Our Sentiments

Mothering and Life in General

Let Us Blame The Right People

I have been reading around the past few days, which landed me with some fine, well put together blogs about the study The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis AKA The Breastfeeding Saves Lives and Money Study.

With most of these blogs comes women chiming in with comments of happiness and agreement. Then those speaking out that these writings made them feel guilty, this study makes them feel insulted. Some even attempt to poke holes into the study and focusing the anger towards the blogger, the commenter’s, or the sender who shared.

As with most publications about Breastfeeding, the wind storm of Mother’s Guilt and other backlash came from every direction. I will not chime in to follow suit for either side, mostly because the above women have done so well with it. Also because I am not a good writer; what I am going to do is comment a bit about some things that I found to be either lost in the study’s weight or not said at all.

We already knew this: We knew that breastfeeding saves lives, if it saves those in 3rd world countries, what makes our babies any ‘better’ off? How little-minded are we to think because we have clean drinking water and we come from ‘high society’ that it would not do the same here? I guess we needed a consensus to figure this all out for us.

This study is important: It’s crucial to the importance of breastfeeding and to the much-needed support, which is still lacking. Let us not forget about the suggestions that all us parents are told: formula is safe and just as good as breastmilk. This study, as shocked as everyone is about it, was not published to make sure mothers who gave formula to their infants and babies feel guilty, attacked or judged.

Why should Canadians be concern? Yes, we have baby intuitive information, Yes, we have longer Maternity Leaves, Yes, our breastfeeding rates are ‘high’ at the beginning; but once you look at 6 months it’s a shocking low. With this study we can only assume how much we all put into our health care and how much we can be saving. These numbers do affect us.

Who or what do we blame?: Let us think about this for moment. In the mean time I will present some stories from myself along with friends who I will remain anonymous.

“Mother wanted to breastfeed, she made that choice right from knowing the results were positive. She knew there will be some rough times, but this mother refuses to think of anything but to nurse her child. When birth does come, baby is 4 weeks premature. The baby ends up being sent to the NICU, during the separation, the mother notices she was not called for a feeding. Breasts full and uncomfortable she walks to the NICU to find her baby being given a bottle of formula. Reason: The mother needs to rest, the baby is jaundiced and the mother’s milk has not come in yet.”

“Mother going to her family doctor stating her infant is crying uncontrollably. The doctor, nonchalantly tells the mother she should supplement. After the mother confides to the doctor she would rather breastfeed, maybe she could try to increase her supply, the doctor retorts, ‘Well not all woman can breastfeed, you have a healthy and happy baby, giving formula wont change that’.”

“Mother comes home from the hospital, after successfully breastfeeding for 3 days, she is finding engorgement painful and baby will not latch. Looking through the envelopes of information from the hospital; all she finds are government papers for the baby’s birth certificate and health card along with how small the baby’s stomach is at different ages and what colour of stool to expect. After the mother receives a call from the health nurse and is informed about cabbage leaves and some local Breastfeeding Clinics. After calling the clinics she finds that the only appointment she can get is in three days. Eventually she calls up her pregnant friend for advice, and looks to the pump for verification to ‘if she is making enough’. After pumping only a few drops, late at night she gives her crying baby a bottle.”

“Mother and baby goes to the pedestrian’s office for a follow-up at 9 months, baby is not on the same percentile at the child’s 6 month check-up. Although this child’s present percentile is on the same mark at birth the pedestrian states the mother is not making enough and to supplement. After the mother stating factual information about breastmilk having more calories than anything else along with WHO Breastfeeding Growth Charts, also adding her assumptions that this weight substance started when solids were introduced, the pediatrician marks “FAILURE TO THRIVE” on the babies records. The mother is given a calorie count of 1600 to make the baby eat on a daily basis to increase weight.”

“A mother, taking her baby to a six month check-up, is told that after 6 months the baby should be limited from the breast and to increase solids intake. Breastmilk is not needed anymore for nutritional purposes, the baby should be getting this from their solids. Mother taking her doctors word for it, since she has seen him for years, goes home to do what is suggested. Next check-up baby has lost weight. Mother is told she does not make enough, then sent home with information about what formula to have the baby on. Mother in tears in the grocery line, paying for the formula, was never told she could increase her supply.”

“A mother finding her relationship with her significant-other has crumbled, they fight all the time. They both know that breastfeeding is not the issue, but they keep fighting over it anyways. Mother looks up information providing breastfeeding is something good and will not harm the baby. Soon the mother finds out that issues her husband has brought up to her attention what not his issues at all, it was his mother’s. His mother is stating her ‘factual’ information to him saying it came from a health nurse the family are friends with. Conclusion: Because his mother got the information from a trusted family friend, who is a nurse, his wife’s milk is not good enough for his child. He’s only concerned with the health of his children; and his mother raised two children and is never wrong.”

“A new young mother, also interested in breastfeeding information while she was pregnant. Although she lives with her mother who disapproves the thought of her daughter breastfeeding, she still tried. After leaving the hospital with some breastfeeding information, she calls a friend for support of her mother’s belittling comments. The  new mother’s, mother formula feed all of her children and they are fine. There is no reason for her child to breastfeed her Grandchild. After countless tries to give information, the new mother encounters issues with engorgement, with her breasts in pain and discomfort, the new mother’s mother states, that is what you get for breastfeeding and hands her a bottle. Conclusion: If my daughter parents differently than I did, that means she thinks my parenting was bad.”

“A mother and father find themselves to be new parents again. Mother wants to breastfeed, father disagrees. His oldest daughter from a previous relationship was formula feed and she’s smart and healthy. He wants to be able to bond with the baby, seemingly so, ‘this can only be done by bottle-feeding’. Mother tells the father that she will breastfeed this child with or without his support. The new father say ‘Ah, who cares, it’s not like you can do it anyways!'”

Look back on why you stopped nursing/breastfeeding. Think about it for a bit, list your reasons down. If, in the moment of ciaos, someone came to help, showed you proper latch, told you that breastfeed babies feed a lot and it’s normal and to look at the diaper, showed you where to go for help and you could easily access it, called you to see how you are doing, understood your frustration when you were about to give up. Spoke with you about your concerns and justified them. Worked with you to solve your nursing issues without saying it’s your body, you failed and show you the formula. Would you still be breastfeeding?

Is anyone seeing a pattern here? Can anyone relate to these situations?

These stories, including your own, are just a few of the many that resulted us mothers stop breastfeeding our children. This study should unite us so we can collectively make sure for the future, this issue is not ignored. Now we have a shocking study to back us up, to help us be open to the idea that it really was not us. Our bodies DID NOT fail. In fact we were let down, we were lied too!

If you know of a blog posting that should be added on the above list please leave a comment to let me know.

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4 responses to “Let Us Blame The Right People

  1. TheFeministBreeder April 8, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Spot on! Thank you for reiterating the message!

    • Our Sentiments April 8, 2010 at 1:06 am

      Of course my friend, you said it better. I would have posted my link to the comments in the other site, but I don’t want people who are not supportive to come here. I am not tough-skinned yet 😉

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