In the moments after my daughter was born, when I was blissed out on finally being able to hold my newborn skin-to-skin, my mother-in-law pointed out that she had "something" on her ear. Because Aminah was lying on my chest I couldn't see anything but my midwife looked over and said, "Oh yeah, she has a little skin tag on her ear. Usually they say something on the ear can signify an issue with the kidneys because they develop at the same time in utero. It's probably nothing but your pediatrician may want to run some tests." Yeah, not exactly what you want to hear literally three minutes after giving birth. My midwife was right, though. At our first visit my pediatrician noticed the tag right away and wrote me a script for a renal ultrasound. She said she didn't think anything was wrong with her kidneys but she preferred to err on the side of caution.
Unfortunately the ultrasound showed there was slight hydronephrosis, or swelling in the kidney, on the right side. My pediatrician gave me a referral to see a pediatric nephrologist, a doctor who specializes in kidneys. He recommended repeating the test at the hospital he is affiliated with since it had been four weeks since the first ultrasound, so I made yet another appointment to take my baby to the hospital.
The tech who performed the ultrasound was AMAZING. The first thing she did when we got in the room was apologize for the wait because they try to expedite the pediatric patients. I asked her if I should strip Aminah down to her diaper, as I'd done at the first ultrasound at the other hospital and she said no. Aminah was sleeping peacefully and it was cold in there so I just removed her pants. The tech even used warm gel so as not to jar the baby. Even with being very gentle, Aminah did wake up because the tech had to press on her belly to take pictures of her bladder. Aminah started to fuss and the tech turned to me and said, "Go ahead and breastfeed her, it'll help keep her nice and calm during the exam."
RECORD SCRATCH. Now, I've been a mom for four years and have taken my kids to the doctor a million times for various procedures and never has a healthcare provider suggested I nurse to keep my baby calm during an exam or shot or anything. Sure, I nurse openly in my peditrician's waiting room or in the exam room while we talk, but during exams or procedures? Never. In fact, a nurse at my pediatrician's office yelled at me for breastfeeding Miles before his first vaccine because he would cry after the shot and then throw up, didn't I know that? So I'm embarrassed to say I've never done it, even when I've thought about it and wanted to.
I didn't just love that this woman encouraged me to nurse, but that she also didn't ask if I was breastfeeding, she just assumed that I was. As many black women will tell you, people typically assume we're not breastfeeding or don't want to breastfeed. So to be recognized as a breastfeeding mom was HUGE.
Afterwards the tech told me Aminah was a great patient because sometimes even at the breast some babies just hate the wand and are super fussy. I thanked her for being so great and made a mental note to write her supervisor and let her know how awesome she was.
The good news is Aminah is just fine and whatever was going on with her kidney resolved on its own. Her second ultrasound showed two perfect kidneys.
But I'm curious to hear from you......what have your experiences been breastfeeding your babies in a healthcare setting?
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