Breast. No Bottle.

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

Voices from the trenches

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Medicalization of breastfeeding is a  grave concern of a small number of lactation consultants who have had first hand experience in nursing their babies, mother-to-mother support, and lactation consultant model to know the difference.

A long-time IBCLC bears witness to what professionalization of breastfeeding help has possibly done:

Yes, I’m alarmed.  I see little erosions that simply didn’t exist 30 years ago.  Specialized pillows; a rigidly horizontal baby; the cross-cradle hold (which I contributed to – sigh); blankets; a public that no longer gives nursing mothers dirty looks but actually chastises them; non-latching babies; exclusive pumping that’s called breastfeeding; the loss of the word nursing (which I also contributed to); the shifting of ownership from mother to professional; phenomenally difficult beginnings; utterly outrageous births that render women passive enough to accept all of the above…  It’s not pretty.

She continues:

When I chalk up IBCLC failings, though, the list is mighty long. 

  • Birth slid away on our watch, and we did nothing.
  • We haven’t directly tackled the formula industry in any way.
  • We introduced RAM, the cross-cradle hold, checklists, and a whole lot of other stuff that we’re now throwing out.
  • We reinforce product over process.
  • We continue to move the field toward medicine and away from a mother-baby relationship approach.
  • We’ve set ourselves up as experts, even though we’ve been wrong about as much as we’ve been right.
  • There sure seem to be more non-latching babies now than there were 25 years ago, and I think more sore nipples.
  • We’ve contributed to the shriveling of LLL, the biggest, best-known mother-to-mother group in the world, or at least we’ve done nothing to support and promote it.
  • In the US, the 6 month rate didn’t return to its 1985 level until about 1997, and the gap between initiation and the 6 month rate hasn’t changed (the gap was narrowest before we existed. Lawrence, pp 19 and 20)
  • In the US, the rate of increase in breastfeeding initiation and duration has slacked off in recent years, despite an increase in the number of IBCLCs.  As someone pointed out, the wider the gap between initiation and duration, the more disappointed mothers it represents.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to the above mention breastfeeding advocate who took time to think critically about the implications of professional breastfeeding support and allowed me to share her thoughts with the public.


Written by Medical Nemesis

November 1, 2011 at 20:50

Posted in Medicalization of breastfeeding

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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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