Saturday, January 14, 2006

Why can't the medical profession teach their midwives how to teach breastfeeding?

That was, on the off-chance that you didn't get it, meant to be a take-off of "Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?", from My Fair Lady. I may have to work on the scansion.

Anyway, Joyus's experience, as described in the comments to my last post, is one I've heard of before, and it can be really off-putting for mothers who are just getting the hang of breastfeeding. And that is unnecessary enough and sad enough that it inspired me to post on the topic.

As I understand it - and I haven't had any formal training in breastfeeding counselling, so anyone who has is welcome to set me straight on this - helping a newly breastfeeding woman to get her baby latched on is like helping someone to park their car. Your role in the matter is to observe matters and offer the benefit of a vantage point that allows you to see things at a different angle. Which enables you to offer directions: "Put your hand behind her head. Now bring her in with her nose level... Right hand down...."

What you do not do, however, is grab the woman's breast and try to take over getting the baby latched on. In terms of establishing breastfeeding, this probably works about as well as jumping into the car and trying to wrest the wheel from the driver works in terms of parking.

Now, I knew this just from reading a book I found about breastfeeding on the shelves at the local library as part of my research prior to the baby's birth. So why are there still midwives who don't know it?

Joyus - good for you for persevering and for getting breastfeeding going anyway. Unfortunately, not all mothers are so patient. I do feel this lack of proper training is something that may be making quite a difference to breastfeeding rates in this country.


At January 14, 2006 3:19 PM, Blogger Joyus said...

Well I can't take all the credit - just before I left hospital one of the final midwives I came in contact with told me I have perfect nipples...

No idea how she can tell but it's a real shame I can't list that on my CV


At January 15, 2006 4:00 PM, Blogger Dr Sarah said...


Well, it depends what sort of job you're applying for, I suppose...


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