Saturday, November 3, 2012
The Filppant Doctor
Today's NHBPM prompt is to write ab out a conversation with your doctor. I have the perfect one.
After learning that breastfeeding a child you were adopting was possible, I made what seemed to me to be the next reasonable step. I scheduled a doctor appointment to talk about inducing lactation options. Unfortunately, the midwife I had been seeing for several years was out on her own maternity leave. I asked to see another female provider in the practice.
It just so happened that the kid was born the day before my appointment. So, I left the hospital, after having nursed him several times with the SNS, to make the snowy trek over to the MD's office. I was all excited, thinking she'd have great ideas and be so supportive. Well, I was a bit wrong on that one.
While I explained to her what I wanted to do, she sat there, passive face, hard for me to read. Once I finished my spiel, she flippantly said, "I don't understand what the big deal with breastfeeding is. I mean, your baby will love you no matter what. And then you wouldn't have to go through all this. I mean, I don't understand why anyone thinks breastfeeding is such a big deal. I was a formula baby and I'm just fine. He'll survive just fine no matter what".
And my jaw dropped.
I mean, really?! This - very young/just out of med school - doctor was really telling me that breastfeeding wasn't important. That formula was really "the same thing" (honestly, those words came out of her mouth) as breastmilk. And that there were no benefits of breastfeeding my baby, to either of us.
She offered me a 2 week prescription of Reglan (which is typically used in the US to increase milk production, but has potentially awful side effects and really isn't particularly that effective). She refused to give it to me any longer, even if I came back in a week or 10 days to assure none of the side effects had manifested. "If it's gonna work it will. If it's not, then it's no big deal and just give him a bottle of formula."
That doctor never took the time to ask me why breastfeeding my son was important to me. She hadn't treated me through my infertility and treatments. But surely she should, at a minimum, have looked at my chart.
If she had, I could have explained that breastfeeding, even more so than actually being pregnant, was something I'd grieved. And that learning it was indeed possible, was helping me heal. I can only assume that (in addition to being completely ignorant about breastfeeding, breastmilk, and the inferiority of formula) that she was in some misguided way trying to let me know that it would be okay if I wasn't successful. However, that wasn't the kind of support I needed.
What I did need was someone to listen to me. Someone to validate my choice to try to induce and nurse my first child. Someone to offer non-judgemental support. Someone to encourage me in my efforts. Someone who was willing to believe that the decision I was making was well-thought out, educated, and loving.
Not a flippant dismissal.
Today's Lesson: Just because someone has earned the title of MD, it does not mean she knows everything. It also does not mean she knows anything about good patient care. That appears to be something quite lacking in medical school. As does good, accurate information about breastfeeding.