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SALT LAKE CITY — Some breastfeeding moms in Utah say they aren't getting the backup they need — especially at the doctor's office.
Most moms who struggle breastfeeding are given few options when they ask their doctor for help. OB-GYN's and pediatricians each assume the other should handle it or moms are sent to lactation consultants who can't help with medical issues. Sometimes the mothers are just told to use formula instead.
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Executive Director Karla Shepard-Rubinger said doctors who want to help usually just don't know how.
"They're not giving out bad advice; they're usually not giving out enough advice," Shepard-Rubinger said. "And in addition to advice is support, and that's what's really crucial."
"It is rare for any physician to have certified lactation training, although they may know a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding," said Dr. Jerald King, a newborn ICU doctor at the University Hospital. "The lactation consultants I know would give most doctors low marks for the advice they give and their general attitudes when problems arise."
Shepard-Rubinger leads an international group of medical doctors trying to help their colleagues get educated so mothers who want to can do what they feel is best for their babies.
"It's not taught in medical school. Where would they learn it?" Shepard-Rubinger said.
Shepard-Rubinger said the doctor's role needs to be central in helping nursing mothers.
"They don't need to be a specialist in breastfeeding. They need to know why this is important, and they need to know the resources in their community to support nursing mothers," Shepard-Rubinger said. "That includes lactation consultants, physicians, health departments, employers and the public."