Breastfed babies are less content??

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Mary Foley RN, BSN, IBCLC Mary Foley RN, BSN, IBCLC 2 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #5287
    Profile photo of Sylvia Sylvia 
    Founder

    @vanessaprinz @kirstenh @maryfoley @meghanmueller

    Did you guys see this article?
    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/10/breastfeeding-babies-temperamental-study?CMP=twt_fd

    It was saying that breastfed babies are less content on several different measures.

    Then it says:
    “Rather than being put off breastfeeding, parents should have more realistic expectations of normal infant behaviour and should receive better understanding and support to cope with difficult infant behaviours if needed. These approaches could potentially promote successful breastfeeding, because currently many mothers attempt to breastfeed but give up after the first few weeks.”

    What do you guys think? Are you going to tell your moms about this study as a way to help them breastfeed *longer*?

    #5289
    Profile photo of Vanessa Prinz Vanessa Prinz 
    IBCLC

    I hadn’t seen this, thanks for sharing! I don’t like this study, I think I’ll pretend I didn’t see it. :) Seriously though, if I had the time, I’d want to better understand how valid/reliable the study really is b/c it just doesn’t make sense to me. Anecdotally speaking, I’m a one trick pony (as are many breastfeeding moms I know). The breast is the only trick I have for calming/soothing my baby no matter what the issue is. Intuitively, it just doesn’t seem possible!

    #5291

    Wow – thanks for sharing, Sylvia! I had not seen this either, and I agree with Vanessa. This is not a study I’m going to be broadcasting to my staff and moms!

    Once again, this is a study which unfortunately compares breastfeeding infants (the norm) to formula feeding infants (the abnormal), when in fact – the study should do the opposite. If the formula feeding infants are not signalling to feed frequently, like a normal breastfeeding newborn, then they are not behaving in a way that is consistent with normal newborn feeding behavior. This may be of concern.

    Here is a quote directly from the study;
    “Crying and irritability are therefore predicted to act more as an honest signal of nutritional need during earlier than later infancy, and this could explain the lack of difference in temperament between older breastfed and formula-fed infants at age six to twelve months old.”

    The authors state that the intense signaling for nutrition is an important part of the interaction between the mom and the baby. The baby cries, the mom responds, the baby breastfeeds, the mom makes milk. It’s a pretty awesome system. BUT, if the mom doesn’t respond – that messes up the process, the baby feeds less frequently, the milk supply drops – then the baby’s behavior escalates, and the infant is perceived as “challenging.”

    Consider the behavior of our close “relative,” the gorilla:
    “For the first five months of life, infant mountain gorillas remain in constant contact with their mothers (Stewart 2001). During this period, infants are dependent on their mothers for food; suckling at least once per hour, and sleep at night in their mothers’ nests (Stewart 1988). After five months, mother-infant pairs break body contact, but only for a few seconds and by 12 months, infants venture up to, but never more than, five meters (16.4 ft) away from their mothers.” Wow!! 5 months of full body contact!!

    Humans are a carrying species like other primates. Yet from the first day of birth, most moms and dads are discouraged from “holding the baby too much!” In my own practice I find that it’s very hard to get my moms to do skin-to-skin time with babies for even a full hour after birth, never mind for any length of time in the following days.

    In addition, there is plenty of evidence to support that birth practices impact infant feeding and thus milk supply. Most of our moms have medicated births and right from the start we are impacting the way our newborns feed and the way the moms make milk.

    So if breastfed babies are more challenging (!) then maybe we better look at what WE are doing to moms and babies in our “hands-off, don’t-spoil-the-baby” culture!

    Well, that’s all for my rant, lol. I definitely am NOT going to be telling moms that breastfeeding babies are more challenging. Previous studies have not found this to be true, and one study is just one study. And like Vanessa said, it just doesn’t make sense.

    Mary

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