Recently Leo had to have a follow-up abdominal ultrasound to check on his gallstones. Some recommend fasting prior to such tests (doesn't make a difference according to this study) so I decided to double-check how long it takes for breastmilk to digest, out of curiosity. In my search I found a site purporting to give breastfeeding tips to help baby properly digest. I had to see what it said, and then shook my head as the advice given seemed better suited to bottle-feeding even though it was addressed to breastfeeding mums. I could easily see how a mum wold give up breastfeeding before she'd intended due to the advice given. Let's take a look.
The first point said to use proper positioning. Had it stopped with that or listed the various positions people use, that would've been fine. Instead the author went on to state that the babe should never be fed in a reclining position but should be kept at a 45 degree angle whilst feeding. Wording it as an exact angle could easily stress a new parent who can second-guess herself anyway. Besides, there are a variety of positions, each with different benefits. For example, I had to use a football hold with Leo for awhile because it helped ensure he had a deep latch (he has later learned to have a good latch in any position). Before the tongue tie was sorted and he was put on medication for his gallstones, I indeed did have to avoid feeding in a reclining position, due to his reflux, but my other two had no problem feeding like that. Neither does Leo now, even though he still has some reflux.
The second point said to ensure the baby doesn't eat too quickly. Now, unless the mum has an over active letdown or is kept waiting too long to feed, this isn't going to apply to the breastfed babe. A breastfeeding baby who is fed on demand self-regulates. Personally, the only time I've had a baby who ate "too fast" was if he'd had to wait a little longer to eat, like if I was driving. Even then, the problem wasn't really eating too fast, but not having a proper latch. Once I fixed that, all was well.
The third point really reveals that the author is trying to apply bottle-feeding advice to breastfeeding, for it recommends winding the baby after each ounce. Now, last I checked, I didn't have ounces marked on my breasts. If a mother were worried about this, I could easily see her switching to a bottle just to know when the child had consumed an ounce. Also under this point was the statement that babies take in a lot of air when feeding. No mention was made about the latch, though. A baby with a poor latch will indeed take in a lot of air, but one with a proper latch will not. If the baby is taking in a lot of air, I'd personally recommend seeing an IBCLC to assess the latch.
The only point with which I agree is when the author recommends baby massage. The caveat is that it shouldn't be done right after feeding. The article doesn't give much information on how it is done, but I found another site that gives some basic information. I quite like baby massage, as it does help with digestion, and is a nice relaxing, bonding time.
But then they go back to what I consider to be bad advice for a purely breastfed baby. They caution against overfeeding, but a baby who is fed on demand will self-regulate and will not overeat. So this point really has more to do with a bottle-feeding mum, or a mum who isn't feeding on cue.
Why do I care about this? It comes up on the first page of results on a Google search on how long it takes for breastmilk to digest. According to the link, these points came from Parents.com, a popular site (I tried the link, and it took me to an article that wasn't really related to this article). Not everyone would check that link to verify, or would check the veracity of the information presented. Many women want to breastfeed, but then are met with misinformation such as this and then stop before they'd wanted. Medical boards seek to increase breastfeeding rates, but that isn't easy when such misinformation abounds. It's one thing if a woman knows all the information and decides to bottle-feed instead, but I get upset when a woman wants to breastfeed, is able to do so (eg: doesn't have insufficient glandular tissue or the like), but ends up stopping earlier than she wanted due to misinformation or lack of support. I do hope it's getting better.