Monday, March 7, 2011

Whitney's Mommy's Positive Experience with Breastfeeding

For those of you interested in breastfeeding, here is a great example of a positive experience, compliments of my greatest Lymie friend:

Q: How long have you had Lyme, when were you diagnosed, and how long have you been in treatment?

I started feeing ill in July 2006 and was diagnosed and treated in November 2006. I am still on antibiotics. 

Q: Were you on antibiotics and/or supplements during pregnancy? If so, what were you taking?

Yes. First 6 months of the pregnancy, I took bicillin shots and oral Zithromax, then I stopped the bicillin and replaced it with oral Amoxicillin. I also took prenatal vitamins, Metamucil, vitamin c, and Womens 1 a Day.
Q: Are you on anything different now that you're breastfeeding?

No, everything stayed the same while breastfeeding.
Q: Have you been nervous about Lyme transmission? If so, what has 
helped you calm your fears?

Yes, very nervous. But I thought the benefits outweighed the risks and my husband agreed. I have a friend who has Lyme and breastfed. She did not take any antibiotics during her pregnancy or while breastfeeding and the baby is 2 years old now and doing well. I have another friend with Lyme who breast fed and the baby is a year and a half and also doing well.
Q: Did your LLMD advise you to breastfeed?

 I have 2 LLMDs. One encouraged breastfeeding. She said that if there were any bacteria in the milk, the baby's stomach acid would digest it. The other said he would not encourage it or discourage it. He said if this was a few years ago, he would have said no, but now, with the benefits of breastfeeding being so great, he would leave it up to me. In his experience, babies with Lyme have it because the mother was undiagnosed and not treated prior to or during her pregnancy. Dr. Burrascano's guidelines say that there has been evidence of the Lyme bacteria in breast milk and he advises against breast feeding. However, the guidelines are old and I'm not sure if his view has changed. This issue was addressed at the 2010 ILADS conference but I did not hear the presentations. I will try to get a copy and report back.

Q: Can you describe your experience with breastmilk testing?

My LLMD ordered testing of the breast milk, cord blood, placenta, and baby's urine through Igenex. I heard that you can also test the foreskin from a baby boy. I had a girl and decided not to test the urine because they would have had to catheterize her, which is uncomfortable and can cause infection. I pumped some breast milk, put it in the vile from Igenex and shipped it to them. It took several weeks to get the results, which were negative. The cord blood and placenta were negative as well. There are always false negatives, so we can never be sure about accuracy. If there was a positive I would have had to make a decision on how to move forward at that time. My LLMD said he had never seen a positive result for active infection, but has seen a positive antibody result.  Positive for antibodies are ok. Either way, he has always had healthy babies. 

Q: Is there anything especially important we should know about breastfeeding with Lyme, for instance, has it been easy for you to handle or are there difficult aspects you hadn't anticipated?

I think it depends on the mother and baby. If you are calm and your baby latches on well and is a good eater then it will be easier. I don't think there is any difference between someone with Lyme that is breast feeding or someone without Lyme that is breast feeding, except maybe the fatigue. It could be worse for us.  I hired a baby nurse, who gave the baby formula at night. If this is not an option, you can get the daddy to do it or another family member. So I just did not produce milk at night and I was ok with formula feeding in between if I was too exhausted or did not feel well. You can always pump as well, but I did not have the patience for that. :-)
Q: Is there any reason you would stop in the near future (due to Lyme) or are you managing well on your current protocol?

Yes, I have decided to stop breast feeding after 12 weeks so that I can resume more agressive treatment.

Q: Based on your experience, would you recommend breastfeeding to  other Lyme moms?

YES. It was great for bonding and I felt great about giving her something that no one else could. However, it is very demanding, which is why I used formula as well. That way, I could breast feed when I was up to it and if not, then someone else could give her a bottle and I could rest. The less you breastfeed, the less milk you will produce so if you do take a break, try to take it the same time every day so you don't lose your milk. I mentioned I did not feed in the middle of the night so I could rest and let someone else take over. 


  1. I am so happy to have found this blog. I was diagnosed with Lyme 2 weeks ago, just when I was planning to start trying for a second child. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to have another baby with this disease. I'm so happy to see that there are moms out there with Lyme who do have healthy babies. How did you decide what was the right time in your treatment to get pregnant? How are you able to handle herxes with an infant and all the challenges associated with new mommyhood?

  2. Hi Libby. Congrats on the diagnosis... now you can officially start healing! Yes, you can definintely have a baby with Lyme, but I think a lot factors into the long you've had Lyme, how long it took to get a diagnosis, where you are in treatment, and of course, how strong and well you are feeling. Having a baby with Lyme is really hard on the body, so you have to make sure you've turned the corner in terms of treatment (it will probably be a rough road for a while before it even starts to get better). I'm sure your doctor will be able to tell you when it's safe to start trying. In the meantime, remember that it is possible, just give yourself some time to get into treatment and start making progress. Being as healthy as you can be is probably the best thing you can do for you and your baby. :) If you want more info or want to discuss specifics, please feel free to email me: ) I've been out of town for the last week, but I'm back now and love talking about Lyme pregnancy.