Gema Cárcamo is the mother of twins twice, an experience that, in addition to allowing her to live a unique experience, has given her enough tables to advise mothers of multiple births through her website Gemelos al Cuadrado . Also, it’s Technician Care Nursing Assistants, Certified Consultant and International Breastfeeding Advisor Breastfeeding mother in Multilacta .
As a professional with more than 20 years in breastfeeding. What is the first problem you come across?
Lack of valuing breastfeeding beyond what is just milk that feeds the baby. Breastfeeding is much more, it fulfills more functions and is important not only for physical growth and development, but also emotional.
This is what leads us to judge that mothers breastfeed beyond what is currently done, when it has really been done that way all our lives. She breastfeeds without an expiration date, as long as mother and child need. Health involves not only the physical aspect, but also the psychological and emotional.
Poster of the documentary ‘Tits and teats’.
Not breastfeeding has important disadvantages and, therefore, it is considered to be a public health problem when it is not possible to reach the breastfeeding goals set to obtain improvements in the universal health of the entire population, and that begins at this stage primal with breastfeeding.
If we do not adequately assess what breastfeeding brings to health, it will be difficult for breastfeeding rates to increase and reverse some of the problems that are directly affecting the health of the population, such as obesity, problems endocrine and metabolic, cardiovascular, etc …
How does the mother’s confidence influence the success of breastfeeding?
Until relatively recently, mothers had passed down breastfeeding knowledge to each other throughout history, from generation to generation. Being together and sharing our experiences has made us strong, confident and self-effective. When the culture of breastfeeding began to be lost, and it was no longer seen, it went into a state of ignorance, and the mother stopped trusting in its abilities and capacities.
When certain sectors devalue breastfeeding, and cancel it, leading mothers even to a battle between them, as it began to happen with the rise of formula milk, this chain of support is cut and their necessary empowerment for breastfeeding is hampered. of free decisions.
“The mother is empowered with information and living with other mothers who breastfeed”
Trust is built with information, knowing what the breastfeeding process is like, how to breastfeed, how real babies behave when they breastfeed. The mother is empowered knowing all this and living with other mothers who breastfeed, and whom she can see. When you receive adequate support from professionals committed to health and updated in lactation.
Lack of confidence does not allow the mother to be empowered and to make decisions for herself. Therefore, she will be ‘forced’ on many occasions to do what others tell her, and that many times compromises the continuity of breastfeeding.
Why are there so many mothers who do not trust that they will be able to breastfeed their children?
The message that has been conveyed in general is that breastfeeding is a sacrificial, painful and difficult experience to achieve. Apart from other messages such as that breastfeeding takes away the mother’s time, quality of life and that it hinders her full personal and professional development, or that it does not allow the couple to be involved in parenting.
In addition, the ‘alternative’ of artificial lactation has been idealized, as something that liberates and does not have to worry about, because they are raised just as well and healthy. All of this influences the decisions that mothers make.
About 90% of mothers want to breastfeed their children, but after three to four months that percentage has almost halved. Why do you think this is so? -Conciliation problems apart-
There is not a total commitment of all social actors, and that knowing the impact that it would have to achieve the established breastfeeding objectives, reducing the death not only of children, but also of mothers. We don’t get to invest as much as the formula industry does.
Starting with the governments, which barely invest enough in awareness campaigns, or in the control of the practices of the formula milk industry, or training for their health workers, going through the health workers themselves, who, having no resources to be able to supporting breastfeeding and having also been a victim of the influences of the food industry, do not give adequate support to mothers.
The family is also a key element to continue breastfeeding. Without close family support, and constant criticism of the decisions that the mother makes when she decides to breastfeed, we cannot expect to achieve the lactation rates that have been proposed for the future.
And without a doubt, the media also has a lot to do with real engagement. It is hard to see how sometimes each breastfeeding promotion campaign is taken as an opportunity to fan the flame of a battle that we mothers have not started, instead of simply serving the dissemination of information, not the free judgment of decisions. that mothers take with that information to gain more audience and visibility.
Some of the fears that undermine the mothers’ confidence is if their milk will feed them, if they will have enough… What do we say to the mother in these cases?
We are the only mammals that question about breastfeeding, when it is a fact that throughout history it has been sufficiently demonstrated that the survival of humans has been thanks to being breastfed by a woman.
The mother can trust that she can do it too, since we have not changed biology, we are still the same humans as thousands of years ago, only with alternatives that they did not have. In the past it was clear that when there was no breast milk, because the mother died, babies also died if they were not fed by another woman. Most healthy women are able to breastfeed without problems, as they have all their lives. If you have questions about your confidence to breastfeed, ask other breastfeeding mothers, find breastfeeding support groups, and breastfeeding professionals to help you.
Why is this not the case with the bottle?
They have sold it to us like that, and very well. Because with the bottle babies grow faster and more, although it is not the normal and ideal of the species. Because the bottle supports the idea that the baby is more satiated. Because so she gives herself a bottle, even after a good breastfeed, she takes it as if there is no tomorrow, greedily, even if she vomits later.
This comes to support the mother’s hypothesis that her milk does not feed, or that it is not enough and we were starving the baby. Generally this happens because it is not known what a baby really is like and how it behaves, and there is a tendency to think that babies eat every three hours, and that if they do not do so, it means that they do not receive enough food. In addition, there is the myth that a healthy child is a plump child, which has done a lot of damage.
In summary, the confidence that one has in the bottle is that it is thought that babies are more satisfied, demand fewer times, bother less at night and sleep more, and grow faster, and above all, they allow you to delegate to others for the feeds, being a lactation less dependent on the mother.
How does the environment influence these trust problems? (the typical phrases of ‘my milk was cut off’, ‘you will have to reinforce with a bottle’ …)
The environment is a determining factor in the continuity of breastfeeding, and it presses strongly, especially if it comes from the family and the couple. In general, people tend to give their opinion without being asked and make gratuitous judgments that can do a lot of damage to the mother’s confidence, and most of the time from ignorance and myths.
Lactation, breastfeeding, newborn
José María Paricio: “There is a terrible fear that breastfeeding will not go well, and that fear is transmitted to mothers”
And the lack of training that we still see in professionals?
Mothers trust our professionals, we think they are properly trained and know how to help us, when they are not. They do not have to know about breastfeeding, because it has not entered their career as a subject. Furthermore, if they are not trained in breastfeeding on their own, they will not be able to address the lactation clinic and adequate care for the breastfeeding family.
The lack of knowledge of the professionals endangers both the beginning and the continuity of breastfeeding, and it is not tolerable that damage is generated in the health of the mother and the child because they have not taken the trouble to consider training in breastfeeding. It is gross negligence.
Breastfeeding is a public health issue, all health workers must have knowledge of breastfeeding to respond as expected, promoting the highest degree of health and well-being possible.
As an expert in multiple birth breastfeeding, do you encounter more trust issues among mothers of twins and twins?
Much more, since mothers of twins or twins have a series of situations that can make the initiation of breastfeeding more complex and maintain it over time.
The mere fact that twins are not seen as much breastfeeding, it is not known that two babies can be breastfed sufficiently. Therefore, it is not trusted, nor encouraged.
There is a greater distrust, in addition, due to the special situations that they can go through, such as premature birth or babies with less weight, a mother who faces an intense postpartum recovery, and the lack of physical and real help at home, to care the needs of babies. Mothers of twins do not have problems with their milk production, but with the organization of time to be able to meet the demand and overcome the challenges they face with breastfeeding.
Finally, if you had to give three or four pieces of advice to breastfeeding mothers with trust problems or so that they do not lose it, they would be …
Inform yourself well and conscientiously in reliable sources about breastfeeding. Start going to mother-to-mother breastfeeding support groups as soon as they learn that they are expecting a baby so they can begin to integrate the culture of breastfeeding. Confirm that the professionals who care for them know about breastfeeding.
Do not assume that your doctor knows breastfeeding, they do not train them to do so. Make sure that there are professionals specialized in lactation in hospitals or health centers. Have at hand the directory of lactation professionals who can help you in case of problems. In Spain we have the figure of the IBCLC (Certified Breastfeeding Consultants), which is the breastfeeding professional, you can contact one at www.ibclc.es .