“Nurse Yachne” shared the following in response to the post on Tipat Chalav: What Parents Need to Know.
Tipat Chalav (well-baby clinic) policies are often imposed top-down. About twelve years ago when I was a school nurse, we all held meetings together with the Tipat Chalav nurses. A decision had been made for the Tipat Chalav gynecologists to push the low-estrogen dose birth control pills, which incidentally cause a high rate of intermediate spotting. All of the Tipat Halav nurses happened to be religiously observant and they pointed this problem out to the staff physicians, who happened to be secular Russians. The doctors in question literally snickered and remarked that this was not a medical problem, and that the health ministry had made policy to push the low-estrogen pills as a preferred birth control method, so that was that.
The moral of the story, for me, anyway, was not to get birth control advice from a secular doctor, but to seek out OB-GYNs who are both knowledgeable about Jewish marital laws and sympathetic to our concerns.
As regards baby care and follow-up that my classmates and I observed in our clinical hours in nursing school, the mothers among us were pleasantly shocked to observe the tremendously sympathetic attitudes of the Tipat Chalav nurses in the deprived neighborhoods where we did our work.
I participated in a home visit to a mother of a baby with potential developmental problems. The nurse could not have been more encouraging and positive, reinforcing the good before offering constructive suggestions. After we left the home, she admitted, “Actually, I AM worried about this baby. But if I make the mother feel bad about herself, then she won’t come back to us, and I want us to stay in touch.”
My classmates participated in a clinic visit by a mother who had been a heroin addict at the time she became pregnant. The nurse was very encouraging that the mother had gotten off heroin (“Do you miss it? Kol hakavod (kudos) to you, you must really care about your baby! Any time you have any questions or problems, please do get in touch with us, we’re here for you.”).
The mothers among us reflected that it would have been nice to have gotten that kind of positive supportive contact when we brought our babies in, and that in many cases WE had been made to feel that we were suspect heroin addicts! That was 20 years ago. I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but my personal experience with subsequent babies was that they had made a major policy decision to be supportive and positive. They are certainly very pro- breastfeeding, and knowledgeable in this regard. The place is obviously low-budget, but it is very determinedly cheery and pleasant to visit nowadays.
It’s not perfect, but they are working on it. Also, no mother is turned away for an inability to pay the fees, though they would prefer that people ask for help in payment, which is evidently always forthcoming if there is a need.
Any large institution has good and bad sides. But large institutions can accomplish things that the individual could not. At its best, Tipat Chalav can be very empowering, all those client moms and nurse moms sharing info and wisdom and positive vibes. At its worst, they can be intimidating, scary, and closed-minded, but that, as I said, is changing, and the people in charge WANT things to change.
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