Teaching breastfeeding can be difficult given the concerns of alienating those who choose to bottle-feed. I personally have found that almost all who have strong feelings about bottle-feeding their infants often choose to do so because of inaccurate information regarding either breastfeeding or formulas. The rest have concerns regarding their bodies and once they have had the opportunity to discuss their fears, will try breastfeeding, often with great success.
Here are some great tips on teaching breastfeeding in a prenatal or breastfeeding class.
Discuss breastfeeding in every class. This isn't as hard as it sounds. For example, in the first class touch on the perfect food of breastmilk as you discuss the wondrous way a mother's body nurtures and grows a baby during pregnancy and that doesn't stop with the birth. Someone may only attend once, in spite of you having a series of classes. Have handouts especially on the "hazards" of formula feeding, for Baby, for Mom, for Partner, and for Society. In looking at the hazards of breastfeeding instead of the benefits of breastmilk, we are changing a parents paradigm by focusing on those who are leaning towards formula feeding as they often will zone out during breastfeeding topics, believing it is of no use to them.
Examples of hazards (and there are many):
There is so little
information about that out there on the Disadvantages of Formula. There isn't
even enough about Benefits although we have tried for years. The formula
companies spend billions of dollars, how can we compete except by information on
the grass root level. It may make a difference in all those parents who don't
think breast-feeding matters.
Hopefully it will make
them think and seek out more info on their own, attend La Leche League meeting
or breastfeeding classes before baby comes. Then they will have a support system
in place once the baby is born in the early "tough" weeks.
Regarding making a
mother feel guilty if she doesn't want to breastfeed. We don't hesitate to
make her feel guilty telling her not to smoke or danger of not having car seat
or any other things that endanger her baby.
When people ask about bottle-feeding, recommend they ask their doctor. We truly have to look at formula as a type of over-the-counter drug because of the implications of allergies and adverse reactions with both cows milk and soy based products. If you have the time, explain formulas and their differences, people will see how complicated it is to ensure the correct formula for their baby. Remember that breastmilk is so much simpler - there is only one kind and it is right for any baby and adapts to babies changing needs continuously.
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