Weaning because of a medication? Help/support please
I have a 22 month old daughter who I am still breastfeeding quite a lot - or had been until last week when I had to be hospitalized for a manic episode of bipolar disorder. I had never been away from her for more than 2 hours before now, it's been really hard for all of us to be separated suddenly like this. The LC on the maternity floor came and brought me a pump and bottles and offered her support. I have been safely taking a medication called lamotrigine all through pregnancy and nursing so far, but because of the mania the doctors here have added lithium to slow me down. There isn't much research done about lithium and breastfeeding, and what little research exists is mostly of infants who have also been exposed to lithium in utero as well. It does pass to breastmilk, and can accumulate in babies, from the studies I've read the serum level in babies is about 10-17% of the mother's level. Only a couple of newborns in the studies had any serious side effects, and they were exposed during pregnancy. Most of the babies had no adverse reactions.
So. I haven't found any information about toddlers being exposed to lithium suddenly, and they titrate up the level slowly in me, so I am not sure how quickly it builds up in breastmilk, and I'm not sure how quickly it is building up in my daughter. For the last week I have been pumping a few times a day, and then nursing a LOT for several hours of the daily visiting time. She is fine so far and I am asking about having her blood taken to be tested.
The doctors, my husband, and I are all a little nervous about my continuing to breastfeed her. There just isn't much evidence of what the possible effects might be for her. She doesn't nurse as much as a newborn, she doesn't get as much milk as a newborn, and is much larger and eats lots of food. They asked me this morning how important it is to me that I continue to nurse my toddler. I am feeling really upset and heartbroken about this - and I know how important it is to my daughter as well - but I also know how important it is for me to be on medication that keeps me a sane functional mother.
This is a really hard thing for me to think about, it all happened so suddenly and I had planned to nurse her for as long as she wanted to - I didn't want to stop suddenly like this. If I can keep nursing safely I will, but I just don't know.
I feel like all the doctors in there who have never nursed a baby/toddler just don't really know what it's like, how important it is, what the bond is like and how special it is and how difficult it would be for my daughter and I to suddenly break that. Not to mention the hormonal/emotional effects of discontinuing breastfeeding.
I am really upset and torn, which are not good feelings for me to be having as I'm feeling a bit fragile right now, coming down from a seriously intense emotional break.
So, I guess ultimately I just wanted some online hugs from women who understand what a loss it would be for us to stop - maybe some encouragment to keep at it if I can - and maybe some what-would-you-do advice as well.
Thank you all in advance, I really need the support.