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Bad breastfeeding advice
on February 2, 2001
There is a lot to like about this book (even though constantly being called "luv" did get old by about page 3)... in many parts there *is* very good advice. Tracy Hogg claims a middle-of-the-road approach to parenting a newborn and I agree with many of her ideas. She does not advocate letting babies cry and communicates overall the belief that parents should respect their babies as the tiny people they are. Overall, there is a lot of comforting stuff in here.
But I have issues with some of her specific advice. First, I find that she's judgmental about attachment parenting in general. I'm no die-hard attachment parent, but I'm no rigid-scheduler either and I totally disagree with her belief that demand feeding, cosleeping and the like teaches a baby bad habits or does not effectively meet their needs. She presumes that if AP doesn't work for some, then it will not work for all and is therefore not even worth trying because you'll end up with a baby with bad habits to break down the road. My experiences with flexibility vs. scheduled routine have been quite different. Gentle transitions from three completely attached newborns to independent individuals without parent-imposed schedules (it's been much more symbiotic than the method Hogg proposes) have worked quite well in our household. While my style may not be right for everyone, it certainly *can* work, something that Hogg fails to recognize. (She believes the "family bed gives parents short-shrift" without acknowledging that it actually *works* for many.)
Then there is the breastfeeding advice. I am disappointed to see someone who calls herself a lactation consultant try to make such a strong case for formula feeding over breastfeeding. As a mom who has both bottlefed and breastfed (and is still breastfeeding), I agree with Hogg that guilt or judgment has NO place in this decision, but I also feel that she has done a great disservice to moms and babies by understating some very important advantages and benefits of breastfeeding. She explains that "one can make a good case for either formula-feeding or breastfeeding." Unfortunately, she never does get around to making the case for breastfeeding.
In this same section, entitled "Making the Choice," Hogg has a sidebar on Feeding Fashions. In this small box, where I presume she's trying to show that while breastfeeding is currently "all the rage," the tide may turn out of its favor in later years as has happened in the past. (It's not clear here whether she's saying therefore don't choose breastfeeding just because it's a modern day "fad" or that if you decide to formula feed against popular opinion, know that 25 years from now it will probably be "the thing to do" just like it was 25 years ago? I don't get it.) She also says here, "As this book is being written, scientists are experimenting with the notion of genetically altering cows to produce human breast milk [yuk]. If that happens, perhaps in the future everyone will tout cow's milk. In fact, a 1999 article in the Journal of Nutrition suggests 'that it may ultimately be possible to design formulas better able to meet the needs of individual infants than the milk available from the mother's breast.'"
Okay, that is fascinating information, but how should it impact any mother's decision *today*? Feed your baby formula now because in the future it might actually be the best choice!? (A statement in itself which is worthy of an opposing dissertation - there are more advantages to breastfeeding than the mere composition of the fluid.)
Later, in the breastfeeding section, she specifically discourages demand feeding - advice which is direct opposition to breastfeeding recommendations endorsed by the majority of professional lactation consultants and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Hogg has a schedule all charted out for new parents, beginning with day one, which becomes increasing less flexible over a three day period, until you're stuck on that infamous three hour schedule by day FOUR and beyond. She promotes pacifier use (she believes in fostering independence from the very beginning), and "dispels the myth" of nipple confusion. And she seems to favor weaning within the first year, which is again not the recommendation of the AAP. Let me say that I actually agreed with some of her breastfeeding advice (don't watch the clock, don't switch sides, find a mentor), but you need to have a pretty discerning eye to know what is the good stuff and what is er, codswallop. Not good for first-time parents or those learning to breastfeed for the first time.
I'm a little surprised that Hogg is an LC at all, because she really doesn't come across as much of a breastfeeding advocate. In the feeding chapter, she puts LLLI and the US Public Health Service (neither seeking profit) in the same category as formula companies, accusing them all of "huge propaganda campaigns." Then she assures moms that SHE, on the other hand, is going to "help you become clearer about your choice, [providing] empowering information - without the rocket science or statistical numwhack that conventional breastfeeding books tend to bombard you with." Ugh.