…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
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Breastfeeding Office Memorabilia

It has been many years since I first donned this button from the Florida Lactation Consultant Association (FLCA).  I found it doing the August Cleanup suggested by Dr. Jeanette Cates on her blog.

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I wore it on my lab coat while I was the first lactation consultant at a major NYC hospital.  It was a conversation starter.  People were intrigued and wondered what it meant.  The nurses thought it was a great button for me to wear as the representative of breastfeeding on our maternity unit.

I have to laugh as its message was unclear to anyone who was unfamiliar with my passion for breastfeeding promotion and support.  One day on the elevator a man asked me, “Are you a vegetarian?” His companion chimed in, “Are you Hindu?”   My Irish eyes were smiling as I explained to them the meaning of my button.  “Human babies should not drink cow’s milk which is for cow’s.  They should be breastfed by their mothers.”

Believe it or not, not long after that comical incident, I was called into the office of the Director of Maternal Child Health.  She told me that I was offending formula feeding families with my FLCA pin and demanded that I should remove it from my lapel.  I explained  its purpose in detail, but my protests fell upon deaf ears.

It should be of no great surprise that I resigned soon after that encounter to go into a full time private lactation consulting practice.  I figured I would be better able to help new moms and breastfeeding families on the “outside”.

To still keep a foot in the system, I  moved to another hospital to teach all their prenatal breastfeeding classes.   I felt that empowering mothers with information before birth, one of the Ten Steps, would be the best way to set them up for success.

What continues to distress me after all these years is that there still seems to be a need. here in NYC, to temper the endorsement of breastfeeding when dealing with the consumers of maternity hospital services.

You’ve come a long way baby or NOT?

Is this an only in New York phenomena?  Or have you also received  mixed messages about breastfeeding in the hospital or from members of your health care team?

Can you share what approaches helped or hindered you as you began your journey as a breastfeeding mother?

5 comments

1 Tina Bonifacio { 08.15.10 at 6:15 pm }

Wow, with my son a high school senior this year, it’s been 17 years since I breastfed. So thankful for my hospital lactation consultant and my mother who both encouraged me on my journey before the rocky road got more smooth … and an understanding boss in his 60s who let me pump on my breaks though he was baffled/embarrassed by the whole process (even though I was in another room closed off from everyone). Thanks for all you do to encourage parents in this direction… sans the cow badge. :-)

2 Maggie { 08.16.10 at 4:46 am }

Fortunately, the hospital where I delivered my daughter is extremely pro-breastfeeding. My husband and I took a breastfeeding class a couple of months before the baby arrived, which set us up for success as we got conversations going about nursing, what we thought it would be like, etc. Looking back, the class was kind of overwhelming, still being pregnant and not being in the throws of breastfeeding, but it certainly made me aware of vocabulary, helpful tips and possible roadblocks. I was visited by not 1, not 2, but 3 lactation consultants after I delivered (C-section, so I was there for a while…) and the maternity nurses were also very helpful. On top of all of this, when I was looking for a recommendation for a pediatrician, I asked the mother of 4 children who go to the school where I teach, and she suggested one who is VERY supportive of breastfeeding! We even had visits with a nurse who had a special interest in breastfeeding at the doctor’s office the day after our initial visit with the pediatrician, just to make sure everything was going ok. She watched us nurse, and really reassured me that we were doing everything right. I needed that in the early days, and even sometimes now a pat on the back doesn’t hurt! I don’t feel like there was any way my daughter and I couldn’t have succeeded!

Sadly, I am aware that not all pregnant women and new moms have the opportunity (be it geographical or otherwise) to tap into the resources that I did. I consider us lucky!

3 Deirdre { 08.16.10 at 10:44 pm }

Maire it is great that you are back blogging and sharing your vast wisdom and experience so eloquently!

4 Máire Clements RN IBCLC { 08.17.10 at 12:31 pm }

Thanks for the encouragement Deirdre- my most magical friend. It feels good to be back in the flow. It is my pleasure to inspire and support moms and their families by helping them contemplate the advantages of a conscious breastfeeding lifestyle.

5 Michelle { 08.20.10 at 1:19 am }

What an awesome button! I definitely see mixed messages coming from many directions, including hospitals and pediatricians. I was also blessed to have support when I nursed my babies. It makes a difference.

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