“Groovy pediatrician”, says Christopher Noxon – uh, no.

Off the Reuters feed, this bizarre article from Christopher Noxon, author of Rejuvenile. ”

Has enthusiasm for breastfeeding gone too far?“, he asks.

I almost didn’t read it, expecting the usual rant about “nipple Nazis” and “starving babies” from a random formula company shill, the sort of crap you read on Spiked Online. But wotthehell, I thought, I’ll have a peek.

The article starts out with a bit of run-of-the-mill breastfeeding-enhances-boobies sniggering, before moving on to the stock monologue about gigantic Russian nurses. And, as you might expect, he throws his weight around a bit about what a magnanimous feminist man and an amazing father he is for being at the birth and sterilising a breast pump now and then, and for putting up with the horrors, the HORRORS, of learning about colostrum. What a champion.

But then, out of the blue:

Holding our weeping, starving son in the doctor’s shabby-chic waiting room, surrounded by fashionable couples and those thousand-dollar strollers that look like lunar landing modules, we looked like victims of a violent crime.

After a quick exam and quiz on nutrition, the doctor got down to business. He had my wife unbutton her shirt and instructed her how to use her forefinger and thumb to “express” a dollop of milk onto his finger.

And then he licked it. “Sweet,” he said. Whereupon he extended a finger to me. I declined.

He what now? I can imagine this perhaps happening a hundred years ago, but in the year 2000, a doctor abruptly tasted a woman’s breastmilk in the course of a consultation?

It’s been eight years since that encounter and it still disturbs me in a way I find hard to explain. It wasn’t lascivious – both my wife and I got the distinct sense the doctor had all the best intentions and was simply taking the most direct, least prudish route possible to diagnose our problem. He was simply doing what groovy pediatricians do.

Dude, no. No no no no no. If this really happened, it was UTTERLY inappropriate in EVERY way. This is not a medical routine, Noxon. A healthcare professional doesn’t go around suddenly tasting their patients’ mothers’ breastmilk. It has no diagnostic value, and is completely intrusive and unethical. Your gut feeling that it was lascivious was spot on.

Noxon goes on to freak out about men tasting their partners’ breastmilk (“gross”) and about cross-nursing. Neither behaviour, between consenting people, is odd or inappropriate.

But a doctor tasting a women’s breastmilk? Not in the same league.

I’m hoping the whole thing is fiction. I hate to think that that doctor is still out there.



Categories: gender & feminism, medicine

Tags: , ,

7 replies

  1. Dude . . . wow.
    That’s even worse than the friend who told me that she hates going to the doctor because he always makes her take off her bra (as in “I have a sore throat.” “Okay, I’m going to need you to take off your bra”).
    Cara’s last blog post..Manila Women Fight for Birth Control

  2. what?!
    there is nothing REMOTELY okay with that. it’s neither appropriate nor consistent with universal precautions!
    no doctor should behave in a way that makes a patient uncomfortable, let alone disturbs him for the next eight years. i hate that the medical profession has conned many patients into thinking that if they feel uncomfortable it’s their fault rather than their doctor being profoundly screwed up.
    ladoctorita’s last blog post..food for thought #2

  3. Speechless. Really.
    blue milk’s last blog post..How to trek with a toddler (part 1)

  4. Um, ew. He expresses the milk onto his fingers, licks one, and then extends a finger to the husband to lick? Wow. Wow. Ew.
    I don’t want my doctors drinking my bodily fluids, and I’m not interested in licking their fingers.
    Ew.
    Brooklynite’s last blog post..Spam/Not Spam.

  5. Noxon strikes me as a typical uptight amerikan. Women feeding each others babies – shock horror, tasting breast milk – gross, so what he’s just gonna wham bam thank’ee mam until weaning?
    puhleez.

  6. Can you imagine a doctor licking any other bodily fluid?
    Ick. That is beyond words.

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