Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tales from the Children’s Centre


Going from midwife care for nine months back to regular GP care is quite the crash back down to earth. During the last trimester of my pregnancy, I was in hospital quite a lot due to high blood pressure, and the midwives were always so amazing; from giving me sandwiches to hugs, I don’t know how I would've survived without them. The hole left in my post-pregnancy life by them has been kind of filled by health visitors…

Emphasis on the words “kind of.”

It just so happens that every appointment with a health visitor at our local Children’s Centre has involved some sort of bizarre, blog-worthy experience. Today, I shall share two of those with you.

The Breastfeeding Police

Let’s start with the very first appointment we had. In we walked (me, my husband and Baby K) and as we were settling down in the waiting room, out of nowhere a woman appeared in front of my face. I kid you not, it was if she had materialised out of thin air. Then this happened:

Woman: Hi there! Are you bottle feeding or breast feeding?

Me: Erm, bottle.

Woman: WHAT? Why???

Me: Erm, well—

Woman: Did you have any problems?

Me: Well, yes.

Woman: What? What was the problem? (At this point, she actually had a hand on her hip and a very stern look on her face)

Me: Hang on… Who are you???

Woman: (pulls out her badge and introduces herself as a “breastfeeding support someone”) Its VERY important that you speak to someone about this. What exactly is the problem?

Me:  Well… I've already discussed this with midwives and my GP…

Woman: (shakes her head in disappointment, totally ignoring what I've said) Your baby is probably used to the bottle by now, what a shame. There are things you could try. Was she latching properly?

Me: That wasn't the problem. And I’m not really comfortable discussing this in a waiting room full of strangers, WITH a stranger. Thank-you but please leave us alone.

(I’m probably remembering myself answering in a more confident and firm way than I actually did).

So harsh are the Breastfeeding Police that they almost make you feel like formula is poison. And almost always, they assume you could have tried harder to make it happen. Please. Take your condescending crap somewhere else.. Yes, we all know what the World Health Organization says, and “Breast is Best” and “Human Milk for Humans” and whatever other slogan you've come up with. Sometimes, however, there is no choice but to resort to formula. 

And when that happens, no woman should be made to feel any more guilty about it than she probably already does. We’re all doing the best we can.

An example of such guilt-mongering: 

Where do I even start with how smug and RUDE this is?! There couldn't possibly be anything more offensive to bottle-feeding mothers, could there? Oh wait, wait...

Yeah. These photos are real.

The Woman Hater

Moving onto our most recent appointment. Have you ever encountered women that hate women? I'm not talking about explicit hatred; I'm talking about the women that make constant unnecessary and snarky comments about you (or other women) to your face and especially if there is a third-party male present too.

We encountered one such health visitor just the other day. There I was, making sure I had my notes in order and holding a sleeping baby in my arms, when she called us in. Naturally, husband dearest picked up the baby bag as his hands were free. No-one cared or batted an eyelid; why would they?

Except the woman-hating health visitor that is. 

"Oh my! How strange to see a MAN holding a HANDBAG! Well, that is very strange indeed!"

She said this loudly, followed by awkward smiles from the husband and I.

First of all lady, its a baby bag, not a clutch that I could have stuffed under my arm and managed with. Secondly, it probably weighs much heavier than the baby itself. And thirdly, mind your own business!!

She then asked if this was my first baby (and continued to refer to her as a "he" throughout the meeting, no matter how many times I corrected her). I said yes and she said "I can tell from the way you're holding him."


The cherry on the icing, however, was when just a few minutes into the meeting, she decided she knew everything about us and declared "I can tell you're the anxious one here. Your husband is much more calm and relaxed but you're the anxious one."

And I promise you, I was actually extremely relaxed and not even anxious about anything at all till she said that.

More tales from the Children Centre to follow in future blog posts, no doubt. Till then... Peace and love to all, especially you bottle-bashing, women-haters out there!

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