The Mother-In-Law Kind of Syndrome (MILKoS)!
With respect, the following commentary is not meant to be offensive in any way. On the contrary, it is meant to highlight and encourage reasonable discussion to create awareness of some issues often experienced by mothers with a new baby. Loved ones, family and friends are very important to the new mother, her baby and her journey into and through her parenting years. It’s the interaction and possible domination involving negative comments or actions by some, who may see it their role to help by taking over the role of the Mother, without realising the internal maternal trauma that may be developing. Many mothers can be quietly traumatised by the words and actions of some well-meaning friends or family members. The following explanation is meant to encourage an improved understanding in relation to the many comments and “cries for help” I receive from new mothers, who seek advice on how to deal with such issues. I respond in good faith with the joy and experience of a Mother of 53 years, a Midwife of 45 years with a PHD in breastfeeding and a Grandmother of 25 years.
Is there such a thing as a Mother-In-Law Kind of Syndrome? A relationship or behaviours that may affect the way in which you feel about your Mothering ability, YOUR BODY and YOUR BABY?
If this is familiar to you, does a MILKoS affect your physiological, emotional and mental well-being?
If your response is no, then keep fulfilling your role as the Mother of a new or young baby or toddler.
If your response is yes, it’s important to keep asking yourself questions and use your maternal instinct to guide you in however you wish to handle your situation.
Depending on your individual and unique family dynamics you may feel the instinctive need to STOP and deal with any uncomfortable feelings or situations early to help calm, balance and regain your maternal equilibrium?
Do you feel uncomfortable or fearful about handling attitudes, behaviours and/or situations that appear to associate with a possible MILKoS?
If yes, let’s talk about the importance of YOU, YOUR BODY and YOUR BABY.
First, are you able to identify which situations most affect YOU?
Maybe to maintain a calm balance a simple approach is preferable. Could you could write down or speak and record the top 5 negative issues that matter most to YOU, followed by the top 5 positive experiences that please YOU?
Remember dealing with such issues is always about YOU, YOUR BABY and YOUR BODY.
YOU have worked hard on a powerful journey to grow your baby, patiently await the onset of your labour, give birth and hold YOUR BABY in your arms.
Suddenly, you find yourself faced with a situation where a well-meaning (or maybe not) friend or family member wants to give you advice that doesn’t gel with your maternal instincts. Maybe negative comments about your ability are raised, which leads to the person wanting to teat-bottle feed YOUR BABY, when you are already trying to establish breastfeeding.
This is your turn to experience and learn about YOURSELF AS A MOTHER, YOUR BABY and YOUR BODY.
There will always be others who may think YOUR BABY is theirs too.
Well that’s not so, they may share your baby when your instincts say YES, however they are responsible for recognising that they have had their time of being a MOTHER with their baby or babies.
Now it’s your PRIME TIME to experience what they have already done.
They may mean well but are they mindful or aware of the effect that their behaviours negative or positive are having on YOU, the Mother of YOUR BABY?
What happens if a MILKoS begins to exercise desires to share or take over feeding your breastfed baby?
It may be a perfectly satisfactory agreement or may be not!
If not, that’s a hard one to deal with especially for new Mother with a highly active pituitary gland at the base of her brain, releasing surging hormones, to ensure her breasts are refilling with her extremely precious maternal milk in preparation for the next breastfeed, when she has had little sleep and now her baby needs to breastfeed!
Let’s consider calmly, gently, without fear and with the conviction of a Mother who has the Right (By law) to breastfeed her baby, anytime, anywhere without feeling discriminated, so that includes a MILKoS or anyone else disturbing your baby’s sleep or taking your baby and/or wanting to teat-bottle feed for Grandmotherly enjoyment.
Once a baby becomes used to feeding from a hard silicone teat with milk flowing fast by gravity from a bottle, it is common for the baby’s brain to register an immediate feeling of fullness. The small stomach muscle fills rapidly, may over expand, resulting in an unsettled baby demonstrating signs of reflux with gastro-intestinal disturbance.
If this fast-fill, teat-bottle feeding, continues the baby soon becomes conditioned to the shape, size and texture of the teat. The fast filling of the stomach by the gravity of teat-bottle feeding changes the baby’s feeding behaviour. The baby no longer knows how to work to stimulate hormone release prior to a milk flow (let-down) occurring. The breastfed baby knows how to first stimulate sufficient hormone release to create a milk flow (let-down) through the ductal networks of the breast.
The analogy I prefer to use is that the stomach is about the size of the baby’s closed fist. The same analogy for children, teenagers and us as adults. If we over indulge we can experience a very uncomfortable digestive system.
The baby becomes used to the hard, fixed shape of the silicone teat. The baby cannot mould the hard teat into the unique shape of the little oral cavity to create the perfect fit. The teat is entirely different to the soft, pliable maternal nipple and breast that shapes to fit the unique size of the growing oral cavity.
The baby’s oral function, the tongue muscle and intraoral vacuum changes to accommodate the texture, shape and size of the teat. The faster flowing milk prevents the baby from stimulating first to achieve a milk flow (let-down). This soon becomes a conditioned response to the brain as the silicone habit becomes the baby’s natural feeding process.
When a baby breastfeeds, they know that they have to stimulate the breast first to create hormone release from your pituitary gland. With several episodes of short stop-start stimulating, the swallow reflex becomes evident as the baby changes to a deeper, continuous draw-swallow breathe rhythm until that milk flow stops.
The baby knows s/he has to stimulate several intermittent episodes for each new hormone release, to activate another milk flow (let-down) through the ductal networks. The intermittent episodes continue until the baby reaches gastric satisfaction. That is, when the stomach reaches volume capacity.
If teat-bottle feeding continues then the baby loses the ability to stimulate the breast for hormone release followed by milk flow. The flow from the bottle doesn’t require stimulation of hormone and the flow of milk can be consistently faster than the breast. They soon learn it is not necessary to work anymore. Also, the various types of teats and bottles create different oral cavity function, which means returning to the breast can be confusing.
When the baby is not feeding regularly from both breasts each fee, milk volume begins to reduce, if low volume occurs the baby becomes frustrated at the breast and may breast refuse. Therein lies another difficult time, which often results in the cessation of breastfeeding.
The message is, this is YOUR BABY, YOUR BODY and your life experience. It is your RIGHT to make the decisions that are suitable for YOU and YOUR BABY, even if it means making having discussions with some who may be making things knowingly or unknowingly difficult for YOU.
To find out more about Dr Robyn Thompson, visit https://www.thethompsonmethod.com