Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding

Dear Doctor : Don’t make stuff up about breastfeeding

8 November, 2011

Dear Doc,

I really appreciate you squeezing us in this afternoon. Ramona has been running a temperature for a couple of days and has been sleeping like a newborn. She didn’t even want to wake up to show off her new walking / talking on the phone/ finding her belly button skills so I felt best to check with you that it wasn’t bird flu. She has been chasing pigeons a lot recently.

I also appreciated the fact that you were a bit like a very stern Harry Hill, perhaps his angry dad. I really like Harry Hill, so that was cool. *

But I was really surprised at your disapproval of me still breastfeeding my one year old daughter! Gobsmacked, actually. You asked me when I was going to finish this “burdensome activity” and warned me that a child will never give up when I responded that she could breastfeed until she chose not to. You finished the conversation with a grave warning about tooth decay.

I must implore you to catch up on breastfeeding information as your current point of reference is dated. I feel nervous for the mothers you will advise with your, to be blunt, archaic knowledge.

There is literally no evidence that links breastfeeding leads to tooth decay, in fact the reverse may be true due to breastmilk’s anti bacterial properties. Plus, truly, breastmilk is the least fearsome of Ramona’s teeth enemies; the girl LOOOOVES ice cream. And chocolate.

If children “never choose to wean” then do explain why we don’t have loads of teens still nursing? I did once see a Youtube of an eight year old tucking in. That was pretty immense. But there was a documentary produced about her, she was that rare. Evidence suggests that a “natural” weaning age (when looking across the spectrum of mammals) would be anywhere between 2.5 and 7 years.

And I haven’t even touched on the myriad of health benefits of breastfeeding beyond babyhood. I’ve got to leave something for you to google yourself. Let’s just say I would have been a lot more concerned sitting in your office this afternoon if I wasn’t nursing, as Ramona hasn’t eaten anything substantial for days. Thank God for breast milk.

If even the most conservative World Health Organisation recommends breastmilk for 2 years, surely you can loosen up about a one year old nursing?

But, to be frank, loosening up isn’t good enough.

You are an extremely influential person whom mothers will be listening to – picking up on your random misinformed comments and appalled sigh-ing. You must take a duster to your views on breastfeeding, shake the musty myths off and get in some spick and span FACTS. A succesful breastfeeding relationship can be an incredible foundation to a child’s health. It is vital that you encourage breastfeeding with your new found armoury of breastfeeding info.

In expectation,

Lucy

*This may have been the first draft. Some bits may have been left out of the sent version. Ha.
PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


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35 Comments

  • Reply Summersday 8 November, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    wow that letter really kicks butt. and your doctor makes me feel sick with his ridiculous attitude.

    similarly, altho of course its a less crucial issue, i’ve had a doctor tell me its ‘highly unusual’ to still be co-sleeping with a 1 year old with a look on her face that suggested i was depraved.

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      Gosh, what a shocker.
      Ramona’s temp seems to be regulated somewhat by me, so when I sneak off for a bit I return to find it sky rocketed. Co sleeping is the ticket!

  • Reply Sarah Harris 8 November, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Love it! Doctors really aren’t up to date and neither are the older generation, I get so many negative comments from those over 40 about still bf my now 16month old lil boy and I hate it!

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      It seems like there is a missing generation of BF knowledge, cos don#t you find that really old people love it? They tend to be right behind BFing round here.

    • Reply Rita 1 October, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Please don’t tar us all with the same brush! I am a 61-year-old grandmother who breast fed all 3 of her children in public when it was much less acceptable than it is now and is very proud of my daughter who is still feeding her one-year-old with no plans to stop until the baby chooses to.
      I am so pro-breast feeding that although my daughter was born 8 weeks early and was tube fed for 2 weeks and bottle fed for 2 weeks I sat for hours in a day expressing by hand every two hours to try and establish and maintain a milk supply and persevered even though the hospital staff often just put my expressed milk in the bin because they had no means of storing it – I kid you not!
      Please give my generation a chance 🙂

      • Lucy
        Reply Lucy 2 October, 2013 at 8:28 am

        Thanks Rita, so good to hear your story! How brilliant! My mum was the same and thrust The Politics of Breastfeeding upon me.

  • Reply Bek @ WeAreWildThings 8 November, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    My original HV was an angel and she was really positive about me breast-feeding, and made me feel really good about keeping it up. When I moved, the new HV was a nightmare, she encouraged me to start follow-on milk when my son was 1, and then – when he started walking, I correct that, running and didn’t put on weight so much – she told me to feed him cream. He has never been little, I didn’t and he is far from wasting away. I carried on feeding him until he was 16months but I didn’t feel supported at all.

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      Good on you. I reckon it’s well hard when the criticism comes from medical pros. And CREAM?!! Ramona has dropped down since being active and the HV was surprised but not silly about it. Mind you Ramona was proper chubby.

  • Reply pam 8 November, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    you really should have sent the letter as it is now x

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      hehe, I just took out Harry bit. That’s all, promise.

  • Reply Áine 9 November, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Great idea to send him a letter! Well done! My doctor was also surprised at me ‘still’ breastfeeding when my son was 1.5. I was also told by same doctor after he was born that the odd top-up at night was perfectly fine & to do it. Grand, top up if you need to…but I hadn’t told her of any problems, worries etc!! All was going perfectly!! It’s such a shame and so irresponsible that doctors are SO CLUELESS!!!!

    Áine

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:49 pm

      Hmmmm. Maybe all docs need to go on a research trip to Mongolia to find out all about extended breastfeeding. Better use of our cash than bailing out banks! Baha.

  • Reply Liz 9 November, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Unfrickenbelievable!! You go girl. Casey is still going strong too. She had a fever for 3 days and pretty much only had breast milk as well. I was so thankful that she is still on it. My doctor also told me to give casey some honeyed water when she was about 7 months and I remembered in the back of my mind that it wasn’t too good and asked him about it and he said it would be fine. I later found out it is a huge no no and could possibly give her botulism under the age of 1. I guess all the degrees in the world don’t do you much good if you don’t keep up to date with these things. Bless ya lucy. Love the blogg. Love Liz

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      Honeyed water?????!!!!!! What the house???!!!!
      Talk about some docs needing refresher sessions.
      Good on you with still nursing Casey. Bet she is the most lovely little tike.
      xx

  • Reply @breastfednhappy 9 November, 2011 at 4:10 am

    I just love this post! You are such a clever writer! I completely enjoyed reading it! I have a few doctors that I’d like to send this to!

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Ah thanks! Almost every week something happens and I think ~ THEY ARE GONNA GET A LETTER!!! But normally i don’t get round to it…

  • Reply naturallymum 9 November, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Tooth decay! Its all funny but scary at the same time. Please post his reply!

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      Oh I will! Although he may not know how to email back if his tech skills as rusty as his BF information. Maybe he’ll send a pigeon, Or a smoke signal,

  • Reply Marina Graham (@Marinaherself) 9 November, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Good for you! I’m still breastfeeding a 16 month old and at his 15 month checkup got an excited round of applause from my doc – wayyy more like it! I’ve been lucky, but it’s awful that luck is even a factor. GPs need training up!

    • Reply lulastic 9 November, 2011 at 3:46 pm

      Round of applause?! What a legend!!!!
      By the sounds of it in these comments GP’s definitely need up to date training.

  • Reply Valerie 9 November, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Heehe, I wont comment on every post lol, but I wanted to say, firstly the Doc was a bit of a (insert your own expletive here), but the tooth decay thing caught my eye. My sister is breastfeeding her 2 year 6 month old, Madeline, and Madeline’s teeth have gone brown and started to fall out. The dentist has said it is the breastfeeding causing it. I dont know if that is true or not, but as you can imagine, my sister is devastated. Her beautiful little girls smiles to reveal a row off rotten or missing teeth. Its the first I had ever heard of it. Maybe one of your readers can shed some light?
    V
    xxx

    • Reply pam 9 November, 2011 at 11:00 pm

      I have just done a quick database search in university of melbourne and came across one large cohort study that is going to look into the issues of pre schoolers dental health and associations with feeding practices.

      the article is just an outline for the study but provides some back ground information that explains some of the existing evidence available. they state,
      “the evidence for such an association of is limited and inconsistent, and is based primarily on cross-sectional studies relying on retrospective recall of infant feeding practices. Furthermore, these studies and subsequent longitudinal studies have failed to adequately measure and control for confounding variables in their study design such as dental hygiene practices, fluoride usage and dietary factors, including as the intake of sugar-based foods or beverages and non-cariogenic foods such as milk and dairy products.”
      Another note I found states,
      A patient and I recently had a difference of opinion regarding breastfeeding. I was teaching this young mom not to get in the habit of allowing her baby to fall asleep at her breast at night. I told her about the potential for serious tooth decay down the road. She told me there was no such link. What have you heard?

      The experts are divided on this issue. There are studies that indicate that baby bottle syndrome-tooth decay from prolonged exposure to milk–can occur in breastfed babies. Critics of these studies, though, argue that tooth decay is caused by a number of things other than milk, including mouth bacteria, poor diet, and lack of oral hygiene.

      A recent study, in fact, has done little to settle the matter. The study was done on animals and strictly controlled for confounding factors, such as diet. This study found that human milk is as cariogenic as formula, and causes more cavities than cow’s milk. The critics, however, attribute the results to the use of stale, frozen human milk over fresh.

      The bottom line: Teach your young mom the importance of providing good oral care for the baby as soon as teeth erupt. Instruct her to limit the baby’s intake of sugary foods, and make sure he gets regular dental check ups.

      • Reply lulastic 10 November, 2011 at 9:37 am

        I think that is exactly right – the Kellymom article explains the linking factors as to why it might seem that breastmilk furthers decay. Perhaps I should have been a bit easier on him seeing as the evidence is hard to navigate…
        Primarily it has to be about good teeth cleaning.
        Ramona thinks teeth cleaning is just another kind of eating, after each little brush she pauses and swallows and considers, then goes in for another brush. So cute.

    • Reply lulastic 10 November, 2011 at 9:39 am

      Yeah that Kellymom article has some good stuff in it- one of the major causes can be a bacteria passed from mothers mouth to babes? I think it is mostly due to heriditary factors?
      x

  • Reply Meghan 10 November, 2011 at 3:13 am

    You rock! When my son was 10 months my GP told me I should stop breastfeeding because my son had gotten everything from it he could already. I promptly ended that relationship with the Dr. I’d had for 25 years and cited the reason why. We happily went on to Breastfeed until he was around two and I got pregnant and he self weaned 🙁 Can’t wait to Breastfeed the new baby!

    • Reply lulastic 10 November, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Hey 🙂
      Cant believe these Docs! That is mad! Good on your for switcing and carrying on- sounds like you had a perfect weaning exp too. Good luck with pregancy etc! x

  • Reply Valerie 10 November, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I think it is a hereditary thing in our family, I wont out the false teeth wearers but there are a few. Its a pity the Docs mentioned here didn’t see the documentary (badly named), extreme breastfeeding. It clearly points out that British people are really hung up about BF and the world average age to cease is aged 3. Its only in the UK that its common place to stop under 1 year (not sure about US though).
    V
    xxx

  • Reply Valerie 10 November, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    All 5 parts of that Doc are on You Tube for those interested.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLRARHtzCtY&feature=related
    V
    xxx

  • Reply lulastic 10 November, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Oh fab, thanks for posting, well looking forward to watching it. x

  • Reply San 10 November, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Well done for replying. Breastfeeding rocks! I’m currently still nursing our soon to be three year old and have no plans in stopping until she’s ready. I think she is already starting to self wean ‘cos some days she asks for “Boo Peaaase!!” and other days not, especially if we’ve been over busy.

    Love your site.

    San

    • Reply lulastic 10 November, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      Hiya San,
      Thank you.Fab that you are still BFing your three year old. I hope we’re still going strong then but we’ll see. Every babe’s different I guess hey? Love your site too- such a beautiful and awesome way to bring up your children. Very inspiring to read. x

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  • Reply Umm Yahya 23 January, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Well done, you!!

  • Reply Jo Mundy 31 July, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I know this is an old post, but did you ever get a reply? I’d love to know how they responded. I was recently asked by my GP ‘what my plan was for stopping breastfeeding’. (My son’s 16 months old, and happily feeding on demand).

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