Supermodels Should Model. Doctors Should Give Health Advice. Ok?

There is a sort of kindred spirit among parents that can be wonderfully supportive. It can help other parents feel not so lost as they sort out issues with their own kids, regardless of age, and especially for first time and expectant parents. This special club of parents is most useful as a gigantic support group, though, just to listen, laugh and provide that well placed hug when the work of parenting makes us all want to scream at times!

Where we have to all draw the line and be very cautious is in giving well meaning advice that only true experts should provide. Just to be clear, true experts are people who have gone to school to study a specific area and spent time honing skills in that area. While parents do have experience in many topic areas, being well read and having kids doesn’t make one an expert.

Think about it like this. We can all help our kids with their math homework and science homework but would we be able to teach a class in math or science? Of course not! To teach requires specialized training in teaching. Similarly, we can understand the law and be well versed in what it means, even as it applies to us in many ways but would we be able to represent ourselves in complicated legal matters? Not unless we are lawyers. So, unless one has gone to school to study health and has expertise in health issues, it’s irresponsible to give true advice on those issues. It honestly is that simple.

We’ve become a society where the line has become blurred between offering a shoulder to lean on and offering up advice that truly belongs in the hands of someone more qualified. We’d all do each other a world of good if we’d learn to say “you know what…I can tell you what worked for me but perhaps you should call your doctor and see what would help you.”

Breast feeding is not just an issue of choice and a wonderful bonding experience it is truly a health issue. Regardless of how any woman feels about it for her own baby, she has to remember that there are many variables for a mom and a baby that go well beyond bonding that all factor into whether breast feeding not only will be successful but whether a mom should consider it out of the gate.

Having counselled more families than I can count on this issue I can tell you this is one of the most grey zones in pediatrics today and one of the most emotionally charged. This really should be left for each family to sort out with the help and guidance of qualified professionals.

I would think Gisele would be offended by anyone trying to offer advice on the world of super-modelling who hasn’t truly been there. So, what she was thinking when she claimed that there should be a “worldwide law” making breastfeeding mandatory for all women and babies for the first 6 months of life is a bit of a mystery.  She could use a dose of reality and humility, understanding that real moms don’t have her resources or the ability to spend hours a day doing yoga, kick boxing and hiring help for anything they need. Real moms need to work. Real moms may not have jobs that allow the time to breast feed, pump or even nurse their infant in public.

I have blogged about this issue many times over the past few years. As many of you recall, I’ve never believed that “breast is best” because of how complicated the issue truly is and how I see so many people unable to breast feed for so many different reasons, some medical, some personal, some societal.

Remember the resident who wanted to have a break during her boards to breast feed and wasn’t allowed to? And, of course, we hear story after story of women asked to leave stores and even places like the YMCA while attempting to breast feed their infants. I doubt Gisele would ever be asked to leave any public place while breastfeeding her infant.

It doesn’t matter in the real world about the studies showing the benefits of breast feeding.  I’ve blogged about this, too. But, I also recognize that we live in a real world, not a test tube. Women and infants live in families and those families have a real world pace to them.  Breast feeding works for many but not for all, and unless one is a celebrity, one usually can’t breast feed easily in the United States outside of the home.

How about we all just stick to the fields we are true experts in and leave it at that. I think the world spins better that way…don’t you??


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