Editor’s Note: This post is not meant to be a discussion about vaccinations. The focus of this post is about educating our health care professionals about nursing during painful procedures.
My oldest son has nursed during vaccinations. Our first two pediatricians were perfectly fine with it. In fact they were encouraging of it. Several research experiments published in the Journal of Pediatrics and British Medical Journal have shown that breastfeeding during painful procedures such as blood draws and vaccinations is the best method of pain relief compared to using pacifiers (dummies) or other comfort measures. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Le Leche League both recommend breastfeeding a child for pain management.
Unfortunately despite the mounting knowledge and support for nursing as a form of pain management, not all pediatricians share my first two pediatricians’ view about nursing during procedures. My most recent pediatrician and I have come to a head to head on this issue. Her physicians group does not allow nursing during vaccinations. I didn’t realize this until I brought my second son to her for a routine well-check and vaccination visit.
I was completely taken by surprise and asked both my pediatrician and the nurse who administers the vaccines why this was so. The nurse simply explained that it was “dangerous” to breastfeed during a vaccination because the child could move and flail during the injection. I also asked the pediatrician who confirmed her story and said it was the practice’s policy. Since I was completely unprepared, I took their word on face value feeling somehow they were misinformed. When I went home, I began searching for answers and discovered that they were completely incorrect.
Armed with my new information, for our next well-check visit I went determined. If they would not allow me to nurse my second son, then I would go elsewhere. I mentioned that we had discussed it last time, and I wanted to know what evidence she had about it being dangerous to breastfeed. She didn’t have any. She stated again that it was the policy of the practice and that babies often kick during vaccinations so holding them down is for their benefit.
Problem: If a child is nursed during a vaccination they are better able to control themselves and thus less kicking and less chance of injury. Where do I get this idea? Logic. If I can manage my pain in healthy ways while giving birth and still move around as asked, well then an infant is also able to control themselves better too. There are no studies to suggest that it’s harmful to nurse during vaccinations. If there are injuries, it’s because the person administering the vaccine is doing something wrong.
Then I suggested to my pediatrician that if this was a problem that we could skip the vaccinations and go elsewhere. She said that I would have a hard time finding anyone who would allow me to breastfeed during the vaccination. Completely wrong. I told her she’s the third pediatrician I’ve had and the previous two had no problems with me breastfeeding my oldest. What I didn’t tell her is that all outside laboratory administrators, including the heel stick tests I had for my youngest, also allowed breastfeeding during procedures.
“Oh,” she responded. She said she’d have to bring it up to the board. I asked her if she wanted my evidence and gave her all the abstracts I found online by doing a simple search through google.
So what happened?
Well, she went and asked the nurse if she was willing to try. The nurse had never vaccinated a child while breastfeeding. I told her we used to do it while sitting in a chair but if she preferred I’d sit with him on the examination table. She said the examination table would be better. During the procedure, he cried less and didn’t bleed as much as before. He also calmed down much quicker than before.
It’s a shame that this happened to me, but I’ve discovered that this happens all too often for parents. Our natural inclination is to comfort our children and to help manage their pain, yet some medical professionals do not allow breastfeeding during procedures despite it being what’s recommended. I am hoping that more information will be disseminated through the medical community so that breastfeeding before, during, and after for pain management becomes standard care in all physicians’ offices.
Article by Laura Weirich
Laura Weirich has been married for four years and has two sons. She's been breastfeeding for nearly two years and currently tandem nurses her toddler and infant. A big proponent of breastfeeding, she's been educating her friends and family about the benefits of breastfeeding and helping other women along the way. When she's not nursing, she chases a toddler all day, washes cloth diapers, tries to catch a few zs and reads up on the latest research about children.
Laura has written 33 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
Like Us On Facebook
Grab a Button
Join Our Blogroll