Monday, June 4, 2012

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: America's Handling of Breastfeeding is a Crime

I woke up this morning to a pile of annoying articles about how so few mothers in the US nurse their babies for even three months, articles like this one in Huffington Post. By the time I finished reading a half dozen of them and the comments that accompanied them, I was spitting milk mad.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not mad at the women who failed to nurse their babies at all, or the ones who gave up, or the ones who commented on these articles that some women can't nurse and sometimes it is better that moms give up on breastfeeding and bottlefeed. I am not mad that they wrote that moms shouldn't feel bad or blame themselves,  that a comfortable baby and mom with a bottle is better than an unhappy breastfeeding mom and a miserable baby.

Even though I believe most women (all who don't have a weird physical problem or disease) can nurse successfully and most babies (all who don't have a weird physical problem or disease) can nurse successfully as well, I am not mad at those who fail or those that tell moms it is okay if they do.

I am mad at our medical and nursing professionals who refuse to tell 100% of the truth about breastfeeding in America; this makes me sick.

I will go out on a limb and tell the truth because they are too scared to do so. I know I will get comments and emails from this mother and that who will tell me she failed in nursing because she really didn't have enough milk or her baby just wouldn't nurse no matter what. I have totally empathy for these moms because they did try very hard under circumstances that were stacked against them; a society that doesn't support breastfeeding and professionals who screw women over with bad information, bad advice, and outright lies (like "We didn't give your baby formula in the nursery," or "You should pump milk and give your baby a bottle once or twice a day to get him used to it before you go back to work.")

Breastfeeding in America fails because mothers have alternatives (bottles and formula) and are told it is okay. Women in other countries, too poor to buy formula, almost never fail at nursing their babies. Why? Because they have no choice. Don't think for a minute that breastfeeding mothers in these countries are somehow more physically able. They nurse because they have to and some of them, if they could, would prefer giving the baby a bottle. Most of these nursing moms are loving mothers but some are mean women who don't even like their babies but, because society and economics require it, nurse the babies anyway.

I was a La  Leche Leader for about six or seven years, a few decades ago. I counseled new moms in person, in the hospital and on the phone. Anytime I heard they were having problems with nursing - "not enough milk," "baby refusing nipple," and so on, I gave them one piece of advice, that if they followed it, they would succeed in nursing their baby; advice that worked, if they followed it, 100% of the time. You heard me, 100% of the time. What was this miracle advice?

Remove all formula and bottles from your house. Go to bed with your baby for twenty-four hours. Nurse on demand. Ignore any pain, lack of let-down, mad screaming baby. Just lay there and keep attempting to nurse. Ignore your tears and your baby's tears. Pretend you are on an island and your breast milk is all your baby has. Eventually, your baby will get hungry and latch on. Eventually your milk will let down. By the next day, you will have milk coming out and your baby will be drinking it. Even if it took you two days, your baby wouldn't starve to death; babies have been found alive days later buried under rubble in earthquakes. Your baby will survive long enough to get milk from your breast. Every woman who followed this advice called me in the morning to rave about her "huge" boobs and her totally nursing baby.

Nature is not stupid. God didn't give women breasts so men could ogle them. He even gave women two breasts just in case one was on the fritz or more than one baby showed up. Hungry babies nurse.

The reason mothers fail at breastfeeding is because, at the hospital, nurses give their babies formula behind their backs even if there is an order for no bottles. Why? Because the babies cry and get on the nurses nerves. Mothers fail at nursing because their babies aren't with them after birth; they are brought to them when it is "time to nurse them."  Mothers fail at breastfeeding because they don't nurse enough due to idiots telling them to nurse every four hours; their babies are hungry and their milk doesn't come in. Babies should be fed on demand when breastfed. Babies should never be given a bottle, not even with one's own breast milk because it screws the baby up with nipple confusion. Fathers don't need to give babies a bottle to feel like they are part of their baby's lives; there are a dozen other things they can do with the baby. Mothers don't need a break from breastfeeding or their baby; they need help and support to make their lives with baby easier. One can help them with all the other baby chores; diapering, bathing, rocking, walking, rocking, walking, rocking. One can do all the cleaning and cooking for a new mom and keep her company so she doesn't lose her mind. One can take a mom out with the baby so she can have fun and see other people and places. Babies are very transportable, and when one breastfeeds, no formula or bottles need to be carted along. In fact, if a new mom is doing anything but but laying about with her baby at her breast, shame on those who should be pitching in and making her first two weeks after the baby is born work and chore free.

Women quit breastfeeding because they can or because they don't want to deal with it considering the lack of support and confusion they experience when trying to breastfeed or because they must go back to work and society doesn't support nursing at the workplace. Our society reinforces so much negativity about breastfeeding that quitting seems a good option. With all the support for stopping nursing out there, it takes a mother with a great deal of determination to continue; she must believe in her own mind that there IS no other option for feeding her baby. I have no idea where I got that mindset myself - maybe because I spent time in Africa - but I never once considered bottle feeding my babies. And I kept that mindset in spite of the major nipple pain I had with my first that had me crying through entire feedings during the first two weeks.

But, I never even envisioned I had an option; I must breastfeed my baby and not give her formula because this is what is best for my baby (not trying to appear righteous; I really think seeing African moms nursing stuck in my brain and the fact I was a health nut at the time helped put me in that frame of mind). And so I carried on. Lo, and behold, the pain went away, the nursing went fine and I continued for the next two years. I repeated the process with the next child (without the initial nipple issues). I never learned how to fix a bottle for my babies.

I can live with women choosing not to nurse because of employment; sometimes there is no option. But, we should not as a country delude ourselves into thinking women can't nurse their babies because this doesn't work and that doesn't work and this mom doesn't have enough milk and that baby doesn't latch on properly. Garbage. Put all our American mothers (healthy women with healthy babies) on an island with no bottles and formulas and a few days later you will find 100% of those mothers nursing their babies.

America's professional attitude toward breastfeeding is what makes it so hard for our new moms to be succeed in breastfeeding their babies. If these supposed professionals only told new moms the truth, they could make a real choice; do I want to nurse or don't I? Then they could be successful at whatever road they decided to go down.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

June 4, 2012

Harkening back to the writing styles of the earlier American authors – John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, and Carson McCullers, "Only the Truth" is a story of soul searching, a psychological mystery which examines the question, “Whom should one love and when should one quit doing so?” Billy Ray, a lonely and rather slow, uneducated African-American man living in the mountains of Arkansas, runs across a mysterious young woman at the railroad tracks. She asks to go home with him and Billy Ray takes her with him as she requests. He comes to love this woman, Charlene, unconditionally. She is the only woman he has ever loved, and life is finally good for Billy Ray. Then Charlene shoots the neighbor and burns down the neighbor’s house. His happy life destroyed, a confused and devastated Billy Ray is at a loss. Is the woman he loves “just a troubled girl” or a psychopathic killer? Billy Ray sets out on a quest to find the truth, only the truth, whether it leads him to be able to save Charlene from a death sentence or it frees him from her spell.


Lin Holden said...

That's one of the best articles about breast feeding I've ever read.It totally echoes my own beliefs and experiences breast feeding three children.

Anonymous said...

... I Hope you don't have a medical background because that would be an embarrassment to the profession. I used to value your opinion but when you spew nonsense like this its ridiculous. To say that mothers who aren't producing milk should just 'try harder' and ignore pain? What about the child who is getting insufficient nutrients because some mother who can't lactate just read this doesn't want to feel like a failure so she doesn't seek help. Think before you post.

Pat Brown said...

There ya go! This is the mindset of America! This is the same reason we have such a high c-section rate. Almost all women can birth naturally if the doctors and hospitals didn't screw them up. In a rare emergency, a c-section is a lifesaver. But when 1/3 to 1/2 of our women in the US have c-sections, you can't tell me there isn't something really wrong with the medical profession.

Same with breastfeeding; there may be a rare occasion (which I pointed out and anonymous above ignored) but, for 99% of women in the United States, nursing should not be a problem.

Stacey Stowers said...

You are exactly right nurses force formula on babies. I've seen it happen with several friends children. I'm due in 7w and have told all the Dr. in my practice that I'm breastfeeding (they are pro boob BTW) my hubby and Mom know fortunately the hospital I'm delivering at has no nursery so baby will stay with me unless she has to go to nicu. everyone that's around me involved with my birth plan knows NO BOTTLES OR PACIS! Oh I'm also using cloth diapers. 30y old and its my first!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Brown, this completely off-crime post has touched me so much.
Breast-feeding is essential to a baby; for bonding, for comforting, but essentially also for health with all of what nature can give to built natural defence. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

A third to a half of all American babies born by c-section? That is really shocking.

Jade Malone said...

Pat, I agree with your comment about c-sections and medical intervention. I was given a Bio-Physical Profile ultrasound in which baby scored 0/4. I was rushed to the L&D floor and prepped for an emergency c-section. They gave me an extremely grim outlook for the baby. I KNEW baby was fine, and after they decided to monitor baby further, they realized she was probably fine. The next day they induced me because they wanted to be "safe rather than sorry", and during the MISERABLE induction, the doctors and nurses realized the ENTIRE ultrasound was 100% wrong and baby should have had a perfect score. Although I'm glad baby is here, safe and sound, I am less than impressed about all the medical error and intervention. I trusted my body and my intuition, why couldn't they?
Thanks again for this post, it truly is a great and informative post. I've shared the link in my latest blog post.

Sarah said...

One of the most over-rated things on earth: breastfeeding. If you want to do it, go for it. If not, don't. Your baby will turn out fine either way.

Anonymous said...

Some women just don't Want to breastfeed or are uncomfortable with it. That shouldn't be viewed as a "fail" on their part or implied they aren't giving their children the best start in life.

I found it hurt like the dickens and could never tell how much my baby was ingesting. Fear of starving my child certainly trumped worrying about someone perceiving me as a failure.

Although... had I transparent teflon ta-tas, I totally wd have done it. But only so I wd'nt have had to sterlize all those glass bottles. My son grew up healthy and strong.

Bardot said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure you paid attention to the whole article. It seems like you saw a couple of sentences that offended you and disregarded the rest. Pat Brown did not say that women who don't breastfeed are failures. It is about the medical professional's misinformation about breastfeeding. It is not too much of a common thing to not be able to breastfeed, except for some medical issues she pointed out. The problem is that the women are misinformed by their doctors so they think breastfeeding is very difficult to do, if this or that happens they cannot do it and they should prefer bottles.

It is more about them being informed properly on how breastfeeding works and having the ability to choose between doing it and not doing it based on proper information, not the unfounded belief that they cannot do it, they don't have milk, etc

Just give the women the correct information and let them decide if they want to do it or not. It is not about women failing and feeling bad about it.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. I tell my students that a double mastectomy is really the only reason a woman isn't able to breastfeed. The first few weeks aren't alwasy easy, but they're not that bad either. And mothers should NEVER be told, at any time in their pregnancy, that babies nurse on average every two hours. Try every 20 minutes. I am tempted to have another baby and videotape how easy parenting is when you nurse on demand. I am a busy, mutli-employed type-A that births naturally and breastfeeds exclusively. I party, go out, have a life. Perhaps I need to convince my husband that we should have the 4th... perhaps I should document that breastfeeding actually enabled me to have such a full life (past tense because all my babies have outgrown nursing).

lynnette said...

Thanx and God bless you, Pat! This article reminded me of when my babies were born. When in the hospital, they did not spend time in the nurseries--they stayed with me! My son, in particular, was so much more interested in sleeping and cuddling, he didn't eat a thing for over two days! Like you noted in the article, when he was hungry he did wake up and eat. I'll also never forget when my youngest daughter was 2 1/2 months old. We lived in KY then and the small-town doc lectured me for almost 40 minutes on "the right ways" to feed a baby because he was "concerned about her weight." Funny. Now, she did weigh 18 pounds (and that, a vegetarian-born babe!), but was healthy, growing, happy and advancing. In no way could he convince me that nursing on a doctor-fabricated scheduled was better than God's natural design. Point is, you are right. Wake up America! Wake up your common sense!! :)