Breast. No Bottle.

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

Breastpump induced breastfeeding failure

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Medicalization of breastfeeding is accompanied by the increasing use of technology. Breastpumps have become the inseparable part of the Western “breastfeeding” experience. As any technology breastpumps do not come without consequences. Breastpumps contribute to breastfeeding* failure. Women are hooked on breastpumps in the early postpartum period for a multitude of reasons which all feed into each other. Infants sleepy after drugged labors cannot orient themselves to nurse. Women pumped full of IV fluids are swollen making it harder for infants to take the breast. Lactation education rarely involves demonstration of rooting behaviors, relying on “feed every 3 hours” routine making it hard to nurse at the times when the infant is not ready. Mothers and infants have almost no opportunity to get to know each other during a brief hospital stay because of the constant interruptions that normally take place in the public hospital space. Nursing at the breast under these circumstances is often impossible or unreliable. To increase the medically desirable reliability to predict infant milk intake pumping is initiated, often under the pretext of “protecting milk supply” and the goal of “feeding the baby”.

Feed the baby – protect the milk supply fails to acknowledge the relational aspect of breastfeeding that only takes place when there is an interaction between a woman and her child. Insertion of the breastpump between the mother and her child effectively separates them and prevents them from spending the necessary time to learn to breastfeed. The workload of the woman increases at the cost of spending time getting to know her baby. It is not unusual to spend more time pumping and cleaning the equipment than nursing or bottle-feeding pumped milk. Even in cases when women do partially breastfeed, accumulation of milk stashes in the freezer and the medically instilled uncertainty in their own ability to establish successful breastfeeding without breastpump, contribute to diminished milk supply due to supplementary feeding of the pumped milk. Thus the infant spends less time at the breast and the milk supply eventually dwindles. Then the infant show less and less interest in the breast and it becomes easier to switch to formula feeding.

Other reasons for breastpump epidemic is direct financial interest of lactation specialists in breastpump generated income. Some IBCLCs rely on breastpump sales and rental as their primary source of income. Many leading lactation scientists and LCs have been on breastpump manufacturers’ payrolls since the beginning of the profession.

It is not surprising that the lactation specialist industry does not keep track of breastpump induces breastfeeding failure rates because breastfeeding is not valued in the medical field of lactation management. Medical research focuses predominantly on breastmilk. Breastmilk feedings are equated with breastfeeding. Scores of women mourning the loss of breastfeeding at the breastpump go unacknowledged. Business as usual.

*Breastfeeding is nursing at the breast.


Written by Medical Nemesis

June 30, 2013 at 02:04

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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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