Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flashback - January 2001

Below is a story of a time when I disagreed with a doctor (pediatrician specifically.) It was inspired by this post by Casey over at Babble. Initially it was a comment on her post, but it turned into something more. :)

When my first daughter was born, we began seeing a pediatrician I had interviewed before the birth. All seemed good - she supported breastfeeding, attachment parenting, etc.  Erin was born almost 3 weeks early and was small-ish - but did well from the first.  She initially had trouble latching and she also had a very weak suck reflex, but once we sorted it out, she was awesome. 

By 3 weeks old, she had surpassed her birth weight (6lbs 8oz, after falling as low as 5lbs 5 oz) and I had had help from my midwife, a home nurse, and LLL.  At 3 weeks, her ped. told me I should not let her nurse longer than 10 minutes per side and that she should get both sides while nursing.  All because Erin wasn't following the "curve" of what the ped expected - even though she had made WONDERFUL weight gains.  Well, this was against what others had told me - and what I had seen myself.  When pumping in the early days, I had seen the differences in the "foremilk" and "hindmilk" and knew that it took Erin AT LEAST 15 minutes to get to the good, fatty stuff.

To make matters worse, the ped insisted I bring Erin back in a week for a "weight check."  She even tried to insinuate that if gains weren't made according to her expectations bad things would happen.  I cried all the way home.  I had felt proud of myself and my baby before the appointment - we had both come a long way in 3 weeks! After crying to my husband, I called LLL.  The leader there told me to trust my instincts - feed Erin however felt right - one side, both sides, on schedule, on demand.  So I did - one side per feeding for as long as she wanted, feeding on demand both daytime and nighttime. That was pretty much all I did for the next 5 days.

When we went for the weight check the next week (which wasn't a full week - original visit was a Thursday and weight check was a Tuesday) I made my husband take time off work to come with us. No way was I facing that old bat alone!  I loved the nurses - they knew why we were back and coo-ed and loved all over me and the baby.  One even commented that Erin looked significantly bigger.  Well the doctor came in and asked how the feeding was going.  I didn't respond - I just asked that we weigh Erin.  Turns out that baby girl had gained about 15 ounces (!) in that short time - the doctor didn't know what to say.  She asked again about feeding - and then I responded.

I told the ped. how I had spoken to LLL after our last appointment and about the info and support I had received.  I told the doctor that I appreciated her expert care and concern but that I was not going to take her breastfeeding advice.  I explained how I had been nursing Erin and how it was obviously working.  The doctor agreed that Erin was doing well but urged me not to listen to LLL about the differences in milk!

At this point, I politely asked the doctor if we were done.  We were, so I packed up and we left.  I'm happy to say we never went back - we moved shortly thereafter, but even if we hadn't I would have found a different pediatrician. 

As parents, we have to learn to trust our instincts.  I learned this lesson early - I'd only been a parent 3 weeks when I was called on to disagree with an "expert."  But this lesson was an important one - it gave me confidence in myself as a mom and it gave me the courage to research on my own and to find my own trustworthy experts.  And looking back I'm glad I learned this lesson over something as relatively minor as feeding on one side or both side - and when my daughter was too young to know any different.


  1. Breastfeeding. Oy. That's really all I have on the topic after these past few weeks.
    I'm glad you listened to your gut.

  2. Yep, I concur. Even this many years away from it, there isn't much more to say. Unless it is to break into song....

    I will survive
    as long as i know how to love
    I know I will stay alive
    I've got all my life to live
    I've got all my love to give
    and I'll survive
    I will survive

    Gloria Gaynor said it best. :)

  3. I am so glad you did what you felt was right! At my daughters 18 month appointment, the Dr. asked how much milk she drank, and I told her that she doesn't like cows milk and that I still nursed her 2 to 3 times a day. She gave me a blank look then said, 'you know, you don't need to still do that'.

    that was enough for me to now want to go back to that Dr. with anymore of my babies.

  4. Good for you - I am sure the doctor I saw would have had a conniption with me - I went on to nurse Erin for 20 months and my 2nd daughter for 28 months. :)

    Good for you for standing up for yourself and your daughter!