Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Breastfeeding is giraffe

I realize the title of this blog is grammatically incorrect. Stay with me...I'll explain it soon.

Photo by Michael Sheridan.

This will probably be my last post before baby. He is due this weekend, and while I realize babies don't always come on time, I am convinced I won't encounter anything as odd as my recent visit to interview a pediatrician.

In my search for a pediatrician, I set up a few interviews with recommended doctors. Not knowing what to ask, I also downloaded a list of questions from babycenter.com. Having never interviewed a doctor before, the whole arrangement felt strange to me. However, my first doctor interview went very well and was encouraging.

Last week's interview felt more like meeting a politician. Kind of a slimy politician.
We're going with a nature theme here. Slugs are slimy! Leopard slug courtesy of fcps.edu.
He was over a half hour late. I was willing to forgive that because he was probably tending to sick children. Though, he didn't mention his lateness at all. Hmm...

His handshake was a vice grip, like he was he trying to crush the tiny bones in my hand. This may be wrong, but I judge handshakes. Too limp and I think someone is uncomfortable in their skin or with people. Too firm or too much squeeze, I think they have self-confidence issues and want to dominate everyone through their hand. (I don't think about what either of these assumptions means about me. Let's leave self-reflection for another post.)

So that's two strikes against future baby doctor. Not to mention my hand was sore.

I proceeded to ask him a few questions. He gave me stock answers to the basic questions (on call, after hours, email, etc.). Then I asked him if he recommended any parenting books.

"I tell my parents not to read. Rather they should trust their intuition." Okay, so as a doctor he tells people not to read. Also, he had strong objections to the book I was reading as I waited in his office, Nurture Shock. "Nurture," he went on to say, "is inherent. Every person knows how to parent."

Really? Why then do so many people fail? I'm not talking about the people who think they fail. I'm talking about the people who starve their children or beat their children or sell their children or murder their children and leave them in a trash can. They haven't tapped into their nurture instinct. They may not even have it.

Clearly, I don't agree with the doctor. So that's strikes three and four. (As a writer, I am a fan of reading.)

But the final blow came when he interrupted me to say I wasn't going to "try" breastfeeding, I was going to breastfeed without fail. "Every woman can breastfeed. The hospitals make it difficult on women to breastfeed. None of my home birth patients have any trouble breastfeeding. Look at the pictures on my walls. I went to China, I went to Africa, I went to India. There were no lactation consultants. They just did what came naturally when their milk came down. They were all fine. Look at the giraffe'" There is no giraffe on his wall, though he is pointing to one, "Its baby is born and then it suckles. No intervention needed!"

I wanted to stand up and scream crazy demon lady at him that he was lying. One of his patients, who recommended him, had a home birth and needed to call a lactation consultant. Strike Five!
I envision myself as the old demon lady from Legion.
We are also not damn giraffes (no offense to the beautiful creatures) and not all baby mammals and their mammas breastfeed inherently or properly. Some baby animals die because of this. Just like not every child in China, India, or Africa survives. Hence the history of wet nurses. We have supplanted our tribal communities, from which we could have utilized that generational knowledge of breastfeeding or called upon our sisters to help us wet nurse, with lactation consultants and midwives. These aren't sacrifices, they are changes we should embrace.

It was time to go. I stood up and said thank you. He shook my hand again; it felt pulverized. "What are you going to do?" He asked. Never see you again, write a blog about this, rail at your stupidity to my husband. "Um, breastfeed?"

"Yes!" He replied. 


  1. This KILLS me...I breast fed for six weeks before my pediatrician finally told me to stop because my child was dangerously losing weight. She had issues with her mouth and because of crummy advice a hospital LC had given us, I had issues because of scar tissue and my milk not coming in...I cried and was a mess all the time...I am all for breast feeding but we also need to realize that sometimes it doesn't work. Bottles were invented for a reason, you are right it didn't always work historically either and babies would die because of that...continuing this myth that it is the easiest thing in the world and telling women that if it hurts or there are issues and need help that they are failing is the same as telling them they must be sexy all the time or that they should dumb themselves down to make men feel better...It kills m that new moms are treated this way and EVEN more it kills me that other people judge choices everyone has the right to make for themselves. I am so glad you are not going with this idiot

  2. This blog was clearly some time ago, and I in fact had my baby just before you posted this...but I have to say, that doctor sounds like a refreshing change from those that hand out formula samples and down talk breast feeding! I have nursed 2 children, and it is a "do or do not" situation. It IS learned and it DOES take a connection that our modern lives have left us severed from most of the time, but one must commit to it...not "try". The actual % of women with real medical difficulty nursing is way below what people are told. Over 90% of mothers in Norway breast feed...so what are WE doing wrong?
    I do wonder how you see this after having had your baby? I do hope everything went smoothly for you.