Thursday, February 05, 2009

Breastfeeding (sabotage) kit

Enfamil is generously offering, out of the goodness of their hearts, a Breastfeeding Kit. It's everything a new breastfeeding mom needs to get off to a successful start (at formula feeding, that is).
  • A sample of Expecta® LIPIL® DHA Supplement for pregnant and nursing moms. Because the first step to supplementing with formula is to undermine the mom's confidence that her breastmilk alone is sufficient for the baby. If you can't persuade her to supplement her baby, then start by getting her to take your magical supplements!
  • An excerpt from The Nursing Mother's Companion, a useful guide with tips and suggestions. Because the entire book would be too expensive and would probably give the mother enough information and confidence that she wouldn't need your magical formulas or supplements. I am guessing the excerpts are all the parts that would undermine breastfeeding: probably stuff about how to supplement with formula, etc.
  • A sample of Enfamil LIPIL®, our closest formula to breast milk, should you choose to supplement. Because, you know, it's all about choice. Never mind that the "choice" to supplement is often a one-way road to formula feeding, or that once a mom "chooses" formula, she cannot simply choose to go back to breastfeeding.
Does anyone else find this creepy and condescending? Well, at least one other person does: Mama-Is (formerly known as Hathor the Cowgoddess). She made a comic about it.

What would be in your ideal breastfeeding kit? Mine would have:
  • At least two breastfeeding books: one solid, informational, problem-solving one like Jack Newman's Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, and one funny/inspiring one.
  • A sling for hands-free nursing. I'm partial to Second Womb Slings...
  • A stainless steel water bottle: no worries about chemicals leaching out of plastic bottles, good for the environment, helps mama stay hydrated.
  • A DVD of helpful breastfeeding videos, such as the ones found on Jack Newman's site.
  • A collection of fun music and DVDs so mama can relax and enjoy herself while the baby is nursing.
  • A basketful of fruit, nuts, and other delicious snacks for those "holy cow! I need to eat something NOW I am so hungry" breastfeeding moments.
  • Breast comfort aids: Lanolin cream, ice packs for engorgement, gel pads for sore nipples, etc
  • Breastfeeding pillow & cover
  • Phone numbers to the local La Leche League and IBCLCs
  • Samples of Mother's Milk Tea
  • Nursing necklace for mom (for baby to play with when it gets older)
Any other things you'd suggest for Rixa's Ultimate Breastfeeding Kit?


  1. I LOVE your breastfeeding kit. In fairness to Enfamil, one portion of their kit is somewhat legit - the Expecta® LIPIL® DHA Supplement is just a DHA vitamin for moms, I think it is free of animal products so moms don't worry about the fish oil mercury link. BUT your kit sounds SO much more helpful!

    I love your blog, and I passed on a blog award to you the other day -see here for details:

  2. Great Kit Rixa! I would also add a tube of Lansinoh for Breastfeeding Mothers; that stuff was a lifesaver when I had that "chapped lip" feeling on my nipples with my first child.

    A cover for a Boppy Pillow; they make those now (I LOVE my Boppy).

    Phone numbers to your local La Leche League (contrary to what seems to be popular experience, I did not find the LLL Ladies to be "Nazis" AT ALL).

    Ice Packs to relieve engorgement and a few samples of Mother's Milk Tea.

    Those are the items I would add.

    I should add, I've had the gamut of experiences in infant feeding. I nursed my first child well into toddlerhood and even tandem-nursed her and her sister and weaned them at the same time, yet my fourth child I dried up at four months due to stress and ended up formula feeding her because she had full-blown failure to thrive. So I've had my foot in both camps.

  3. I love the snacks! A must for a nursing kit. With my first I would wake up to nurse in the middle of the night and eat peanut butter crackers!! This time around I'm not even awake, since I decided to go for the co-sleeping right from the beginning. But I am STILL famished! My husband jokes about my 10 o'clock snack. I'm usually hunting around the house for carbs!

    Love the blog!

  4. Ooh, great ideas...adding them to my list.

  5. Hand towels. Lots of hand towels. They are my saving grace in the first few weeks when my let down is really intense. With the exception of disposable diapers (not the best choice for obvious reasons), nothing else can contain that flow from the un-nursed side! :-)

  6. Wonderful, wonderful! I can SOOO see this turning into a huge giveaway for a new mom-to-be.

    I'd add one good nursing bra to the list. I never really found a favorite, to be honest. I often resorted to running bras for ease of nursing.

    I might also add some fun non-toxic jewelry pieces. My babies would play with my hands or tug on my hair, but I've seen some beautiful "nursing" pieces of jewelry out there that would be really fun for baby to tug on while nursing and watching mommy.

    I never tried one, but I'd love to hear if people use those nursing bracelets that keep track of when and which side. I nurse on demand, personally. And I was far too disorganized to remember which side was last nursed on. :)

    My take: nursing takes very little to do successfully if you have the personal support system. But it was fun using all sorts of things before coming to that decision.

  7. I think "So That's What They're For" would be a great "funny" choice for BFing literature. I bought a copy of this to give a friend who had her first baby about a month after I had my second, because it came so highly recommended.

  8. as much as the show The Doctors kind of annoys me (the older obnoxious one giving an arm pump and a smile for a c-section when a mom asked about how to get over her fear of the pain of labor...)

    Dr. Sears gave out a gift basket to pregnant parents that included The Baby Book, Lansinoh Breast pump, and a baby sling (designed by his sister)... i thought it was a pretty awesome basket. =)

  9. I could have used a breastfeeding kit like yours! I struggled a lot with nursing. We nursed exclusively while I was on maternity leave, but 6 weeks was barely enough time to get a good handle on everything let alone get any sort of stock pile built up for going back to work. When I went back to work we had to supplement with formula and, as you know, it's all downhill from there.

    Anyway, I would love to see a post (or link to a good demonstration) on breastfeeding in a sling. I tried it but never could get the hang of it. I would LOVE to be able to do it next go round though.

  10. Gel pads for sore nipples and a set of wool breast pads.

    I agree that the DHA supplement is not such a good idea. For one, it's synthetic and it's safety in formula is already being questioned. Omega 3 supplement would be a much better choice.

  11. When I left the hospital after our last child's birth, they gave me the enfamil "breastfeeding mother's" diaper bag, as opposed to the "formula feeding mother's" diaper bag. The difference? The bf bag contained some lanolin cream and a few breastmilk storage bags. Both had samples of formula, information about bottle feeding, bottles and pacifiers.

  12. I would add a fun book -- but reading habits are pretty personal, so maybe that's impractical.

    I had a startling conversation with a good friend yesterday. She told me, "you know how you're not supposed to read while you nurse?" And I was all, "Are you kidding me?"

    She had been told by some "expert" that reading while nursing was criminally negligent of the baby who should be getting mom's full attention 24-7 apparently.

    Now, I love nursing, love the closeness and the warmth and the smells and the gooeyness, but I also loved it for the reading/relaxing time I got in, ESPECIALLY once I had older kids who got to play with Dad or entertain themselves while Mom got some quality "alone" time (w/ the baby). This is esp. important if you have a long nurser. I cannot imagine anything more stultifying that trying to actively "bond" with an oblivious nurser for 45+ minutes.

    What are some of these "experts" ON?

    (I confess this is part of my beef with people who push babywearing so much too. I'm home all day, I'm with the kids constantly. Being "bonded" enough is NOT our problem.)

  13. GREAT post!!!

    I feel absolutely the same. All five of my children were delivered in a hospital, uninduced, unmedicated, Bradley-style. I have had the EXACT same thoughts about the "breastfeeding" bags given to new mothers. They're sabotage kits! I saved the diaperbag that it all came in, but I cut off the Enfamil tag that shows on the outside. Ugh.

    I think I'll save this post, and use it for baby shower gift ideas.

  14. I also saw this site and will be blogging about it in a few days myself.

    What I would put in the *real* b/f support kit is the book "Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy" by Laura Keegan. It is excellent. Simply excellent. (I've blogged about it before, if you want my full review of it, but I won't repeat myself here.) :-)


  15. Yuck, I hate those things. I always give the bags to good will, and the formula to formula feeding friends. The only thing I've ever kept from them is the ice packs:) I love your breastfeeding kit idea, I wish the hospitals and doctor's offices handed those out instead (or handed out nothing). They're even a bad idea for formula feeding moms. Research shows that moms stick with the first formula they try, and the generic formulas are the same thing for half the price.

  16. Nancy Paronich IBCLC. If I could clone her and make a mini Nancy, that would be the best help in a breast feeding kit. I was fortunate to work with her when I was a new nurse and when I had a problem helping a nursing Mom, she would get right up out of her chair, stop everything she was doing and go to the room with me to help the Mom breast feed and teach me how to help. So many IBCLC Nurses that I approach nowadays say "Oh I will put her on my list." The Mother needs help now. Not later when she has had an emotional break down and decided to bag the nursing thing altogether and give the baby a bottle.

    Also if more hospitals would give each Nurse 3 Mother baby couplets instead of 5 or 6, then the nurse would have more time to be helpful when the help is needed. Most Maternity nurses enjoy teaching breast feeding but they don't have time between 5 women. It just isn't possible!!! Which sucks.

  17. Jane, there are many more benefits of babywearing than just bonding. Convenience is one of them ;) There are times when I need to do something at home (cook, clean, etc) and my baby is being clingy or simply wants to see what I am cooking. She loves to be on my back at such times. Also when we go to the store, I'd much rather have her in a sling than in a cart (a sling is much more compact and easier to use than shopping cart cover). I don't know how I'd be able to attend and photograph a birth for 3 hours without having my baby in a sling and nursing her whenever she'd get squirmy :)

    Just thought I'd mention it... I do think a sling would be a nice addition to a breastfeeding kit, even if you already get plenty of time to bond while nursing :) Besides, wearing your baby often in the first weeks encourages frequent feedings and milk production. With all the 'baby-sitting' equipment available these days, some moms simply tend to overuse it...

  18. Just wanted to let you know I love your blog! I'm reading your dissertation as well.


  19. This looks interesting...

    Breastfeeding in America: A History of Influencing Factors

    The author explores the history of breastfeeding in America. Popular belief is that medicine, science, and the formula industry have had the most impact on women's decisions to bottle versus breastfeed. What cannot be overlooked are other areas of influence. Cultural practices, including the beliefs of colonial Americans, the increased social value of children in the 20th century, and the emergence of a middle class, have influenced maternal decision making....

    J Hum Lact. 25(1):85-94.

  20. EFF Enfamil. I hate them. HATE THEM.

    And the DHA vitamin is no better; it's just one more subtle (or not so subtle) reinforcement that a mother's milk is lacking, it's not complete, and you need Enfamil products to make it better. It's so disgusting to me that I want to spit nails--nails I tell you!

    I want to DO something. What can we do? Boycott Enfamil? Send out corrective press releases? Egg their company headquarters?

    Honestly, I'm so over this kind of bull crap I can hardly even stand it. GRRRRRR.

  21. Oooh, you hit the nail on the head with the DHA suplements- I hadn't even put the connection together that they're trying to get moms hooked on their company while they're pregnant. I think you are definantly right on that one!

    The hospital I deliver at went pro-breastfeeding in-between when I had my 3rd. and 4th. babies. With my 4th, they no longer have the formula diaper bags anymore. Instead, they give out a sleep sack for your baby to take home, and even have a deluxe sleep sack for your baby to use while you're in the hospital.

  22. I'm just curious...I have been reading your blog for quite some time now. I'm definately FOR MYSELF one who would ever choose to give birth at home. I am one who had two births, both with epidurals and I loved and cherish those experiences. I admire your passion for home is interesting reading your research, etc. My question is, do you think that if a mother chooses not to breastfeed her child, that it is wrong? I'm thinking of my second child...I tried and tried...but didn't produce enough milk, so I went to formula. I chose to only breastfeed my first child for 6 months. I know they say breast is best...but my first child was MUCH more sick and has had more health issues than the my child I didn't breastfeed. I'm just curious on your feelings...

  23. Wonderful kit you've made! I can't think I'd add anything else, except maybe some of those handy business cards that explain the benefits of breastfeeding (or legalities if you're in one of those icky areas where you get the third degree if you NIP) to hand to other people.

    I'm going to link from my blog (warning!) just so's ya know!

  24. Jane just gave me the giggles with the "you know how you're not supposed to read while you nurse?" story--I SO didn't get that memo either! I wrote most of my dissertation while breastfeeding (not as in 'during the breastfeeding years' but as in 'with my constant nurser on the Bobby and my laptop and books next to us on the sofa'). If someone had told me I had to sit and do absolutely nothing but adore my baby throughout hour-long breastfeeding sessions while my research and grading piled up unattended, either my head would have exploded or I would have ripped off the speakers'. (I love to cuddle, but come on ...)

  25. Great ideas for a breastfeeding kit Rixa. I would add a pamphlet about how to deal with thrush. In my personal contact I have heard a lot of moms quit because of thrush. Here's a good link

    Elsha asked about how to nurse in a sling. I think the type of sling you are using is the most important to being able to comfortably nurse. I have some photos of my choice of sling. And I am off to write up some of my thoughts on the subject. I have been meaning to for a while anyway! Wearing

  26. Amy Bentley's article "Inventing Baby Food: Gerber and the Discourse of Infancy in the United States" (see here for a preview, or here for an outline of the article).

  27. Aww man Rixa, this kit sounds phenomenal! MAKE IT! =0)

  28. I agree. I pooped out the DHA supplement whole so they are NO GOOD. Every time I go to my midwife, I ask the nurse for a box and pretend I didn't get one. Then I ceremoniously burn it at home and laugh at the money they just wasted giving me one. Plus, I need stuff to start my wood stove fires.

    I would also add a pamphlet on the joys of PUBLIC breastfeeding. After all if you bottle feed a baby with artificial nipples, it should be okay to use real ones in public as well.

  29. I am just REALLY suprised they don't have the balls to give out actual bottles with their kits. I am willing to bet that will be next.

    Also, shame on the doctor or midwife that promotes these. They are just as much at fault.

  30. Please don't hate me, but I don't get why people get so mad about the enfamil kits. I've never fed either of my kids formula or used other enfamil products, but I don't mind getting the samples. And I really don't understand why you would request a sample just to burn it.

    Do you really think women are so very brainwashable? I throw the formula in our emergency kit; I figure that way if anything happens to me the baby has something to drink at least.

  31. Yes, MaryAnne. They are. :( Our culture is product-driven, unfortunately. If people believe Axe is sexy because the commercials say so, even though it smells like fermented dog ass, then they will believe that you "need" to supplement even though you don't, because that's what Enfamil thinks. And supplementing inevitably leads to weaning. Off the breast at least - and onto full-time formula. Mission accomplished.

  32. Add: Soothies--a good product that I've seen help heal cracked/sore nipples when nothing else would and half of a bottle of dark, organic, unfiltered beer--especially for mom needing a little help with let down. Seriously.


  33. Oh--and--a friend of mine who was a labor and delivery nurse noted that the sample gift package given to mothers at the hospital where she worked contained powdered formula if a woman was already formula feeding and cans of liquid formula if a mother was breastfeeding. How sneaky is that??


  34. I got one of those kits from the hospital when I had Rosie! They packed it in my stuff and included a six pack of pre-made Enfamil bottles, one of which they opened and fed part of to Rosie when they had her in the nursery for "discharge" right as we were leaving. (Even though a thousand times I specifically said no formula or pacifiers...and hospital policy didn't allow any non-staff into the nursery...)
    Anyway, I love your breastfeeding kit! I wish the LLL actually had the funding to hand those out to each new mom.

  35. Rixa, I love your kit...but...10 years ago when I was struggling to latch on my firstborn I looked to my baby and I looked within, I consulted with experts (two IBCLCs and a LLL leader) I dug through my books (I have a lot)and what finally helped was the free excerpt from my "sabotage kit." It noted that babies with high palates (which mine had) often self correct at about one month of age.

    Because of that information, I kept at it, and she latched on for the very first time at 35 days. I continued to nurse five months into my second pregnancy--she was almost 2.

    I didn't get a kit with my homebirth baby, or with my UC maybe the info has changed:)

    While on a broad level I agree about the marketing tactics and the subliminal message, I actually did benefit from the freebie diaper bag.


  36. The formula companys are just creepy and no doubt.
    Here in Canada they send a "sample" a whole tin of formula just before the baby is born and then they send another at about two weeks after the due date...most likely when the Mom is at the peak of sleep deprevation.

  37. I live in the UK and formula companies aren't allowed to give stuff like that out at NHS hospitals. However, we did get a few diaper related freebies - which were appreciated.

    Actually, we did have to supplement with formula (for a variety of reasons) in the early days and when I returned to work (he was almost 9 mos when I started going in a lot) I definitely chose formula over trying to pump. I would have definitely appreciated some non-biased advice about supplementing - as I felt some were trying to push me toward formula even breast feeding advocates who seemed to have the idea that if formula ever touched his lips that would be the end of breastfeeding.

    But it wasn't. He's over 20 months and still nursing.

  38. OMG, look how she's practically screwing that poor baby's head onto her breast? Crazy hold...

    I actually try to downplay needing any THING to bf when talking to new moms (or teaching my classes, etc.) b/c I think that it can be a fine line between commercial and helpful/fun, you know?

    That said, my new favorite book is Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Moms. And I suggest that most moms do like to have a nursing bra or two, but they're not strictly necessary...

    Love your blog. :)


  39. MaryAnn, "samples" and "gifts" from formula companies have been proven to shorten the duration and undermine the exclusivity of bf. They work--that's why they send them out and what's wrong with them.

    Also, Rixa, I would encourage you not to put troubleshooting products into this gift basket (read the comments after I left my own) b/c it presupposes that you're BOUND to have bf problems that will need a product to fix them.


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