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Dear Doctor, Please Learn About Breastfeeding!
By Nicole E.
Nicole Eades contacted her pediatrician's office when her daughter became ill. After being told to stop breastfeeding, Nicole felt she needed to make a change to a pediatrician who is not only supportive of breastfeeding mothers but knowledgable as well. This is a copy of the letter she sent to her former pediatrician.
If you feel your pediatrician is not supportive or knowledgeable about breastfeeding (and that includes the office staff and nurses!), please don't be afraid to shop around for another doctor.
Dear Dr. D:
I am writing to explain to you the reason that I have decided to find a new pediatrician. I think it's important to provide feedback in an effort to help you become the best pediatrician that you can be.
My 9-month-old daughter recently became a patient of yours. This past week, she developed a case of diarrhea, and I called your office seeking advice on what to do. The immediate response I got was to stop nursing and offer only Pedialyte. I tried explaining to the nurse that breastmilk is a clear fluid, and that I was uncomfortable with the idea of discontinuing nursing. I know my daughter, and I knew that she would not drink the Pedialyte. Since dehydration is a concern with diarrhea, I knew that nursing would be the best way for me to keep her healthy. Your nurse told me to stop nursing and at least try the Pedialyte. Her reasoning was that it might be something in my diet that was causing the diarrhea. My diet had not changed in the past week, and I knew that she would not suddenly develop a sensitivity to something in my diet after 9 months of nursing. I called back the next day to ask for more advice. Like I suspected, she would not drink the Pedialyte. I was told to continue nursing, but I got the impression that it was more of a "well, you are going to do what you want anyway, so just continue nursing". Rather than informing me of the warning signs of dehydration and encouraging me to continue nursing, your office could have easily caused my daughter to become dehydrated by telling me to cut out her main source of nutrition and fluids.
It really bothers me that a pediatrician would not spend more time becoming educated about breastfeeding since it is such a huge part of pediatric care. I realize that many moms choose to formula feed, and I understand that you must also be educated about that choice as well. I do feel, however, that a mom that truly wants to nurse her infant should be encouraged to do so, and that a pediatrician has the responsibility to nurture a nursing relationship rather than sabotage it. I find it disturbing that I knew enough about breastmilk to know that I should continue to nurse her during illness, yet you didn't.
We did find a new pediatrician, and she has confirmed my belief that I absolutely should not have discontinued nursing. My daughter has a virus; it's not something in my diet. I'm glad that I had the confidence to not follow a doctor's advice blindly. I am very surprised that you did not suspect a virus as well, especially since rotavirus is known as "winter diarrhea" and is such a common illness in infants and young children.
Nursing mothers face so much criticism in the world today. We are often looked at with disgust and disbelief when we feed our children, even discreetly. Please, for the sake of the nursing mothers in your care, take the time to learn more about breastfeeding. Your encouragement can make the difference and help a struggling nursing mother find the courage and commitment to continue to nurse her child.