“Your ignorant patient [she wrote] was only living what she learned. I imagine she was not breastfed. It comes more easily to those who have seen it done, and are familiar with it.”
I need to gently disagree. I’m acquainted with a young woman, middle-class, intelligent and very highly educated, who is extremely fit, and takes such a pro-active approach to her health that heaven forfend a potato chip or Twizzle passing between her lips. She knows the benefits, both to her child and to herself, of breastfeeding, but she is adamant she will not breastfeed, largely for the reasons of patient I wrote about yesterday (if better articulated). She identifies her breasts as intrinsic to her sexuality, and regards the notion of breastfeeding — linking her child and sex — as abnormal, even repulsive. I gather this attitude is not uncommon, though of course, as an ED nurse, my direct clinical experience is limited. I’d be interested in hearing from L&D nurses about their experiences.
I have to say this too: I once suggested to my colleagues in the staff room that formula-feeding was suboptimal and that we needed (as nurses) to make clear that breast was the default. I was quickly shouted down. I was implying mothers who bottle-fed their children were bad mothers. (Well, not bad, but maybe stupid.) My children turned out okay! Worse, it seemed, I was wanting to take away choice from the mother, of whether to breastfeed or not. If nurses feel conflicted about breastfeeding — Some cultural practices and attitudes run deep indeed.