” I wanted our first delivery experience to be positive and not have to explain anymore why I wasn’t breastfeeding.

I wanted our first delivery experience to be positive and not have to explain anymore why I wasn’t breastfeeding.

On March 9th 2020 at 4 am, we were admitted to the hospital after my water had broken at home. Once we got into our room, my husband hung the sign above the hospital bed. Many nurses, doctors, residents, and midwives loved the sign and offered their support. The pediatrician said, “sister, this is so true!!! He will be just fine and formula won’t affect his future ahead.” She was also personally touched by the sign, as she was one year out of breast cancer treatment. My confidence as a new mother soared from the positive support I received. 

Once we got into our room, my husband hung the sign above the hospital bed.

Our baby was born at 8:07 pm weighing in at 7 lb 12 oz and 20 in. tall. He is absolutely perfect! My baby is thriving on miracle milk and all of our love. He is one happy little man and we are so in LOVE.

 The Fed Is Best community has been supporting me and thousands of other mothers who have no real place for support and I am so grateful for that.


HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST

There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

  1. Join us in any of the Fed is Best volunteer and advocacy, groups. Click here to join our health care professionals group. We have:  FIBF Advocacy Group, Research Group, Volunteer Group, Editing Group, Social Media Group, Legal Group, Marketing Group, Perinatal Mental Health Advocacy Group, Private Infant Feeding Support Group, Global Advocacy Group, and Fundraising Group.    Please send an email to Jody@fedisbest.org  if you are interested in joining any of our volunteer groups. 
  2. If you need infant feeding support, we have a private support group– Join us here.
  3. If you or your baby were harmed from complications of insufficient breastfeeding please send a message to contact@fedisbest.org 
  4. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
  5. Sign our petition!  Help us reach our policymakers, and drive change at a global level. Help us stand up for the lives of millions of infants who deserve a fighting chance.   Sign the Fed is Best Petition at Change.org  today, and share it with others.
  6. Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page and by sending our FREE infant feeding educational resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  7. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write to them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  8. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  9. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for the legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and of mother’s rights to honest informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
  10. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and everything in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
  11. Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.
  12.  Shop at Amazon Smile and Amazon donates to Fed Is Best Foundation.

Or simply send us a message to find out how you can help make a difference with new ideas!

For any urgent messages or questions about infant feeding, please do not leave a message on this page as it will not get to us immediately. Instead, please email christie@fedisbest.org.

 Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

Click here to join us!


 

Stories and resources:

New Mom Puts Up ‘No Breastfeeding Zone’ Sign In Delivery Room After Giving Birth To Daughter

Ali Rogin: The Story of a ‘Previvor’

https://www.thepatientstory.com/cancers/breast-cancer/brca-2-previvor-erika-stallings

https://www.parents.com/news/cancer-survivor-posts-no-breastfeeding-zone-in-hospital-room-to-prevent-criticism

 

 

 

 

Fed Is Best- And I’m Fed Up!

“Are you breastfeeding or formula feeding?”  I cringed as I overheard a complete stranger asking my husband this question while we were shopping for baby clothes. “Formula,” my husband replied. “I can’t believe she asked you that!” I exclaimed as she walked away. “How is that any of her business?” He shrugged and replied, “maybe she’s pregnant and is trying to figure out if she should breastfeed.” “It’s still none of her business,” I said. “If she had asked me, I would have said we’re breastfeeding.” 

Yes, that’s right, I would have lied to a random woman because I was afraid she would judge me. Despite my anger at this stranger, however, I wasn’t necessarily worried about what she thought of me; it was about what I thought of me. I felt guilty about formula feeding. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t try to breastfeed. It just happened that my nursing journey didn’t exactly work out the way I’d planned, and not a day goes by that I don’t feel bad or like I somehow failed my son for my inability to breastfeed. 

New moms are faced with a barrage of breastfeeding materials and recommendations. The baby books tout the benefits of breastfeeding, and the hospitals march lactation specialists into your room to show you proper breastfeeding techniques and how to pump. I took the prenatal breastfeeding class the hospital offered and followed all of the directions from the lactation consultants. We were never told during our breastfeeding classes,  nor was it mentioned in any of breastfeeding books, that it may not work out… and more importantly, that you’re not a complete failure if you can’t breastfeed. 

 The lactation consultants in the hospital informed us that he might not be able to transfer any milk from me because he had a ‘slight’ tongue-tie and early on my supply was very low. To attempt to stimulate my milk supply, the lactation consultants encouraged me to start pumping the day after he was born. Since he wasn’t latching properly and couldn’t transfer the tiny amount of colostrum I  had his blood sugar plummeted, and the medical staff in the hospital advised us to supplement with formula. “It’s only temporary,” I thought. “We’ll get this all worked out exactly as I planned.”

When we left the hospital, however, things did not look up in the breastfeeding department. The pediatrician advised me to “triple-feed” and have my son latch on both sides to stimulate the hormones for milk production, and then have my husband bottle feed him while I pumped. We did this every three hours, and honestly, the three of us were miserable; my baby cried and screamed when I would try to get him to latch. I was experiencing postpartum anxiety and feared that I could not take care of my son or be the mother I needed to be. 

And of course, all this stress and anxiety didn’t help my milk supply. I couldn’t sleep because my brain was clouded with thoughts that I would somehow hurt my baby because I couldn’t breastfeed, that something would go wrong because I couldn’t give him the nourishment he needed. I would dread feeding time because it was just a constant reminder of my inability to produce for my son and my self-inflicted feelings of inadequacy.

 

Sleep deprivation has very serious consequences. As health professionals, we need to protect maternal mental health when developing complicated breastfeeding plans. Very serious sleep deprivation conditions while triple feeding has resulted in postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis, deteriorating physical health, and serious accidents.

In those first few weeks, I was unable to comfort my baby when he cried because I couldn’t hold him without trembling from nerves and anxiety. I immediately thought this meant I was a bad mom and didn’t have the “mom instinct” I heard so much about while I was pregnant. When I was beside myself with anxiety and fear, I remember feeling like I was just a burden to my family. If my husband could just give our son a bottle, it would be easier for him if I wasn’t around, and then he wouldn’t have a baby plus an erratic, emotional wife to take care of. I told Drew this one night between my shaking and uncontrollable sobs

He hugged me and told me, “Your son needs you, and I do, too. I can’t do this without you and I wouldn’t want to. We will get through this.”

I  read countless books and articles about breastfeeding and was convinced I was doing my baby a disservice if I chose not to breastfeed. We had a consultation to potentially reverse the tongue tie, but even the ENT told us it was minor and may not be necessary.

My husband was right there in the trenches with me, trying to make breastfeeding work because he knew it was important to me. But he also stressed the importance of taking care of myself, and knew I couldn’t be the best mom and partner when I was riddled with depression, anxiety, fear, and constant thoughts of inadequacy. He sat and listened patiently and empathetically through countless tear-filled conversations.

“This is our decision, it’s not up to anyone else,” he told me. Even with his support, however, I told him if we ended up going full formula, I didn’t want anyone to know. “We’ll just say I’m pumping and bottle feeding,” I told him with tears welling up in my eyes.

Despite my reservations, we decided to exclusively formula feed. We put the breast pump and all its pieces in storage. Looking at it was a constant reminder of what I’d perceived to be my personal failure—but we made our decision and we were sticking to it. 

Although part of me felt like I simply gave up on my son, my anxiety instantly lessened when I stopped pumping and being constantly angry at myself for my low milk supply. The trouble I had comforting my baby vanished. I was more calm and confident. It seemed like I instinctively knew what to do to take care of my son, when just a few days before I had felt lost and hopeless. My sense of humor came back, and I enjoyed my time with my baby versus feeling like I couldn’t provide for him. I could actually smile, make jokes, and admire my beautiful little boy. I still felt uneasy about the decision, but I also felt more emotionally and mentally available for my family.

We’re all just doing the best we can. Your best may look different from someone else’s, but that doesn’t give us the right to pass judgment or lecture anyone else for their decisions or parenting style. We are women, which means by nature we’re too hard on ourselves. If you’re a mom and you’re anything like me, you’re constantly raking yourself over the coals and your own mom-guilt is worse than anything that could come from another mom. 

While the love for our little ones seems to come so naturally, let us not forget to love each other, and most importantly, to love ourselves. 

Who knows what my son will grow up to be, but what I do know is this: I couldn’t feed him the way I wanted to, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give him an unlimited supply of unconditional love, kisses, cuddles, support, and life lessons. I couldn’t be the food supply he needed, but I will do everything in my power to be the mom he deserves.

 

To my son: I may not have been able to give you my milk, but you always have my whole heart and all of my love. ~MT

The Fed Is Best Foundation will always be my voice. They speak for so many families by listening without any judgment or shame and I am grateful. 

 


Contact Us/Volunteer

Mothers Describe Their Triple Feeding Experiences And The Impact It Had On Their Mental And Physical Health

Maternal Mental Health Feels Like it Comes Second to Breastfeeding When It Should Be First

My Inability to Exclusively Breastfeed Was a Constant Destructive Force in My Life After My Son’s Birth – I Had a Suicide Plan

The Breastfeeding Support I Received Almost Killed Me And My Daughter; I’m Still Suffering From Breastfeeding Trauma

Clinicians’ Guide to Supporting Parents with Guilt About Breastfeeding Challenges

I Attempted Suicide From The Pressure Of Breast Is Best

I Shared My Story a Year Ago And I Was Told To Go Kill Myself – How I Am Healing

 

Why I support #FedIsBest And Safe Sleep Practices As A Breastfeeding Mother Of Twins

 

In October of 2017, I was skimming Facebook and came across a question in one of my favorite Infant Safe Sleep support groups.  A new mother was having a hard time with breastfeeding and was looking for an evidence-based breastfeeding group that supported safe sleep for infants. When she got very little feedback, I began to think about creating a Facebook support group for safe sleep practices and breastfeeding because I knew there were plenty of mothers who wanted to exclusively breastfeed while practicing safe sleep.

As a mother of exclusively breastfed twin girls, I practiced the ABCs of safe sleep according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I felt confident that I could provide current evidence-based resources while providing practical tips and support, but the only real experience I had with breastfeeding was with my twins. I began to search for like-minded group moderators who wanted to help compile up-to-date scientific resources for which we called Breastfeeding Without Bedsharing & Evidence-Based Feeding.

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Nurses Talk About Delivering, Feeding, And Caring For Babies Following The AAP Guidelines When A Mother Is infected With The COVID-19 Virus

 

We know everyone’s anxiety level is very high right now because of the uncertainly of delivering your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to provide real-life experiences of nurses who are taking care of people in labor and postpartum so that parents can have an idea of what to expect when delivering their babies.

The most recent guidelines released by the AAP, CDC, and ACOG apply to babies in the U.S.A.

Since these guidelines are different from the WHO guidelines and parents have been receiving mixed messages and are asking for clarification. We want to clarify the recommendations for parents so they can be fully informed of their choices. Generally speaking, parents who live in developed countries such as the USA have access to breast pumps, clean water, masks, cleaning supplies, and formula. The science-based recommendations are based on these choices.

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Guidelines for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Photo Credit: Shutter Stock

By the Fed is Best Foundation Health Professional Team

We have summarized the current recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control  for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have also endorsed the CDC recommendations. This information is intended to inform health care professionals and pregnant mothers who are confirmed positive for COVID-19 or persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 in the hospital and postpartum settings.

The symptoms of coronavirus for pregnant and lactating mothers and infants are the same as those of the general population, which include but are not limited to:

  • Fever 
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Sputum production 
  • Body aches

The United States is currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, particularly in New York, New Jersey, California and Washington State. See the current world distribution of Coronavirus cases here. Continue reading

Relactation: A Science Based How To Guide

By The Fed Is Best Foundation Lactation consultant team

Our goal is to ensure you have the accurate information you need for the best chance of success, with adequate attention to your mental and physical health and well being.

Before you start, it is important to manage your expectations. The limited research we have shows that while most mothers can produce some milk, developing a full milk supply is often not the case, especially under these very stressful pandemic circumstances. Please be very gentle to yourself throughout the process, because all sorts of feelings can come up. This study talks about those feelings. 

In considering relactation, mothers need to consider the big picture.  There are cons…:
  • time spent pumping that takes time away from other important things, such as interaction with baby, sleep, and caring for other children
  • less free time for mom, which is important for mood and stress levels
  • potentially disappointing results
  • mental health considerations 
…as well as pros:
  • another source of milk for the baby
  • passive immunity from breast milk*
  • for mothers who enjoyed breastfeeding, an additional way to spend more one-on-one time with baby
  • feeling a sense of agency in a time when we have little control over our lives

*Since COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), no one has antibodies to prevent infection unless they have either been exposed to it or recovered from it. Once a mother is exposed and starts developing antibodies, it takes around two weeks to build up antibodies to have a clinical impact as passive immunity protection.   Continue reading

Hospital Drops Baby-Friendly Program After Doctor’s Baby Was Harmed

Written by an anesthesiologist and Intensivist physician

“The biggest achievement of my life as a physician was stopping my hospital’s Baby-Friendly program after my child was harmed.”

It was September 20th, and we were headed to the hospital for my induction.  I was nervous, as any first-time mother would be. I was worried that I was doing the wrong thing, even though I knew the literature, and my physicians supported my decision for an elective induction at 40 weeks. I was already dilated to 4 cm and my baby had dropped way back at 33 weeks.  We all thought it would take just a hint of Pitocin, but I labored for 24 hours until my son was born. I was later told that he was born with a compound hand (up by his head), causing the prolonged pushing time and his distress with each contraction.

While pregnant, I had decided to attempt breastfeeding, even though I had had a breast reduction in 2003. I tried to read as much as I could, but honestly, I didn’t have any idea how much information one needed to do something that everyone swore was “best” and “natural.”  My baby was born at 4:14 a.m. I thought this would be ideal, because I would have the support and help as I learned how to be a mother, knowing more staff were available during the day.  As the first day melted into the first night, nursing became more and more painful, and he needed to feed almost continuously. When he wasn’t feeding, he was either rooting or screaming.   Continue reading