Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Never Knew What Nursing Meant To Me...

...until I was told, today, that I might have to wean my baby.

It turns out that the digestive problems I have been having are something more serious than Irritable Bowel Syndrome after all, and a series of unpleasant tests and investigations will shortly be inflicted upon me to determine what is really the problem.

"If it is Inflammatory Bowel Disease, what's the treatment?," I asked.

"Well you can take medication, but you would have to stop the breastfeeding."

Oh thanks. To make matters worse, if they could be (and believe me, they could be really bad), I was then told that I was "making a rod for my own back" by co-sleeping and still breastfeeding at 15 months. Oh, the old classic line. First time anyone's actually said it to me - I suppose it had to happen sometime.

I know I should have been upset by the diagnosis (or lack of it) but what really cut me to the core was the prospect of having to wean my baby for a disease that doesn't even seem to affect me more than once a month or so (touch wood). This was what had me crying all day. I can't do that to my baby. It's just not what I want. I suppose I have got so used to the idea that we will be nursing for years yet and that I might even be tandem nursing a new baby one day. It all came crashing down in one horrible moment.

But since I have trained as a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter I have learnt a thing or two about breastfeeding and one thing I know is that lots of medications that doctors say can't be taken during breastfeeding actually can be taken. A cursory bit of internet research has revealed that sufferers of Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis can have babies and can breastfeed, even when taking their medications (by the way, if you're reading this for information, please don't take what I'm saying as gospel. Research it further and if possible, ask a Lactation Consultant for advice).

What a fucking horrible day. All I can say is, at least I'm going to be able to sleep knowing that I probably won't have to wean. I say probably.

14 comments:

TopHat said...

I hope the medications will be safe for breastfeeding. It would be hard to have to suddenly wean.

cypress sun said...

there are alternative treatments that don't involve medication...maybe one will work for you. hoping so.

cartside said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. Research, do what you need to do. You nursed for 15 months, that's fabulous! Nothing wrong with co-sleeping and night nursing at 15 months, I did it up to 17 months and then gently weaned for part of the night, worked well and I wouldn't have done it any other way.

I was surprised how easy for R. it was to wean when we did it (at 23 months). It was harder for me - she was reasonably easy with it (though we took it slowly).

I hope the medications are ok to take while breast feeding. If not, it's not the end of the world. Don't beat yourself up about it, there aren't many who nurse beyond a year!

Jenny said...

What a mean thing for the doctor to say to you. We nursed until 21 months and gradually moved DD out of our bed to a toddler bed right next to ours, and we are all perfectly happy and well-adjusted. Some people are so ignorant. Halfway through this post I was wondering if you knew about Medications and Mothers' Milk and similar resources, but it looks like you do. It makes me so angry when I hear women say they had to wean their babies to take a med that is considered safe. Is it really too much trouble for docs to keep a reference book in their office and look things up now and then? And to mind their own business when it comes to weaning? I hope you find a solution that will work with breastfeeding and feel better soon!

Lisa - edenwild said...

You poor thing! I am sure that really, really hurt to hear that. My kidney doctor wanted to put me on medication which was approved for breastfeeding, but she felt it was better to play it safe, and suggested I not breastfeed for at least four hours after I took it. She never told me to wean early. She totally respected that I wanted to nurse for at least two years. I wish more doctors were like that.

Anyway, I was scared because I didn't want to expose my baby to the medicine (he was only a few months old at the time), but I was worried about my kidneys, too. Just don't make any decisions until you are absolutely sure. I hope you find an answer that will work for you.

Liz said...

What horrible news and broken to you so horribly. I hope it turns out to be nothing serious and that you can work out the medication you may need to take and still breastfeed. We're thinking of you.

Earthenwitch said...

I'll keep fingers crossed that you don't have to wean, but if you do, I agree completely with what others have said in that fifteen months is a great achievement. Is there any alternative to the particular drugs treatment? i.e. can you lump it until you're happy to wean, as you said it's only causing trouble once a month? Not trying to downplay it, but I do understand how important feeding is to you, and am wondering if there's a balance, or if it's something that would need treatment now.

Leanne said...

I breast fed all my children and understand how hard it is to wean when your child is not ready. I don't know your whole situation fully, but before going through a pharmaceutical treatment (you may not want go go through), I would try going off gluten for a while and see if it helps your symptoms.
I have been gluten free for a year and it has helped immensely and there are NO harmful side effects for your baby. Here is a good source of some easy to make and delicious gluten free recipes http://yourglutenfreerecipes.blogspot.com/

Joxy said...

Hope you don't need to wean - you're right though, most doctors are woefully ignorant of the true facts around bfing and what medications can be taken.

If it is IBS there are alternative remedies out there that are perfectly safe with bfing - for example theres a peppermint oil rememdy that the receptionist at an old workplace, use to swear by as good remedy for IBS, (she suffered quite badly apparently).

Cave Mother said...

Thanks for the support and advice everyone. I hate doctors and their procedures and medications so much that, as Earthenwitch suggested, I'm thinking of riding it out for a while and just seeing what happens without treatment. I've not had any probs for a month, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I stay in the clear.

I just don't think I can stand to go near a hospital or a doctor. I am virtually phobic about them.

On the weaning thing, the problem for me would be that my entire parenting style would have to change if we weren't breastfeeding. How would I get her down for naps? How would I settle her to sleep? How would I deal with night wakings? Ho would I deal with tantrums and upsets, which are forgotten after 10 seconds of nursing? This is why I don't want to wean. It's not really about the physical benefits anymore, it's more about how we live.

Amber said...

I think it's horrible the way that many members of the medical community discount breastfeeding. If it's something that's important to you, then investing some time in finding options for you and actually researching whether breastfeeding is contraindicated is warranted. Simply because it doesn't matter to them, or they don't understand it, doesn't mean that it isn't important.

This is one reason, I believe, why breastfeeding rates are not higher. Because at the first sign of trouble doctors tell women to stop.

If you do want to stop at any point, that's your call. But no one else should make that decision for you, simply because they have different personal opinions.

Cave Mother said...

Amber - I have heard so many women's tales of being told to stop breastfeeding. It is extremely depressing. Occasionally you come across the odd supportive doctor, but in the main the attitude is very negative. I don't think many medical professionals understand that breastfeeding is about more than providing nutrition for a baby.

mabel said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Lucy

http://maternitymotherhood.net

Dr Sarah said...

Oh, dear - maybe I shouldn't post here! I'll try not to be too intimidating...

Anyway, I suppose it would depend on the medication itself as well as what the drawbacks of weaning would be for the child in question. I'd be happy to look up the info on a particular med if you do get advised to take one and want to know more about it. Best of luck.