27 May 2019

Quitting breastfeeding not the answer.

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AG’s husband had lost his job at AT&T during her pregnancy. Shortly after AG went home with her baby, they were evicted from their apartment as they were unable to afford the rent. They had purchased a shell of a house to rehabilitate, but at the time of her delivery, it lacked electricity, heat and plumbing.

Her family of 5 had their food stamps cut by more than half, because they owned a house, even though it was not habitable.

Mr. G. was living in the house, working around the clock. AG and her 3 children were rotating between various relatives, changing location every few days. Her postpartum healing was prolonged by this stress.

When their house was purchased, they had to pay back taxes. They did this while Mr. G was still employed. But the water company would not turn the water on until they paid at least half of the $3,000 bill run up by the previous owners. Welfare would not give them any money towards living expenses until they submitted a budget plan from all the utilities. But the water company would not make them a budget until they had paid part of the debt which they couldn’t get the money to pay until they submitted a budget to welfare. . ..

AG wanted to wean because she had so much on her plate at once.  Her baby wanted to nurse “all the time” and refused to take a bottle. After a few days of conversation, AG could see that her baby was reacting to the stress as much as anybody, and that nursing kept the baby contented. When she took her baby back for a routine check-up, she was proud and surprised to learn that her baby had gained 3 pounds in just 3 weeks.

AG was happy with her nursing relationship.I feel that in some cases, women quit breastfeeding because they can’t quit the family, or the bills, or the sudden unemployment of the breadwinner. They want a chance to say “no” to something.  We all want to feel in control of our lives.

In this case, I was able to provide a sympathetic ear, referrals to various social agencies, suggestions for ways to get publicity for their situation as well as encouragement and praise for a mother who could make her baby grow happy and healthy during this stressful time.

(PS: At the time I ended our relationship, AG was breastfeeding, and giving 1-2 bottles a day. The G family had borrowed a kerosene heater (that was making the older children sick) and tapped into their neighbor’s water pipe to get water for themselves. They were getting by  and feeling more optimistic about their future.)




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