She lived on the bayside of Melbourne and her light and bright house was in the throes of renovation. Although there were circular saws going off in the background and works still being completed, enough of the reno was done that I could see just how spectacular the finished product was going to be. We sat on her soft tan leather sofa and although the beach wasn’t in view, I sensed it was close as the bifold doors opening on to the decked courtyard welcomed the salt air inside.
“Why didn’t I know about you sooner?” this mama kindly said as tears welled in her eyes. I smiled tenderly while tilting my head before inviting this lovely mother to share her story.
I listened to the main parts of the mothers breastfeeding journey that brought her to this very moment where she sat in tailors pose before me. Recount after recount of inaccurate advice, coercion and poor management. It was clear to me that this mother was a casualty of a system which failed her, and I wanted so badly to sweep in and Cher-style “Turn back time” (just maybe minus the fishnet bodystocking and cannon).
As a professional working with breastfeeding women, I have a duty of care to share current, consistent, evidence-based advice. Any professional working with breastfeeding women has the same duty of care. With this in mind, I can in no way understand how mothers of today are often on the receiving end of such heinous breastfeeding advice.
“My baby was unsettled on night two so the midwives suggested I give some formula because my milk wasn’t in yet.” This mama said. “Then my baby lost 9% in the first few days so the Paediatrician advised formula top ups. He said I had to do this or else my baby’s mild jaundice would get worse which could lead to brain damage”. I tried my best to remain impartial in my expression and continue active listening, but I could already feel the Botox in my frown lines had gone into overdrive trying to hold my forehead from moving (KIDDING! I don’t have Botox. Yet! LOL). Lastly this mother explained “Then my health nurse said the nipple confusion was from all the bottles my baby had received and told me to not bother continuing to try to breastfeed, it wouldn’t work, to save myself the hassle and just switch to formula”.
Pow. Pow Pow. That’s how it felt. From the Midwife to the Paed and then the MCHN. Three swift blows, each which knocked the wind out of me.
I continued taking a full history and delve a little deeper. “Did anyone teach or encourage you to hand express your colostrum?” I gently asked. “Did anyone suggested an alternative way to give your baby the top up, aside from the bottle?” And finally “Did anyone discuss ways for you to boost your supply and express your breastmilk, to help you phase out the formula?”.
“No.” “Not once.” “Noone.” she said.
First I felt numb. Sensationless. Then feelings of anger and enrage churned up inside me. Then I simply felt defeated… Here was a mother who deeply wanted to breastfeed and the truth is, her breastfeeding journey was sabotaged by the professionals around her.
I sat with the feelings of defeat for a few moments while this mama went to collect her little one who was stirring from his nap.
And then I knew what my next move was going to be…
This story above is not a one off. I wish with all my heart it was but this mother is not alone. In fact, I hear all kinds of rubbish advice my clients and followers are subject to.
“Use formula until your milk comes in. Colostrum isn’t enough for your baby.”
“You’ve had breast implants, so you won’t be able to breastfeed.”
“Your baby is six months old now and doesn’t need breastmilk anymore.”
“Your baby isn’t gaining enough weight. Switch to cows milk.”
You name it, I’ve heard it. Every rubbishy, hair-brained recommendation under the sun from a “so-called” expert. So my next move (which I eluded to above) starts right here with… a MasterClass for professionals.
If you are a new Midwife, Nurse, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Hypnobirthing instructor or any kind of Maternity Care Professional really, I want to invite you to my FREE Live MasterClass this Wednesday 19th June 2019 at 10am where I will reveal my top 5 breastfeeding tips for professionals. To register simply use this link: https://join.maternal-instincts.com.au/5-tips-breastfeeding-webinar-for-professionals/
Together lets’ work towards improving the standard of breastfeeding support because as for the BS advice; well, new mamas deserve so much more…
See you at the MasterClass.