Bad advice at baby showers: a story in three chapters

1 April 2011 at 2:59 pm 3 comments


Last week I was at the baby shower of a good friend. Baby showers are, almost by definition, about baby talk, birth talk, and yeah, some advice for the new mom from the other moms at the shower. I try not to push my particular choices on my friends, but I do want to help make sure they get good advice. My friend was quiet on the subject, though, and no one was actually talking about the baby or the birth, so I brought it up.

Chapter 1

“So, where are you giving birth?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m going to _____ hospital,” she said, naming a hospital known in the area to be unfriendly to natural birth or baby-friendly practices.

I said something about the hospital’s c-section rate.

She brushed it aside. “Well, I’m not brave enough to give birth at home like you.”

“Don’t worry,” interjected a friend of the groom’s, there with her two-month-old baby. “You don’t have to be brave! I mean, it’s possible you might get lucky–it might not hurt incredibly badly for you!”

BAD ADVICE ALERT! I said something about mindset being important–that if you go in thinking that “you might get lucky” and “it might not hurt that badly,” you are already putting yourself at a disadvantage. I said something about relaxing your body and your mind during the birth, and learning all you can to prepare yourself beforehand.

“Oh yeah, I read that book everyone reads,” my friend.

Really, WtEWYE? Great. Lots of preparation there. I didn’t say that, though. I offered her a few other books, starting with Henci Goer–my friend is smart, intellectual, and definitely “a thinking woman,” after all. She declined.

Chapter 2:

I walked away, got some space, and was actually sitting on the floor nursing my toddler when the groom’s friend said that she needed to nurse too. She went to her bag and brought out a giant flowered nursing cover.

My friend asked what it was, and I thought the groom’s mom-friend might show her, but no–she explained what it was, but then went into another room to nurse under her cover. When she came back, putting the cover away in her bag, she said again what a great product it is. “I mean, you don’t have to use it,” she said. “Like on the way here, in my car, I just pulled over to the side of the Mass Pike and nursed right there in the car, with no cover at all!”

Wow. What a rebel. (I didn’t say that either. I have–a tiny bit of–tact.)

“But it’s really useful when breastfeeding’s going to offend someone or make them uncomfortable, y’know?” the groom’s friend continued.

BAD ADVICE ALERT! I said something about, frankly, not caring if my nursing offended anyone–it’s natural, and the more people they see doing it, the more people’s perceptions will begin to change. The groom’s mother and aunt–friendly cruncher Vermonters–joined in, agreeing with me. Phew, finally!

Chapter 3:

Someone brought up pumping when my friend goes back to work. I said something about building up a nice freezer stash before you start back at work, so you don’t have to stress about day-to-day supply but can look more at the big picture.

“My OB said not to pump for the first two months,” my friend said.

BAD ADVICE ALERT! Uh, why on earth would the OB say that? My friend said she didn’t know. The doctor hadn’t elaborated, and she hadn’t asked.  I said something about most OBs not having a lot of lactation training, and my having the name of a good lactation consultant I could pass on to her. She demurred.


What the heck was going on? Had pregnancy turned my friend into a zombie, unable to research a topic, think critically, ask questions, or analyze data? What is with this bad advice? Readers? Help!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

I met a mom from Mongolia! Natural-term breastfeeding

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Flaf  |  18 April 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Crikey that sounds like hard work. I’d have had a perforated tongue from biting it so much. Or perhaps not, I’m not always known for my tact.

    I was particularly interested in the final comment. Why is that seen as bad advice? Here in the UK, it’s seen as Good advice not to express for teh first 6 weeks, until your supply has had a chance to settle down, to give the mother a chance to rest and be able to recover without the stress and guilt of “oh must start expressing”. It also means that the mother would be less likely to be tempted to try to bottle feeding, which can lead to nipple confusion & sabotage the bfing relationship. And it usually means that any initial bfing speedbumps have been successfully navigated by this time.

    I appreciate that here we can (generally) be more relaxed about the speed of return to work though.

    What are the other benefits of expressing so early?

    • 2. christinamichaud  |  18 April 2011 at 3:05 pm

      I know that there are lots of different opinions on the when-to-start-pumping thing. But knowing that 1) OBs in general tend to have almost NO lactation training, and 2) my friend’s OB in specific didn’t volunteer his/her reasoning on the subject, I would already disposed to not follow the advice.

      That said, if the OB had voiced your reasoning, I think that would have been a different matter. Personally, I started pumping on day 3 when my milk came in, at the advice of my lactation consultant, even though we never gave any bottles at all (went straight to a sippy cup when I went back to work three days a week at 5 months).

      Knowing that my friend has to go back to work five full days a week at exactly 12 weeks, I would want the comfort of a freezer stash. Of course, you’d hope a mom could have a conversation like this with her care provider!

  • […] to sit here thinking I-Told-You-So. I mean, I did, but in cases like this, there’s no joy in it. My smart friend who went into her hospital birth unprepared and unreflective had an awful birth: she got an epidural upon arrival at the hospital, and then everything slowed […]


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