I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Most Lactation Consultants Lie


     This is for all of you who have breastfed your children, you know how difficult it is. It is something that every new mother who decides to breastfeed goes through. I had no idea that my nipples would crack, bleed, and sting until I was in the middle of experiencing it. So, of course I kept reading things online written by lactation consultants and talked to lactation consultants at WIC, everything and everyone telling me that it shouldn't hurt and if it does then I am doing it wrong
     I recently talked to my cousin, who just gave birth to her second child last January and has breastfed both of her children. She actually made an appointment and talked to a lactation consultant as well, who said the same thing: "If it hurts, you must be doing it wrong." 
     How could this be when her babies and my baby are gaining weight beautifully and don't seem to have any other issues? Also, everyone else I talk to says that breastfeeding does hurt and most of them felt that they had to stop after just a couple of months because it was too difficult. It is simple really, lactation consultants lie!  It takes time for women's breasts to get used to being used in this new utilitarian way, as the food source for a little human being. It also should be noted that the first food source that the baby gets from his/her mother, colostrum, is very thick and the baby has to suck hard in order to get it out. There is no way to prepare a woman's breasts for this new activity, it just takes time to get used to. After what I have heard sometimes takes 8 weeks or longer, your nipples will heal and the pain will subside. Some articles I read even advised to continue feeding your baby even if your nipples are bleeding,  
    "Painful cracked and bleeding nipples are not a normal
    side effect of breastfeeding. Nursing shouldn't be painful
    in fact, pain is a warning sign that you have a problem
    that needs correcting... The fact that your nipples are
    cracked or bleeding won't bother your baby. She may 
    swallow some blood and you may see it come out in her
    diaper, but it won't do her any harm." (click here to see
    original source) 
This just seems ridiculous to me. If you need to pump instead and used other aids, even for weeks, I think you should just do it! 
     My pediatrician was good enough not to mislead me. She said that I needed to do what I could to in order for breastfeeding to be an enjoyable experience for me and my baby. So, feel free to pump and use bottles, I had to as early as the first week with Squeaker. I also had to use nipple shields and slowly let Squeaker use my breast again after the cracks had healed. 
     Another misunderstanding is this scary thing called "nipple confusion", which can happen and make it more difficult for your baby to latch onto your breast again. However, it turns out that many babies have no problem going back and forth between different forms of nipples, they can handle different ways of getting their food just fine. Only a very small percent of babies introduced to bottles early on have a difficult time going back to the breast. Even if your baby does have a hard time going back to the breast, wouldn't be better to use bottles and heal than continue torturing yourself, frustrating and confusing your baby even more? It's a personal decision that should be based on the mother's and baby's needs, not forced by misleading so called "professionals" and their advice.
     There was one lactation consultant I ended up talking to who was open and honest with me, she said that most lactation consultants do lie because they want women to not be afraid to breastfeed their children. In the end I think that we are all adults though, and well aware that having a baby is going to be hard. Why not just be up front and prepare us for the worst instead? I would have been a lot more content and self assured if I had known that the process would take time
     I am sick of hearing about, and experiencing for myself, a feeling of inadequacy that many mothers feel. The most important thing is that your child is fed the nutrients he/she needs, not whether or not you use a bottle. All of you mothers out there who feel this way or have felt this way, you are good mothers and are doing all you can. That is evident by the very fact that you feel inadequate and are genuinely worried about your little one. 
     I don't mean for this to be a personal attack on lactation consultants either, I just hope that some out their, like the one I had the privilage of talking to after days and days of difficulty, are honest and helpful instead of causing more grief and pain. 
     Anyone else out there have a similar experience? Or if you have a different opinion I would love to hear it


  1. Alysha,

    You know I have three crazy kids. And with that,and all of them being preemies, I have definately had my share of lactation consultants. With Mya, my consultant was rude and pushy. She tried to make me force feed my baby, and she didn't even ask to touch me (which I would have appreciated, since I'm a little awkward about my private areas. She came over, ripped aside my hospital gown, grabbed my breast, and shoved it into my baby's mouth. Super awkward. I was so cracked and sore. A sweet nurse finally brought me a nipple sheild. I used that for the duration of breastfeeding Mya. With Aston, no one told me I was supposed to be pumping until I was about to leave the hospital. The lactation consultant yelled at me. When I went to WIC to get a pump on loan, they made me feel inadequate and lazy for not yet breastfeeding my 24 week premature baby that I had not even seen, and was still in an incubator with a breathing tube down his throat. I pumped for four months before my milk stopped coming in. With Nixon, the lactation consultants at WIC made me call in once a week to update them on the baby's weight, my weight, how often I was pumping and breastfeeding, how many times a day I was pumping/feeding, how much I was getting in a day, how much I was getting out of each side every feeding/pumping, and whether my baby was home or not. Between traveling back and forth to the hospital several times a day, and my other two kids, this was very tedious and seemed like a waste of my time. The lactation consultants at the hospital were so sweet and supportive. They were by my side every step of the way. They were polite and honest with me. I tried everything. I was having such at hard time producing milk. I tried power pumping. I tried every herbal supplement out there. They finally asked if I wanted to try "Reglan." Little did any of us know that I would have an allergic reaction to it and end up in the hospital shaking so badly that I couldn't sit still (I looked like a person with parkinsons disease). Needless to say, I have had quite a time with breastfeeding. It is not the easiest thing in the world. It is painful. Lots of people aren't very helpful. But it has been worth all of the trouble. I only wish my body would have let me stick with it longer.

    -Rachel Andrews-

    1. Thank you for sharing this with me, I know you have had an unbelievable wealth of experience (especially for your age), you never cease to amaze me :) I agree that breastfeeding is completely worth it, I just wish that women were supported in a more constructive and loving way. Some are good and some are bad, as you said too. However, overall I have heard and experienced many more judgmental lactation consultants who are pushy than caring and patient ones.