Friday, May 23, 2008

Medical Professionals and Breastfeeding Ignorance

A couple of personal experiences recently that underline why breastfeeding rates in our country are so poor.

First, my husband's aunt came to visit us when our baby was about two months old. About an hour after I'd nursed the baby, she started fussing, and I said, "She's probably hungry." Auntie cried in astonishment, "ALREADY????!!!!" She was also generally uncooperative about handing the baby over to be fed during her whole stay. Guess what Auntie does for a living? She's a labor and delivery nurse.

Second, a PA at our family practice prescribed some medication for me last week. "Since you're nursing, I'll give you a topical treatment, rather than oral medication," she said. The week was not going well - the baby was fussing, and needed me seemingly all the time, but also wouldn't latch on for long. I started to feel my depression coming back with a sudden vengeance - I had quickly lost the ability to take pleasure in anything, and suddenly everything in life seemed overwhelming and unfixable.

Well, when I started having a separate issue with my medication, I looked at the package insert and did some internet research, only to find: a.) blood levels with the topical drug are the same as if you take it orally; b.) it transfers readily into breastmilk; c.) it makes breastmilk TASTE BAD; d.) it can cause depression. Needless to say, I stopped taking it and called the doctor's office. From now on, I'll have to advocate for myself more, and call upon the doctors and pharmacists to look out for these issues.

But imagine, if someone like me, who is very educated and is trained as a breastfeeding counselor, has difficulties along these lines, how devastating this ignorance and lack of support can be to women who are trying to breastfeed, but don't have a lot of knowledge about the subject!


thinkinoutloud said...

Hmm, what a world that would be if everyone were gay.

AlisonM said...

Sometimes we forget that not everyone pops onto the internet when they have a question or concern. Heck, some people don't even question, and live with whatever consequence comes from doing as they're told. Once you've learned from experience that voices of authority don't even have all the answers, though, you'll find yourself running into fewer of these problems yourself. Unfortunately, not all the other people in the world who don't know this now ever will. All you can do is inform yourself and pass the word around.