Letters

Breast feeding does not always work

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7137.1093 (Published 04 April 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1093

Author should have felt angry rather than guilty

  1. Janet Mair, General practitioner,
  2. Cara Flanagan, General practitioner
  1. Kyle of Sutherland Breastfeeding Initiative, Creich Surgery, Bonar Bridge, Sutherland IV24 3ER
  2. Paediatric Epidemiology and Community Health (PEACH) Unit, Department of Child Health, Yorkhill NHS Trust Hospital, Glasgow G3 8SJ
  3. a [email protected]
  4. Meanwood Group Practice, Leeds LS6 4JN
  5. 14a Verran Place, Christchurch, New Zealand

    EDITOR—Bennison's Personal View gives the impression that she has been left with some sense of guilt after she was unable to exclusively breastfeed her baby.1 Maybe she should be feeling angry rather than guilty, because support and informed advice do not seem to have been available when she needed them.

    The actual reasons for Bennison's lack of success are not clear from the article, and it is perhaps presumptuous of us to propose possible retrospective solutions. Her difficulties may have been due to insurmountable problems related to low birth weight and prematurity. On the other hand, some of her difficulties may have been quite solvable. The mention of “frequent brief feeds” suggests that the baby did not have the opportunity to get enough milk, especially hindmilk, and therefore it was not surprising that the infant was “starving.” This may have been the result of poor positioning, which is the most common problem for breast feeding mothers and a prime cause of lactational failure.

    When Jenny needed help the “paraphernalia of bottle feeding” was not what was required. Instead it might have been more helpful to have a person experienced in dealing with breast feeding problems who could advise about how to manage breast feeding so that the baby got complete and nourishing feeds. In countries where infants rely on breast milk this kind of community support ensures that death rarely, if ever, results from mechanical failure. In Bennison's case it was not her failure but the failure of our community to support breast feeding fully.

    References

    1. 1.

    All mothers should be offered help and support to breast feed

    1. Rhona J McInnes, Research midwife
    1. Kyle of Sutherland Breastfeeding Initiative, Creich Surgery, Bonar Bridge, Sutherland IV24 3ER
    2. Paediatric Epidemiology and Community Health (PEACH) Unit, Department of Child Health, Yorkhill NHS Trust Hospital, Glasgow G3 8SJ
    3. a [email protected]
    4. Meanwood Group Practice, Leeds LS6 4JN
    5. 14a Verran Place, Christchurch, New Zealand

      EDITOR—As a health professional who has recently had a baby, I can identify with Bennison's feelings about her problems with breast feeding her daughter.1 It is often assumed that health professionals know everything about various aspects of health, pregnancy, and child care and …

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