Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Breastfeeding with Lyme Disease
Though I don't have much to share in terms of future Lyme treatment (still giving my body a break from all drugs for another week until I meet with my LLMD), I will discuss an issue that's been on my mind a lot lately.
The Lyme Literate doctors all say no way; my other doctors say there's no recorded proof that spirochetes can be transmitted through breast milk, and if it does happen, the chances are so slim, it's not worth worrying about.
All I hear is, "There's a slight chance you could make your kid very sick, but no worries--everything is just fine!"
Once again, I find myself having to choose between two very opposite sides of the spectrum. There's no middle ground when it comes to basic decisions like feeding. Boob juice or no boob juice. That is it. Simple, right?
The first time mom in me steps up and says, "You'd better think about this long and hard, because YOUR actions determine the health of this baby, who can't speak or think for himself. YOU are the protector."
But "breast is best!" No s***, really?! If I read one more militant mommy rant about how it is cruel and selfish to deprive a child of breast milk, I'm going to kick something. Yes, animals in the natural world nurse their young for a reason. Yes, I am remorseful and already sad about not being able to share in that bonding experience.
Breastfeeding just does not work for some families, and whatever that reason is, the mother should not be made to feel like a failure for her decision. So why am I second guessing myself about going straight to the bottle? I'm assuming it's because I haven't had much support so far, and I want to feel like I'm doing the right thing and being a good mom.
Yesterday I saw one of my favorite doctors--she's works closely with my main OBGYN (the woman I always speak so highly of). When I brought up my apprehension about breastfeeding, she was quick to (kindly) lecture me about how I needed to breastfeed. All mothers need to do it, regardless of the situation. "Even mothers with serious diseases like HIV can breastfeed because the transmission rate is so low, so stop worrying about Lyme!"
I know she didn't mean to sound ignorant or insensitive, but really?! Serious diseases? And for what it's worth, I wouldn't risk passing on HIV either, no matter how slim the chance, but hey, that's just me.
I'm aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Babies need mom's milk to build up their immune systems and ward off illnesses. Breastfed babies have fewer colds, ear infections, childhood illnesses, etc.
I can't help but take a look back at bad years of my life, particularly the last three.
Paralysis, neurological problems, claw hands, blue feet, Bell's Palsy, wheel chairs, weekly doctors visits, anxiety, depression, thyroid and adrenal problems, severe stomach issues, allergic reactions, food intolerance, vertigo, double vision, heart problems, the humiliation of fainting in public places, trips in ambulances, excruciating physical pain that at times left me drifting off to sleep wondering, "Will I wake up tomorrow morning, or is this it?"
I'm not saying this to be melodramatic; this is very real. So, I think I just settled my own internal debate. When baby Wyatt makes his grand appearance, he will lovingly receive his very first bottle of manufactured formula. I say let him get an ear infection. Let him get five! These are minor problems we can fix. I couldn't live with myself if he experienced any of the others listed above because I folded under the pressure of critical doctors and judgmental spectators.
I'm not sure which camp is right. Either I'm completely wrong for buying into the better- safe-than-sorry group, or perhaps in the years to come, Lyme will be taken more seriously, breast milk transmission will be proven, and I will feel sad for the women who had to tell their sick children, "I'm sorry, we didn't know much about Lyme back then, and the doctors said it was safe."
I am very curious to read other thoughts, opinions, and experiences on this subject, as I'm in unknown territory here. Any breastfeeding with Lyme info (preferably scientific) is also greatly appreciated. Anyone out there have kids during an active Lyme period? How is everyone's health now, and looking back, would you have done anything differently?