Posted by doularama | Filed under News
Not long ago, I was recommending to women in need of breastfeeding support, a newly-crowned IBCLC here in the Bronx. I had met her about a year earlier while we both volunteered for a fund raising event for The New Space for Women’s Health, Manhattan’s next freestanding birth center at the time ( a project which has just been discontinued, hopefully only temporarily).
Anyway, this acquaintance, who I now count as a friend, works for a government agency that is charged with spreading the good news about good health in the Bronx. I’m sure their mission statement isn’t worded quite that way, but that really does suffice for my purpose right now. So, my friend asked me if I knew of anyone who might be interested in teaching one-hour breastfeeding classes. Her office needed to get a certain number of classes taught in a short amount of time and they were looking for help. Well, not only did I know someone, I was that one. She told me to go to the office so we could talk about it.
When I showed up, I was surprised to find I was on a job interview. The application even asked for references- and they were called! We talked about my experience as a doula and an educator and then I was asked if I had ever actually breastfed. I could have been hired solely because I had breastfed my son only an hour before the interview. Before I left, they asked, quite incidentally, if I might also be available to give talks on SIDS. They were providing all the curricula and a very generous stipend, so I said yes without knowing that I was stepping into a pit of self-betrayal from which I could only emerge by complaining to my dear husband and you, of course. Thanks for reading.
The class is actually on SIDS and Safe Sleep Practices, which are actually unrelated because, as I have been trained to say, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the unexplained death of a baby, furthermore and to the point, it is not preventable. I suppose, though, that someone felt that a class for telling people to put their babies to sleep in a crib, on their backs, with no blankets, pillows or other suffocation hazards might be too short. Well, that’s not the only problem.
My big concern is with the recommendation that families make their babies sleep alone. The recommendation is based on a flawed study which was funded by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association, i.e., the crib manufacturer’s lobbyists. The study concluded that babies sleep best alone, in a crib. Once again, we in the United States, have decided that what the rest of the world is doing, what humankind has been doing all along, is wrong and we should go out and buy something, along with its hundred accessories to make it right.
Our public education campaigns have been dumbed down because it is widely recognized that some people may not follow the safety guidelines for bed sharing. I wish I could share that, if they want to experience the ultimate in bonding and hormonal regulation, better sleep and milk production and even better family relations, they should keep their newborns with them around the clock and find out how to safely share their beds. Maybe I could slip each of them a note instruction them to meet me outside for a private class. I know, however, that many of these women have always planned to separate themselves from their newborns with at least a wall. That even in the hospital they will welcome the rest offered to them by the nursery option. This is typical in our society and it’s very difficult for me to explain that it just isn’t normal.
Next week I will be speaking to four different groups, spelling out for them the guidelines that our government has established for them on safe sleep. It is unlikely that anyone will ask me what I personally did with my children, but if someone does, should I admit that for four months my son slept on top of me as I sat in a recliner? Probably not, as that is discouraged by all sides, but I will tell them that I made the decision that was right for my family and I’ll encourage them to do the research and make the decisions that are right for theirs.
I won’t stray from my curriculum for now, but I look forward to seeing our leaders take us in a new direction in the near future. Perhaps they should focus on breastfeeding, the missing factor in bed-sharing infant deaths.
Tags: Bed Sharing, Breastfeeding, Co-Sleeping, SIDS