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.


Lizz said...

My best breast advice is this: MamaToto are left alone! Get in bed-stay in bed, naked, with all the time in the world to nurse-throw out the clock, throw out the scale, just fall in love, snuggle, make contact, relish in those hormones. For days, weeks, months. Stay away from synthetic hormones, well-meaning bad advice, bras, malls...oh yeah and car seats. Everytime I'm shopping I hear babies crying (languishing) in their contraptions (stroller carseat thingies) I say (outloud) "Feed them-they are hungry." Oh and ditch pacifiers all together and get some help.

Sadly it's our culture to manipulate anything naturally occuring.

I love you Lennon! I love that you are ranting-it's your woman/midwife fire! Roar!!

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing woman—I have no children myself, but there wasn't a single word of this post that I didn't agree whole-heartedly with...

Angela said...


Just had to say hello - was browsing profiles and found this blog. I'm a natural-birthing, home water-birth momma myself.

And now back to the comment part - OH MY GOSH!!! I know exactly what you mean about breastfeeding misconceptions. :-(

Like "Well I wasn't making enough milk. When I would pump I'd only get an ounce and my doctor said that meant the baby was starving". Um yeah....becuase babies never nurse more effeciently than an electronic gizmo. *sarcastic grin*

Angela <><

Ender's Girl said...

I loved this! I was in bed the past two days healing (naturally) from mastitis when I came across a clip from Bill Maher equating public nursing to public masterbation! My body and soul just started sobbing! All the hard work we mamas are doing to reclaim a breastfeeding culture for both our babies, our selves and our world and any idiot with a TV show (or in your examples medical professionals with the wrong information) can ruin breastfeeding for countless women!

Great blog!

Housefairy said...

Perfectly understandable, yoiur rage.

Lizz, oh man this is what they should tell everyone after the baby is born, just what you said!

" Get in bed-stay in bed, naked, with all the time in the world to nurse-throw out the clock, throw out the scale, just fall in love, snuggle, make contact, relish in those hormones. For days, weeks, months. Stay away from synthetic hormones, well-meaning bad advice, bras, malls...oh yeah and car seats"

I am just cheering and standing up and shouting YES YES YES!!!!!!

:) for the mamababies who get it
:( for all the rest

Maire said...

I came across this post as I was about to do a major rant on Breastfeeding Blog: 20/20+ about the Youtube, Myspace, and Facebook censorship problem.

I am dismayed to find that this bad breastfeeding advice is also being dispensed in your neck of the woods. As I feared, the medicalization of breastfeeding is becoming the new norm. It seems that women everywhere are being made to believe that you cannot breastfeed without gadgets and scales.

All healthy babies are born with the necessary instincts, but do not necessarily know how to breastfeed. It is natural, but a learned skill. We are becoming distracted by assumptions and rules about breastfeeding. The quality of the latch and feeding patterns should be optimized rather than relying on gadgets and scales. Making assessments about breastfeeding based upon pumping and weights is not good science and can be detrimental to breastfeeding success. Too many women are seeking help from "experts" and are regrettably being sent down a path toward weaning.

Thank-you for your comments and support of breastfeeding. Please speak out on the censorship that is being perpetrated upon mothers and babies. I will put links on my blog to the site where this protest is being catalogued.

aimma said...

Hiya, i am a student midwife was reading your article and couldnt work out what SNS stood for? My mentor, a community midwife had no idea either we thought it was perhaps a Nipple Shield?

Radical Midwife said...

An SNS stands for 'supplemental nursing system'. version of it is known as a 'lact-aid'.