dear lactation consultant…

One of the most common questions I was asked throughout my pregnancy was “are you going to breastfeed?”. My response remained the same throughout – I’ll do my best.

I wasn’t born yesterday, I am fully aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, especially in those first crucial few days. I am also fully aware of the issues that many of my girlfriends have had on their journeys through motherhood and that breastfeeding is not always as easy as hoped.

I knew that I definitely wanted to try to breastfeed for at least the first couple of months. I was prepared for the late nights feeding my son when my boob was his only option. I was prepared and excited about the bonding that comes with feeding. I was prepared for the benefits of a massive cleavage and the inevitable weight loss that goes along with exclusive breastfeeding.

I was not prepared for the issues that I encountered.

I was less prepared for the emotional turmoil that comes along with feeling like I failed my son.

I was totally unprepared for the abuse I received when after just 6 days, I had to start giving my son formula.

The long and short of my story is that due to a tongue tie that my son was born with and an inability to latch on correctly, my nipples were so badly damaged in the initial few days that my body went into shut down, my milk dried up and formula became a staple in our home. That makes it sound so simple and matter of fact.

It wasn’t. It was traumatic, both physically and mentally. The physical part I could handle. The emotional impact was tougher. Breastfeeding was impacting my ability to bond with my son and nothing is worth that.

Thankfully N saw what was happening and held my hand through the tears as I realized that my boobs were betraying my baby and I. We have an amazing Child Health Nurse who also recognized that the best thing for Archer and I was finding an alternative.

So my family, partner and direct career all agree that breastfeeding, although a fabulous option for most new mums and bubs, was not working for my son and I.

this is what i neededWhy is it then that certain lactation consultants within the community have found it suitable and necessary to inform me of the error of my ways? Telling me that “breast really is best”, “you should push through” “just hold your baby differently” “here, let me show you”.

NO!

It’s not working for us. My baby isn’t happy! I’m not happy! You are not in my home at half past three in the morning to see our struggle. Don’t tell me what is best for my son when you don’t know either of us.

The lack of support and self-righteousness of these women has been something I was totally unprepared for. I’ve had phone calls from a lactation consultant telling me that she knows better than our pediatrician how to treat my sons tongue-tie – stopping short of telling me I was a bad mother for listening to the doctors. I’ve had another practically wrestle my poor son by the neck to try to get him to latch on differently. I could go on for hours about the ways in which I have been insulted and offended by this certain breed of lactation ladies who lack empathy, manners and decency.

this is what i gotI know that not all lactation consultants are the same. There are some who are warm, kind and supportive – regardless of whether you breastfeed or not. Unfortunately, the ones like those I encountered, damage the industry as a whole and leave a bad taste in the mouths of new mums that take a long time to fade.

Speaking with other women about their breastfeeding journeys, I find that my story is not unique. Many have had encounters with lactation consultants that have left them traumatized, teary and questioning their decisions and ability as a new mum. How is this helpful?  An occupation which is designed to encourage breastfeeding and provide support to women at an emotionally and physically fragile time is doing the opposite – instilling negative emotions, fear and feelings of failure.

So to the lactation consultant community – I beg you…. Calm the fuck down. Stop for a moment and listen to your patients. Open your eyes to each individual mothers situation and help to guide her to a solution for her and her baby. I know it will pain you to hear it but breast is NOT always best.

Some of us are betrayed by our boobies. It doesn’t make us failures. It doesn’t make us bad mums. Please don’t make us feel like it does.

Xx A

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/goetter/3588637633/”>Raphael Goetter</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

16 thoughts on “dear lactation consultant…

  1. I’m so sorry you’ve had such a hard time with all this. And you are right: nursing is not easy. Milk zealots don’t help, and this is from someone who did nurse/is nursing.
    As much as I dig it, there are compelling reasons not to. You can drink, for starters. Your husband gets to bond and participate more. And a biggie I’m wrestling with for the second time that no one talks about: it’s a total libido-killer. As if the sleep deprivation and stress weren’t enough, it creates what’s known as early menopause. It’s brutal on your marriage.

  2. Oh this brings it all rushing right back. It always infuriated me so much that at a time that a woman is so incredibly vulnerable, supposed health professionals would not care at all about mental and emotional health. Just the boob. Breast may be best and no one disputes that, but there ARE options to healthy mums and babies.

  3. Well done Ab – firstly for your honesty and secondly for giving it a go. I can totally empathise with you. I also experienced the same thoughts and feelings when I was unable to breastfeed our girls (Jasmine chomped and Baylee was lactose intolerant). It was so hard to accept as I remember being constantly reminded that ‘breast is best’ and felt enormous pressure to not let our new baby down! Jasmine was breastfed for 2 weeks and Baylee for 3 weeks (until we realised she had to switch to soy formula).
    I look at my girls now and they are both happy and healthy and that is all that matters 🙂 You do what is right for you and Archer… that is the most important thing.
    xx

  4. I’ve had both. The ability to feed my girls easily without trouble and then my middle child my son who was so not interested. At 2 and a half weeks I went to my child health nurse and she told me to buy some formula. And go to my doctor. He drank every drop of that formula and stopped crying. Same day I went to my doctor and what they found that I was just not producing the right milk – not enough sustenance in it. I tried some medication but it didn’t work. The amount of tears I cried because I had failed and because I couldn’t make my baby stop crying were many. I look back now and wish that nurse at the hospital had said maybe we should look at your actual milk. Since the technique was fine. My body let me down.

    Really sorry you had to go through this. Like you said women really need support at such and emotionally charged time.

  5. Sounds like random,unknown lactation consultants from your area are calling *you* out of the blue??? Can it be that you are calling THEM, since most that I know are too busy to harass women by giving away free advice!

  6. ‘Mom of many’ would mean you are American so maybe your lactation consultants are different than ours in Austraila

  7. Dear A.
    I, as a lactation c. but also mother with babies with minor t.t.’s, also experienced problems with not enough milk and pain.
    Do I understand well that the tongue tie was not released? What was the ped.’s advice?
    xx

  8. Wow. Just reading this post made me feel teary. I have also run the lactation consultant gauntlet reaching the end feeling jaded, angry and like a failure. It has taken me 3 months to move forward and start to enjoy motherhood.
    I have been on a similar journey to you and I feel your pain and frustration.
    As a new mother you are so vulnerable and I was naive to think that lactation consultants were there to help me. In the end I felt so manipulated and wrung out by the constant tirade. This was at a time when I was recovering from the most intense experience of my life. I was unwell, my baby was unwell and I was being fed this information that basically suggested I was a bad mother unless I only gave breast milk. I felt like I was part of some crazy cult.
    In the end my body made the decision for me and stopped producing milk. When I explained this I was bombarded with all this ‘advice’ about ways for getting it started again.
    I made one last attempt (as the guilt was getting to me) and i started a power pumping regime. This meant I pumped for 5 minutes on each breast every hour for four hours. I then had a 2 hour break and did it all again. I lasted 4 hours before collapsing in a teary mess.
    Since starting formula feeding my son has thrived. He is not the obese baby that they promised he would be. He is healthy and robust. When I feed him I hold him close and look into his eyes. We have a beautiful relationship.
    My priority was to ‘feed’ my son, not to see him starving and crying from across the room whilst I placed plastic tubes and pumps on my boobs and turned my back on nurturing – all for the sake of breastfeeding. I believe that lactation consultants need to look at every situation individually. they need to stop reading from the breast-is-best bible and make honest and realistic assessments that equally put the baby and mother first. Stop reading from the text books ladies.

  9. Pingback: Bye-bye [larger] Boobies | BTDT Mama

  10. Pingback: Bye-bye {larger} Boobies [#Weaning] | BTDT Mama Has Moved: www.btdtmama.com

Leave a comment - I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s