Breast-feeding is a rewarding yet, at times, challenging practice. You will need the support of your partner, friends, family, co-workers and especially your health-care provider. In most cases, your health-care provider has your best breast-feeding interests at heart, but in some instances that may not be true.
Although a health-care provider who isn’t breast-feeding friendly probably won’t try to talk you out of breast-feeding your baby, he or she may offer subtle encouragement to discontinue breast-feeding or never begin at all. For example, if your health-care provider hands you a brochure about the benefits of formula, you may assume he or she is recommending formula-feeding. As you probably already know, a lot of thought goes into the decision to breast-feed. Once you’ve made that decision, your health-care provider should try to help you maintain that choice, even if problems occur.
It is important to identify whether your health-care provider supports your decision to breast-feed. Your health-care provider may not be supportive if he or she:
- Believes breast-feeding and formula-feeding are equally beneficial to your baby
- Encourages formula-feeding immediately after the delivery of your baby so you can rest
- Recommends that you stop breast-feeding and start formula-feeding at the first sign of difficulty or illness, either yours or the baby’s
- Recommends supplementation
- Gives you samples of formula and marketing materials from formula manufacturers
- Distributes out-of-date informational materials about breast-feeding
- Fails to provide you with names of lactation specialists or names of other breast-feeding moms when you are having problems
- Expresses surprised that you are still breast-feeding your 6 month old
- Believes that there is no nutritional value to breast milk after six months
- Believes there is no such thing as nipple confusion and you should start a bottle as soon as possible to get your baby used to a rubber nipple
You may be tempted to trust the advice of your health-care provider more than your own instincts. If you give up on breast-feeding based solely on someone else’s opinion, you could be left feeling discouraged and regretful. If you don’t feel comfortable with suggestions or instructions given by your health-care provider, discuss them with him or her. Perhaps if your health-care provider understands just how important breast-feeding is to you, he or she will find alternative treatment options, such as breast-feeding friendly medications, if you develop a condition, and additional information and resources if you experience any problems, such as the baby’s not latching onto the breast. If your health-care provider still does not seem as open to breast-feeding as you would like, consider switching health-care providers.