The health police - New mother weans baby


The health police: enough already!
Ever felt as if you were under citizen’s arrest when a well-meaning friend or stranger asked if you really needed that slice of cake? Or whether your kids should be outside on such a hot day? We’ve got the comebacks that’ll put the health police behind bars

By Bonny Reichert
First published in Chatelaine’s July 2003 issue.
© Rogers Publishing Ltd.

New mother weans baby

The offence When Heather, a teacher, had a baby last year, she was keen to breastfeed. She knew nursing was recommended for a year or longer; still, after a few months, she was ready to wean. “When you think about how long it has been since your body has been your own–nine months of pregnancy and then another six months of nursing–I wanted my body back.”

To Heather’s surprise, weaning wasn’t straightforward. “I tried and tried to get my daughter to take a bottle with formula but she wouldn’t, so I called the breastfeeding clinic.” When Heather explained the situation, the woman on the other end of the phone said, “Have you tried the formula?” No, she hadn’t, said Heather in a panic. “Well, it tastes awful. She wants your breast milk–it’s much better.” Then her “helper” told a stunned Heather she sounded exhausted and that she should just relax.

“How was that going to help me wean my baby?” Heather still wonders.

Background check “Because breastfeeding is so beneficial, there’s a lot of support for nursing mothers, but there’s a gap in helping women wean,” acknowledges Holly Bennett, editor-in-chief of Today’s Parent Baby & Toddler, one of Chatelaine’s sister magazines. Part of it has to do with health-care professionals not wanting to give a mixed message. “The advantages of breastfeeding an older baby are clear.” For example, Bennett says that because of the protective antibodies in breast milk, breastfed toddlers who go to day care may catch fewer respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses.

And yet, Bennett says Heather has nothing to be ashamed of. “The actual average in Canada is probably not even six months, so six months of breastfeeding is great. In that time a baby gets a fabulous start in life.”

The verdict If you can breastfeed for a little while, great. If you can keep it up for a year or more, fantastic. “Many aspects of infant care mean striking a balance between what is ideal for the baby and what is best for you,” says Bennett.

Your comeback “Do you always ask women about their breasts?”

  • Intro
  • Pregnant woman takes drugs
  New mother weans baby
  • Woman dares to wine and dine
  • Whistle blown on latte habit
  • Canadians shirk the shot
  • Cancer patient ignores unsolicited medical advice
  • Safe medications for pregnant women
  • Tea benefits
  • Cold + flu guide
  • Trade health police stories in our Health forum

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