Posts Tagged ‘Lactation Consultants’

BOOOOO for Bad Breastfeeding Advice!

So, you give birth in a hospital that is very “pro-breastfeeding,” assures you that they will help you overcome breastfeeding challenges and won’t interfere by giving a bottle or pacifier, and even has lactation consulatants frequently available to come to your room and help you. You assume that they will start you on the right foot and you’ll have the general idea by the time you get home, right?

Well, apparently, not always. Two recent stories I heard have left me fuming, and I feel that it’s important to share them so we can try to stop this from happening to more women.

Jocelyn* spent a few days in the hospital after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was determined to breastfeed, so she told the nurses not to give her daughter a pacifier or bottle. She said that her daughter latched well, but was experiencing a lot of pain and her nipples were even bleeding by the third day. When she asked both of the two lactation consultants if it was supposed to hurt, they said, “Yep, that’s the way it is! You just have toughen up, honey!”

But that’s NOT the way it is. It turns out her daughter was latching only onto the nipple, not the whole areola. Some tenderness when beginning breastfeeding is normal. But pain and bleeding is not. I’m not a lactation consultant, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that perhaps these particular consultants should have spotted this latch and helped to correct it so Jocelyn could have nursed more comfortably.

To top it off, the hospital nurses took Jocelyn’s daughter to the nursery and did not bring her back for two feedings. Afterwards, the baby girl did not latch on to the breast well at all. Jocelyn strongly suspected that the nurses probably gave her bottles during this time, therefore sabotaging some of her earliest efforts to breastfeed. Jocelyn is still determined to make nursing happen despite these setbacks, which is very admirable.

Lily* was working on nursing her son in a hospital that boasted some of the best breastfeeding support available. However, when her milk didn’t come in by the third day, she had nurses telling her that she would have to supplement because her son wasn’t getting enough. (Now, I’m not sure how it works for every woman, but my milk didn’t come in until the end of the fourth day/beginning of the fifth day, and my son is in the 90th percentile for weight.) This was, of course, very upsetting to her. When she started to tear up about the possibility, one lactation consultant remarked, “I’m really glad to see you crying about this. It shows me that you actually care about your son.” Needless to say, this remark was an abysmal thing to say to a brand new mother learning to breastfeed.

Lily was required to drive back to the hospital a couple of times after she came home to do weight checks. They threatened hospitalization and switching to formula if he didn’t gain weight. She supplemented with formula through a tube attached to her breast at home in hopes that it would bring up his weight. Finally, one kind hearted lactation consultant told her that he looked healthy, was eating, pooping, and peeing well- if his ounces were slightly lower than average, it was okay. He wasn’t in a danger zone yet. She told Lily not to worry and to keep up the good work.

Lily kept at it, and her son’s weight finally satisfied the hospital enough that that they didn’t ask to keep him. She is no longer supplementing, and her son is thriving on her milk and filling out beautifully.

Now, I definitely know there are many wonderful lactation consultants out there, some of which I have been blessed to meet. I am so grateful these women are there to help mothers learn to breastfeed successfully. But what about the others? These two stories I shared are, unfortunately, not the only incidents when lactation consultants and nurses have failed to provide the support and advice needed to help mothers successfully nurse. There have been too many mothers who genuinely wanted to breastfeed, and were falsely made to believe they were not making enough or that it just had to hurt badly until they “toughened up.”

What can we do to help stop this from happening and ensure that every mother who wishes to nurse gets the help she needs? Please share your ideas.

*Names have been changed to protect the mothers’ privacy.