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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Words, Words, Words

Reading 2 articles, Confessions of a Milk Machine and Breastfeeding - It's a Choice, made me realize that there is still a lot of educating that needs to be done in using certain words and terms in connection with breastfeeding.  

Let me start with the term "BREASTFEEDING NAZI".  Moms with bad breastfeeding experiences would undoubtedly call advocates, etc. as such.  I, myself, was guilty of using this term early on until I read this article by PhdinParenting.   Please click on the link and read on - it is quite a short article.

I realized that as Filipinos, we have no sense of the horrors experienced by Holocaust victims and survivors.  I don't even remember studying or hearing about the Holocaust in my World History class except perhaps as part of the chapter in World War I.  This is probably the reason why I used the term quite loosely.  Apparently, use of this term trivializes the sufferings of the Holocaust victims.  I've been more conscious about using this term to describe hard-core breastfeeding advocates.  I'm thinking about using the word "breastfeeding zealot" instead?

Second would be the terms used to describe breastfeeding professionals and advocates.  Moms loosely use the term counselor, consultant and even masseuse to describe someone who gives advice about breastfeeding.  Abbie Yabot who was accredited by Philippine General Hospital's Dr. Grace Agrasada* provided quite a thorough discussion about the differences in meaning and qualifications of the different advocates so with her permission, I will just reproduce her discourse here, with some grammatical edits:

There are many types of "professions"  in the breastfeeding world as was described to us in our lactation management course.  Mind you, since this is something still relatively new to the Philippines, there are so many "posers" out there.  I'm not saying this is right but this is how it was taught there (and we are talking about PGH, a government accredited facility). 

Here are short descriptions for each:

  1. breastfeeding advocate - someone who believes in and talks positively about breastfeeding
  2. breastfeeding educator - someone who got training to teach breastfeeding 
  3. breastfeeding peer counselor - mostly experienced moms who volunteer their personal time to help out other moms, gaining their expertise from such and from short breastfeeding training courses (my note:  LATCH moms belong here.  Emphasis on VOLUNTEER)
  4. breastfeeding certified counselor - someone who has successfully completed an accredited lactation management course, passed a certified exam and had appropriate clinical practice then does breastfeeding counselling as a "profession" hence with a fee.  normally they take on position, latch, basic breastfeeding troubleshooting, relactation and induced lactation - everything less of a medical indication.
  5. ibclc - internationally board certified lactation consultants - mostly doctors (as their pathways are so much easier) who have studied a lot of books and taken an international board exam to get their license, which is renewable every 3 years.  moms whose cases need to be elevated to a doctor and probably need medical support or prescription for medicines.  some cases may include abcess, long running thrush, cleft lip &/or palate, stopping milk, etc.  (my note: when you use the term lactation consultant, you refer to IBCLCs)
I am so alarmed lately with moms i see who claim they saw an IBCLC (my note:  refer to the 2 articles listed above - in both articles, the authors stated that they had seen "lactation consultants").  
For everybody's information, to date, there are only 5 IBCLCs in the Philippines (my note:  you can check the list of local IBCLCs in my previous post).  

Having said that, I am not even sure if the lactation consultants mentioned by the authors in their stories are really IBCLCs.  The reason for this post is because there have been so many negative articles being written about bad breastfeeding experiences because the moms WENT TO THE WRONG PERSON!
As Abbie emphasized, "wrong advice and wrong practices and unrightful title claims which make the breastfeeding "real" professionals look bad."

Further, I would like to point out that a lactation masseuse is also a different type of breastfeeding professional.  There is only 1 internationally certified pregnancy and lactation masseuse - Lita Nery.  All other local lactation masseuses were trained by her.  Please note however, that Lita Nery is a lactation MASSEUSE and not a lactation consultant or counselor.  

So when you look for a breastfeeding professional or counselor, make sure that you go to one with the right training!  It is common knowledge in breastfeeding circles that there is one person claiming to be a consultant/counselor who never received the proper training but just sat in during training sessions as an observer or attendance checker.  Apparently, one of authors of the cited articles saw this observer/attendance checker.

Finally, when seeing breastfeeding professionals or counselors, please note that like doctors, you need to find one who is a perfect "fit" for you.  As Abbie said,  "I can't really please all the moms that I see everyday.  It's dependent on so many things: moms' bodies respond differently, babies have different temperaments, support systems available for mom and baby, resources, etc."  

As an experienced breastfeeding mom, there is nothing wrong with trying to help your new mom friend learn about the benefits of breastfeeding.  However, KNOW YOUR LIMITS and learn to YIELD to more experienced and learned professionals.   Failure to YIELD is usually the reason why moms become traumatized by the so-called breastfeeding help they get.  Maybe if Tammy's (of the Glam-o-mama article) torture team had learned to yield to her ob-gyne or to an IBCLC, then she would've had a better experience and would probably have continued to breastfeed.

So, if you or anyone close to you needs breastfeeding support, at least ask for credentials, so that you know that you will be getting the correct help and will not go through the bad experience of the authors of the articles cited above.  

*Dr. Grace Agrasada accredits all Filipino IBCLCs.  


Topaz Mommy said...

That's true--I have a few friends who had a breastfeeding consultant go to their house. One kept making my friend guilty about her "failure" to breastfeed. Another said, "It's so easy! Like this!", grabbed the baby from the mommy and put it to her own breast! Nightmare talaga! So all of them gave up on breastfeeding! Sad.

Topaz Mommy said...

That's true--I have a few friends who had a breastfeeding consultant go to their house. One kept making my friend guilty about her "failure" to breastfeed. Another said, "It's so easy! Like this!", grabbed the baby from the mommy and put it to her own breast! Nightmare talaga! So all of them gave up on breastfeeding! Sad.

Jenny said...

hmm.. there really is a need to "police the ranks" so to speak.  as for that counselor who put the baby to her own breast, yikes talaga!!!

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