Setting the bar too high for nursing moms

With everything that Cricket and I have been through so far on our nursing journey, I’ve been thinking about what all we (and by we I don’t mean me, I mean society) ask of breastfeeding moms.  This particular line of thought was sparked by a conversation with a cranial osteopath who was seeing Cricket to help her with her jaw muscles.  He grilled me a bit about my diet, and I felt ashamed to tell him that I’m just so thrilled about being able to eat again that I am just eating whatever I can get my hands on.  Lots of meat, cheese, spices, Indian food, Thai food, Mexican, etc.  I was embarrassed to admit that we don’t always eat home cooked meals.  In fact, we eat out fairly frequently.

This confession of mine earned me a lecture on healthy eating.  I should eat only organic food.  Whole grains.  Home cooked.  Gluten free.  And while I’m at it, I should stop eating dairy and soy because that’s probably why Cricket has a stuffy nose.  What I eat goes directly to her, didn’t I know, so I must avoid foods with chemicals of any kind and by the way, I should only eat brown rice, not white rice.  Scratch that, don’t eat rice at all because of the gluten in it. Does rice even have gluten? I don’t know.

I left the appointment feeling guilty, overwhelmed, and exhausted.  The more I thought about his speech to me, though, the more irritated I got.  Aside from any rare allergy issues in kids (where there are very specific and dramatic clinical signs) milk is milk.  Milk is not made from stomach contents.  You don’t go to the drive through and then have cheeseburgers coming out of your nipples.  Unless the situation is one of extreme famine, a mother’s milk will always be rich enough, nutritious enough, and wonderful enough.

I kept turning this over and over in my head and getting madder.  If I was another woman, one who wasn’t as plugged in to breastfeeding resources, I might have walked away from that conversation believing that since I couldn’t live up to this doctor’s impossibly high standards, my child would be better off on formula.

I experienced this kind of situation again following Cricket’s tongue tie clip.  First I had to get her clipped by a very specific doctor out in L.A.  Then I was supposed to see a very specific lactation consultant (also in L.A.) to retrain her to latch.  On top of that, I needed to get her in to see a cranial osteopath to get her jaw muscles working properly.  Follow that up by special exercises and speech therapy, and you’ve got one seriously overwhelmed mama.  How many specialists do I need to take my kid to?  Can’t we just nurse?

Confession: I took her to LA for the clip, but I stuck with local lactation consultants to help with the latch.  I only saw the cranial osteopath three times instead of the recommended five visits because darn it, it’s expensive and I don’t really dig it anyway.  I haven’t been doing the exercises very religiously.  We probably won’t do speech therapy at all unless we find out that she actually has a speech issue.  Her sister didn’t.  Her father and I didn’t.  If she does, we’ll deal with it, but I’m not prepared to assume that she will.

Want to know something else?  I eat fast food sometimes.  Sometimes I even feed my family fast food.  I don’t always cook.  I do my best, but some nights, it just doesn’t happen.  I take ibuprofen when I have a headache.  And I cook with butter.  So there.

There is so much pressure for breastfeeding moms to be perfect.  Setting the bar so high can ultimately drive women away from breastfeeding, and it’s critical that we not do that.

So nursing moms–all moms for that matter–Be good to yourselves.  You’re not perfect and that’s okay.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Setting the bar too high for nursing moms

  1. This post gives me such a giant happy. I mean, I was not even aware of all the expectations, restrictions and lectures we get to look forward to even when we’re already doing the “right” thing, aka breastfeeding to the extent that we and the baby are able! Goooooood grief, that’s enough to turn off any but the most militant milkmamas. I’m glad you came to your peace with the process and I am sure Cricket will turn out wonderful. (Thank you again for blazing the trail, I’ll look for your footsteps when I begin this journey too!)

    Like

  2. ((hugs Molly)) I’m not much use for the rest of it, but fwiw, I had a tongue tie that wasn’t surgically corrected until I was about 7, and I never ended up needing speech therapy, so it’s not a sure thing! And good for you for sticking up for yourself and not letting yourself be guilted into things.

    Like

  3. Great post, Molly. I’m with you. And I’m still nursing at 28 months now. I eat what I want, when I want. Granted, I tend to eat very healthy things, but I don’t torture myself when I’m craving pizza for dinner–again. Or if I feed it to Jackson. I use natural and organic products when I can, but I don’t sweat it when I can’t. I even–gasp–drink a glass of wine sometimes with dinner and then nurse Jax to sleep an hour later. When pregnant friends/family or new moms ask me questions about breastfeeding, I try to give the most basic advice and avoid listing the things they shouldn’t do–most of which I don’t agree with for every mom/baby anyway. I was blessed to have access to great lactation consultants and support groups early on–experienced mothers who knew that some of the advice out there is just overkill.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s