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The Importance of Informed Choice… August 19, 2009

Posted by dreamom in family, Happiness, Home, Life, Parenting.

As a La Leche League Leader I end up doing a lot of myth busting in my helping calls and home visits. There are the usual sources – Grandma’s Aunts, people in the grocery store, but many people don’t realize how many myths are perpetuated by Doctor’s, nurses, and people trained as ‘Lactation Specialists’ (as public health or OB nurses with training are called in Ontario…)

This is stemming from the fact that I am sitting here in front of my morning coffee watching baby shows, and trying not to wake the house with my shouting at the TV. People being told to supplement, people talking about how on day two they HAVE to formula feed because they have no milk… (Did I mention TV programs in the source of myths part…). With my newly acquired awareness (perhaps from the coffee? 🙂 ) I realized an important piece.

The La Leche League holds a rotating series of four meetings that address different topics and stages of breastfeeding. The LLL suggests that women attend each of the four meetings AT LEAST once before the birth of the baby. This is often hard to explain to people who are barely showing! With meetings being a monthly event, to attend all four you are starting (ideally) at month 4 or 5! For most women that is not when they are expecting to hang out with the ‘breastfeeding club’!

What I came to realize is that if HALF of the people on these shows had done research, and attended meetings, aligning themselves with a community of breastfeeding parents – that most would not say the things they do, and maybe not choose the option to formula feed or supplement…

Breastfeeding is a fairly publicly acknowledged positive choice for Mom’s and babies. What some people don’t realize is that this pattern of myths and assumed norms is simply carried through from the prenatal stage. With each baby I learn more about the options I have as a pregnant woman, and why things are suggested and routinely done. With each baby I shave more off the list as I learn more about what it is that is being done, and why. That isn’t to say that it isn’t appropriate for anyone, but that I find that things are not appropriate for me and my family.

What I appreciate about midwifery care, is that there is nothing that is done and offered that is off the table. Everything will be explained – ESPECIALLY if you ask. Why do they do this? What do they learn from that? What are your options concerning this? What risks, or risks of risks associated with that. You will get an answer, and usually an option! As someone who had midwifery care for all of my pregnancies I often take that for granted.

Watching these shows, and wondering why people make the decisions they do I realize that it is by making myself informed on an ever increasing amount of topics associated with everything from prenatal care to schooling that I have given myself choices. Armed with information I can choose if I conform to the standard, or if we as a family are going to choose an individual path. Even if you choose mainstream things all families should have an individual path. You will know that you are on a path that is unique to you and your family when you have looked at the options (whether offered or not) and understand WHY you are doing what you are doing, not just knowing what you are doing.

Well folks. That is the fruit of my ranting today… And I thank our midwives for being a source of information and choice for the commencement of our journey into the parenting of each of our little ones…



1. Shanta @ Natural Mom Loves Prada - August 20, 2009

I wrote a very similar post. What I have come to see is that many (myself included) have been informed but not EDUCATED.
Going to a run of the mill prenatal class informs you about a lot of things (most things that I think most people have already read about or generally know about) but does very little to nothing in the way of educating the belief in our bodies – the true risks associated with some choices and interventions – and reinforcing that the only thing that matters is a healthy baby and mother in the end…which is important but not the only thing that matters.

Maybe one day you’ll be moving back to Ontario……? 🙂

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