I love helping women meet their breastfeeding goals. It's one thing that makes me feel incredibly lucky to do the job I do every day.
Yes, I said "the job". Because, after all, it is what it is. It's a career. A profession. As in, I have a degree in nursing and 23 years of experience and I spent oodles of money and time in order to sit for the IBCLE exam and become certified and I spend oodles of time and money to maintain my certification.....well, you get the picture.
So why is it that I get calls every.single.day from women, many in tears, needing help with breastfeeding, and yet refusing to actually get the help.....because they don't want to pay for it.
Why do we place such little value in breastfeeding? In getting professional help to keep breastfeeding going? Why is it ok to spend hundreds of dollars at Babies-R-Us on gadgets and clothing and all that jazz (when all you really need is a pair of breasts and a some diapers) but the mention of paying for a lactation consult is something that you'll have to "think about" or "check with my husband first"?
Meanwhile, baby loses weight and your nipples become ragged and you start looking at that can of powdered artificial stuff and think that perhaps THAT is the way to go. Because breastfeeding was too hard.
You'd rather pay thousands of dollars to buy artificial baby milk, bottles, and nipples (and don't forget pacifiers), not to mention added doctor visits and medications (higher incidence of ear infection, respiratory infections, including RSV) and extra diapers and wipes (higher incidence of diarrhea in artifically fed babies). And that's just in your first year. If you want to think about the higher chances of childhood cancers (especially leukemia), diabetes, heart disease, and a higher rate of obesity....
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
It pains me to hear moms belittle breastfeeding. We wouldn't settle for second best for ourselves.....why should we settle for fourth best for our babies?
We are blessed to have La Leche League groups all over the world, and IBCLC's like me spend a lot of time referring moms to these volunteers who have spent time in the trenches with all manner of lactation scenarios. No doubt about it, LLL rocks.
But when it comes down to needing professional help, well, you need.....a professional. According to the IBCLE, IBCLC's are the professional standard for excellence in breastfeeding care.
I love being able to offer my expertise on a pro bono basis to moms. And I do it often. But the reality is that I have a family. Three children. A dog. A house. A minivan. And I often think, "would you go to a nurse practitioner or a nurse midwife and expect a complimentary visit each time?"
No, of course not.
I think it all goes back to breastfeeding. We don't value it as a society. We see companies like Medela backing away from the Code and looking to the dollar instead of at the relationship between a mom and her baby. We see companies lying in marketing campaigns to promote their breast milk substitutes and sucking in the consumers without a care in the world.
You might say they are laughing all the way to the bank.
My prayer is that with breastfeeding in the spotlight recently, it will empower women to be assertive in asking for help. Insisting on changes in insurance so that lactation services are covered.
Get the help you need.
To quote L'Oreal....you're worth it!