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Thread: When is bfing not possible?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Question When is bfing not possible?

    I would like to know in what situations is it impossible to bf.

    Before formular was invented what did they feed babies that were not able to bf???
    Did they just simply die of hunger??
    I know of other mothers bfing other ladies' babies because they weren't able to bf. My grandmother bf three at a time, my mother and two other babies from the neighbourhood, why, i don't know.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    I have wondered the same thing now that I know how difficult breastfeeding can be and all the challenges there can be. I have OALD and lo was refusing to nurse for a while and I wondered what mothers did "way back then" in situations like that? I know a woman from Mexico who only gave her baby the rice water because she said her baby wouldn't tolerate her breastmilk (not sure why) so women must have come up with solutions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    heres a good link about the history of formula
    my mil feed my bil kyro sryup becuase he was a premie in the 60's
    thats what the doctor said to do, she didn't breastfeed at all.

    some moms that have medical conditions deside not to breastfeed,also some babies cann't nurse! Sometimes baby and mom aren't a good match.
    Small babies.. I have a sil who didn't nurse becuase she wanted to do street drugs and they would get into her milk so she choose to formula feed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    My grandmother also had problems breastfeeding her oldest son. The doctor claimed that her milk wasn't nourishing. I'm thinking that she just didn't have a good latch, but unfortunately, they didn't have the resources back then that we have now. (How lucky are we?) But her "formula" was carnation milk and kero syrup.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    my grandmother bf her first 4, but said my dad #5 rejected her milk. not exactly sure what that meant to her. she said they gave him goats milk, they lived on a farm so she got it fresh daily. my dd1's ped actually recomended that i suppliment with goats milk while i was sick if i felt i needed to. of course i would have gotten mine from the store one of my neighbors raise her 3 grandchildren with goats milk. i'm not sure how it compares to formula, but she said anything that stinks as bad as formula can't taste good.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    Also, we used to be way more communal than we are now, so if you couldn't or didn't want to breastfeed (a la nobility), you got help from another new mom. Reliable birth control was scanty, so you could probably count on someone else BF in your town/village. The nobility paid these women and called them wet nurses... talk about proving that supply and demand work. You had one baby and you nursed him fine, and then you added someone else's baby and you nursed them both fine.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by ladypembroke View Post
    You had one baby and you nursed him fine, and then you added someone else's baby and you nursed them both fine.
    Not always. It used to be that women would work as a wet nurse and leave their own babies behind, who subsequently were underfed and died. Then a law was enacted saying that your baby had to be ~1+ years old (or something? I forget the exact age) before you could be a wet nurse. Interesting stuff, none the less!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    There are lots of interesting books out there on this subject that I have read. I'm not one to copy and paste references but in summary wetnursing was not ideal for babies or women. This was a job for women who were slaves, prostitutes or otherwise economically disadvantaged. They did leave their own babies behind often in disastrous situations and these babies died most of the time. The law referred to was in France I believe and the age was four months. Babies were fed and continue to be fed to this day a very poor gruel of flours and water. This causes all kinds of digestive problems and introduces diseases.
    Before pastuerization made breastmilk substitutes somewhat safe almost 100% of babies died without breastmilk. Sometimes they were fed animal milks in bottles and other times directly from the animals, usually goats.
    To this day worldwide thousands of babies die every day because they do not have access to their mother's milk. This happens here in the USA too not just third world countries. There have been instances of formula contamination and manufacture recalls.
    Of the children who did/do get breastmilk many more lives were/are lost due to early weaning practices and in some cultures the tradition of not giving colustrum in the early days but giving other foods instead.
    Many babies that were wetnursed also failed to thrive and many died. As you can imagine a woman forced to feed another's child would not have the bonding with the child and would be mourning the loss of her own infant. Each mother has a unique bacteria on her skin that is transferred to her own infant providing protection from disease and of course each woman's milk adjusts to the needs of her own infant. The newborn infant knows the voice and smell of their own mother. How all of that works has still not been figured out by the medical community. One weakness of formula is that it is the same all the time and can not be adapted to the baby's needs. Some babies do thrive on it but it still is not an ideal infant food.
    African American women have the lowest rates of breastfeeding in our country and part of the reason is thought to be due to their history of being forced to wetnurse white babies and leave their own babies behind. From what I have read people who used wetnurses wanted their own children to have the best chance of survival and would not allow a wetnurse to keep her own child.
    The reason the nobility used wetnurses was because they understood that breastfeeding prevented conception and they wanted to have as many children as possible. I believe it was also considered to be animalistic, not ladylike behavior.
    Breastfeeding is much more than just giving life giving food to the child. A child who is breastfed is also a child that is kept close to their mother and protected at a time when they can not defend themselves. A young child that is seperated from their mother in any culture is at greater risk of abuse and neglect. In early childhood the need for mother is as great as the need for air.

    As far as neighbours passing children around to nurse this continues to happen in aboriginal tribes where the child may even be nursed by the men as a way to soothe them until mother returns.

    My mother had one child she could not nurse and now it seems he was tongue tied but she didn't know that. She made formula from a recipe calling for Carnation Milk and Corn Syrup, now known to cause allergies. It was a lot of work to make because the bottles once filled had to be sealed and boiled in a sterilizer/canner. This had to be done each day so that there would be enough bottles made ahead for the following day. If they were not allowed to cool at room tempature long enough then the glass bottles would burst in the refridgerator(there was no plastic at the time). My brother was terribly sick with colic for his entire first year. He did grow up to be a big healthy guy but the bond is not there between him and my mother like the children she was able to breastfeed.

    Personally I view bottlefeeding milk substitutes as very risky behavior. It is realtively new behavior for our species and since it has only been practiced for a few generations we have yet to see what the longterm consequences may be. For now we see higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, allergies and others that I have forgotten with formula feeding. There is also a higher rate of SIDS, upper respiratory infections, ear infections and other illnesses. I would be worried sick if I didn't breastfeed.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    I'm replying to your first question:
    I would like to know in what situations is it impossible to bf.
    From what I've read...and mind you, this off the top of my head, so I know there are other reasons too, these are the reasons that it can be impossible to breastfeed:

    1. physical defect of the baby that makes it impossible for baby to latch on...like cleft palate etc. (however, in this situation you could pump now days)

    2. When mom has HIV or AIDS

    3. When mom is taking certain medications...like Chemo...or certain mental illness medications for sure and others...there aren't always breastfeeding friendly alternative meds that work in every situation.

    4. After some breast surgeries...including for cancer or augmentation or reduction...although sometimes breastfeeding is possible in those situations

    5. If mom chooses to use drugs or alcohol ...some docs suggest that smoking cigarettes is very harmful too, but I just read that in a breastfeeding book, I've not heard of a doc who actually told a mom not to breastfeed because she smoked...so I'm not sure about whether or not you should not breastfeed in that situation.

    6. This is just me thinking on this one, but I would think that in situations where mom has uncontrolled anorexia or bulimia a doc. would probably advise against breastfeeding due to mom being extremely underweight...the reason I suggest that one, is that it seems logical that breastfeeding might harm an extremely underweight woman who had issues with increasing her calorie intake enough to successfully breastfeed a baby.

    7. Some moms don't produce enough milk when they're pregnant, or dry up entirely, so some moms might not be able to breastfeed baby #1...at least not for very long if baby #2 was on the way. Example...I have an aquaintance who got pregnant with #2 a month after #1 was born. However, lots of moms nurse quite successfully while they're pregnant, so this one is probably kind of unlikely.

    Hopefully a LLL leader or someone else will chime in if any of the reasons I listed are wrong...I'm just going off of memory and stuff I've heard since I had my first baby.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Bryan, Texas

    Default Re: When is bfing not possible?

    My mom said that I "couldn't" nurse because I was a preemie and had a hard time latching. So I was given every formula in the book and got sick from it all. I had horrible stomach issues. She finally put me on karo syrup and evaporated milk. thanks mom. I don't think my mom was really committed to nursing so when it didn't go perfect, she threw in the towel.

    I also don't think that there was a lot of support back then. She didn't have a double electric pump or a lot of support for pumping.

    Things sure have changed.
    All over the world there exists in every society a small group of women who feel themselves strongly attracted to giving care to other women during pregnancy and childbirth. Failure to make use of this group of highly motivated people is regrettable and a sin against the principle of subsidiary. ~ Dr. Kloosterman, Chief of OB/GYN, Univ. of Amsterdam, Holland


    Mama to:
    Shiloh (5/6/06) Nursed for 13 months and Josephine (7/26/08) Nursed for 23.5 mos Currently nursing my new little firecracker, Finley Catherine, born on the 4th of July!!

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