Finding a pediatrician who supports breastfeeding seems like it should be easy, but often it is not. Here are some tips on how to find a pediatrician who will support and encourage you as a breastfeeding mom.
Choosing A Pediatrician For Encouragement
Many expectant parents give little thought to the pediatrician they will take their baby to after they give birth. Many get recommendations from friends. They assume that the pediatrician their friends and relatives trust is the right pediatrician for their children. Others may take a phone number from a commercial or advertisement in a local paper. They assume the most advertised pediatrician must be the best.
Unfortunately, many parents end up switching pediatricians. They look much closer and take their decision far more seriously the second time around. One of the biggest reasons for making this switch is finding out that the first chosen pediatrician does not share parenting values that the new parents feel are important.
Breastfeeding is one issue where pediatricians can differ with parents. Most pediatricians are okay with breastfeeding, but not every pediatrician wholeheartedly recommends and encourages breastfeeding. Some simply believe that breastfeeding and bottle feeding are interchangeable, with few benefits in favor of breast milk.
If you are currently breastfeeding or know you want to breastfeed once your baby is born, do yourself a favor and find a pediatrician that supports breastfeeding. It is best to do this before the baby is even born.
Benefits of a Pro-Breastfeeding Pediatrician
There are some differences between a pediatrician who is okay with breastfeeding and one who encourages and supports breastfeeding. A pediatrician who is not an advocate for breastfeeding may encourage you to give up and go with the bottle if you have complications while breastfeeding. They may not take the time to help you figure out the problems and work through them so you can continue breastfeeding as long as you feel it is necessary.
Some pediatricians may not agree with you on the length of time a baby should be breastfed. For instance, if you plan to breastfeed even after your baby has developed teeth and is going into the toddler years, you will find that many pediatricians will not be very supportive. Some may even question your reasons for breastfeeding beyond the “norm.”
It is much different when you find a pediatrician who truly supports breastfeeding parents. They will not question your motives for wanting to breastfeed as long as it is healthy for your body and your baby is thriving. If you come across complications, this pediatrician will take the time to work out solutions so you can continue doing what is healthiest for your baby.
Start with the pediatricians that are recommended to you by your friends and family members. Contact other mothers you know, as well as expectant mothers, and ask them about their experiences with specific pediatricians. If they are not strict advocates of breastfeeding, their experiences can still be valuable. Ask them if they feel their pediatrician listens to them, spends time with them, and gives them accurate advice.
You should also ask how these pediatricians have responded to others concerning breastfeeding. You may ask if they have ever been given samples for baby formula from their pediatrician. Hearing that a pediatrician’s office hands out samples is a good sign that the pediatrician may not be as devoted to breastfeeding as you would like.
Mark pediatricians that do not seem to be in support of breastfeeding from your list of recommended pediatricians. You do not even need to contact them to know that they may not be ideal matches for your family. Even if your friends and relatives love them, it doesn’t mean they are well suited to your needs and parenting beliefs.
Making Contact with a Pediatrician
You should be free to contact a pediatrician and request a meeting before your baby is even born. It is natural for concerned parents to interview a pediatrician and talk to nurses in their office before deciding which pediatrician to trust with their baby. This is far better than switching pediatricians and having your baby’s files transferred after they are born and you discover you made a bad choice initially.
Have a list of questions with you when you meet with a pediatrician. You do not want to waste their time, and you do not want to react negatively if they are not the right fit for your family. You simply want to run some questions by them to determine if they should remain on your list or get marked off. If they are to be marked off, simply thank them for their time and head out to meet with another candidate.
Sample Questions to Ask When Finding a Pediatrician:
- If you aren’t sure what you want to ask or how to phrase your questions to get the best answers, here are some basic questions to use as samples:
- Tell me about your training and experience with breastfeeding. What training have you gone through, and how recent was that training?
- On average, what percentage of your patients breastfeed?
- What advice do you give your patients regarding breastfeeding? Do you have any standard information that you give out to new mothers regarding breastfeeding?
- What age do you typically recommend your patients start introducing solids?
- Have you ever recommended a patient stop breastfeeding and switch to the bottle? What would lead you to make that recommendation?
- Are you supportive of parents deciding how long they want to breastfeed, or do you encourage weaning by a certain age?
- How willing are you to help breastfeeding mothers find solutions to problems and complications that may come up while breastfeeding? Do you have the knowledge needed to help with these problems?
- Do you believe that breast milk and formula are the same? Do you think they are equally as healthy for a growing baby?
You may have some right and wrong answers in your mind; and you will know what you would like to hear in response to these questions. You should still keep an open mind and genuinely listen to the response given by the pediatrician. In some areas you may not be able to find a pediatrician who gives all the right answers to every question. If you listen closely you will at least find one who gives answers you can live with and work with in the long run. Remember you can also supplement this care with help from other breastfeeding professionals if you need to!'Breastfeeding is the standard by which all other infant-feeding methods should be judged.'Click To Tweet
Look for Red Flags!
Mainly, you want to look for red flags that tell you a pediatrician is definitely not a good fit for you. If she is a woman, ask if she breastfed her own children. If it is a married man, the did his wife breastfeed? This may be an indicator of how he or she feels about it.
The biggest red flag, however, is the belief that breast milk is not superior to formula. Professional organizations that have done vast studies agree “Breastfeeding is the standard by which all other infant-feeding methods should be judged.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215837/)
So it you may hear the pediatrician say that formula milk is now nearly the same as breast milk, be concerned. That is NOT even close to true and this belief is going to stand in the way of supporting you if things do not go completely right with your breastfeeding journey.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
- Supplementing With Formula While Breastfeeding – The Facts Moms Need to Know
- The Best Nursing Bra is a Good Fit (Even for a Changing Body!)
- Preparing to Breastfeed While Still Pregnant
- Life with a Breastfeeding Baby