Quiz: does your doctor really support breastfeeding ?

“Breast is best” is what most doctors will tell you. But do they go beyond that statement and really support breastfeeding mothers and nurslings ? With these 4 simple questions, you can figure out the answer for yourself and see if your doctor is really supportive of breastfeeding.

1. Does he give you free formula samples or coupons, or does he recommend that you to register to a baby club sponsored by a formula brand?

That is one of the big signs that even though your doctor says that “breast is best”, he may not be that breastfeeding friendly. It is not only statistically proven that breastfeeding rates drop when mothers are given formula, it is also proven that most mothers will keep on feeding their child the formula brand that their doctor recommended (or for which he gave them a coupon). That is definitely not being supportive of breast feeding, as it undermines your confidence in your ability to breastfeed.

2.  Is there a tape measurer, a baby scale cover, a poster or anything else with a formula logo on it in the office ?

If that is the case, it means that your doctor has accepted “presents” from formula companies, and those kinds of presents are never free. Your doctor may not be aware of it himself and use those only as tools in his everyday work, but he is indirectly recommending you to use that brand. And why would you need formula if you are exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life ?

3. Are the other moms present in the waiting room breastfeeding ?

If there are, this is positive. If there aren’t, you may start to wonder. Almost all women have the ability to breastfeed with the right kind of support and knowledge. If you think that you may have a special situation that makes it more challenging for you, ask your doctor for advice and if it does not ring true to you, ask someone else, like a La Leche League leader or a lactation consultant. 

4. Has he ever told you that breastfeeding after 6 months is not necessary or has less value ?

Breastmilk is milk made especially for humans. How can it become all of a sudden less valuable or lose its nutritional properties after 6 months ? This is a weird statement, so beware if you hear it in a doctor’s office. Luckily at this point you know for yourself that breastfeeding means much more than feeding your child and that the benefits for your baby AND for you are countless. It is definitely THE most appropriate milk for your baby.

If you’ve read all the way to here, you may be interested in having a look at the World Health Organization International Code for the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. If I were to condense it in one sentence, I’d say that most marketing of breastmilk substitutes (formula) undermines a mother’s confidence in her ability to breastfeed and should thus be prohibited. Unfortunately, North American doctors who really do follow the code are not so easy to find. If you want to be sure that your doctor does respect the code and will fully support breastfeeding, you can go to a “Baby Friendly” designated hospital. To get the designation, the hospital staff needs to be trained for breastfeeding support, respect the WHO code, and have a high rate of breastfeeding success. Thumbs up !

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