Video Wed: BreastFeeding Awareness week: a Doctor’s ignorance and the importance of complaining

Two weeks ago I went to the doctor, it had taken me months to get sorted and I had a couple of quite important things to talk about.  The first was some pain in the back of my head, and the doctor was insistent that it was nothing to do with an infection I had just when Little Dimples was ill, despite it being in the same place.  So he recommended a nurofen based gell.  When I asked if it would be OK with breastfeeding, he looked around the room pointedly at Little Dimples (15 months) and Curly Headed Boy and then said “Why? Do you have a baby at home?”.  Shocked I said “But she’s only 15 months” and then I got ‘the look’.  It’s the one that Mums get if they breastfeed LESS than or MORE than 6 months; a mixture between disgust and ‘you are a freaky mum’.

How come didn’t he know that the World Health Organisation recommends that if you can, you feed until 2yrs old, and that the average around the world is 4yrs old.  I don’t need a pat on the back, I just didn’t need ‘that look’.  I’m not saying that you should breastfeed by the way, or that you have to feed for that long; just that I don’t expect to go into a doctor’s surgery of all places and get ‘that look’.

I do remember facing similar ignorance with the health visitors.  Now I know that many health visitors are probably really nice people, however I decided early on after the arrival of Little Dimples that their main reason for being was to make each Mum cry at some point in time.  When my health visitors did the weaning talk around the 6 month time frame, she automatically started to talk about weaning off breast milk as well.  To her it was the same thing.  I had to look on the internet to be sure that I ‘didnt have to stop’ at 6 months.  In retrospect I realised that to keep up to date with information on childcare does require some time and effort on the internet, and if you are not full of passion for your job then you don’t keep up.  But why hadn’t someone higher up done the research and passed down the information?

At the point with the Health Visitors I didn’t have the confidence in myself to complain about the misinformation.  However I’m a few years on now and after going home, and realising that in my shock I’d forgetten the other reason I’d booked to see a doctor, I was suddenly incensed and decided to complain.  I’m so glad I did.  When I talked to the practice manager she was both lovely, and very concerned.  I realised that sometimes it might seem like we have to complain and not get listened to, but it’s always worth it because eventually one of the people will listen!

So as it’s world breast feeding week, I thought I’d post this story and encourage Mums to stand up for their choices to use formula, breastfeed or do extended breastfeeding; because the one thing that is the same about all of us is that we all will get criticised for our choices by someone somewhere, and often the people that we least expect.

Here to cheer you up on a grey day is Jessie J with ‘Mama Knows Best’ – watch it loud and proud!

Selfish Benefits To Extended BreastFeeding

Do you know what, I’m a big fan of things being a fair deal, giving and receiving, and not being just about a Mum who forgets herself.  Ironically, that’s one of the reasons why I’m a fan of extended breastfeeding (that is after 6 weeks or 6 months, which is often considered more ‘normal’).  (Please do not take offence if you formula fed, I’m not against formula at all).

Let’s face it, for some of us the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be painful while our little ones get bigger and we get it all sorted.  I soon learnt the art of whacking on Lanisoh cream before Curly Headed Boy went anywhere near me, but I still got the most awful let down pains (for those not in the know, there are pains down the boob sometimes as the milk comes in, like a sharp stabbing pain).  I’m no hero, so there is no way that I would have fed him for as long as I did, if it didn’t also work for me, plus with a little time it got much easier.  I was worried with Little Dimples, but I didn’t have any of the problems that I did with Curly Headed Boy, and no pain.

What many people don’t know about though is the benefits to us the Mum after all that hard work, if we do breast feed after 6 months.  The 6 months deadline can be really hard.  Baby is getting ready for food, feeding much more sometimes, and it can be draining.  I remember my Health visitor just assuming that as I weaned onto food, I’d be weaning Curly Headed Boy off breast milk, like it was the same thing.  I didn’t fancy adding the complication of now getting him used to bottles and formula etc, so I just kept going, plus by then I knew that the WHO recommended it, so I just thought I would see how it went.

It was after 6 months that I really got the benefit and this weekend with Little Dimples I was reminded of it, so I thought I would mention it.  There are two big ways that it pays off.  One is that when they are older, it is the cutest thing that they can really cuddle into you.  It’s no longer as draining, so the feeling that they are sucking you dry (not everyone gets that, but there have been times when it felt a bit like it for me) has gone and it’s just much more relaxing.

But the second reason is even more compelling.  Little Dimples had a mega temperature at the weekend, which gave her a headache and made her puke.  I don’t know whether it’s worse for the Mum or the baby when they are ill, but my money is on the hopelessness for the Mum when she can’t help.  But the great thing is that often when nothing else will stay down, you can often still breastfeed.

(BTW last time I phoned NHS direct they told me that flat lemonade is as good as diarolyte when your kids are getting dehydrated.  Plus if you ever want advice about how long to leave giving your child a drink and what to give them after they have vomited, there are great online resources like http://www.babycentre.co.uk and http://www.babycenter.com).

So don’t think that I still breastfeed purely for my baby or that I’m in any way clever for it.  Nope, much of it is because it really works for me an so in a way it’s ‘selfish’.  Don’t worry, I wont be one of the Mums who continue long after it’s ideal for the children, but I don’t think it will be my choice anyway; Little Dimples knows her own mind!