Breast. No Bottle.

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

Dissent

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As the new crop of breastfeeding helpers infected with medicinal virus hatches, I cannot help but wonder why I decided dead against following the same path in my life. I have all the requisites to become mega successful in the arena of medicinal breastfeeding  – many years of experience helping in medical situations and medicinal knowledge of breastfeeding that firmly placed me in top 3-5% of IBCLCs in the world according to my ability to also test appropriately. Yet I cannot and would not join the cheerful bandwagon on medical practitioners who help with breastfeeding nor is my knowledge for sale. I gladly help mothers for free but would not accept a paying client as I know money changes the relationship and power equation between a mother and a helper.

Several years ago an esteemed breastfeeding advocate Valerie McClain who practiced as an IBCLC for several years blogged on letting go of the IBCLC credential as part of exiting the business of breastfeeding:

I decided this year to give up my credential, my IBCLC, to let it go.  It’s a trademark, you know.  So if one wants to retire from the business of breastfeeding, one must let go of the title.  Yes, its a business world and if you don’t pay tribute for the title, then one cannot use it.  That’s fine with me.  What does a title, a credential mean anyway?  I am not sure anymore.  I have enormous respect for many of the groundbreakers, who are IBCLCs.  They have opened doors to better understanding of breastfeeding.  On the other hand, I am disappointed in the direction that the profession seems to be going.  I am amused in a cynical way by the fads that sweep the profession.  Nowadays, it seems that every baby is tongue-tied and in need of “fixing.”  It seems the current position for correct breastfeeding is the reclined position.  Yes, I am exaggerating but it seems like common sense about helping mothers breastfeed has gone out the window.  Instead, we are creating some kind of medical protocol for correct breastfeeding without questioning the premise of medicalization of normal biology.  Is there only one way to do something?  We know with computers, there are multiple of ways to do various procedures, no one way is correct.  Watching people walk, talk, and eat; show us that no two people are alike.  Yet it seems that we are creating a standard, medical protocol for breastfeeding.  The blinders have started to appear as our profession becomes more and more enmeshed with the medical community.  Our human milk researchers, who create the current thinking on breastfeeding, are entangled with the infant formula industry.  And it seems that no questions are asked about how this may effect a profession.  Should we not wonder about higher rates of mothers “attempting” to breastfeed, yet more mothers giving up on breastfeeding.  Where has the simplicity of breastfeeding gone?  Instead, we are creating more and more products, and more and more rules to follow.

I haven’t worked with breastfeeding mothers and babies for a few years.  I miss it.  But I now understand why a good friend of mine, who was a midwife and LLL leader was not enthused by my becoming an IBCLC.  She was right.  She was very right.  Like birth, the more interventions from experts, the more mothers find breastfeeding an impossible, un-natural process.  Birth and breastfeeding should not be based on medical models of disease, dysfunction, and fear.  But that has become the underlying theme of birth in the US.  And now we seem to be hell bent to create that theme in breastfeeding. 

I know that my letting this credential go will not change anything.   I no longer want to financial contribute to a profession that feels it must be medicalized to be accepted.  Of course that won’t stop me from writing about patenting of human milk components, nor advocating for breastfeeding.  

I was fortunate enough to have arrived at the same conclusions without being part of a problem. I credit  the Breastfeeding and Feminism conferences for plucking breastfeeding out of medical context and placing it into the social context of women’s lives and  helping me see that medical solutions designed for individual women to bear are not the solutions to social issues women face day to day. I am forever grateful to the organizers and contributors to the conferences over the course of 10 years for helping me avoid the trap of medicalized breastfeeding and giving me tools to analyze historical developments that affect women’s lives in real time not in retrospect. While some reasons are clear, some still aren’t as I continue to reflect on why I decided to venture on the road of dissent that is so frequently an isolated and lonely journey.

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Written by Medical Nemesis

October 28, 2014 at 06:58

Posted in Other

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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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