I’ve been fortunate in my breastfeeding journey to not only have great support from friends, family and La Leche League (LLL,) but I’ve also had the experience of having great physicians who have not only been supportive of breastfeeding, but also knowledgeable.
This is why I find it so bothersome and disconcerting when I hear of moms that hear inaccurate, if not down-right BAD, advice regarding breastfeeding. I decided to ask varying groups of women, of all ages, what the worst advice regarding breastfeeding they had personally heard. Here’s the best of the worst (or should that be worst of the worst?) Either way:
- That everything was OK, baby was supposed to be that angry, no need to look at latch. 5 days later baby hospitalized…dehydrated and literally close to death. Mommas should trust their instinct.
- my milk is poison to my baby and i need to switch my baby to formula immediately
- A pediatric resident told me that there is no health organzation in the world that recommends nursing after 12 months.
- To put my twins on the same feeding schedule. LOL Yeah, right! I nursed when they were hungy, which meant I sat around nursing all the time in those early weeks, but that was a good thing!
- Don’t wake him to nurse (said of a five and a half pound premature baby).
- “he’s manipulating you with the breast!” regarding demand feedings. Ugh!!!!
- I was told to wean when I had mastitis because my baby was one and could have cows milk
- That my tired newborn was able to “drain the breast” in 10 minutes, so I should switch sides after 10 minutes at every feeding. And to keep at the 10 minute per side rule even when oversupply and overactive let-down became an issue…Feeding my 4 month old rice cereal “if she seems hungry” after nursing comes in a close second for worst advice ever, though.
- With my first, the ped told me she didn’t need to nurse at night after age six months.
- That tongue and lips ties are harmless and don’t effect BFing
For formal breastfeeding education I got 4 half days (3-4 hours) of shadowing an IBCLC on hospital rounds, rounding on postpartum moms when they are in hospital. This took place either my second or third year. The intern year is mostly inpatient rotations and I got no formal education on breastfeeding. Anything I learned, good or bad, came from the example of the nurses, upper level residents or attendings. Looking back I feel sad about some of the things that were “routine” on those rotations. For example, when we discharged women who had just had a baby from the L+D floor we were instructed to ask every woman what she wanted to do for contraception and we were especially encouraged to give women the Depo-Provera shot. I feel sad about this now for many reasons (especially because I don’t believe in contraception and I recently finally got the courage to stop prescribing) but related to breastfeeding I now know that this can irreversibly decrease a woman’s milk supply and I may have contributed to the lactation failure of some women.When on pediatrics I was influenced by the lack of formal education about breastfeeding. From my involvement in the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine I do know that there are pediatricians who have developed curricula for individual residency programs but residency education is really dependent on the individual residency. There is an outline of what has to be taught but how that is carried out is variable.We are required to complete Continuing medical education (CME) hours every year but the topic of the CME is up to the physician. So breastfeeding is completely optional. I really like dermatology so I often do conferences on derm, for example.The horrid advice that you have heard given is unfortunately all too common and the studies on this have shown that this is because there is such a lack of education and that nurses and physicians rely on their own experiences (good or bad) to advise moms. (i.e., oh, I couldn’t make enough milk, its OK if you don’t make it). When I was working in the office setting as a resident I encountered a mom who was engorged. I could not have diagnosed her pain as such but I had already rotated with the IBCLC so I knew that I needed to call her for advice. Over the phone she told me how to advise the mother. That is the only breastfeeding issue I addressed during my entire 3 year residency. Everything I learned about breastfeeding I learned long after completing my residency, first by going to LLL meetings and then by seeking out L-CERP conferences.
So there you have it. She also attached a PDF statement from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine that I will put on the CCM Facebook page a little later. (Depending on when you are reading this, I might be on a plane en route to the midwest!) You can also check out more bad advice on the page as well!
The takeaway from this is, when looking for a “breastfeeding friendly” pediatrician or family practitioner you may want to consider asking the physician what type of breastfeeding training they have. Their answer may clue you in to the type of advice you may get if you run into any breastfeeding issues. And if you are ever in doubt… call your local LLL. Seriously.
Coming up this week:
Tomorrow: Breastfeeding in the Bible
Monday: Modesty and Breastfeeding (Guest Post over at Imperfect Kate)
Tuesday: Avoiding Bottle-feeding guilt
- WBW ’12: Seven Quick Takes: Breastfeeding in Social Situations
- WBW ’12: The Health Care Law and breastfeeding
- WBW ’12: Thoughts on NYC and formula-marketing
- The ABC’s of Breastfeeding: N-Z (WBW: Day 7)
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