Last week I posted email exchanges between me and a woman who will be delivering at my hospital and who is concerned because she has made an informed decision to formula feed her baby. Comments and controversy abounded in response to this post. Most of the comments were along the line of—“How can someone really make an `informed’ decision to formula feed? If you really have the information, the logical decision is to breastfeed?” Here are my thoughts:
- Most of us make decisions that are contrary to logic and statistics. Ask yourself if you always eat and exercise in the way you know will lead to optimal health. Do you ever speed? Talk on the phone while driving? Or worse, text? These are all personal decisions we make, but they do affect others. Health care providers should encourage us to make the healthiest choices, assessing our knowledge base and offering additional information as needed. However…
- If it becomes clear a person’s decision is made, we have to think of what is most important. Beating a person up with statistics will not change her mind and will often alienate her. The resulting chasm will strip away any future, potential opportunities for influence. Thus, our focus rests on building a positive nurse/patient relationship, growing her confidence as a parent and helping her bond with her baby.
- I want to keep the bigger picture in mind. I know the mother who wrote me will probably tell at least 100 people about her experience at my hospital. If her experience is bad, she’ll probably tell even more. Let’s say that as a result of her positive experience, 100 people choose to have their babies here. Statistically, I know chances are 80 of them will choose to breastfeed, and I know the practices we are putting in place to become Baby-Friendly will help those 80 women realize success. I want them at my hospital!
- Numbers aside, everyone deserves to be respected, valued and cared for. It’s what we do as nurses and as human beings.