I’ve been a lactation consultant for 13 years. I love my work and I’m proud of it. I take special care to treat each mother in a non-judgmental way. Part of the reason I am so careful about this is because I hate being labeled as a lactavist or a breastfeeding fanatic and have even heard people use the term “Breastfeeding Nazi” when talking about lactation consultants. Nor would I ever want to be described as “pushy.” All I ever wanted to do was help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals. I’d like to share a story with you and then ask, “Who are the true pushy advocates?”
A colleague/friend of mine is 8 months pregnant. We’ll call her Lisa to protect her anonymity. She is a well-educated, articulate, vibrant woman who works as a pediatrician in a large practice. This will be her third child. She developed H1N1 which progressed to pneumonia. Lisa became so ill, she required hospitalization. So let me paint you a picture… She’s admitted into her hospital room, she lies in her bed, sick as a dog, barely able to breathe. Her nurse cheerily enters the room with a giant sample of formula which she offers to Lisa. The nurse states that she should start stock piling now since Lisa will be returning to work full time. Lisa declines the formula stating that she exclusively breastfed her first two children and plans to do the same with the third. The nurse then launches into a tirade of how hard it is when you go back to work and how most women aren’t successful at pumping and work and that she should take the formula. The nurse then stated that Lisa should “be more realistic” and again encouraged her to take the formula. Poor Lisa, who would typically begin a lengthy, informative rant right back at her, did not have the lung capacity to do so.
So, who do you consider the pushy advocate in this scenario? And why aren’t people calling them formula fanatics, bottle pushers, or “Formula Nazis”? And why isn’t this healthcare professional doing everything she can to encourage this mother to breastfeed, especially when Lisa stated that was her goal? I think it’s fair to say that there are extremists in every walk of life. Can I just ask that when I state that I’m a lactation consultant, you get to know me before rolling your eyes and saying, “Oh, you’re one of them…”?