Thursday, January 7, 2010

We first noticed that our daughter's poop looked a little strange when she was 2 months old. It had taken on sort of a purplish hue. We took her to her pediatrician to test it, and discovered it contained blood.

I immediately eliminated dairy and soy from my diet, which helped at first, but the blood came back. Then I did block feeding to correct a possible foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, which helped at first, but the blood came back. Then I tried Dr. Sears' Elimination Diet. Everything I tried seemed to work at first, but the blood always came back.

She was exclusively breastfed, and her pediatrician told us I had to switch to formula, that she was allergic to my actual breast milk.

This immediately raised red flags for me. I know it's not possible for a baby to be allergic to breastmilk - maybe to something in the breastmilk, but not the milk itself. I also had read that breastmilk is given to babies to fix GI problems. In addition, I knew of the numerous health benefits of breastmilk, and the risks associated with formula. Why was her pediatrician so quick to want me to switch to formula? I went home feeling upset and confused, because I wanted to do what was best for our baby, but I also really wanted to breastfeed her, because I truly believed it was the best thing for her.

I sought a second opinion in another pediatrician, who told me that as long as our daughter was gaining fine and not appearing to be in pain, we wouldn't do any permanent damage to her if I continued to breastfeed her while we spent more time trying to figure out what might be causing the blood.

Her regular pediatrician still continued to check up on her poop and still continued to urge us to switch to formula. I asked her many questions one day, including, "What happens if we switch her to formula and she continues to bleed? What if we had never noticed the blood - would she suffer permanent damage?" She didn't have answers for me, and finally suggested that we take our daughter to a GI specialist.

I took her today. He tested 2 of her diapers, and found no blood. He said that unless you test the poop as soon as it comes out, you can get false positives for blood. This makes me wonder if there was ever blood in any of her poop, since we never tested them right after she pooped. He also said that even if there was blood, it is VERY common in infants, and they grow out of it. He said as long as she is gaining weight and not fussy, she is fine. Said breastfeeding was completely fine. Said I could eliminate dairy and soyif I wanted, but that if she was happy, I didn't need to.

I am SO relieved that nothing is wrong, that I can continue to breastfeed with support from the GI specialist, that there is no permanent damage being done to my daughter.

I am also VERY upset with her first pediatrician for trying to make us switch to formula. I realize she was probably giving us the best advice she had, but shouldn't she be more informed? If I was able to find this information, shouldn't she also be able to? Isn't she aware that breastmilk is SO far superior for a baby's health than formula? That breastmilk is best ESPECIALLY for a baby like ours, who appears to have a sensitive GI tract?

In researching this for my baby, I discovered that many mothers struggle with this. They discover blood in their child’s poop, are encouraged by a pediatrician to switch to formula, are even told it is the only option, and then have the constant struggle of whether they should do what the pediatrician says or do what their instincts tell them to do.

I feel sad for all of the babies who have been switched to formula under our first pediatrician’s care and are missing out on all the benefits of breastfeeding. I'm debating whether I should talk with her about this, or just switch to the pediatrician we saw for a second opinion. I don't want to make her feel like she is being attacked, but, at the same time, I don't want other babies to miss out on breastfeeding, or other mothers to feel like they are hurting their babies by breastfeeding them.

More than anything, however, I am so thankful that I trusted my own instincts and sought other opinions, and I encourage other mothers to do the same.

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