Nobody can know everything, right? Refer on, please!

I love seeing the reaction when a baby latches on properly for the first time and the Mother looks like a light bulb has gone on in her head. It’s a beautiful moment for her and you can also see how the baby snuggles in and slowly relaxes because he’s exactly where he’s meant to be.  Against his Mother’s body, he can hear her heart beating and feel the warmth of her skin as he suckles on her breast and drinks the milk that was made perfectly for him.

It breaks my heart when I meet a Mum who has been struggling for weeks trying to breastfeed her baby. It absolutely kills me when she tells her story and I hear about all of the health professionals she has been to for help, yet here she is weeks later telling me the same story. I try really hard to contain my negative feeling toward these individuals because even Doctors can’t know everything, right?  I try to rationalise their disinterest and inaction by telling myself that they just aren’t aware of the impact of their actions. However, I get absolutely disgusted when I know that these people have been given feedback and sent letters explaining what the problem was found to be and what the treatment was and how it changed the breastfeeding experience of the Mother and baby; yet they do the same thing to the next Mother and baby who seek their help!!! I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!!

Their advice – “put the baby on formula” goes against World Health Organisation recommendations, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and every bit of available research that supports breastfeeding as the biological norm for Human babies. It also reinforces the Mother’s feelings that it must be her fault; she can’t feed her baby.

Their comment – “you don’t have enough milk” without investigating the reason why this might be the case is not helpful and only adds to the anxiety and guilt that the poor Mother already feels as she struggles to feed her baby. Unless there is a physical or physiological reason that a Mother can’t produce milk there has to be a reason for her lack of milk. The fundamental principal of breastmilk production is supply and demand. If there is no reason why the Mother can’t produce breastmilk, there has to be a reason why the baby is not demanding/taking the milk she has. The first place I would look is in the baby’s mouth! Tongue function plays an integral part in the baby’s ability to remove milk from the Mother’s breast!

Their belief – “there’s no such thing as tongue tie, it’s a fad” is so ignorant and reflects their total disregard for readily available and up-to-date research!

They could let the Mother know that there are people who specialise in helping with breastfeeding issues and refer them on. They could acknowledge that they don’t know a lot about breastfeeding but there are people who do and refer them on.  They could educate themselves about breastfeeding and they would understand how important it is to refer them on. They could do something! Doing absolutely NOTHING is devastating to the Mother and baby and is unacceptable.

I feel really grateful for all of the Mothers and babies who cross my path. I will help them, I will listen to them, I will comfort them and I will refer them on if I can’t help them because nobody can know everything, right?

I have the utmost respect for the health professionals I work with. Together, we are educating ourselves on every aspect of tongue and lip tie and how each of our disciplines can come together to improve the breastfeeding experience for the Mothers and babies who find us and ask for help.  Learning about so many other health issues that tongue and lip tie can impact; treatment as early as possible could minimise so many of them.

“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.”

~Francis Bacon, “On Innovation,” Essays, 1597

About Joanna

I'm an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). I love babies and I'm really passionate about helping Mothers and their newborns. I have 30 years experience working with babies and have often been called a "baby whisperer" - I just seem to be able to connect with them.
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