When Doctors Give Misinformation About Breastfeeding

Let me start by saying that I’m very thankful for doctors and know many wonderful doctors. Most of us put a lot of trust in our doctors, which isn’t bad. Like all humans, though, they can occasionally get something wrong, especially if the subject in question is not covered extensively in their training. I don’t know if doctors are required to have training in breastfeeding in the US, but they aren’t in the UK, to my knowledge. A dilemma can arise when a doctor unintentionally gives incorrect information about breastfeeding, then.

I have experienced this firsthand, both times when I was breastfeeding Kieran during my pregnancy with Charlotte. One GP advised weaning him at 2, but when I questioned why, his only answer reason was because of the arbitrary age. It didn’t really matter since I knew I needn’t wean him at an arbitrary age. Another was a midwife who told me I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed during the pregnancy. I argued the point, for I’d researched and knew that breastfeeding during pregnancy isnot normally a problem (there may be times when weaning is indicated, but it is not always, or even usually, necessary). Again, it wasn’t a problem for me, because I had researched enough to know otherwise, but do other mothers know?

I recently spoke with a young mother who asked me what kind of water her infant needed. She’s breastfeeding. I told her that her daughter doesn’t need anything other than breastmilk for 6 months. That was when she said that the pediatrician was the one who told her to give water! While I told her that wasn’t the case and went to print off the relevant information, I didn’t know if she’d believe me over her pediatrician. I told her that doctors sometimes do not know much about breastfeeding, and I know he isn’t intentionally misleading her. But I also wonder about the other mothers trying to breastfeed and getting misinformation from that pediatrician. I wonder if some even stop breastfeeding earlier than they planned due to this misinformation. Again, the doctor wasn’t intending to give misinformation, but since he wasn’t given much training in breastfeeding, he unwittingly perpetuated a breastfeeding myth (even though the AAP policy statement on breastfeeding explicitly states that breastfed children should not be given anything other than breastmilk). Please note that I am not advising anyone to disregard everything his doctor says, for doctors are experts in their particular fields of medicine. I am simply bringing up that breastfeeding isn’t generally given much time in their training, and so it is little wonder that some are not experts in that. I advise asking about their breastfeeding training and/or experience, and asking for references for any information. It never hurts to be informed, especially when it affects you and your child.

I also wonder about the bigger picture. In both the UK and the US, breastfeeding rates are rather grim. Surely this is a matter of national health? And so surely these mothers and babies would benefit from their doctors receiving breastfeeding training? Sites like Kellymom certainly help, but a mother needs to know about the site or to search for that. Of course, it would also help if breastfeeding were more accepted in society as a whole. If more women saw mothers breastfeeding, and heard it discussed openly, then some of the questions and myths would be taken care of in that way. There needs to be more information/education about it for everyone.

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Children Pray in Their Own Way

As much as possible, I attend daily Mass with my children. We sit in the very front so the children can see. I had someone comment that my children must be good if intake them to daily Mass. They are good, but I don’t define them being good by whether they are quiet or sit still or whatnot. They are good because they are made so by God. Charlotte is very loquacious and is rarely quiet during Mass unless she is breastfeeding. Kieran is usually quiet, but sometimes isn’t, and he doesn’t always sit and stand and kneel with me. I simply think that taking them daily is good, and that they will learn as they go.

Nevertheless, I do sometimes become self-conscious about Charlotte being noisy and disrupting others and hampering my own concentration, as well. In the past, I’ve discussed this with a wonderful Benedictine monk, who told me to keep bringing them, since Jesus said to let the little children come to Him (incidentally, it was the same monk who instructed me o sit in the front so the children can see, and I really do notice a difference if we sit where they cannot see). Even with that encouragement, I am prone to forget. God sends me little reminders, though. One time it was the Gospel reading the monk had referenced being read at Mass.

Most recently, though, it was Monsignor commenting at the end of Mass, after the final blessing, that it was wonderful to see and hear the mothers and children at Mass, and how children pray in their own way. Him saying that meant a lot tome, but also helps me think of things differently. My children may not say all the responses or use the correct postures, but they do pay attention. Charlotte is likely to loudly talk about where Jesus is, and mention the statues of Mary and Joseph. They sometimes follow my lead and kneel with me when I’m receiving the Eucharist. Kieran has said that he can’t wait until he can receive, and Charlotte kept repeating the prayer for her spiritual communion after Mass one day. They’re getting it, but they also have their own way of understanding and praying. Wile I continue to show them how things are done at Mass, I also try to encourage their curiosity as they make the connections themselves. I’m glad Monsignor said what he did, bot the remind me, and because I then don’t have to worry about comments from others. 😉

Book Nook

Readers have no doubt noticed our love of Arnold Lobel’s books. On

a recent trip to the library, I saw the book Mouse Tales, by Arnold Lobel. After a quick look through it, I thought it looked cute and asked Charlotte if she wanted to get that as her library book. She replied in the affirmative and we duly took it home, where it was read many times. In a similar style as the Frog and Toad books, this book contains seven short stories, one for each mouse child in the book. The premise is that the father is telling one bedtime story per child,provided they all go to sleep afterwards, which they do. The stories are silly and fun, as one would expect from Lobel. When it was time to return the book, Charlotte wanted to find another just like it, so it seems it was a hit.

Manipulation and Conflict

I sometimes wonder about, and am saddened by, those who believe and/or teach that children are ultimately manipulative and that every time they do not do as we wish, that it is a power play. Unfortunately, this view is widespread thanks to some books, about which I’ve ranted previously. It saddens me because I think it convinces parents to see their child as an enemy of sorts, someone who is out to dominate the parents and must be dominated instead.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I expect my children to listen and follow directions, but I do not do so in a dictatorial manner, nor do I think they are trying to manipulate me or being deliberately antagonistic. Most of the time, they are simply exploring their abilities and boundaries. Charlotte has absolutely no fear of anything, so I must insist on some boundaries for her safety. When she runs farther than she should, she isn’t being disobedient really, but wants to explore. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, and I explain that I’m trying to keep her safe and scoop her up. Some could perhaps interpret her behaviour as defiant, but I do not.

If I did subscribe to that view, though, I can only imagine the stress I would feel at constantly believing myself to be undermined, contradicted, manipulated, etc. I would imagine that my relationship with my children wouldn’t be as strong, for I would see myself as working against them, and not with and for them. And maybe I’m wrong and those subscribing to that view don’t feel like that, but it seems the logical conclusion in my mind. At least, it’s what I think I would feel if I believed my children were manipulating me all the time. I will instead continue to try parenting with respect, especially when I need to correct a behaviour, and working with my children. In short, I will try to parent according to the Golden Rule, by the grace of God.

Crafty Thursday

It seems this week has been devoted to smaller projects for others.  Our neighbours are having twins, so my mother and I thought it would nice to make a little something.  Well, the last time I went to JoAnn’s, Charlotte picked up the colourful yarn (Serenity Chunky Sprinkles, by Premier Yarns) and took off the label, so I went ahead and bought it.  I thought it was perfect for the little snuggle bunny, which is the pattern on the label, actually.  I also had the red yarn (Oh My! by Plymouth; if you felt it, you’d understand the name, as it’s so, so soft) in my stash, so I went ahead and made that one up, too.

My mother and I also looked around at Michael’s to see what we found.  I was actually looking for buttons for Charlotte’s cardy, but was unsuccessful in that venture.  However, I was intrigued by the Loops & Threads Pom-Pom yarn I found and decided to get a couple of skeins.  The pattern on the label said to cast on 8 stitches and use two skeins, but I thought that made the scarf too wide.  So with the first one, I cast on 4 stitches, and with the second I cast on 5.  I thought both of those worked out well.  It took a little while to get in the rhythm of it with the pom-poms (and we won’t even talk about how long it took me to untangle one of the skeins after the kids decided to “knit” me a sweater with it), but I like the end result, and they’re super soft.

Individuality and Education

My son is four. If we were still in England, and I wasn’t going to home educate, he would be heading to reception in September. Thinking of this fact had led to me musing about the lack of individuality in a lot of schools. In fact, that is one of the reasons I chose to home educate. However, in some States, that lack of indivuality carries over into home education, since some States require portfolios or standardised testing or a teacher looking at the work and certifying that it is the appropriate grade level. And of course the pigeon-holing begins before the child reaches school-age, with the developmental checks that apply to all children, regardless of education plans, as I’ve discussed previously.

And therein lies the problem. Who decides what all children of a certain age-range should know? Why is there little or no accommodation for children doing different things at different levels (ideally this is accommodated, and some schools manage to do so, but many do not due to lack of time and resources)?

I had all these thought in my head this week, as I wondered how I will handle it if we remain in a State that does require the portfolio or standardised test or whatnot. I told Kieran that if he wants to learn to read, to let me know. I actually think he can read certain words, but he’s never been one to display his knowledge, and I know that pushing him in things backfires. He will do it when he’s ready.

With this in mind, it is perhaps coincidental that I read this article this morning. It reminded me of something my father, a man who has worked in education for over 40 years, said to me. He said it is impossible to keep a child from reading if he is simply exposed to books and reading. The article seems to say the same thing. It also matches my own experience. I know I could read prior to going to school, though I have no memory of learning to read. I know I have always loved books and had my parents read to me. I share that love of books with my children, taking them to the library and reading with them. My husband, having degrees in Creative Writing and French literature, also shares that love of language and reading with them. So I have no doubt our children will learn to read when they are ready.

The question, though, is how to quantify that and demonstrate it to others. That is more difficult, and it is harder to explain that a child not reading at x age does not necessarily indicate a problem. Children are individuals, too, and needn’t be pigeon-holed, in my opinion.