Breast. No Bottle.

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

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Agents of Medicalization of Breastfeeding

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themedicalizationWho makes nursing of a child by her mother into a medical event of milk feeding? Who are the agents of medicalization? Much literature on medicalization of birth dwell on doctors taking control over birth. Most of the literature on formula feeding scapegoats doctors as well as the sole reasons women switched from breastfeeding to formula feeding. When nursing as a daily activity, nursing as something women do turns into a medical event that must be supervised by a qualified certified and/or licensed healthcare professional right in front of your eyes, it is easy to see that there are other actors on the stage of medicalization.

In case of breastfeeding medicalization came from within the ranks of women themselves. Women actively advocated and worked towards submitting themselves under medical surveillance. The launch of a specialized medical profession of a lactation consultant was possible with a grant from La Leche League International, an organization that openly declared its allegiance to women, but behind the scenes sold out women’s interests to the larger industrial complex of medicine. Healthcare workers, primarily nurses, who received help in La Leche League for the lack of such help in the medical arena at the time, falsely claimed that LLLI was not equipped to deal with more complex issues of breastfeeding at the time when medicine could not handle the simplest breastfeeding concerns. This falsehood led to the logical need to make breastfeeding more medical to get to medical help in complicated cases (like nipple tissue adhesion).

The efforts of yet another group of aspiring new breed of a healthcare experts is not sufficient to medicalize breastfeeding. You need the general public, larger group of women to uptake the idea. In context of lat 20th-early 21 century when most areas of women’s lives were already medicalized (periods, fertility, birth, eating, mood, mothering, etc), it was not hard to roll out the idea that breastfeeding is a medical concern and women should submit themselves to medical supervision as well. Few questioned the practice. Members  of the willing public are as guilty of medicalizing their own lives as the capitalists and professionals who push for it.

Let us not overlook the larger social context of women’s actions. Women as members of society are open to all the pressures and social control that society imposes on them.  Women as creatures of a lower pecking order than licensed professionals may think that by associating with those in power, those with credentials and access to medical power, they will advance their own interests. Since medicine is the most powerful religion of the day, it is not surprising that women who lacked wider liberal education to realize the effect of medicalization on women as evidenced by other areas of women’s lives never questioned their intent to “better” women’s lives by medicalizing breastfeeding. It seemed like a good idea. It is most likely they did not realize that the quest to kill the monster that hurts breastfeeding will turn them into monsters themselves.

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Written by Medical Nemesis

June 28, 2017 at 09:20

Posted in Other

Trans Agenda and the Colonial Mindset of La Leche League

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Men chestfeed. This is the new mantra of La Leche League International as well as  the IBCLC comminity. In the absence of new topics and fads in a fairly conservative field of breastfeeding, trans agenda became the new fad. Why did it happen and why you should not believe the liberal agenda of the milk harvesting (aka lactation) community?

The rise of a chestfeeding man took place around 2015, the same time La Leche League International massacred La Leche League Ukraine during the attack by Russian La Leche League leaders and applicants. Two worthy humanitarian causes –  the plight of women who become men  and Ukrainian women who were denied the right to speak their mother tongue.  Trans agenda gets all the support. Ukrainian women lose whatever meager support they were getting from LLLI. Why?

Trans men who chestfeed are medically castrated women. Extensive disabling surgery and cancer causing drugs are liberally applied to women to make them into “men”. Later these (wo)men desire to either birth or breastfeed, yet the damaging effects of medical frankensteining require even more medical treatments to make chestfeeding in the absence of breasts possible. These women in altered physical appearance do need a lot of help, yet the support they received from both LLL and IBCLC is driven not by particular concern for the issues of these women, their human needs, but by the fortunate current that makes these women subject to multiple medical treatments. As we know, anything medical is a money maker.

The only Ukrainian leader in the world whose mother tongue was Ukrainian makes a post about the notorious Similac ad. A group of leaders and applicants from Russia, who were trained in violation of LLL principles to train leaders in their mother tongue and with sensitivity to local culture by Western leaders  when Russian training was available, perpetuate this colonial attitude and viciously attack and suppress the lone Ukrainian leader for speaking Ukrainian. LLLI openly refuses to remedy the situation by offering an apology or providing training about cultural sensitivity as well as about their basic policies of helping mothers in their native languages. LLLI supports Russian colonial aggression in both extermination of Ukrainian language and ultimately La Leche League Ukraine. Support of a minority does not have a medical component to it so it is not lucrative to pursue this issue.

Taking into consideration that the rise of trans agenda and the extermination of La Leche League Ukraine based on language discrimination took place at the same time, we can safely conclude that interests of women take secondary place to medical agenda. Even more so, the support of mutilation practices that target women along with persecution of women based on the language they speak, lead us to the fact that formerly women friendly groups like La Leche League became  strongholds of misogyny, patriarchal physical mutilation of women, and colonial extermination of minority women by denying the right to their cultural and language heritage.

Friends of LLL of Ukraine

Written by Medical Nemesis

June 27, 2017 at 09:35

Posted in Other

Economic consequences of IBCLC profession. Ethical considerations of IBCLC marketing in La Leche League

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Albrecht Durer. Avarice

NB. This is a re-write of the original post from July 4, 2014.

 

A little-known reality about private practice lactation consultants, especially those who are authors and speakers, is that most of us are able to do this work only because we have supportive partners with good jobs that pay the household bills and provide health insurance. Diana West, IBCLC (from Facebook )

One of the least discussed and most cruel aspect of the medicalization of breastfeeding – the economic punishment of women who invested a lot of time and money into obtaining a certificate that asserts that they know something about breastfeeding to warrant a casual consideration from doctors.

From the birth of the profession from the ranks of White Christian and Jewish middle to upper-middle class women in La Leche League and with the seed money from La Leche League International (LLLI), there was no goal to affirm the knowledge and experience of La Leche League leaders and give them an opportunity to make a living. The plans for the profession were two-fold: give an opportunity to some older leaders to make some pin money once their children were grown and educate existing healthcare workers about breastfeeding. From the very beginning LLLI advertised the IBCLC certificate within LLL and pushed leaders to get certified before the profession eventually closed to experienced breastfeeding volunteer-mothers in La Leche League. Long before profession closure to the experienced women existing licensed medical providers overtook La Leche League leaders sitting for the exam.

Over the course of the last three decades requirements of IBCLC certificate gradually increased, requiring more and more courses thus more time and most importantly money to get the piece of paper. At the same time, nurses and especially medical doctors already satisfy most of the requirements to sit for the exam. They are also primed for quick memorization of large volumes of information and have experience taking tests that are fashioned on the RN licensure exam. All of this in combination makes IBCLC certification exceptionally easy for existing medical providers and exceptionally difficult for La Leche League Leaders.

Even when you have your certificate, it does not guarantee you a job within the field. Most hospitals and doctor’s offices hire people with established medical or allied health profession credentials. Hospitals do not pay for your certificate title job but for the existing doctor, nurse, dietitian, or speech therapist license job. Further, lactation consulting is non-acute optional care. In any economic crisis, your job will be the first to go.  In the times of stable economy, it is not the highest paid occupation either. If you are a healthcare provider with a degree and a license AND you have to feed a family, it makes no financial or economic sense to go to the lowest paid occupation within your field. You may have to get two jobs and work seven days a week to make ends meet if you are determined to work with breastfeeding mothers.

Why does this all matter when we talk about IBCLC marketing for LLL Leaders? La Leche League leaders historically stayed at home out of paid workforce. This means no wages, no retirements savings, no health insurance of your own as well as loss of accumulated future income and loss of paid work experience that can be sold on the market. Luring women who are already at a financial disadvantage into a knowingly low prospect low wage occupation raises questions about the ethics of the whole enterprise. Being a mother is a risk factor for poverty in old age. Being a mother who is lured into the low paying occupation is a financial suicide.

I participated in a round table problem solving discussion at the Breastfeeding and Feminism Conference with Mary Rose Tully right before her death. We were supposed to pick any issue within breastfeeding and come up with solutions. The only issue on Ms.Tully’s mind was financial compensation for IBCLCs. It struck me as odd for a person of such prominence to not be appropriately compensated for her work. Yet looking around every IBCLC I knew relied on their husbands to provide and IBCLC work was a supplementary (if at all) hobby income that may cover the expenses of being an IBCLC.

Heavy marketing of IBCLC in La Leche League continued as long as I knew it for one and only reason – money to sustain the IBLCE (the board of lactation examiners) and provide income in a pyramid scheme where people at the top relied on the income brought in by training seminars. When the profession is so new, any and every dollar they can get from any woman participating in the scheme helps propel the profession forward. Nobody cares that the road to IBCLC days of glory is littered by destitute women who unknowingly sacrificed their well-being for the “greater cause” of medicalized breastfeeding. How ethical and moral is it to establish an occupation that poached freely shared women’s knowledge and experience, turned it medical, and monetized it all while throwing experienced breastfeeding women under the bus?

Written by Medical Nemesis

April 4, 2017 at 10:21

Posted in Other

How fight for IBCLC power and influence hurts women

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Written by Medical Nemesis

January 10, 2017 at 10:20

Posted in Other

Persecution, harassment, and exclusion of experienced breastfeeding women

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The other day an experienced breastfeeding mother was harassed and excluded from Milk Cafe community run by lactation consultants. The reason was most prosaic, the one we have witnessed a million times in history – heresy. Something akin “The Earth is round”. In a way, this is the continuation of the previous post US vs. Them. Chasm between mothers and lactation consultants – concrete evidence of the shift that happens when mothers become lactation consultants.

An experienced breastfeeder stated that there is no need to express milk at night in the hospital if the baby is separated from a mother for just one night. Milk will still come regardless of stimulation. A mother whose colostrum will not be used for feeding and who has difficulty expressing colostrum should sleep the first night after birth and focus on nursing at the breast when she is reunited with her baby. 

All hell broke loose. This simple truth sent scores of lactation consultants into convulsive spasms. The suppression of maternal experience and knowledge followed a predictable path that I have witnessed many times.

  1. Attack, diminish, and eradicate personal experiential knowledge  “Oh, but we cannot rely on personal experience”, “the number of children you breastfed is irrelevant to evidence-based medicine”
  2. Elevate and appeal to “objective” knowledge “Do you have objective data to support your claims?” “Evidence-based medicine tells us otherwise”
  3. Censorship of women’s experiential knowledge as risky and wrong “personal experience can deviate from what evidence-based medicine tells us. We get our advice from evidence-based medicine, not personal experiences”.
  4. Instill fear of sharing experiential knowledge “Are you willing to accept the responsibility for potential risk of insufficient lactation?”
  5. Question maternal ability to evaluate advice and decide for herself “Are you sharing your advice to test mother’s ability to evaluate advice. This is not the best of times for that”
  6. Elimination of living women from breastfeeding and appeal to mythical “higher order laws” “Physiology based recommendations are fundamental. We simply don’t know everything about this physiology.”
  7. Denial of your own personal experiential knowledge and professional roots  “We just have to follow the laws of lactation without leaning on our own, frequently horribly wrong experience.”
  8. Deny the experience and intelligence of women throughout history and time “The percentage of exclusive breastfeeding until six months in the world is very low. This comes from ignorance”
  9. Underscore forward vision and helpfulness of experts vs. short-term thinking of mothers and their lack of good intentions “It’s only logical our approaches are so different. We look two steps forward. It’s important for us to help mothers. You are just insisting upon your opinion for the sake of insistence”.
  10. Enforce abstract theoretical biomedical knowledge to any and every situation without regard for time, place, and personal circumstances of individual women. 

The above methods and their underlying philosophies are not any different from the underpinnings of medicine  that has held exactly identical views of women and women’s experiential knowledge.  This is concrete proof how both perception of self as “us lactation consultants-not them mothers” and uptake of formal biomedical knowledge to replace collective experiential knowledge are damaging to women’s confidence in their abilities and agency (ability to act in any given environment).

Ultimately, the Wise Woman exited the oppressive, disrespectful, and suffocating community that promotes “tyranny and dictatorship suffocating dissent” (joking quote from the members that is true though the consultants are unaware of it) to preserve her dignity, sanity, and the highly nuanced skill of combining experience with formal knowledge and situating it here and now.  As much as the wise woman builds her own house, a mother sifts through a lot of information to find what works for her and figures out how to breastfeed. Oppressive and enslaving system of biomedicine robs women of their shared experiential knowledge. It’s time we exited the system.

 

 

 

Written by Medical Nemesis

September 1, 2016 at 11:22

Posted in Other

US vs. Them. Chasm between mothers and lactation consultants

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The most striking transformation takes place when middle and upper-middle class women professionalize. When successful breastfeeding mothers who share their experiences and support each other turn into professional lactation consultants, a visible and perceptible shift takes place in the perception of self. What used to be “us, breastfeeding mothers” splinters into “us, lactation consultants” and “them, breastfeeding mothers”.  This shift is significant because it causes many implications for women who are mothers. Lactation consultants become yet another professional who claims authority and exerts pressure on mothers to conform to certain standards and behaviors.

More later…

Written by Medical Nemesis

August 31, 2016 at 14:16

Posted in Other

A blind spot of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes

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codebook2Medicalization of breastfeeding first and foremost eradicates women and the relational aspects of a nursing relationship between a woman and her child. Medicalization of breastfeeding castrates a nursing relationship between two people to a food transaction between anybody and everybody and a child. This profound lack of understanding of the nature of a nursing relationship between two people leads to disastrous policy that backfires on women and children in a multitude of ways from lack of financial and work protection to blatant exploitation of women’s reproductive abilities (poaching) that results in effective killing of a nursing relationship.

 

Narrow medical understanding of a nursing relationship as food leads to a reduction of breastfeeding to breastmilk as we see in the name of the World Health Organization resolution of 1981 – International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk substitutes (emphasis mine). This further leads to the goals of the document to be focused around milk and the appropriate swapping of milks while negating the process of breastfeeding as vitally important and not replaceable by bottles.

The aim of this Code is to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate
nutrition for infants, by the protection and promotion of breast-feeding, and by
ensuring the proper use of breast-milk substitutes, when these are necessary, on the
basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.
It is not surprising that not many women breastfeed today, opting for milk extraction with pumps, supporting million dollar breastpump industry, and eventually, downsliding to artificial milk feeding as prolonged pumping is not sustainable on a large scale. It is not surprising the quest for perfect formula,ever so close in composition to breastmilk, continues.
Breastmilk is NOT breastfeeding.

 

 

 

Written by Medical Nemesis

August 23, 2016 at 10:47

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!