Join me 10/14 in Denver for the ICEA conference!
I speak from 9:45-10:45 on When Breast Isn't Best-
"The benefits of breastfeeding are well known. Less known is how many women are survivors of sexual abuse, and how past abuse can impact a woman’s ability and desire to breastfeed. While we may be preaching “breast is best”, it’s crucial to understand how and why this message - though well-intended and supported by research - can be problematic for a mom who cannot breastfeed for whatever reason.
The statistics are as disturbing as their impact is deep. 1 in 6 women is a survivor of rape or attempted rape. 1 in 5 girls is a survivor of child sexual abuse. We also know that most moms state that they want to at least “try” breastfeeding. And yet everyone knows moms for whom breastfeeding “didn’t work”, who were insistent on exclusively pumping or who complained of constant, unexplained pain.
Informed care can often mean the difference between a woman sticking with breastfeeding and deciding against it. Unfortunately, even well-intended support during the early, crucial days of breastfeeding can be triggering for a survivor. It is essential, therefore, that providers who deal with new moms have a working knowledge of abuse as well as a trauma-informed approach when dealing with breastfeeding challenges. I will discuss how a history of sexual abuse can impact breastfeeding success, and how potential survivors can be educated and supported in a sensitive way so they feel cared for and heard, regardless of whether or not their history is known."