In my years of discussing breastfeeding promotion on the web, I have witnessed many conversations that started with the discussion of the health benefits of breastfeeding and ended with a lactation consultant bashing session. This is yet another permutation of the argument that lactation consultants are somehow bullies who, in this comment section on Stand and Deliver, commenters contend that women should not be “forced” to breastfeed, and that people (I am assuming they mean lactation consultants) do this by “yelling” and “nagging”.
I really have never met a lactation consultant who yelled or nagged at a new mother. I am not really sure where this stereotype comes from, or why discussions about breastfeeding often evolve to ignore the proven health benefits and turn into bashing sessions for these evil hypothetical people who force moms to breastfeed by yelling at them or guilting them.
I trained for two years at a birth center which treated breastfeeding as the norm and formula feeding feeding as a medical based intervention, which is sometimes necessary. We had a more than 90% success rate with breastfeeding initiation and continuation. Working moms, moms on public support, moms with mental problems, etc.
They were incredibly supportive, with home visits and moms having unlimited phone and in clinic support for breastfeeding problems. Women who were having problems would come and stay all day in clinic sometimes, and would have help with every nursing session.
I saw moms who were having problems who cried. I have personally wiped tears off of a mom’s bare breast while helping her tape a Supplemental Nursing System tube to her skin. She was not sad because I yelled at her or that she felt guilt. She was sad because she was facing health obstacles in the success of her breastfeeding, and she was very grateful for our support.
I have seen moms (just this week!) furious because nurses disregarded their wishes to breastfeed and fed their babies formula, even though there was no medical indication. I have seen many more health care practitioners pushy about feeding and recommending formula than the other way around. I have seen lactation consultants bend over backwards to support moms emotionally. I am sick of these roles being flipped in the discussion.
OK, off my soapbox.