Thursday, May 02, 2013

La Leche League Counseling Notes

Thirty-six years ago I qualified as a La Leche League Leader and started the first (and so far the only) LLL group in my county. I was afraid no one would come to the first meeting, but 22 mothers showed up—some pregnant, some with babies. The group eventually grew to the point where it split in two, and I shared Leader duties with two others, who became my close friends. When we were ready to retire (having lost those lactation hormones, I guess), no one stepped up to replace us and keep the group going. But although I was sorry to see it die out, I was still glad I founded it, and it remains one of the things I'm proud of today.

Last night I came across the notebook I used when counseling mothers on the phone. Here are some of my notes from that first year:

May 21:  Has breast infection w/104ยบ fever. Dr. X had ordered nursing no oftener than every 4 hours, 5 min. on a side. Infection probably resulted from overfull breasts. For treatment, Dr. X advised no nursing because it would "hurt the baby."

June 14:  Baby 6.5 months, nursing every hour. Mother reluctant to start solids, even though baby gobbled up banana and cereal.

June 16:  Daughter, 8 mos., bit her.

June 23:  Son, 7 mos., biting badly whenever breast is offered. Does not bite when he asks to nurse.

June 28:  One-week-old son hospitalized with a fever. Hospital nurse insisting he should be on a 4-hour schedule. Nurse referred to him as an "older baby."

July 5:  Baby 3 months. Mother forced to wean him because of her husband's jealousy. He said they were his breasts, not the baby's. He had refused to give his son any attention as long as he was breastfed.

July 21:  Daughter, 11 mos., abruptly weaned one month ago on doctor's orders because the baby had a virus. She cannot tolerate any other kind of milk.

August 8:  Mom wonders if it's OK to nurse every 2.5 hours, which her baby wants. Hospital told her no more often than every 4 hours. Also, her teenage stepdaughter was thrown out of her own home and is arriving soon.

September 12:  Interested in nursing an adopted baby.

September 30:  Baby 3 wks. nursing well, but screams every evening when her father comes home. Husband is against breastfeeding, and attempts to discourage his wife.

November 11:  Mother was put on a 1,000-calorie diet by Dr. X, and developed toxemia. She is frightened of hospitals, but the doctor admitted he—no treatment except for strict low-calorie diet. A friend made the call to me. We are concerned about protein deprivation, probably the cause of the toxemia in the first place.

December 1:  Five-day-old baby. Dr. X wants her to give him sugar water between feedings.


crystal said...

So interesting. I keep reading new things in the news about breastfeeding ... Breast Milk Protein Could Help Fight Superbug.

Strange how some men get so fixated on breasts that they don't even want to share them with their children - yikes!

Kathleen said...

I love documents like this. Doctors back then told moms to torture bottle-fed babies in similar ways. My mom told me the doctor gave her a strict schedule of when and how much to feed us. Don't give in to crying!

I actually wonder if part of the obesity-epidemic doesn't have to do with the way women were told to treat themselves while pregnant (an old-coworker of mine told us that her mom is still proud of only gaining 12 pounds while pregnant with her) and the way they were told to feed their babies. I think my mom was done with formula and giving me whole milk with caro syrup in it by the time I was two months old.

Susan said...

Yikes, Kathleen, you don't look like someone who was fed milk and syrup! I could write at length about Dr. X, who epitomized what you describe. He told mothers to put the crib in the basement so they wouldn't have to hear the babies' cries. And he would have loved the mom who gained only 12 lbs. He would say to toddlers, "Look at your (pregnant) mommy, see how FAT she is? She eats too much!" He did a lot of damage in our county when he was the only doctor (a GP) delivering babies.

Thanks for the link, Crystal--I'll read it right now. Once a LLLeader, always a LLLeader. :-)

Kathleen said...

I can't stop thinking about the woman on a 1000-calorie diet. I'm pretty sure I ate that many calories before lunch today.

Susan said...

He was big on forceps too. And he had such power in the community. What a sad mess.

Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

Oh, what a time-capsule! My doctor must have gone to medical school with Dr. X. I produced an 8-pound baby while gaining only 15 pounds...thanks to the diet pills (amphetamines!) he prescribed.

Indigo Bunting said...

There's some seriously scary stuff going on here from all sides!

Bridgett said...

The saddest part of this? I was a LLL leader 2002-2006 and I have very, very similar notes.

Susan said...

Wow, Lali--I would like to string up some of these physicians. Of course it isn't just obstetrical sins taking place (for instance, my adenoids were removed with radiation when I was six), but the unborn are the most vulnerable.

That is sad, Bridgett--25 years later, and so little changed.

Kathleen, I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner (probably because none of my babies were born at the local hospital), but your mom's doctor was probably "Dr. X." He was the only game in town at the time.