'We accidentally starved our baby', says Project co-host
FOR years, new parents have been told that breastfeeding rather than bottle-feeding their newborn is best, but radio host and The Project presenter Anthony 'Lehmo' Lehmann says the pressure to avoid formula left his child starving for four days.
Speaking to co-host Jo Stanley on Melbourne's GOLD 104.3FM on Wednesday morning, Lehmo said his wife Kelly was unable to produce milk to their son Laddie when he was born, in July last year.
The couple had been sold the "breast is best" message and were scared to feed their son a bottle of formula.
"The pressure that is put on breastfeeding over bottle feeding ... it's everywhere. Pretty much all the literature you read, the stuff issued by the government it all says 'breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed'," Lehmo said.
"But it ignores the pressure it puts on mothers who are unable to produce the milk and how it makes those mothers feel. Kel tried for days and days and days and wasn't sure if it was working, because you don't know as a first time mother, you've never done it before.
"You've got experts trying to guide you and after four days we weighed our son again and he'd lost a third of his body weight. Then Kel tries a pump and there's no milk coming out, so we haven't fed him for four days. How do you think my wife felt? She goes, 'I'm starving my baby'," he said.
Lehmo says parents are already under a lot of pressure and believes the message should just be "feed your baby".
"That should be the number one guideline over everything else - feed your baby," he said.
"But also, don't judge other people for the choices they've made, for whatever reason that might be. It might be because the baby isn't latching on, it might be because you're in a great deal of pain, you're not able to feed yourself, so milk isn't being produced."
According to the Federal Department of Health's breastfeeding guidelines, breastfeeding provides babies with "the best start in life" and is a key contributor to infant health.
"Australia's infant feeding guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants to around six months of age when solid foods are introduced and continued breastfeeding until the age of 12 months and beyond, if both mother and infant wish," the department states.
"Evidence shows that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from digestive and respiratory illnesses, middle ear infection, type 1 diabetes and childhood leukaemia. Breastfeeding also benefits mothers by promoting faster recovery from childbirth - reducing the risks of breast and ovarian cancers in later life, and reduced maternal depression."