By: Jeannette Bezinque
Our pediatrician did a bad, bad thing. Actually, he’s done a few bad things over the past year and a half that have led me to the decision to walk out the door. It’s not easy to select a doctor for your kids before becoming a parent. It’s even harder to recognize when that professional is giving you poor advice. I’ve been aching to find someone new for a long time. His words at Audrey’s 6 month checkup sealed the deal.
He thinks that I need to give Audrey rice cereal during the day to get her to sleep through the night. Now, he also suggested this at the four month visit and I balked at the idea because it didn’t work for Hannah. I’ve done a lot of boob-related soul searching to learn about what went wrong breastfeeding Hannah and there are quite a few things that I’ve pinpointed. For one thing, there was no need to begin feeding her solids at 4 months. Instead, I should have rested, drank more water, and allowed her more frequent access to the breast. This is what I should have done because I wanted to continue breastfeeding. It didn’t work out, and I ultimately weaned her around 7 months to both of our dismay. Sadly, our Ped supported this decision and encouraged me to wean early in order to allow my body to support the new baby I was carrying. In the depressing months that followed, I realized it wasn’t the right choice for us.
There are a lot of reasons why kids won’t sleep through the night at various points in their life. It’s also common for babies to follow a similar pattern of wakeful weeks around big developmental phases. Coincidentally, these line up with the 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 month checkups so it would be easy to mis-diagnose a sleep issue as a feeding issue. I know that Audrey is getting enough milk during the day because she is content, satisfied and happy. Not to mention- have you seen the cheeks on this kid? She is also pooping a plentiful volume. This is not a picture of hunger.
However, he charted Audrey’s growth and noted that her weight has fallen from the 60th percentile to the 45th percentile since our last visit. I didn’t see this as a big issue since she’s been much more mobile in the past weeks and is still giving me plenty of indications that she is well-fed. Since I was concerned that he wasn’t making the right suggestion, I asked if I should work at augmenting my supply. He told me that most women ‘top off’ around 32 ounces per day so there was no point in going that route. REALLY?! If that’s the case, then how do women feed twins, or tandem nurse a toddler and a baby? I suppose he didn’t think either of those could be done without formula since he already pushed me into weaning my first child prior to a baby’s arrival.
I put this topic up for discussion in my nursing support group and found great feedback. First of all, some pediatricians follow a completely separate growth chart for breastfed babies because it is normal and healthy for their weight gain to drop off at this stage. Another mama chimed in that she produces 50 oz per day after experiencing low supply issues early on. Everyone supported my decision to wait to feed Audrey cereal as a means to get her to sleep through the night. It simply doesn’t work like that. There are too many reasons why children wake at night and in this case, it’s not because she isn’t getting enough to eat each day.
As if I didn’t already have enough cannon fodder to execute the decision to leave the practice, I noticed a stack of magazines on the way out the door. Articles titled, “Why Breast wasn’t best for my Baby” and “It’s OK to let him cry it out (really)” don’t belong in the office of the Doctor that’s right for our family. Along with the formula propaganda on the growth charts, I finally see that I’ve been in the wrong environment for a breast feeding Mom. I’ll be more careful with my selection next time because I know now what an advocate for breastfeeding looks like. It’s not just a person who states that breast feeding is “wonderful.” It is a person who makes a commitment to our children to best educate parents about their needs for a healthy start.