How fight for IBCLC power and influence hurts women
It is hard to establish a new medical womanly profession. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) had to carve our a territory from the established medical/nursing specialties coming from a soft core La Leche League background of counseling nursing mothers.
Having witnessed the waxing and waning of various issues in La Leche League during the course of two decades, I witnessed a struggle of a new profession to gain power within the medical establishment. Vitamin D, GERD, post-partum depression… Then a biggie hit – breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery… Diana West became a La Leche League super star with an extremely niche subject. She was a traveling circus magician. You can breastfeed with your breasts cut off! This message was supposed to instill confidence in the rest of us with intact breasts.
For years I wondered why Diana West became so popular with an obscure subject and why the most amazing Diane Wiessinger with her unparalleled thinking to help with most common breastfeeding issues like positioning and latch did not match the popularity and demand of Diana West. Even Catherine Watson-Genna’s attempt at claiming medical competence with the ritualistic use of a stethoscope did not propel her into the spotlight the way breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery elevated Diana West. Finally, I figured it out. Stethoscope is 19th century technology that has lost its symbolic power in the age of ultrasound, xrays, CT scans, and MRI. Diane Wiessinger’s skill requires years of study and practice, human intellect, human ability and perseverance of an individual helper/practitioner. Precisely the opposite of what modern medicine is about.
Modern medicine firmly stands on three foundations – drugs, surgery, and the use of technology. The multitude of crippling effects that it produces by the above mentioned means are resolved with more drugs, surgery, and technology. The role of the helper/practitioner is reduced to applying existing protocols (sets of actions pre-determined by healthcare administrators in consultation with risk management and insurance agents) to the unfortunate patients. The intellect and skill of individual practitioners are minimized to reduced the unpredictability of individual practitioners in favor of “objective” measures like drugs, surgery, and technology.
Hence, at first we mitigate the result of scientific nutrition in society by surgically removing breasts that are too large to live or breastfeed. As a result, a woman cannot breastfeed so we now “save” the woman from her disability by giving her drugs to stimulate milk production and sell her expensive equipment to extract milk from her cut breasts as well as a number of gadgets to help with nursing at the breast. In addition to that we also sell formula to supplement whatever meager milk the woman can extract from her breasts. It is a perfect storm! Not surprisingly, Diana West ran out of steam after breastfeeding after breast reduction lost its novelty, yet most recently got revitalized by transgender issues – they ride the same wave of scientific medicine fixing faulty humans. Transgender sells – surgery, drugs, equipment, and healthcare dealer services who sell this equipment.
Yet the most recent crusade of IBCLCs and medically minded La Leche League leaders hungry for power and influence on par with doctors and nurses – tongue tie. Tongue tie opens doors to routine surgery, a very respectable medical occupation with not so respectable beginnings but firmly entrenched in modern medicine. Tongue-tie is a holy grail for IBCLCs because it gives them direct connection to MD or DDS line, giving them almost equal footing in healthcare as solid core medical practitioners. Never mind that beyond the generalities of “tongue-tie may affect breastfeeding”, IBCLCs are not trained or educated to either detect it or diagnose it in relationship to breastfeeding. IBCLCs do not receive anything other than superficial cursory mention of the issue are part of their training. They are not authorized to diagnose it. Most certainly there is no solid prediction scale of who will encounter breastfeeding problems based on anticipatory breastfeeding assessments. All of this confusion and mess opens doors to reigning supreme with a clout of importance in knowing something sacred and complex that nobody else understands. It also makes it worth while to fight claw and tooth to steak it out as an IBCLC issue.
Not surprising, that anybody who raises questions about the legitimacy of current tongue tie crusade and their disabling and damaging effect on women and children, like Nancy Mohrbacher or Alison Hazelbaker, will be shot without warning.
What we witness here is two long-term experienced La Leche League leaders and first IBCLCs with what I suspect a very nuanced understanding of breastfeeding being silenced and pushed out by the horde of mainstream healthcare providers who don’t know breastfeeding from a stick on the ground. There is an undercurrent of providers who are concerned about the idea of breastfeeding and about clinical issues who don’t even vaguely know there are women and children in the picture and that those people come first. People before ideas.
Yet what is infinitely more concerning are the woman and children who suffer pain, anguish, and lost hopes while they are being duped by people with inflated projections of what they could become in the future should they continue their tongue-tie quest. Of concern is La Leche League, a formerly maternal organization that started with an MD, Dr.Gregory White willfully removing himself from the first meetings to allow women to have space to discuss what is of concern and importance to them, taking a stand against all mothers and killing mother-volunteers, one at a time, and siding with the medical establishment to assert the dominant medical agenda. We have witnessed a very fast destruction of La Leche League and IBCLCs becoming a repressive authoritarian figure amidst a crowd of experts disabling and hurting mothers. The medicalized model of breastfeeding has set in. I do not know of any non-medical models of breastfeeding existing in the world today.