Believe it or not, this happened to me. I want to share my story as a way of a warning. Breastfeeding was incredibly important to me. I was committed to nursing my son for at least one year. Our journey was not an easy one. Two weeks after he was born, he started projectile vomiting after each feeding and became dehydrated, finally after another two weeks he was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis. He required a lifesaving surgery that made him unable to breastfeed for a few days. It was a very emotional time but we got through it.
A few months later, I had a gall bladder attack and required a surgery to remove it. My breastfeeding relationship was put to the test again. I was told multiple times by various doctors that I had to pump and dump and that I couldn’t breastfeed. I trusted my providers and wanted to make right decisions for me and my baby, so I did. Thankfully, after brief interruption we continued to breastfeed until one day when my son was 9 months old, I was stung by a bee.
Bee sting reaction
I always had a little reaction to bee stings, but this time my leg got extremely swollen and I ended up in urgent care. I was prescribed a Prednisol steroid to combat the swelling and was advised to stop breastfeeding for 7 days while on the medications and discard my milk. I was crushed, and so disappointed. I didn’t know what to do. I worried how in the world will I be able to abruptly stop breastfeeding him. Take all of his comfort away from him. How will this affect our relationship? Regardless of what I thought, I listened to the doctors. I did was I was told and I believed there was a valid reason for breastfeeding to be interrupted.
I didn’t trusted my gut feelings
Writing it now makes me sick to my stomach and really angry. I feel so upset that a light bulb didn’t turn on and that I didn’t question the ridiculous recommendation I’ve received. After a week of round, the clock pumping and dumping my precious milk, my son wasn’t able to latch again and our breastfeeding story had ended. To this day I’m still heartbroken about it and I wonder what would have changed if I got this time back with him. I later learned there was absolutely no reason for me to stop breastfeeding. I also learned that breastfeeding education is not a part of the medical school curriculum and most doctors receive about two hours of breastfeeding education if they are lucky to get any.
Working in a hospital setting I’ve seen this over and over again when providers are recommending breastfeeding only to be interrupted due to the medications they are prescribing to the mother. It comes from not understanding the importance of breastfeeding and old assumptions that all drugs transfer to breastmilk and are likely to affect the baby. We now know that in most cases breastfeeding should continue uninterrupted. Sometimes doses might need to be adjusted, timed differently or a different drug in the safe drug family should be used. For most mothers wishing to continue breastfeeding, solutions can be found.
Medication and breastfeeding resources
We have wonderful resources that we can count on for up to date and reliable medication and breastfeeding information like infant risks center (https://www.infantrisk.com/infantrisk-center-apps) or internet databases like lactmed (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501922/) where anyone can read extensive information about any drug. The most common situation is when mothers are inaccurately advised to stop breastfeeding when they need to take antidepressant or other psychiatric drugs, or if they had a surgery and needed anesthesia or if they need to go for a diagnostic test like a CT- scan or MRI.
If you are ever told you need to stop breastfeeding please talk to lactation consultant, or a knowledgeable breastfeeding medicine doctor. Ask questions until you’re certain that the recommendation is evidenced based and you understand the risk and benefit ratio.