Everything changes. A bit about best practice and current weaning guidelines.

I’m at an inbetweeny stage feeding-wise at the moment.  I have a toddler who does 2 things all day in creche: eats and talks – then comes home and does the same – and an almost fully cooked bump that won’t be leading me towards weaning for another 6.5 months approx.  So I hope to maybe diversify slightly in the blog’s subject matter for a bit, with food and nutrition still being my primary interest.

Things change all the time, and young ‘uns and first timers telling their mammies that things are different now can often put the older generation on the defensive.  I’m not accusing anyone of doing anything the wrong way, and often times the voice of experience is better than the book.  But new guidelines are based on extensive research and do tend reflect the current best practice.  Nobody’s trying to insult anyone telling them to put their children in car seats – y’know, it’s just been proven to be that bit better a practise than squishing 6 under 12s into the back of a VW Polo hatchback in the 80’s.  Who? Us?!

Just the other day during a hospital tour led by a really lovely midwife – with perhaps only 10-15 years experience under her belt – she mentioned just a few of the changes that have taken place in her reasonably short time practicing.

  • On the post natal ward she showed us the room formerly known as the nursery.   Now it’s half midwife office,  and half an informal clinic type room, where new mums can bathe their baby, change nappies, get baby weighed and be shown how to do any of these things if they so wish.  She tells us just a few years ago it was full of cots with loving relatives peering in the window at rows of new babies.  Now the new babies all stay with their mums.
  • In the same room she pointed out an incubator in the corner, affectionately nicknamed ‘the microwave’ because it was used for half hour periods to warm up a newborn who’s temperature had dropped.  Now, baby is stripped and put inside mum’s nightie for the same result in about 10 minutes.
  • In a delivery room she pointed out the wheely unit with the big light on top (hem hem, I don’t know the actual name of this thing) – it’s what you often see them whisk the baby away to in fil-ums, to check it over, count fingers and toes, do things to clear mucus/make baby do a cry etc.   Routinely baby used to be delivered, cord cut, popped up on there, and cleaned & dressed by the midwife. Now, she acknowledged it was in fact a bit distressing to the newborn and they only use that when there is actual a medical issue to address.  Now baby is given straight to mama and cord is left pulsate a while to ease its journey into the world.

I know that’s not necessarily reflective of every hospital’s policy in Dublin, never mind across the country, but it goes to show people need to be flexible when it comes to how they do their work, because one day someone might say, right – we’re doing it different from now on.  Hospital staff are at the coalface working in large teams, meeting new people all the time, hopefully learning, learning, learning all the time. By contrast, GP’s and Public Health Nurses that have practised in the community for a long time can be very Set In Their Ways.  And, a lot of nervy first timers would take every word they say as gospel.  So it really bugs me when I hear tell of (for example) a SITW-PHN telling a mammy that their 5 month old should be having 2 or 3 meals of solids and really they’re being neglectful stuffing their child full of fabulous breastmilk when their employer the HSE says otherwise.  I believe health professionals should deliver the current best practice guidelines, with an ounce or two of their own professional opinion derived from their experience also.  No one wants a robot, but I do think it’s important and the most responsible thing to do to deliver the facts first.  And in this blog’s area of feeding and weaning, there are WHO guidelines, and more locally there are HSE guidelines.

Whether its the woman in the supermarket (as discussed by MindTheBaby recently) or a close relative, everyone has an opinion.  There are some who you need be able to trust – like the aforementioned Doctors, Midwives and Public Health Nurses.  But much like your own mother’s and your child rearing styles may vary, so do the suggestions/firm instructions of medical professionals vary wildly. I connected on twitter recently with What’s Up Mum – whoprovide the HSE’s ‘complete guide to pregnancy, birth and parenthood’.  I can’t vouch for the general content of apps or anything at this point as I haven’t checked them out enough, and I imagine the view of pregnancy & birth is very much based on a the reasonably highly medicalised de facto Irish hospital way of doing things.  But, when I asked about official weaning guidelines, I got a prompt friendly response.  There’s busybodies and early weaning advocates everywhere, so I suggest bookmarking this/printing it out and thrusting it under the nose of anyone that tells you when your baby is 16 weeks that it would sleep better with a bit of baby rice lashed into it.

We all have mammies, we all have aunts, cousins, sisters  and friends who’ve been there and done that with babies.  I met another mum recently who espoused the theory, during a group discussion, that the recommendation to give your baby Vitamin D was a big corporate cod and sure none of us got it as a supplement and didn’t we turn out fine.  I pointed out that we perhaps weren’t slathered in SPF50 the moment the sun pointed it’s weak rays in our direction and so didn’t really need it.   Incidentally I didn’t actually give it to Dominic, because I don’t remember anyone – hospital or PHN – really pushing it.  Now I believe it’s a much firmer recommendation, so I will to give it to number 2, hopefully with a dropper on the tongue.  Also, I don’t believe some sort of Big Pharma are behind Vitamin D promotion.  It’s a vitamin, you can get it from other stuff, it doesn’t just exist as a chemically synthesised product.

In the same discussion another woman said she didn’t have a computer, wasn’t bothered with websites anyhow and she had her mam to ask questions of.  I love my mum with all my heart, but she’s not who I’d automatically turn to with parenting questions.  Not that I doubt she did a fine job, sure I’m her daughter aren’t I? And she taught most of an Irish town in their formative years who unless the ones I’ve met are lying to me, loved her to bits.  And she has 6 grandchildren that know she’s the bees knees.  But I’m a researcher by nature, I like books, blogs, studies, forums, facts and opinions floating out there to be mulled over and dismissed or adapted. And now I’m finally on maternity leave again, I aim to get my head firmly back in those books, at least until this one arrives.

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5 thoughts on “Everything changes. A bit about best practice and current weaning guidelines.

  1. Sounds like you know my PHN! We had a heated discussion some months ago when she insisted that I needed to shovel porridge/potato into the baby an hour before bedtime and then refuse to feed him during the night so that we’d all sleep. I’m glad I ignored that advice!
    I must admit I’m guilty of not following through on the Vit D. AFAIK the recommendation only came in in late 2010. I reckon over time they’ll find an easier way to administer it to a newborn than with a dropper thingy. That was my downfall, I kept missing his mouth or sticking it too far in there and needing to sterilise it. It was too hard! I’ll try harder the next time 🙂
    I think it’s wonderful that your hospital have changed their practices to the mum and baby friendly ones that you describe. In so many other hospitals women have to fight for delayed cord clamping, kangeroo care and rooming in. Hopefully we’ll see more positive improvements across the board.
    Enjoy every minute of your maternity leave! Rest up before the new baba comes xx

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  2. Well said J.
    You will hear so much varying advice and information when it comes to weaning, much of it coming from health professionals and being totally incorrect. The best bet is always to go with current WHO and/or HSE guidelines.

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  3. Great post Jill.
    Re: the Vitamin D drops I was told to give them to Rían because I was breastfeeding. When Carys was born in December 2011 the recommendations had changed to breastfed and formula fed babies. I also came across an article on BBC earlier this year that said Vitamin D deficiency has been found in a high number of babies that died of SIDS. So defo very important to give. I just do the dropper first thing every morning. Carys actually started opening her mouth when she saw the bottle after a few months of me giving it. Here’s the BBC article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16726841

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    1. Oh wow that’s interesting (and tragic obviously) – I wasn’t really sure outside of rickets what the outcomes of Vit D deficiency could be – I definitely plan to do it this time anyhow so.

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