Breast. No Bottle.

To nurse, or not to nurse: that is not a question!

In Bed With the Enemy

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Was it a good idea to create an allied medical profession to help breastfeeding women? I think not. An autonomous profession outside of medicine would be better.

Nursing is not a medical event. There is no need for a medical gaze or help in the first place.  Nursing is a part of everyday mothering. Women nurse and have knowledge and experience about nursing.

Nursing is infinitely adaptable and variable. There are may ways to nurse a baby.  Nursing takes place everywhere a woman is.  It is impossible to sum up nursing, like any relationship between two people, in numbers and other parameters that are utilized by medicine. To gain acceptance by the medical establishment, nursing is forced to be defined and quantified in a very precise way that is accepted in the medical field.

Medical science has a hard time with variability. It defines the norm very narrowly. It gains insight from what can be observed in a hospital or doctor’s office.  Breastfeeding  in a hospital is feeding that is constrained by hospital policies and regulations.

Once we accepted the idea that nursing is a biomedical event, we define it  in a biomedically acceptable way.  The words we use to talk about breastfeeding change a complex personal nursing relationship into milk, feeding, grams (ounces), risk, millilitres (ounces), etc.  These ideas become our own once we internalized them as medical lactation consultants. Then our perception of feeding wrought with risk influences our behavior.  As a mother you  feel the need for expert surveillance. As a medical professional you are compelled to manage a mother and her baby to conform to abstract “norms”.

Medical approach in breastfeeding  undermines mother’s confidence and self-efficacy in her own ability not only to nurse, but to ultimately mother her child without expert help.

By accepting the biomedical approach lactation consultants  internalize medical values that have a long history of  undervaluing women, their knowledge and experience.


Written by Medical Nemesis

September 27, 2011 at 12:00

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To nurse, or not to nurse: that is not a question!

Breast. No Bottle.

To nurse, or not to nurse: that is not a question!

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