Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Breastfeeding problems can lead to dehydration in babies

"Many new mothers are being told not to bottle feed because it will ruin breastfeeding, but an increasing number are being left with babies so dehydrated they need emergency hospital care.

Experts have reported that hundreds of newborn babies suffering from dehydration are being re-admitted to hospital as mothers are being warned not to resort to bottle-feeding. They explain that the 'breast is best' message has left many women unwilling to use formula milk even as a back up when their babies are not feeding properly. "

Read more here Medindia News.

This is something close to my heart that I had wanted to write about for a long time. If I had a chance to breastfeed again, I would feed my baby formula if I had difficulty breastfeeding. Of course I would try to express breastmilk to feed to my baby first but if that too is a problem during the early days, I would not hesitate to give my baby formula milk.

I foolishly starved my firstborn during the first two weeks (possibly more). I had problems breastfeeding, did not know how to pump my breastmilk out and yet I adamantly refused to feed her any formula. I was so afraid that it would jeopardise my breastfeeding efforts. I was so gungho about breastfeeding and I had read so much about how the bottle would cause the baby to have nipple confusion that I vehemently refused to give my starving baby any supplementary feeds.

As a result she lost 25% of her birthweight after the first two weeks weighing in and she had dark brown poo only after a few days instead of the several times a day watery poo a newborn is supposed to have. Thankfully, apart from the weight loss she was ok.

Looking back now, I am apalled at how foolish I had been. At birth she was a plump beautiful baby. After 2 weeks, she looked gaunt, haggard and her lips were dry and peeling. I am very very thankful that she was ok. She cried all the time from hunger and her weight loss gave us a lot of stress.

To all new mothers out there who have difficulty breastfeeding, I urge you to get to a good lactation consultant as early as you can or to go to other mothers who have experience in breastfeeding for help and support during the early days. And it is ok to give your baby some supplementary feeds while you are trying to establish breastfeeding. (It does not mean the end of your breastfeeding journey). Just make sure you establish your milk supply at the same time by pumping or direct feeding whenever possible.

Don't give up trying and make sure the bottle feeding does not replace the breastfeeds but don't deny your baby nourishment before breastfeeding is firmly established. (It may take a while before breastfeeding becomes smooth and natural. Contrary to what most people would assume, breastfeeding feels far from natural. It is a learned skill especially for those who have difficulty.) If you are scared that your baby will be confused by the use of a bottle, you can give expressed breastmilk to your baby from a cup but from my experience that is very tough and taxing indeed but worth the effort in the end. Its short term pain for a long term gain. Good luck!

Related Links:

My Breastfeeding Journey - Part I
My Breastfeeding Journey - Part II

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  1. As a new mom, I tried bf a few hrs after delivery. I was lucky that my son latched on very quickly. For the 1st few days, I bf and also formula feed my son as I am a very Kiasu mom and I do not want my son to starve.My son regurgitate a lot and I've always felt such a waste that he regurgitate all the bm. At last, I decided to bf him less during the day and pump it out for nite feeding. That way, he'll regurgitate less and will go back to sleep after his feeding. At least he'll get all the bm rather than regurgitate everything.

  2. Wow! You are really lucky. Envy envy. My lactation consultant did tell me that not everyone has it so hard as I did. :(

  3. Many areas now have milk banks where women (after being tested for various diseases) donate breast milk that is pooled and mildly pasteurized and provided to babies of women having difficulty feeding. Often these aren't common knowledge so it is worth asking if your health care provider works with one. Just an idea for others in a similar situation.


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