Pediatricians are really great when it comes to making sure your baby is meeting his milestones at appropriate times and keeping our babies happy and healthy. However, when it comes to choosing a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician, not all are created equal. You’ll want to make sure you do your homework on the front end to ensure that you’ll feel supported throughout your journey. To make sure you are selecting a doctor who really understands and supports breastfeeding with evidence-based recommendations, here are some questions you can ask when interviewing potential pediatricians.
1.What percentage of your patients are exclusively breastfed at one month? Three months?
- Appropriate answer: Most of them.
- Troublesome answer: A few. OR I don’t know.
2. Do you recommend putting my baby on a feeding schedule?
- Appropriate answers: No, you should feed your baby on demand OR at least 8-12x every 24 hours OR feed them every 2-3 hours.
- Troublesome answer: Yes. OR any answer about a feeding schedule.
3. How do you update your knowledge on breastfeeding topics?
- Appropriate answer: I attend conferences and classes as well as subscribe to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine journal.
- Troublesome answer: I read when I get around to it. I attend classes sponsored by drug/formula manufacturers.
4. Under which situations would you recommend supplementation or ceasing breastfeeding? (Such as jaundice, slow weight gain, mother needs to take certain medications)
- Appropriate answer: I prefer to work on the underlying breastfeeding issues and I work hard to make sure you have the tools you need to be successful.
- Troublesome answer: All of the above.
5. Which formula do you recommend and why?
- Appropriate answer: I don’t recommend any one brand over another. OR They are all the same.
- Troublesome answer: I like X brand (because I attended a seminar or conference they sponsored).
6. When do you recommend your patients start on solid food?
- Appropriate answer: Six months or later. (The current American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation is “exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced.”) (LINK to: https://www2.aap.org/breastfeeding/files/pdf/Breastfeeding2012ExecSum.pdf)
- Troublesome answer: 4 months. (This is an outdated recommendation.)
7. Did you (or your wife) breastfeed your children?
- There is no right or wrong answer here but a doctor whose children were breastfed has personal experience with breastfeeding and will tend to be more informed.
Be sure to observe the office to see what kind of literature is available. Are there displays, brochures, tearsheets, or patient education information from formula companies? Are there stacks of formula anywhere? Does the clinic have an IBCLC on staff or do they have one readily available to refer to? Simply paying attention to the clinic surroundings can give you a lot of information!
Keep in mind most pediatric offices have multiple providers, so if you may want to find out if you can have the same provider every time, or if you will be scheduled with whoever is available that day. If so, you’ll want to interview all potential staff that would be taking care of your little one.
While you may not receive best-practice answers from one or all of the providers, it’s ok to select an office that is convenient or one that you like for other reasons. Keep this in mind and take their breastfeeding recommendations with a grain of salt, while being sure to establish a relationship with an IBCLC to help you meet your feeding goals!