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Friday, March 5, 2010

The Office Baby is Breast-fed!! (aka, Melody rants about nursing)

So, there are very very things on TV that I get excited about. I do enjoy a good Murder Mystery every now and then, but holy cow-- I love the Office!!! So much so that I started getting my kids ready for bed at 6:30 last night just to ensure that everybody was deeply asleep by the magical 9 pm (didn't work... *sigh*). So you can understand how, as a huge Jim and Pam aficionado, I was on edge all day-- waiting for the episode in which their out-of-wedlock-conceived-baby is born. (Yes, I am a heathen. I know.) As a whole, I was kind of disappointed in the show; it was fine, I had a few chuckles. Didn't change my life or anything.

However, I do think that, for such a mainstream show, it was interesting how accurately it portrayed the breastfeeding/attachment parenting culture in US hospitals. In one scene, Pam is frustrated as she tries to get baby to latch on. A nurse comes in, and strongly encourages taking a little break and bringing the baby to the nursery. She insists, "It will be okay; I will just give her a bottle in the nursery." When Pam argues that she's read about nipple confusion, and doesn't want the baby to have a bottle, the nurse rolls her eyes and rebukes Pam. Throughout the episode, the nurse is constantly trying to take the baby to the nursery, and continually dismisses Pam's breastfeeding struggles with a snide, "It's FINE. Lots of babies are bottle-fed!"

Now, don't misunderstand me: this isn't a tirade against mothers who, for whatever reason, choose to bottle-fed their children. This is, however, a tirade against health care professionals who, on one hand, write literature extolling the benefits of breastfeeding, while shoving a bottle of formula down your baby's throat with the other hand. As expectant parents, we read all the books about the whys and hows of breastfeeding, but modern health care does not equip us with the resources we need to successfully breastfeed our children.

But it doesn't stop with our feeding choices. We aren't allowed to be the parent anymore. Many hospitals require a litany of tests, the vast majority of which cannot be held in your hospital room. Our babies, who have been nestled safely inside us for months upon months, are continually wrenched from our arms and wheeled in a plastic bassinet to a germ-y, bright hospital room in which they are subjected to a series of loud beeps and heel-pricks. Jaundiced newborn Cana had to be placed under the bili-lights for hours on end; because of a new "security" measure at the hospital, I wasn't even allowed to go to the nursery to sit beside her bassinet and sing to her. My MOTHER was, but I couldn't be with my baby. We had to fight tooth and nail to try to prevent doctor-on-duty from recommending that Cana receive formula, believed to be beneficial for jaundiced babies. Newborn Evie was wheeled back from a test in the nursery, clutching a plastic pink pacifier-- one that I had specifically asked that she NOT receive.

There is no refuting, regardless of how you choose to feed your child, that breastmilk is-- hands down-- the best possible thing that you can give your baby. There are no close seconds. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes this. The World Health Organization recognizes this. Why then do hospitals so very thoughtfully send us home with diaper bags chocked with cans of formula and buy one, get one free coupons? Even the lactation consultant at the hospital mentioned something to me about "when I start supplementing with formula". Wait, what?! When did I EVER mention that that was in the plan? We are taught to trust our doctors-- we believe that our pediatrician's word is as good as gold. Yet, all too often, they give us advice regarding breastfeeding that is just plain bad! I feel so sad for women who badly want to nurse their children, and don't have a network of sisters and mamas and friends who will come along side them in this journey-- and talk them down when it just seems easier to warm up some formula. (It's not.)

I know this sounds like a bitter rant against modern medicine. It's not. There are a ton of doctors out there, a ton of nurses and midwives, who truly want to help facilitate breastfeeding. There is an initiative called "Baby Friendly Hospitals", which prevents formula companies from preying on exhausted new mothers; it instead sends mamas home with a tub of Lansinoh and some nursing pads. Sadly, this is the exception and not the norm.

The Office ended with a sweet victory as Pam gets fussy baby to latch on and nurse for the first time, in the middle of a busy parking lot. As is typical, TV depicts a drama that has a happy ending in a half an hour. Breastfeeding challenges may last way, way longer than that. But as I cuddle with my two year old, and my baby, and nurse them down for the night-- I can unequivocally say-- it is absolutely worth it.

---*ahem* steps off soapbox----

15 comments:

Gretchen said...

Preach it, girl. I'm so glad I had a supportive mama to help me through the first rough parts. It made a WORLD of difference (as you know).

ctf said...

i really really really really really hope that someday I will be able to come to you for advice and help on this topic. :)

Dirkey said...

I was thinking the same thing with that nurse, I wanted to flick her ear. I'm glad they showed on national tv Pam disagreeing with her and doing her own thing. So many people don't think to do that or don't know they can or diminish their opinions in thinking the drs and nurses know best.

mama k said...

"health care professionals who, on one hand, write literature extolling the benefits of breastfeeding, while shoving a bottle of formula down your baby's throat with the other hand"

AMEN.
I get fired up over this one too. I'm involved in La Leche League and every mom there has been told to use formula at some point or another by a dr or other health professional. It is the fix-all. But hello, giving a bottle doesn't fix breastfeeding problems and often can make them worse. Uggggh.

Even the most well educated and dedicated breastfeeding moms have "let" them give a bottle of formula in the hospital so that they could make the Drs happy so that they would let them go home. (Yes, they were told that if the baby didn't gain x weight they couldn't leave and since mom's milk wasn't in yet they had to give a bottle.)

It is so frustrating that this day in age you have to fight tooth and nail to do the very things that the medical establishment is saying is the best for your baby.

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Christina said...

Thank you mama! Very well said!

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Ann Smith said...

Couldn't agree more. I am so very thankful to have been able to have Aaron at home with a wonderful midwife and not have to fight the whole hospital/doctor/nurse battle!! Nursing has been a challenge for me from day one and there were many exhausted, painful days that I would have given up had I not been so strongly convinced of its benefits for my baby and committed to nursing no matter what! 10 months in and we're still nursing, though my milk supply keeps diminishing more and more despite my best efforts to keep it going. I'm hoping it will last for at least a year.

毅綠 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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