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Building Resilience in the Face of Tragedy

October 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Monica Lee, MD

 

Being told by a neurologist that your son has Autism Spectrum Disorder is more than hard; it is absolutely devastating. Dreams of grandchildren and attending his class of 2034 graduation at my alma mater no longer seemed reachable. The diagnosis was made when he was 2 1/2 years old. At the time, we didn’t really know what it meant. I also didn’t have time to deal with my feelings then. As a doctor, I’m trained to just “deal with it” no matter how tough a situation gets. I also had other personal and professional issues taking up my mental bandwidth at the time. We ended up getting two more consults, one from a psychologist at the Regional Center and one from another neurologist.

 

I never dealt with the grief process, and as a result, I ended up in a therapist’s office three years later. I was told I have been persistently grieving and letting the diagnosis permeate other aspects of my life. It was decreasing my confidence in areas where I used to have the utmost confidence. Apparently, I held on to feelings of guilt and inferiority from having a son with autism and somehow felt apologetic for it all the time. It wasn’t until I started to feel more compassion toward myself and to divest myself of fault that I started to feel better.

 

Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B has helped me understand this as she writes about grieving for her husband, who passed away unexpectedly in his midforties, leaving her with two young children. She talks about avoiding the 3 Ps of grief:

  1. Personalization: the belief that we are at fault
  2. Pervasiveness: the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life
  3. Permanence: the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever

We build resilience by avoiding the 3 Ps. She says, “Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning into the suck.…We all live some form of Option B.” We have all been affected by some sort of loss or tragedy: cancer, job loss, divorce, the death of a loved one. The question is how we can make the best of it. The quote of hers that I found most profound and that I think of almost every day is: “Option A is not available, so let’s kick the shit out of Option B.”

 

And so we are persisting, getting our son the best ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy we can find and mainstreaming him in school with a one-on-one aide whom we fought hard for during the IEP. We have worked with the school system, advocates, ABA therapists, and speech therapists for the best possible situation to meet our son’s needs. I am dialing back on work to be more mentally and physically present for him. Most of all, I am starting to believe it is not my fault, it will not affect all areas of my life, and I will not be grieving forever. I have learned to be grateful for every milestone he makes, every smile and giggle, every kiss and hug. To quote Cheryl Strayed, “You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.”

 

about the author: Monica Lee, MD, is a mom of one son and an ob-gyn in the LA metro area.

Applied Behavior Analysis

September 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Monica Lee, MD

 

“Point to red” is a common refrain I hear daily. My son says it out of the blue several times a day. He is probably thinking about one of his Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy sessions he gets at home six times a week. A therapist will sit with him at the dining room table and repeatedly ask him to point to red and reward him with a treat when he does. They will continue this until he masters the task at 80 percent in two consecutive sessions. Ever since he started 15 hours or more of therapy a week, he has been making huge improvements each month. I kick myself for not starting this therapy sooner. His Behavior Interventionists (BIs) work tirelessly with him every day to help improve his joint attention, speech, and social skills. ABA is a growing field where there are just not enough workers to fill the need. BIs are entry-level workers who receive several weeks of training and then usually independently work with children with autism. They get paid just above minimum wage and are subject to often rough treatment from their subjects, who often kick, bite, and scratch when frustrated.

I have no excuse for not starting ABA that first year after my son was diagnosed. I was still in shock and too depressed to read anything educational. I couldn’t even get through the Regional Center’s parent training program. Because of his declining skills, we tried speech therapy right around the time he was two years old. He made no progress after a month of weekly sessions there. And all the speech therapist could say to us was how much he was likely to have autism. A few months after that, we started ABA for three hours a week; it was not enough. We wanted to keep him at the same day care since we had such a difficult time getting him child care, but the day care declined to let an ABA therapist work with him there.

Finally, I moved and we needed different child care anyway. We tried a neurotypical preschool, but he didn’t do well there, so we finally had to get a nanny. That is when he really started to improve. We were then able to get at least 15 hours of ABA a week in a consistent and peaceful environment. He was finally potty trained when he was five and a half, and he even started answering questions with “yes” and “no,” which was something I never thought he would be able to do. He is now able to name relatives in photos. We also found an amazing speech therapist who works with him twice a week. And just two days ago, he finally greeted me excitedly at the door with, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.” This was something he had never done before and hasn’t replicated since, but it gives me so much hope. He is almost six years old, and I hope with the help of ABA and speech therapy, this will be the year he will start calling me “Mommy” consistently.

Here are some tips if you suspect your child might have autism:

  1. Get a diagnosis from your pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician, or psychologist ASAP.
  2. Have your pediatrician then refer your child for ABA therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Most health insurance carriers in California will cover this. If not, switch to one that does or move to a state that does.
  3. If you live in California, your Regional Center will cover costs for therapy not covered by your insurance carrier.
  4. During a child’s first five years, his or her brain is most “plastic,” or flexible and able to change and make neural connections based on what the child experiences. This means that the earlier an autistic child receives therapy and the more hours of therapy he or she receives, the more likely you will see progress. Studies show that if children get 40 hours or more of early therapy for two or more years, they have a much higher chance of having a normal IQ.*

About the Author: Monica Lee, MD, is a mom of one son and an ob-gyn in the LA Metro area.

*Lovaas OI, “Behavioral Treatment and Normal Educational and Intellectual Functioning in Young Autistic Children,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55, no. 1 (Feb 1987): 3–9.

Breast or Formula? Do I really have to choose?

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Life is like a giant flow chart. Every minute of every day, you’re making decisions, whether you realize it or not – surprisingly it adds up to about 35,000 decisions a day!

Bath or shower?

Turn left or right?

Chicken or fish?

There are some things in life we feel so strongly about, we make a choice once and that’s it. For example, many decades ago you probably decided if you were a Republican or a Democrat, and you probably haven’t looked back.

Fortunately, other choices in life aren’t so definite. For example, no one minds if you bag your groceries in paper one day and use plastic the next.

In parenting, some moms feel tremendous pressure to choose between breastfeeding or formula feeding. My experience is a great example of how this doesn’t have to be a defining moment. It doesn’t have to be a limiting choice. It’s perfectly fine—better even—to choose both.

I got the best of both worlds by breastfeeding and formula feeding with all three of my sons, and I would not change that experience for the world! For all three of my kids, I started nursing. But early on, I supplemented with formula. I found this to be beneficial for two main reasons.

One, my husband could also feed our babies. This was incredibly valuable for me, and it was also a very positive experience for him and for our sons. And I’m not alone, in fact, 35 percent of moms chose to feed their baby with infant formula so they could share the feeding responsibilities for baby with their partner, per a survey conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula.

Two, adding formula helped me to transition back to work. Before my sons were born, I had bought a breast pump, and I worried a lot about how I was going to pump at work. Turns out I didn’t anticipate everything I could have. The first day I returned to work, I pumped—in the teeny supply closet they offered me. I put my pumped milk in a sealed container in the office refrigerator.

Imagine my surprise when the office administrator told me I had to move it to the biohazard refrigerator instead because milk was a body fluid. She wanted me to put my baby’s milk in with the throat cultures and stool samples!

I found that supplementing with formula meant that I no longer had to pump at work. That convenience factor helped simplify one aspect of my otherwise chaotic life. For many working moms, “convenience” is the number one factor for choosing to feed baby with infant formula. I nursed my sons at home before and after work, and then they drank formula during the day.

This flexibility helped me, and it also helped my babies as well. My sons thrived on the seamless combo of breastfeeding and formula feeding.

If you decide to combo feed and you receive formula samples at the hospital, rest easy knowing that you can switch from the nationally advertised brand to a less expensive, nutritionally comparable store brand formula when you return home with baby.  In fact, a clinical study by University of Virginia researchers found that switching from one brand of formula to another is safe and well tolerated in infants.

In the study, babies who switched from a big-name milk-based formula to a store brand milk-based formula didn’t experience an increase in spit up, burping, gas, crying or irritability compared to babies who stayed with the advertised brand. No matter what you decide – breastfeeding, formula feeding, or supplementing with formula – please know that all three or a combination of these options will support your baby’s healthy growth and development.

 

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit storebrandformula.com.

My Top 5 Breastfeeding Essentials

August 30, 2017 by  
Filed under J.Reich

By Jennifer Bright Reich

When I was pregnant with my older son, I was determined to breastfeed. With the confidence one has before children, I didn’t give breastfeeding much thought.  I just figured I would do it, no problem.

Then my son was born.

Within hours of his birth, my fantasies of serenely nursing my baby went out the window. My baby cried a lot, he wanted to nurse all of the time, and it hurt.

It took all of the determination I had to continue, but I’m proud to say I did.  I asked my friends who had nursed their babies and my own mom for advice. I would have done just about anything they suggested to make nursing easier. If someone had told me it would help to nurse my baby while standing on my head, singing “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” I’d have done it. Willingly.

Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, because I found the following five essentials that made nursing so much easier.

#1: Boppy: A friend gave me a beautiful blue Boppy® nursing pillow with sweet little honeybees on it.  I loved it on sight, and it was the absolute nursing (and sanity) saver. I sat on my sofa or nursing chair, rested the Boppy® pillow on my lap, and then put my baby on the pillow. We were both so much more comfortable in that position. My boys are 12 and 10, and I still have this pillow! Visit www.boppy.com for more information.

#2: Glider rocker: Before my son was born, I bought a glider rocker with ottoman. I “test sat” quite a few chairs before buying this one. I chose it because it was extremely comfortable and quiet.

#3: Nursing bras: I’m not well endowed, so I was actually not going to buy nursing bras. I didn’t think I would need them.  That idea went out the same window as my nursing fantasies. When you’re nursing, exhausted, and half asleep, the convenience and comfort of a nursing bra are key! ThirdLove just came out with a nursing bra collection as well. Visit www.thirdlove.com for more information.

#4: Nursing pads: Mother’s milk doesn’t switch on—or off—like the light in the fridge. I leaked a lot, and I wore nursing pads in my bras to keep the milk from leaking through, and staining, my clothing.

#5: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Nursing Cream: For the first few weeks, nursing was painful as both my son and I learned what we were doing. This cream eased the painful, cracked nipples and really saved my nursing hopes. Visit www.palmers.com for more information.

Breastfeeding is one of many things in parenting that seem like they should be easy, but aren’t. But also like so many things in parenting, sticking with breastfeeding—or finding a nursing/formula combo that works for you and your family—offers many rewards to your baby—and you!

About the author: Jennifer Bright Reich is a mom of two sons and co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year. She lives with her two sons and three cats in Hellertown, PA.

A Promising New Drug for Autism!

August 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Monica Lee, MD

 

When I walk through the door, I am usually greeted by my son sitting next to his therapist. She will prompt him to say, “Hi ___.” He usually ends up saying, “Hi Brenda, please” (his nanny’s name). He is five, almost six. You might find this a bit peculiar, but I am used to it. You see, having a child on the spectrum means you have to be okay with your son never calling you mommy. On the outside, I remain cool and calm since I have no other children and have never been called mommy, so you know, it’s not like I’m really missing anything. Inside, of course, is another matter. I would pay a lot of money to hear my son call me mommy on his own.

Through the years we have heard of many different alternative therapies for autism including GABA, cannabis oil, and Vayarin, but all the studies relating to them were unsubstantiated and the safety could not be proven. So when I heard about suramin, my heart did a little leap and is still pitter-pattering. The article I read was in The Economist, a well-respected journal, and it seems the drug has already been used in the past to help people with African sleeping sickness and river blindness. Researchers reported some amazing results in the autistic boys taking the drug, including one boy speaking a full sentence for the first time in 12 years! Another boy, who is five years old, started smiling and actually said to his mom, “I just don’t know why I’m so happy.” And on top of that, it has been shown to be effective in a small randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of clinical trials! After reading the article, I immediately sent it to different friends who might be interested in such developments, aka other MD parents of kids on the spectrum, and they were as excited as I was. My son’s dad was just as excited and wanted him to try it right away.

Being the doctor that I am, I delved deeper into suramin and found out that the research is being conducted at UC San Diego, which is within driving distance of Los Angeles, where we live! However, when I looked up the trial in the database at ClinicalTrials.gov, I learned that the lead researcher, Dr. Robert Naviaux, is not recruiting at this time for new subjects. Wikipedia says I can potentially get the drug from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but this gives me pause because the drug needs to be given intravenously and also I wouldn’t want to dose the medicine and monitor my son myself. This whole journey has made me wonder how far I will go to see my son act normally. How amazing is this idea of hope based on a single article I read online. Now I will be sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for larger phase 3 clinical trials of this drug to demonstrate safety and efficacy.

Here are some tips if you start getting excited about a potential treatment for your child:
1. Consult first with your pediatrician. The doctor may have first-hand knowledge and access to many more databases and sources of information than you do.
2. Make sure that the treatment is safe. Confirm that it is FDA approved and has gone through phase 3 clinical trials at least or has been used for other purposes and safety has been demonstrated.
3. Call into question the sources proclaiming efficacy of the herb, treatment, or remedy. Does the source tend to gain financially if you buy what they’re advocating? Is it government regulated? Does the source have a good reputation or is it nonprofit?
4. Check ClinicalTrials.gov to see what trials are being conducted in your area and if they are recruiting new subjects.
5. Remember that we all want to see our children get better, and we want to keep them safe too!

About the author:  Monica Lee, MD, is a mom of one son and an ob-gyn in the LA metro area.

How the Movie Buck Changed Me as a Parent

July 31, 2017 by  
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by Monica Lee, MD

I get really frustrated with my son. He is five and has autism, and it has been really difficult for the last three years. He was diagnosed when he was two years old when he started to lose words. A friend noticed and sent us a long e-mail about how he needed to be tested. At first we were taken aback, but we knew she was right. It took us several months to make sure he didn’t have hearing problems. We got him ear tubes and sedated him for a complicated hearing test. Then we had him see a neurologist and a psychologist. But we still couldn’t believe our son had autism. So nine months after the first diagnosis, we finally saw a more “traditional” pediatric neurologist than the first “maverick” one and got basically the same diagnosis.

At least that helped explain why he never asked for anything with words, but would pull our hands to what he wanted. But what hurt the most was when he was stubborn and didn’t want to do something that we thought was necessary, like brush his teeth or get into his car seat when we had to go somewhere. He didn’t have the words to tell us why. When he was younger, we just kind of made him do our bidding. I remember when we would have to hold him still to brush his teeth. Or the time when, unbeknownst to us, he put a piece of foam in his ear and, weeks later, I could smell something rotting. We had to straitjacket him for the doctor to remove it.

A friend made me watch a movie one day, and it changed my perspective on getting the behaviors I wanted. The movie was Buck. It is a documentary based on the real-life horse whisperer. It is about a man who was severely abused as a child and who used that knowledge to help people train horses. He uses only gentle persuasion and never a hard hand. He gently tugs the reins to help guide the horse to his bidding. Anytime he sees a violent and fearful horse, he recognizes that the horse has been abused. The friend who showed me the movie is a golf instructor, and he uses the same principles as a guide in his life and with his clients on a daily basis. After watching this film two years ago, I have let go of my frustrations and tried to use only gentleness and reasoning when dealing with my son. I think it has brought us closer together. Now when I want him to do something, I whisper gently in his ear and am patient if he doesn’t want to do things the first, second, or third time I ask him. The trick is to make him understand that it won’t hurt, and that it is good for him and might actually be fun. He is less frustrated, and so am I.

My son now gets intensive applied behavioral analysis therapy six days a week, and he is showing improvement on his monthly evaluations. The therapists use the same positive reinforcement principles I’ve learned to guide behavior changes because science shows that they produce longer-lasting change than negative reinforcement does.

I think that this principle of positive reinforcement can be used to improve any child’s behavior, including those without learning or behavioral challenges. Some ideas of positive reinforcement include:

  1. Giving a reward for A’s on a report card.
  2. A hug and a kiss for any kind act they might perform, such as sharing toys.
  3. Taking a child to a homeless shelter to give to those in need so that they understand the intrinsic feeling of good that comes from charitable giving.
  4. A monetary reward for chores they might do around the house.

There are so many ways, can you think of others?

About the Author: Monica Lee, MD, is a mom to a 5-year-old son and ob-gyn practicing in the LA Metro area.

 

Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Woman wit her eyes closed under the wind.

How’s your magnesium level? If you have no idea, you have plenty of company! Magnesium is a mineral that many of us don’t think about—even though it’s an essential mineral that your body needs to function properly.

Truth be told, even if you did know your magnesium level, there’s a good chance it would be too low. Most Americans are deficient in magnesium.

But here’s the good news: If you’re able to get enough magnesium, it can benefit your body in many ways. Magnesium can…

  • Offset the negative effects of stress: Most people suffer from the stress of trying to do too much, too perfectly, and too fast.
  • Soothe the gastrointestinal tract: Magnesium also offers laxative properties.
  • Boost brainpower: This is especially the case in people with memory problems.
  • Increase energy: If your magnesium level is low, your body has to work harder to do even basic tasks, which can make you feel tired. Studies have shown that women with magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks then they did after their magnesium levels were restored to normal.
  • Ease anxiety and/or insomnia: Magnesium helps to promote a sense of calm and can facilitate more restful sleep.
  • Cure a migraine pronto!

The recommended daily intake of magnesium is about 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. One way to get more magnesium is to eat a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews.

Another easy and tasty way is with a supplement called Natural Calm, which has been a best selling supplement for 9 years. It’s a flavorful powder that dissolves easily in water, tea, or other beverages. Natural Calm supports heart health, bone health, better sleep, and natural energy production. It comes in a variety of delicious, organic flavors that are naturally sweetened with organic stevia. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, and non GMO. You can buy Natural Calm online and in health food stores for around $15. Visit NaturalVitality.com/natural-calm for more information.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guide books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.

No, Formula Doesn’t Need Warming!

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under J.Reich

Mother Feeding Her Baby ca. October 2000

And 5 other baby formula myths—debunked

By Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

The MythBusters on TV’s Discovery channel tackled hundreds—if not thousands—of myths in their 19 seasons on the air. If they talked about infant feeding, I must have missed that episode. Yet baby feeding has many pervasive myths—especially about infant formula. Here are five of my favorites.

Myth 1: Breast is best.

Fact: Not for every mother and baby. Baby formulas are a completely acceptable, doctor-approved, and time-tested option when feeding baby. Breastfeeding is hard. It seems like it should be natural easy, but so often it isn’t. A recent study conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals found that more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby with low breast milk supply being the top concern. Additionally, while only 18 percent of new moms expect to introduce infant formula to baby during the first three days of life, in reality, 45 percent relied on infant formula during those first days. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, look to formula as an ally – it can be used as a supplement while breastfeeding to provide some relief or used exclusively depending on mom and baby’s needs. Also, know that you can find help and support. Consider talking with a friend who has nursed her babies, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant, or a local La Leche League.

Myth 2: You have to sterilize your baby’s bottles.

Fact: No. This is another time-saver for you! You should sterilize new bottles and nipples before you use them for the first time. Simply put them in boiling water for 5 minutes. After that first time, however, you probably don’t need to sterilize them again.

Instead, you can run bottles and nipples through the dishwasher. Or if you’re “old school,” wash them in hot, soapy water. Rinse them carefully to remove any soap residue.

Myth 3: Babies prefer warm formula.

Fact: Not necessarily. It’s perfectly fine to feed your baby formula at room temperature (as long as it’s freshly prepared), or even a little cool from the refrigerator. Your baby is most likely to prefer his or her formula at a consistent temperature. In other words, if you start warming it you’ll probably have to continue warming it.

Here’s an easy way to warm your baby’s bottle: Set the filled bottle in a container of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

Myth 4: Measuring formula isn’t a big deal—just “eyeball it.”

Fact: The instructions for preparing your baby’s formula are important. Follow the directions on the label carefully. If you put too little water in your baby’s formula, it can give baby dehydration or diarrhea. If you put too much water in the formula, you’re watering it down and your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. It’s critical to measure carefully each and every time.

Myth 5: Brand name formula is best.

Fact: Nationally advertised, brand-name formula and store brand formula are practically identical—but have different effects on your family budget! Did you know that all infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same FDA standards and offer complete nutrition for baby? That means store brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands. In fact, store brand formula is clinically proven to support baby’s growth and development and proven to be just as well tolerated by your baby as those other brands.

So, what’s the main difference? Store brand formula costs less because they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing – think about all the ads you see on TV and all the samples that get handed out in doctors’ offices.  In the case of those big brands, those marketing costs are passed on to you in the form of a higher price tag on each container of formula.

Once you get into the groove of feeding your baby, it will all feel like second nature. And then it will almost be time to give up the bottle!

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit www.storebrandformula.com.

Total savings with Store Brand Infant Formula calculations based on a price per fl. oz. comparison of Store Brand Infant Formulas and their comparable national brands. Retail prices are from a May 2017 retail price survey of assorted stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and location.

 

My Breastfeeding Turning Point

June 15, 2017 by  
Filed under J.Reich

My mom with my son Tyler

My mom with my son Tyler

I recently came across a blog on the Honest Company’s site about  Honest Moments. That got me thinking: What are MY parenting honest moments? I can honestly say I have had lots of them! Here’s one of my favorites…

My mom had a theory. She and I were always very close. My mom and I were dear friends who had the tremendous fortune to be mother and daughter. My mom attributed this to the fact that she nursed me.

Because of this, I was determined to nurse my son. Little did I know how hard that resolve would be tested!

My son started to cry the moment he was born. He cried—screamed really—the entire time we were in the hospital. At times, I wondered if the nurses might come take him away! I tried so hard to nurse, but it was challenging and painful.

I was determined to nurse, so I kept trying. And he kept crying—most of his waking hours. Nursing soothed him a bit, as did walking around carrying him in my arms. So I did both, for hours on end.

That ironically made nursing even harder! My nipples got sore and cracked, and I developed mastitis. In desperation, when my son was around a week old, I called my sister, whose children were older than mine.

“Keep trying,” she advised. “I promise, if you stick with it, in a week or two, he will become so comfortable nursing he’ll be hanging off of you like a little monkey.”

I found that extremely hard to believe, but the image amused me at least. The promise of that gave me the strength to stick with it.

My greatest fear was that my son was crying because he was starving. He was nursing often, but was he actually getting any milk? Nursing wasn’t working well for us, and I was almost ready to quit.

The hospital had given me the name and phone number for a local lactation consultant. I called and set up an appointment for her to come to my house.

When the lactation consultant arrived the next day, it was like a breath of fresh air. She was warm, comforting, confident. She talked to me for a few minutes and asked me some questions.

And then she did something completely unexpected.  She weighed my son. Then she had me nurse him. And then she weighed him again! Voila! He weighed more! That was the proof I needed that nursing was working, he was getting milk. I knew that I could do this.

Shortly after that aha moment, nursing clicked for us. I felt so much better, and my baby stopped crying quite so much. I nursed him for over a year—until I got pregnant with his brother.

He took to nursing right away. I nursed him for almost two years. I have the wonderful memory that the last time I ever nursed a baby was on vacation at Walt Disney World. Knowing I’d have that treasured memory made it easier to wean my youngest for good.

About the author: Jennifer Bright Reich is cofounder of Momosa Publishing LLC, publisher of the Mommy MD Guides books, featuring tips that doctors who are also mothers use for their own families—and more. She lives with her two sons in Allentown, PA. (please link to www.mommymdguides.com)

Feeding Baby the First Year: What Pediatricians Actually Do At Home

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Mother Feeding BabyIt’s one of the great ironies of parenting: feeding your baby.  Something that should be so simple, so often isn’t. In fact, deciding how to feed your baby in the first year may appear, at first glance, to be one of the great divides of parenting. Many parents think that you  must choose between breastfeeding OR formula feeding, but that’s simply not true.

Think of it as a continuum with exclusively breastfeeding on one end and exclusively bottle-feeding with formula on the other with a wide range of combinations in between.  It may be surprising to learn that most babies fall within the latter, with parents choosing to do a combination of both.

Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula, recently conducted a nationwide survey of 2,000 moms with children between the ages of one and three to gain insight into mom’s thoughts on baby’s first year. Interestingly, the survey found that although three out of four moms said they used infant formula during baby’s first year, one out of 10 new moms weren’t completely honest about breastfeeding baby to avoid criticism from family and friends. As parents, we face many pressures each day.  We talked to some of our Mommy MD Guides—doctors who are also mothers— to share some of their own personal feeding experiences. What we learned? It’s a personal decision and there’s no right or wrong choice. Here’s what they had to say…

“I had really set out to breastfeed my son. But from the very beginning, breastfeeding was very challenging,” said Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a pediatrician and mom of two, in Seattle. “It was extremely emotional for me; on some level it was even devastating. When my son was a few weeks old, I got such severe mastitis that I was hospitalized. After I went home, I continued to pump for several months. It was pure misery for me. The moment both my son and I started to thrive was when I finally stopped and switched to formula”

“Although I nursed both of my daughters for their first six or seven months, I found it helpful not to be rigid with only breast milk,” said Darlene Gaynor-Krupnick, DO, urologist and mom of two in northern Virginia. “Formula was heavier, and my daughters seemed to sleep better when they were ‘topped off’ with a bottle before bedtime.”

“I breastfed and gave my babies formula as a supplement early on and switched to formula all the way by 4 months,“ says Sigrid Payne DaVeiga, MD, a pediatric allergist and mom of three,  in Philadelphia, PA.

“I had planned to breastfeed for the first six months, but unfortunately I was only able to breastfeed for approximately four months,” said Kathleen Moline, DO, a family physician and mom of one in Winfield, IL. “Pumping at work was challenging, and eventually my daughter preferred bottles to breastfeeding. Part of the learning process was that what I had planned or expected wasn’t always the way it worked out, and that was okay.”

“I breastfed my son, but to give myself more flexibility time-wise, I pumped often,” said Leigh Andrea DeLair, MD, a family physician and mom of one in Danville, KY. “I also supplemented my son’s diet with formula. He thrived.”

At the end of the day, choosing how to feed your baby is a great microcosm for the parenting experience in general: You do the best that you can, you learn as you go, and flexibility is the key. You—and your baby—will be happier and healthier if every now and then you have a tincture of patience and a cup of calm, two of the best medicines.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, from where these tips were excerpted.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit storebrandformula.com.

 

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.