Hospital spits the dummies

Hot 91.1 radio presenter Sami Muirhead with her 18-month-old daughter Avalon, who was given infant formula and dummies.
Hot 91.1 radio presenter Sami Muirhead with her 18-month-old daughter Avalon, who was given infant formula and dummies. Brett Wortman

ONE glimpse of Sami Muirhead with her daughter Avalon and you can tell she is a fabulous mum who would only do the best for her family.

But the Sunshine Coast radio personality struggled with feelings of self-doubt and depression after Ava's birth. Much of this centred around her difficulty to breastfeed and the decision to use a dummy.

These feelings flooded back after Sami read the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital's booklet for expectant mothers as she and her husband Sam Bohner prepared for the birth of their second child in nine days.

THE booklet, The Best Little Book, discusses the "detrimental effects of dummy use" and says the hospital "strongly discourages their use in a baby who is healthy and full term".

It also says infant formula is a risk in the early days.

The strongly worded advice made Sami feel as though she was giving her daughter "cocaine" in the form of baby formula when she was struggling to produce enough breast milk.

It also made her feel her baby was playing with a loaded gun when she was sleeping snugly with a dummy in her mouth.

"There is incredible pressure (to breast feed)," Sami said.

"All you are told are the negative effects. At no stage did anyone say to me, 'It's okay. You have tried. It's okay to give your baby formula'."

Sami and Sam were oblivious to the controversy around dummies when they gave one to Ava.

An innocent photo posted on her Facebook page of Ava sleeping with a dummy in her mouth sparked nation-wide debate.

Sami said the hardest part was coming to terms with the outpouring of advice from strangers.

"It was as if my entire parenting was being judged on daring to use a dummy."

It took Sami six months to "come out of the funk and be more confident in my choices".

And when the second baby does make his or her appearance, she will be better equipped to trust her own


"I will feel so much more comfortable. I know you can't really break them or damage them," Sami said.

"I'm going to try to breastfeed. If I can't, I won't feel like the biggest failure."

Sami will also have the support of hospital staff whatever she chooses.

Sunshine Coast Private Hospital general manager Terence Seymour said the hospital would also reconsider the wording in the booklet.

"If it is too harsh and the language is too overpowering, we will change it," he said.

The hospital and Nambour General follow the World Health Organisation's advice on the best treatment for newborns.


Dummies cause "nipple confusion"

Part fact. Research shows dummies can shorten the duration of breastfeeding

Dummies cause the Bugs Bunny look

Part fact. Prolonged use of dummies (beyond two years) can cause cross-bite (where the teeth do not align)

Dummies cause recurrent middle ear infections

Part fact: Research has suggested the use of pacifiers might increase middle ear infections

Dummies can be good for bub

Fact. In poorly developed babies, a hospital can give a pacifier to help with sucking

Some babies are born with a "sucky reflex" and need a dummy

Fact. But this applies in only a small percentage of cases

Topics:  babies childbirth health hospital parents

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