Friday, October 12, 2012

Bottle Propping Isn't Safe.

You know those days when you see something and shake your head so hard you think it might just come right off and roll down the street??  I'm having one of those days.

See, I'm in some twin groups on Facebook.  It's not uncommon I read things about how these parents "had" to make their babies CIO because they are "only one person".  ("DON'T JUDGE ME!" is another common statement that seems to go hand in hand with these comments.)

AS a twin mom who never got much help from the start, the whole excuses thing irritates me BAD.

My husband worked 14 hour days from the time I got pregnant until our twins were just over 2 years old.  That means after travelling to and from work, when he was home he was sleeping, showering, or eating.  Never ever did he have more than 2 hours in that entire time, to bathe a baby/cook a meal/wash some clothes.  I managed to not only never "have" to make them CIO, I didn't even WANT to.  How can someone listen to their babies cry and not go to them??  And then to brag about it..."My twins were sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old.  CIO works and I'd do it again!"


My twins didn't EVER sleep through the night until they were 16 months old.  And by "sleeping through the night", I mean, "slept more than 5 hours in a row."

So here's the photo that really got my gears all ground up.  See those things??  "Milk Maid Baby Bottle Holder", they're called. 

Now, here's my thing;  I've HAD twins.  I had teeny tiny twins.  I had twins that needed to be fed every 3 hours, around the clock, for the first 6 months after they came home from the hospital.

Not ever did I need to prop a bottle.  Not ever.  You know why?  I'll tell ya.  I used my freakin' arms and hands.


I know!  Crazy, isn't it?!

When my twins came home from the NICU they were still too small and too weak to breastfeed successfully.  They came home almost 2 weeks before their due date...after 8 1/2 weeks in the hospital.  They'd gone from NG tube to a "Haberman Feeder", to a preemie "bottle"...  To me, it was a pleasure to hold their bottles.  It sure was better than watching those NG tubes being changed.  : (

Haberman bottle
Preemie bottle (provided by hospital.  I filled them with pumped breastmilk.)

I managed to hold two bottles at once until I had established my son on the boob, and then (after we figured that out) I would put him on my breast while I held the bottle for my daughter.  She would either be in the nook of my arm, or the nook of my knee (depending on how feisty they were that day!).

Bottle propping is dangerous, and it removes that physical contact that ALL babies deserve, crave, and NEED to thrive.

I'm not sitting on some kind of "high horse", or saying I'm better than anyone.  I'm saying that I followed my instincts, and then (many months later) found out that they were right.

This is what some organizations say about it:

"The most serious risk of propping a baby bottle is that your baby could choke and aspirate formula into his lungs. When you prop a bottle, your baby can't stop the constant flow of milk into his mouth, even when it's too fast or too much for him to swallow. Bottle propping also increases the risk that your baby will develop an ear infection. When you feed in a horizontal position, milk can flow into the Eustachian tube, where the fluid can become infected. Hold your baby's bottle at a 45-degree angle when feeding to reduce the risk of ear infections. Bottle propping can also lead to tooth decay because milk stays in contact with the teeth longer."

"Babies need lots of physical closeness to develop emotionally. Babies in orphanages where bottles are propped often and physical contact rarely occurs can develop higher-than-normal levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, a 2001 University of Minnesota study found. Lower-than-normal levels of oxytocin, associated with emotional development, and vasopressin, associated with social development, can also occur, according to a 2005 University of Illinois study. If you must feed your baby in an infant seat because you have twins or triplets, hold the bottle rather than propping it. Make sure you compensate with lots of cuddling between feedings."  (1)

"Do not prop bottles for a baby.  Propping means a young baby is given a bottle to drink by itself and the bottle is propped up (with a pillow, for example) so that it can flow into the baby’s mouth.
Propping a bottle can:
— cause choking and suffocation, 
— possibly cause ear infections and baby bottle tooth 
decay, and 
— deprive the baby of important cuddling and human 
contact." (2)

"It is very important that your baby develop good eating habits. Bottle propping is  discouraged because...Less Interaction with parents, Ear Infections, Choking/aspiration, Tooth Decay." (3)

"Propping a bottle is psychologically unwise and can be physically dangerous. Holding your baby during feeding is one of the best ways to establish close parent/child bonds." (4)

(There are a million links to show the exact same information over and over again, online.  I'll stop at four examples.)
I found that feeding time with my babies to be some of the only really calm, quiet moments in our hectic day.  I enjoyed having them close to me.  I was more than aware of just how very lucky I was to have brought them home with me in the first place.  And after spending 8 1/2 weeks being told when I was "allowed" to hold my own babies, once we got them home I was not willing to miss out on any opportunity to absorb every ounce of that contact with them.

It really is disheartening when I see moms so proudly propping bottles, even when they state that they had another person there that could have helped each baby could have been held.  (But it was just inconvenient, and would "spoil" them.)

We all know that the floor does need to be swept.  I agree.  But that job will wait for you.  Dishes need to be done.  They wait too.  And supper can be made at any point in the day.  It doesn't have to be made at the exact same time they need to be fed.  A little bit of planning goes a long way!

I've found that the issue at hand may not even be that these twin moms force their little ones to CIO, or prop their bottles.  After some reflection on the whole subject, I think what really bothers me is that I am an attached parent, and these things just scream detachment*.  How could someone not WANT to hold their babies??  I know all too well that being a mom of twins isn't easy, and I'm not trying to throw stones.  I just know that it's totally possible to attachment parent twins.  Even when you're on your own.  Even on no sleep, with no help, and no prior experience.

I guess if there's one sliver lining here, it's that I now know without a doubt that after all this time I can still SEE the insanity of the internet, because it still bothers me.  THAT'S how I know I'm walking the right path.  (And how I know that my brain has not been completely corrupted!)

*If you want to read a perfect example of a "detached parent", check the link to a post on "Imperfect Parent".

(3) Stanton Territorial Health Authority:

(4)  National Network For The Child:

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