Friday, September 07, 2007

breastfeeding again

I am just blown away. Seriously! What is up with the pervasive amount of mis-information about breastfeeding???? Even from alternative health care practitioners......

In the last few days, I have talked with 2 different moms.

First mom's baby is about a month old. At 2 weeks old, she took her baby to the 'breastfeeding clinic' class that takes place twice a week at our local hospital. The lactation consultants there (called lactation specialists on their website, so probably not IBCLCs) determined that because she didn't gain much after nursing (leisurely) for 20 minutes, that the mother's supply was inadequate. Baby was fine otherwise, good output (wet/poopy diapers) thriving in all other aspects, not loosing weight, etc. They sent her home with formula (!!), a nipple shield (not surprising) and a SNS (which they didn't show her how to use at all). When I hear crap like this, I just want to throw up. Oh my. :( She had never tried the SNS because she had no idea how to use it. Of course, she could have gone back and asked for help, but why the hell would you give a mom (who you believe to have a low supply) a SNS without showing her HOW to use it????

This breastfeeding clinic consists of stripping baby down, weighing baby, nursing baby, then weighing baby. Then being told that you either have enough milk or don't. Total nonsense. That coupled with their love of handing out nipple shields like there is no tomorrow, and, I admit it, I have a very strong dislike of the class.

The second mom has a week old baby, and was having horrible sore nipples. Her midwife suggested giving her nipples a rest for a few days, and just pump or hand express milk and gave her a syringe feeder to feed her baby. Then, at a week, when it was apparent that the baby wasn't gaining, and was still loosing weight, she suggested she supplement with goat's milk. :( I can't be the only one who sees problems with this advice. It's the latch! It's the latch!! A poor latch will of course cause sore nipples. It will also lead to the baby not getting as much milk, and, because the breasts aren't being effectively drained, to a low milk supply. Which is where the mom is at now. Her supply is low, her baby is still losing weight. :( While I understand that you want to give mom a break from the horrible pain of sore nipples, stopping nursing is a very poor solution. It too will more often than not lead to low supply. Fixing the latch is the best solution for both mom and baby.

She took her baby in to see a naturopath doctor (who also happens to attend homebirths) and he told her that because she never experienced any physical breast changes (tenderness, growth, etc.) during pregnancy, she would never make enough milk. He suggested that it was perhaps because she had a lot of stress going on in her life during her pregnancy. What the....???? There have been studies that have shown that prenatal breast changes are NOT associated with milk supply at all. And, the bit about stress? In my opinion, a large number of women have a lot of stress during pregnancy. It seems that so much transitions and life changes suddenly occur when a woman is pregnant: moving, job changes, financial worries, and so on. If stress caused us to not make milk that easily, low milk supply would be a true problem for numerous women. Well, I guess low milk supply IS a common breastfeeding problem, but that is because of a whole other set of reasons (scheduled feedings, supplementing, poor latch, etc.).

It feels like there are so many factors that really undermine breastfeeding in our culture. Can I at least have hope that it won't last forever? Because I do, I really do.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Birth Philosophy

I have been spending lots of free time looking at all different midwives' websites while preparing to start creating my own website. What has struck me more than anything is the similarity of all of the 'philosophies'. I know from experience that many (most?) people assume that a midwife is a midwife is a midwife. Of course, that is not the case at all. But, when you ask midwives about their birth philosophies, they almost all include some talk about birth being natural, birth working best left alone, their role is to support the woman/family, about promoting calm/gentle birth, etc.

You will never see a midwife say that she believes birth works, but only if she does "X" (perineal support/massage, vaginal exams, hat on baby right after birth, test your glucose levels prenatally, and so on).

So, when pondering about how I can word my own philosophy on birth, I am struck with the fact that I am just restating the same old lines. However, the more that I read/hear/talk with other midwives, the more I feel very much like the odd ball. How can there be this disconnect?