Thursday, October 28, 2010

One More Look At Breastfeeding

If you’re like me, you want all of your pregnancy decisions to be no brainers. Our treatment courses are so individualized as it is, and we’re often confused and not sure if we’re improving, declining, or doomed to live forever in the purgatory better known as, “I’m able to function, but I feel like crap all the time.” Choices become even harder when we factor in the future of a developing baby.

That said, I don’t mean to further confuse you with the following breastfeeding update:

My intent for this blog is to provide as much Lyme pregnancy info as I can, and I understand that just because something works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for others.

I’ve posted a couple of times on breastfeeding, and in the end, I made my own list of pros and cons and decided against it. My LLMD agreed and encouraged formula feeding. For those of you not interested in formula, I have some interesting news:

I recently received and email from my friend and fellow pregnant Lymie. She spoke with her LLMD about breastfeeding, and her doctor highly encouraged it. She is going to give it a try, and I think that’s great news! (Just goes to show you that LLMDs’ opinions differ greatly.) According to her doctor, “there is no evidence of passing lyme through breast milk. However, even if there are bacteria in the breast milk, it may be digested by the stomach acid. Also, if you take antibiotics while breastfeeding, you pass on the antibiotic protection to the baby.”
I don’t know why I never thought about it from that angle, but it makes the off chance some spirochetes make their way into the milk, it would be nearly impossible to survive our harsh stomach acid. Much different than passing it through the blood.

She also told me that she plans on getting her breastmilk tested. Until now, I had no idea that this was an option, though it seems obvious and I wonder why I didn’t think of it while I was pregnant. (As soon as I get more details on the testing, I will post them.)

As I watch my own son struggle with formula (it took us the better part of three months to find a formula that didn’t bother his sensitive tummy), I sometimes wonder if I should have taken the chance and gone the natural route.
(The “what-if” mentality will do nothing but drive you nuts, btw.)

I should point out that even though she still experiences some symptoms, my friend is mobile and on the mend, and therefore isn’t anticipating any aggressive not-safe-for-baby treatments after delivery. This makes breastfeeding a viable option.

She also mentioned that she plans on pumping. She’s doing it for personal reasons that are not Lyme related, but I’d like to add that it’s a fantastic way to give your baby the good stuff, yet till have the freedom to take a nap and let your partner take over if you’re not feeling well. (Trust me, there will be days where you’ll need extra sleep.)

Again, I’ll stick with what I’ve believed since the beginning: I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to any of this, because we just don’t know enough about the disease yet.

We do the best we can, and we do what feels right. No matter the decision, these babies will be well loved and cared for.

Thank you, L, for sharing this information with us. Please update us and let us know how it goes for you. *Stay tuned for info on breastmilk testing.


  1. Wow! That is really interesting to hear another LLMD's opinion on breastfeeding...and I look forward to the milk screen results (given that that testing is better than the standards currently available, of course)

    I totally agree with all that you've said here and thank you for blogging and createing a place for people to benefit from the knowledge you're collecting.

    I felt compelled to post, however, that I feel certain that it was breastfeeding that caused my daughter to contract the same diseases I carry...and I only breastfed for about 1 week.

    I was one of the many that felt fantastic during my pregnancy, better than I had since being sick, for sure, and had a very normal vaginal delivery, only to crash post partum, still trying to regain ground almost 4 years later.

    I was bitten and had an EM in 1994, finally diagnosded and treated partially in 1999 and thought to be in a remissive period when I became pregnant in 2006. I never showed CDC positive over all those years. It was not until my body endured the physical trauma and mental exhaustion of delivery and a new born, that my body finally reacted CDC positive.

    Why, I do not know. I can tell you that I felt all my old symptoms plus many new and even more frightening ones back with such a vengeance, especially in the 1st year following birth...And you could not be more correct about figuring who will be available to help in the months after delivery before hand.

    I had relatively no help and was so NOT prepared. Breastfeeding and even pumping were so incredibly painful and stressful, I had to stop, but I firmly believe it was too late.

    From what I understood, after the fact, of course, the spirochetes would have been too large to make their way through the placenta and would have resulted in a case of actual gestational Lyme and co., which almost always presents in a very prominent way, like deformities and severe deficits and even death. These cases are really rare, although they do occur, and seem to happen more in those who contract Lyme during early pregnancy.

    My daughter, however, was born seemingly healthy and perfect in everyway.

    This, to me, and I am no doctor, seemed more indicative of something she acquired after gestation.

    I began noticing Babesia symptoms while she was an infant, but no one believed me because they were so slight that even I may have discounted them if I had not been through them for myself.

    Finally, her Dad started noticing things similar between her and I and my LLMD tested her at 18m for Lyme and she was positive. We are lucky enough to live near Ct. and were able to bring her to an expert, in my opinion. He also tested her for Babesia and she was also positive, same as me.

    So, what's my point after all this?... :-}

    Better off safe than sorry, I guess...

    Again, just my opinion...everyone is different.

    I hope for the best for each of us and all our children...May your experience be the best and all that you desire.

    And Thank you, thank you, thank you for another opportunity to talk about this stuff and get it out in the open!

    May today be a good day...{{soft hugs}}

  2. Thank you so much for posting this, Dharma! Yet another example of how everyone is affected differently by this terrible disease.

    It must have been hard having such a great pregnancy only to crash after your daughter was born, and I'm sorry to hear you're still struggling years later. I'm also sorry to hear your little one has it! :(

    I agree that it's better to be safe than sorry, but I also love that there is testing for breastmilk for the women who really want the breastfeeding experience.

    Again, thank you for sharing a different perspective. It's definitely an eye-opener.

    Just out of curiosity, were you on antibiotics at all while you were pregnant?

    If possible, I'd like to ask you a few questions about your pregnancy and your daughter for a blog post. If you're interested, would you please contact me?

  3. Thank you for his post, Sara. I would love to know how your friend is doing, and if she got the milk testing done. I have not been able to find any information on milk testing for moms who are taking antibiotics. It makes sense that if you can prevent passing Lyme to a baby while pregnant on abx, why would it not work to continue to take the abx and prevent Lyme transmission during nursing? If there is science behind this that I don't understand, I would love to understand it...

  4. Hey Lisa--sorry for the delay. I have a phone appt with the dr. tomorrow and will discuss the testing in detail. I'll post asap once I get the info! I ordered the test in the mail, and it looks pretty straightforward--I just need a few details.

    My friend just had her baby about a week ago, and I feel bad that I'm fighting the urge to immediately pounce on her for information. :) Baby is beautiful and doing well. Mom is wiped out, but she seems to be in good spirits and is loving motherhood. As soon as she settles in, though, I'm grilling her for breastfeeding info. :)