Breastfeeding is a hot topic these days, for many reasons. Many people complain about women who breastfeed in public, while others complain about those complaining. Well, this post is nothing like that, this post is about the new trends in hospitals that are pressuring moms to breastfeed.
First off, I want to share a few things. The article “Has the Breastfeeding Mania Gone Too Far” touches base on a few of these issues. Next, and I am going to be honest, I am not sure how true this is, but one of the doctors at the hospital I work at told me that Joint Commission (the people who regulate what hospitals do) want 98% of moms to breastfeed, and that hospitals are going to stop giving out formula. Again, I am not sure how true this is, but if it is true, I have many issues with this.
I want to start with the “Breast is Best” campaign. This is absolutely ridiculous and implies that a mother who chooses not to breastfeed is not doing what is best for her baby. The issue is that what is best for baby is also what is best for mom. If mom feels that she can’t breastfeed for whatever reason, be it her mental health or her physical health.
The next issue I have a problem with is the fact that hospitals have stopped giving out formula. Now, I do not have an issue when they don’t give out formula to breastfeeding moms, because that is what happened to me, but they should still give formula to those who want to bottle feed. Some have just stopped giving out samples to moms when they leave the hospital, while others actually have the formula locked up with the medicine and have to have a doctor’s order to get it out. Again, this is taking the choice away from the mother. And, if it is true that Joint Commission wants 98% of babies to be breastfed, this just is not an achievable goal I fear. There are several reasons why mothers choose not to breastfeed and frankly it’s no ones business.
I think what we need to do is support the mothers who really want to breastfeed first. For example, let’s say that 60% of moms go home exclusively breastfeeding. Let’s aim for 90% of those moms to continue to breastfeed to 3 months, then 6 months and so on. We need to help those who really want to breastfeed instead of wasting resources on those who do not want to breastfeed. There are many reasons I feel that this is the better way to go.
First off, if we focus our time on those who do want to breastfeed, then I feel that there will be more babies that are breastfed for several months. For example if I would have gotten this help I wouldn’t have given up on breastfeeding after just 5 days. We need to offer help. When a mother comes to a doctor’s appointment and says “I switched to formula because breastfeeding hurt too bad” they need to say something like “well, let’s get you in to see a lactation consultant if you want to evaluate the latch and see if we can help you”, instead of “it’s okay to give your baby formula, you don’t have to breastfeed, I didn’t breastfeed my kids”.
Next, we need to stop pressuring moms to breastfeed. If we pressure moms to breastfeed, I fear they will start to resent their babies and have more postpartum depression. Also, if they don’t want to breastfeed when they get home they will just switch to formula.
Lastly, and this is nothing I have control over, but we need to eliminate the social stigma behind breastfeeding. We need to stop making breasts a sexual object and realize that God gave them to us for a reason. A lot of moms don’t breastfeed because they fear what others will say. (Ok, so I did have to squeeze that in there a little bit.)
Making the decision to breastfeed or to bottle feed is a big one that no mom takes lightly, We need to stop guilting moms into breastfeeding. We need to stop telling moms that if you bottle feed you are a horrible mom. These things are not making hospitals, nurses, and doctors look good, instead it is making us look bad!
What do you think? Were you pressured to breastfeed by your doctors and nurses? Would it have changed your mind? If you made the choice to breastfeed, do you think getting help would have made it possible for you to breastfeed longer?