An Open Letter to Doctors About Birth and Breastfeeding

Dear Doctors,

I want to personally thank you for dedicating your lives to helping people maintain wellness. You have gone through a lot of schooling and gained a ton of experience to be able to guide people through sickness and to live healthy, fulfilling and long lives. You have literally saved the lives of family members. When I am sick or injured you are the first person I call. We would be in a terrible place without you.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you are a guide and support. I would like to speak specifically about when you are treating women, children and families. I understand you have worked hard and that we live in a culture where you have gained authority with your degree. However, you are a guide and not the final word in a woman’s decision about her body or a family’s parenting decisions. A woman is the ultimate authority over her body, and a child’s parents are the ultimate authority in their family.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder breastfeeding her son.

Many of you do so many things right for us. You refer us to lactation consultants when we are struggling to make breastfeeding work. You encourage us to keep going through the rough times. You have gone above and beyond your medical curriculum to educate yourself on information that is not included such as breastfeeding and natural childbirth. You lift us up and make us feel strong. You have faith that our bodies, which have grown a baby all by itself, can also birth this baby and nourish this baby. You encourage the family bed and breastfeeding around the clock.

Unfortunately many of you have gotten your information very wrong. You are wrong that breastmilk loses its nutritional value at 1 year, that a mother struggling to breastfeed automatically needs formula and that a child will have psychological issues if breastfed into toddlerhood. You are wrong that a mother needs to stop breastfeeding at any designated time just because that is your opinion. You are wrong that breastmilk is rotting my child’s teeth. You are wrong that breastfeeding while pregnant is endangering my fetus. You are wrong that sharing a bed with my baby is deadly. You are wrong that my baby should cry alone. You are wrong that homebirth is dangerous. You are wrong that our bodies are not powerful enough to birth our babies without your interference. You are wrong that a baby cannot be heathy without solid foods. You are wrong to make us feel diminished and afraid in our new role. You are wrong to threaten us either outwardly or indirectly on decisions that are none of your business.

I believe it would surprise you to find the amount of things that are none of your business. Your business is what I make it. You are a guide, a support, a resource. It is your job to give me the honest truth, the whole story and all of the information when I ask for it. It is your job to support us and encourage us while we educate ourselves on all of our options and then support us when we have made our final decisions about our bodies and our children.

Thank you for the awesome job you are doing. I hope to hear the same from you at our next visit.

Sincerely,

A mom

Comments

  1. Sarah Day says:

    Yes!!!!! Thank you for writing this.

  2. This includes all parenting decision. You have no right to belittle my choices, beliefs, and my personal research as to whether or not I vaccinate my child

    • No, no you are choosing to put EVERY other child your kid comes in contact with at risk by making that choice.
      If you want to stay connected to your child for as long as possible that is one thing, but there is NO research that says that not vaccinating is a good idea. My infant could die because of your choice, that is something that doctors should not encourage. If you have so little faith in modern medicine then don’t take your child to the doctor. Plenty of things are subjective when it comes to parenting, this should not be one of them.

      • Vaccination does not equal immunity. Immunity is a natural thing the body develops and matures and does NOT require any sort of vaccination to do so. It is most definitely a parenting choice as it is a health choice. I’m tired of people trying to take that right away when they want the right to vaccinate. What if those of us who choose not to vaccinate tried to take away your right to vaccinate? Lets flip the roles here and critically think. Please stop saying there is no research against vaccinating. There is PLENTY of it. And again, it is still a personal, parental, and family choice. Not something that anyone else, especially the government should be involved in. I don’t have little faith in modern medicine but I actually have a lot of faith in the intelligence of the human body and how it functions naturally and optimally when nourished properly, rests adequately and is physically maintained.

      • “you are choosing to put EVERY other child your kid comes in contact with at risk” << Not every child; some, presumably, have immunity from vaccination. Also, unless your child has had titer testing to make sure the vaccines took, there is a chance that s/he is also putting those children at risk. "If you have so little faith in modern medicine then don’t take your child to the doctor." << That really doesn't make sense. Doctors are not omniscient and infallible. That doesn't mean that they aren't useful for some things.

  3. We were lucky enough to have a pediatrician that supported us in breastfeeding and was relieved that we didn’t want to circumcise our son. And when he continued to lose weight after birth she didn’t push formula she just encouraged us to feed feed feed and wake him every 2 hrs to feed some more. I was devastated when she left our practice, but continue to see the dr. That was training with her. Our little peanut is almost 20 months and still nursing, and we are fully supported by his dr. We got very lucky.

  4. Megan Marks says:

    100% Agree! Co signed Megan! Bentleys mom.

  5. Bravo!!! Well expressed.

  6. Ariana Escamilla says:

    So much truth! I knew even before my husband and I conceived that I wanted a natural birth. I told FOUR different doctors this, and they all just shrugged and said, “We’ll see.” They fed me scary statistics, didn’t listen to my concerns, and hardly even examined me. I sought help from a very highly recommended midwife at 5 or 6 months, and I got so much more support and information in one session with her than all of those doctors combined! I told my (last) doctor that I spoke with a midwife, and ended up getting a letter in the mail saying the doctors there refused to see me anymore. They even said they wouldn’t help me deliver my baby “in case the midwife screws up.” Unfortunately my son came at 34 weeks and we were not able to have a home birth, but luckily the doctor on call that night had worked with midwives before and let me birth naturally without intervention!

  7. I couldn’t agree more! I was actually getting ready to post a very similar post on my own blog. We’ve come to a point in which a lot of people are completely reliable on medical professionals for every tiny issue they encounter. We have the ability to do so many amazing things with our bodies without interference. As someone who birthed in a hospital naturally I encountered plenty of issues. When facing doctors, in any situation, remember that your body has an amazing ability to heal when treated right. You can always get a second opinion or research remedies yourself if you don’t agree with what you are being ADVISED to do by a doctor.

  8. LOVE this. Thank you!

  9. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that’s what’s great about America. One quick thing…breastmilk is cariogenic once foods are incorporated into a little ones diet. I see it everyday, moms who breastfed and have kiddos with large cavities on the front teeth. So your statement that cannot decay primary teeth just isn’t true.

    • That is not entirely accurate. If a mother feeds a child solids and nurses after it can have that effect if they don’t brush their child’s teeth before bed. Breastmilk does not cause cavities! Not brushing a child’s teeth once solids are introduced caused cavities.

    • Your half informed opinion is the reason false information is being spread and needs to be rebuked the way it is in this letter.

      • Mothers that breastfeed ad lib throughout the day and through out the night is the situation I was referring to. Most mothers do not brush or wipe their childrens teeth off after every feeding throughout the day and night. When other carbohydrates are introduced into the diet the lactose that is in BM is metabolized by strep mutans to create an acidic environment in the oral cavity for about 20 minutes after feeding. This is when the demineralization and carious process can begin. It’s the frequency during breast feeding of these acid attacks that can be most detrimental to the primary dentition. See it everyday. Kids with extensive decay and mothers are shocked because they are breastfeeding and they don’t understand how there can be any cavities. Your right…brush their teeth and they will be fine but you would be surprised by how many people just don’t do it and a common reason is because they didn’t think they needed to because they were BF and the kid ”doesn’t get a bottle.”

  10. i totally agree it is my choice

  11. “Give me the truth, but if I disagree, YOU’RE WRONG! I’ll still keep you around to clean up the mess of things go big wrong though. Kthxbai!”

  12. Beautifully said!

  13. “You are wrong that homebirth is dangerous.” Here’s a quick list of people who would have died during birth if they weren’t in a hospital with immediate access to surgery: Me. My brother. My son. Don’t ignore the obvious: the “natural” way our reproduction and immune systems work is that 10-30% of the children die in birth or before their first birthday due to disease, and we just make more (the situation in 1900-1915 in North America). Are those the good old natural days you want back? Then just ignore hospitals and vaccines.

    • Homebirths are not necessarily more dangerous, but they aren’t always appropriate or safe. I was booked for a homebirth with my first. We’d both be dead if I hadn’t gone to hospital. I did go to hospital, we are both alive, next time I will do the same, plan a home birth and do the thing that is necessary at the time. Most women can deliver most of their babies with minimum intervention, they are less likely to receive unnecessary intervention at home, and in that sense homebirths can be safer.

    • Yes, hospitals save lives. Yet I could give you a list, too, of complications and injuries, and yes even death, that would not have occurred without the routine interference, over-medicalization, and refusal to support normal physiological birth that is the norm in hospitals. What does that prove? Perhaps she should have said instead that the doctor is wrong that homebirth is *inherently* dangerous. Depending on the situation, it can be much safer than hospital birth.

      • I find your letter sad. It is basically telling the pediatrician to but out until you need them. Well the Peds job is to look after the baby not your ego or to feed your better than Mother Nature attitude. It’s sad when you have basically become so defensive that you are now offensive.

        Home births are just a bad idea. I’m sorry that you are living in the year 2016, and not the 1800s, where you could have just popped a squat next to the old ‘tree while on break from the fields.

        Why are you so opposed to having emergency medical intervention available? Why did you say “you are wrong that our bodies are not powerful enough to birth our babies without your intervention”. That is awfully crude to say to women who would have loved to have been able to have a natural delivery but needed emergency intervention. Are you saying that they are not powerful? You are irresponsible to women and babies everywhere. Take your hippy shit and endanger you and yours. Leave others alone.
        I have birthed 3 babies naturally (in a hospital) and exclusively breastfed them all, aside from some fortification my first born had in the NICU since she came at 33 weeks.

        Yes home births are safe until the baby experiences develop due to the cord wrapped around its neck and requires an emergency c-section or Mom throws amniotic emboli and strokes out or baby aspirated meconium, I could go on and on. Then you would be begging for a doctor. But of course you would still blame it on them because a hospital birth isn’t what your EGO needed so you were forced to birth at home far away from the evil drugs that you might wish to take because they are readily available. Ridiculous. Own your decisions and quit blaming others.
        I also had a crisis with my third born-shoulder dystocia. I am forever grateful my Dr and Nurses were well practiced on the maneuvers they did to me to help my baby out without injury. Shame on you all!

  14. Our daughter is tall and skinny – she is super energetic and hitting all her milestones with gusto. Our pediatrician told me that milk was mostly water after age 1. I had just read a study that I found out about through KellyMom that said that after a year breast milk contains a higher concentration of fat, so I told her about it. She hasn’t bothered me about it since (she’s 2 next month).

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