labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Sunday, October 11, 2009

All About Choice

This has been one of the best posts I've read in a while. Thank you, Heather.

My postings has been sparse of recent as life has thrown me some major schedule curve balls...but I've been keeping up as best I can on all my fave blogs. I really enjoy all the thoughtful posts on birth and maternity care, but Heather really got me thinking.

We are such frickin hypocrites, aren't we? I mean, we (I speak in general terms here) say we want the best care for our newborns- and clearly breastfeeding is by far one way of ensuring a healthy start for our children. Yet, as Heather points out, are American women really given the choice to do so? So many women spend a fair amount of time considering their options on breast vs bottle with many messages supporting breast as best ( is...). However- as Heather points out- women are given messages and are shown through our (health care providers, employers, family, friends) actions that her breast milk is either not enough, inappropriate, or just plain ol' not supported. Even in my own personal experiences, I have seen this happen. My best friend was told quite frequently by her family that her babies seemed "hungry- just give them a bottle!"; another friend had to stop breastfeeding her thriving baby when she returned to work because it was frowned upon to need "so many breaks" so she could pump; many patients tell me their plans are only to breastfeed til they return to work for the same reasons; at times, the mom's I round on in the hospital tell me their baby spent the night in the nursery at the nurse's suggestion so she could get some sleep and baby could "get enough food". And this is just the tip of the iceberg of examples.

Please speak to me in the comments.


Mrs. Spit said...

Here in Canada, babies room in, so this seems really odd to me. Occasionally babies do get supplemented, but one of the things that I love is that they use a cup, not a bottle, so babies don't get used to the ease of food from a bottle.

One of my big things was when I realized, "your baby, your choice". It's not a choice I would necessarily make, but it's not my baby either.

Jenny said...

When my supply started going down, I tried to talk to people at LLL meetings about it, even bringing my pump, and they ignored me. I was having a hard time pumping enough milk while at work, and the stress of it built up until I couldn't do it anymore. My son was only breastfed for 4-5 months. It was very upsetting. My work tried to be supportive, but they started me out in the bathrooms, then gave me a room that took time to get to. By the time I got there, pumped, rinsed out my parts, and got back, I had no time to eat or take any other kind of break. And working in a dispatch center meant that if I was busy, I couldn't just step out... I had to wait until there was a lull in the calls.

I found a knowledgeable doctor at Children's Hospital in my area who is willing to work with me/us when I have my next baby. I'd love to make it to a year or longer with the next one.

Julia said...

Our hospital just got its Baby Friendly Certification, which basically means breastfeeding, breastfeeding, breastfeeding. We don't give free formula samples, babies room in, we don't routinely give pacifiers, and we have protocols to help support breastfeeding the near-term babies. If we do have to supplement, we try to either finger feed or tube at the breast. Our lactation nurses rock. Many of these things are little things, but it helps that we are well staffed so that nurses have time to spend helping women get their best start breastfeeding.
I think it speaks volumes that there are 13,000 Baby Friendly hospitals world wide, less than 100 are in the United States. Yet another area where we fall in supporting healthy beginnings for families. It might also help if our country had better maternity leave so that women wouldn't have to go back to work at 3 months, and worry about pumping.

mommymichael said...

i know some mothers that won't breastfeed because they view their breasts as sexual things instead of nourishment for their babies.

"it's gross!!" so they just don't do it.

although i have to give it to one mom i know. she's pumping (for that reason) instead of directly breastfeeding.
and pumping is a lot of dedication if you ask me.

dezprincesscccat said...

Very true. Also reminds me of how we are given messages (still) that we are meant to have and raise families. But when it comes to birth, we're told that we can't do it for whatever list of reasons they pull out that day.

Maria @ A Mom Is Born said...

I continue to see my clients being told that their babies have lost too much weight after birth, which turns the mama into a nervous wreck, pumping and nursing around the clock during the first 4 weeks of life, with barely any time to ENJOY her baby, and plenty of time to be terrified. I'm not a nurse, so I don't know what the expected weight loss is for newborns, but I did have one client say her baby lost "not 10% of her weight, but 7, which I guess was close enough to 10 to make them all nervous."
Some things make me insane.

stewbie2 said...

That irritates the crap out of me. When pregnant with my first child, at 26, i read everything i could about breastfeeding. I learned WHAT WAS REQUIRED of my company to support my decision. I had the normal 6 week maternity leave. After returning to work, I pumped until my daughter was a year old. After that, I nursed her in the mornings before work, and at night before she went to bed. I nursed her for 2 years. My second daughter was born 3 weeks before daughter #1 turned 2. I nursed HER for 27 months. It's a personal decision, and you have to be strong to do it. SO many people "helpfully" offered to give my babies bottles. I think not. My boobs. My babies.

delilah, the unruly helpmeet said...

I agree. With my second, I consider myself an expert at stealthy nursing in public, but if a woman notices me, I generally get dirty looks. Men don't even notice, but women just seem insulted and disgusted. But the teens wearing bikinis to dinner at the booth next door are a-okay.

It's a travesty that the health care world gives us one message (breast is best) while society gives us another (breast is best for men to enjoy in private, keep those things locked up, you nasty nurser).

Luckily, on my second child and my 3rd year of nursing, I give that dirty look riiiight back at 'em. I know the law in my state, and i'm not afraid to invoke it.

Heather Griffith Brewer said...

I wanted to thank you for posting your thoughts, and a link to my post. I admire you a great deal and was deeply flattered.
When I first noticed the title of your post and I went "Wait?" and then I linked to it and about wet my pants with excitement. Thank you so much for taking the time to consider and address the matter.
I hope things are going well for you, and I have missed all your musings. I hope things settle down soon, because I can't wait to hear all about it!
I apologize for taking so long to thank you. It was truly an honor.