Sunday, August 8, 2010

It must have been World Breastfeeding Week

I consider myself to be a mom who is quite experienced when it comes to breastfeeding. Oriana is my third exclusively breastfed baby since 2006, and Logan and Hunter were each nursed for 14 months, so I feel like I especially know public breastfeeding etiquette.

I generally wear layered clothing, high-waisted maternity pants (to cover my stomach), or nursing shirts like this. Last Thursday I was wearing a black Gap v-neck t-shirt and a pair of yoga pants with a roll down waist that I wear unrolled as to cover my battle scars, aka stretch marked belly flab.

I see a pain management doctor for chronic neck and back issues related to torn and bulging discs, sciatica, IT Band syndrome, as well as additional nerve and muscle damage. I see my doctor for injections, but when I go in for prescription refills, I see his nurse practitioner, "Mark." Mark is an absolute joy to work with. His children are 9 and 11 years old, and his wife exclusively breastfed both of his children and they shared in some of the same dietary issues my babies have.

On Thursday I was due for a prescription refill and was going to schedule some injections now that I recovered from my c-section (recovered enough, anyway). The office is 65 miles one way and while I was able to leave the boys at home, Ms. Oriana goes everywhere with mom. I arrived about 5 mins late for my appointment (it's farm equipment moving time) and, for once, I was taken back right away by a RN. When all the formalities were done; temperature, blood pressure, etc, I was left to wait for Mark.

After over an hour on the road, the baby started fussing and wanted to eat, so she and I assumed the position. My appointments involve no physical exam, so I was not concerned about holding her or that she would be in the way. I was sitting in a chair with short arms, so I took the baby blanket and placed it under my arm to avoid neck strain (one the reasons I see Ken and this doctor). The nurse came back in to ask me something else and I leaned forward to get a better look at what she was trying to show me. I guess at that time she noticed I was nursing. We finished our conversation, she again informed me that Mark would be in shortly, and left the exam room. She appeared just 30 seconds later and asked if I would like a blanket to cover up since Mark would be coming in.

I said, "No, I'm fine. I am comfortable with Mark and don't think it'll be necessary."

She then frantically reached into a drawer, pulled out a ratty gown, draped it over me, and ran out the door.



I modestly nursed in front of Mark my during my two previous appointments. I left feeling pleased about his level of knowledge regarding breastfeeding, considering he worked as a CNP at an OBGYN's office for 8 YEARS before moving over to pain management 7 years ago. I am pretty sure he has professionally seen boobs before.

Needless to say, I happily removed the ratty gown off my body and put it under the arm, as it was still lacking adequate support. Mark came it, discussed my options, gave me my prescription scripts, and SPECIFICALLY asked me how nursing was going all the while the baby happily nursed. When she came up for air, he held her and demonstrated positioning he suggested  may put less strain on the discs I am currently having problems with.

I was given no indication that he suggested the nurse ASK me to cover up.

I know that I was not brazenly flashing my boobs while feeding the baby, and had I not leaned forward while the RN was in the room, she would have never known.

I am not comfortable using a cover up, because I feel like I am putting on a bill board that screams, "THERE IS A BABY SUCKING ON MY BOOB RIGHT NOW!"

I do use a blanket sometimes, but my biggest concern is covering up my stomach since I usually have my shirt covering to the baby's mouth. I do not go out of my way to cover up (capes, blankets, etc) because I have been more than successful at discretely nursing with out all the paraphernalia, so much so, that I have had dads hand me a plate of cake at a Birthday party and never suspect that I am nursing.

So why would a medical PROFESSIONAL basically force me to over up? Was she protecting me? Was she protecting Mark, CNP? Was she so uncomfortable or offended by the feeding of a 9 week old infant that her reaction was place me under a tent?

I feel lucky for my four years of breastfeeding experience when I run into these types of situations.

If I was less experienced or unsure of my decision, I am not sure how I would react.

I was aware that last week, August 1-7, 2010, was World Breastfeeding Week, because of an informative FaceBook group that I "like." I am certain of one thing, this nurse did not get the memo.


roadrunner201 said...

Oh dear lord. You were a lot nicer to that nurse than I would have been. Good for you though for sticking to your guns:-)

Jeanette said...

Wow. I only breastfed one of my children and I was nervous about doing it. This was before I started reading blogs and I didn't know anyone else that had breastfed so I didn't have any real support while doing it. I didn't have anything like that happen but I'm pretty sure it would have embarrassed me enough that I wouldn't have breastfed in public anymore. I'm glad you took the gown off and continued on, and I'm glad you blogged about it.

Grace K. said...

Wow, crazy. After you verbally declined, what on earth would have possessed her to disregard your wishes and physically toss an article on to your person and your baby that you did not want? And then run out of the room? I'm thoroughly confused as well. Did you have a conversation with her or with Mark about this behavior? Maybe he could educate her about how to be more respectful of breastfeeding mothers, and all patients in general. Just... bizarre. The only thing I can think is maybe she has the hots for him and didn't want him to see your boobs? lol. No really, it makes no sense.

S.I.F. said...

I can't believe someone in the medical community would behave like that! That's just insane to me!

Momof3inVA said...

That is just awful...especially coming from a medical person.

Margaret said...

I saw a woman on the beach yesterday that just pulled her breast out and started nursing. I know you were in a doctors office but perhaps the nurse has seen too many women like that and she's gone to the other extreme.

Rebecca said...

I hope she has a wardrobe malfunction at a very humiliating time of her life to make up for what she did to you and your baby!

A nursing mother and her baby is the most beautiful thing to witness.

MX3 said...

I nurse in public all the time, and like you said, no one ever notices! That nurse needs to get her panties out of a twist and have some decency. Glad Mark had the right attitude though :-)

anonynanny said...

Geez. I've never understood the obsession with "covering up" to breastfeed. In having cared for literally hundreds of infants over the years, perhaps I'm immune to any sexual context—or maybe I'm just wired differently. I don't know. At any rate, I pled my ignorance is bliss on this one. Boobies are for babies.

Karyn Climans said...

It seems very strange that the nurse wanted you to cover up. The only reason I can possibly come up with to explain the situation is some doctors insist that an assistant/nurse is in attendance in a doctor's office during examinations. This requirement is to protect them from allegations of sexual harassment etc.

Mike and Katie said...

I agree about the nursing covers. I think they draw more attention. The only time I used one was when I was wearing one baby one my back because she was fussy and had to nurse the other baby but pulling my shirt up passed where the wrap was tied. Usually I use the wrap to cover my tummy. I was glad to have it that day but haven't used it since.