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Told to wean by ignorant "professionals"

1116 Views 14 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Terabith
It's been a long time since I visited good old MDC! I'm in serious need of help, commiseration, advice, ideas, whatever.

In a nutshell, I've been struggling with moderate anxiety for the past several months, with some severe flare-ups/panic attacks every month or so. After trying to rely on every self-help method I could find, I finally made the decision to seek help at the low-income local community mental health center.

I'm a research junkie, and I was reading every piece of information I could about psychiatric drugs well before I felt ready to get help. I know I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was absolutely blown away, saddened and demoralized by what the psychiatric nurse practitioner I met with had to say. Basically, it was "If you wean, we'll be here to help you." This was after looking in ONE book on his desk and declaring that all medication "goes through the milk."

Upon my return home from that meeting, I called said nurse's supervisor, with my complaints about being dismissed that way, since I know for a fact that there ARE options. An appointment for another nurse practitioner was made, and I have just come home from that.

She said the same thing--she recommends weaning for nursing mothers who are seeking medication. I asked if they were willing to look into getting a lactation consultant on staff, or at least someone with more current knowledge about medications for nursing mothers. Again, the speech about how "it all goes through the milk." I said that that may be so, but that the things to be concerned about are half-lives of medication, milk-to-plasma ratio, maternal peak serum concentration, blah blah blah. Basically got a dead stare in return. Of course none of these people have heard of Dr. Hale. The bottom line is, for every nursing mother: wean, because we will not medicate a breastfeeding woman.

Basically, it breaks my heart to think of another, less educated, more vulnerable mother going for help and getting this nonsense in return. I'm in a pretty good place right now, and I'm still totally rattled by this ignorant response. I want to DO something, MAKE them open their eyes so that other mothers can get the help they might need. I've already spoken to one of the local LLL leaders, and she is getting in contact with the regional proffesional liaison or some such....I just want to make sure that I do what I can to try and affect change for this. I thought some people around here might have ideas, or at least words of support. This hurts, it sucks, and I feel powerless and sad for other struggling low-income mamas who have no other "professional" place to turn for help.

This is jumbled and I don't have time to proofread, so please ask any questions if something needs clarification. I just want to do something, but I don't know where to start.

Thanks for reading!
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I would start at

As you may know there is also a book by a Dr. Hale, who may have a website too if I remember correctly, which keeps up to date info on the safety of meds for breastfeeding.

You may get more responses in Breastfeeding Challenges. Good luck!

Besides LLL
there are also board certified lactation consultants (IBCLC after the name means board certified. Anyone can call themselves an LC.)

Marie Osmand's book about PPD recommends that moms keep nursing so they won't have as big a hormonal shift to add to their depression.

There is also acupuncture. Wish it was as easy to get as meds.
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Thanks for your reply, Momtwice. Rethinking it, I really should have posted this main message in lactivism, it probably fits in a little better there.

I'm really familiar with all the writings about medication on kellymom, and am actually about to buy Dr. Hale's book. I'm more looking for ideas or motivation regarding how I can make sure this doesn't happen to another mom. It's the serious lack of information of this mental health center that's really scaring me, and that's what I want to fight.

I can't imagine trying to manage my anxiety while weaning my booby loving girl. Marie Osmond knows what she's talkin' about on that one!
For the sake of YOU getting the help you need, it may be worth it to be misleading with medical professionals about your nursing status. "Yes, she's weaning" (well, technically she's weaning because she's had a few bites of solids but I expect the weaning process to take 3 more years to complete) but double-check any meds you take in Dr. Hale's book or website before taking them.

However, that technique won't help any other mothers (or their babies) who go to that clinic.

Personally, when I needed antidepressants, I was in no position to help anybody else- I was struggling just to get through each day. I'm amazed at your strength right now- being empowered to help other mothers while still needing mental health help yourself!
I would go to another practice that is better educated about this. My psychiatrist, GP, OB/GYN, and my son's pediatrician and family doctor ALL said it was FINE to take zoloft while nursing and now while I am pregnant. I would call a PPD hotline, see if there is one at your hospital, or look at the PPD International website to try and get a reference in your area.

What you have been told is NOT accurate, is NOT a service to you, and is NOT FAIR. It is SO much better for you and your baby to have you medicated if that is what you need. I take daily ashtma meds that go into my milk, too... so what does that mean I shouldn't breastfeed??? Come on. Some doctors are very ignorant about this and just are afraid to do it maybe because they are scared of liability??? I don't know.

I see a psychiatrist who has 100's of her pregnant and nursing moms on zoloft and other psychiatric drugs and she has never seen a problem. Find someone who knows what the heck they are talking about. See if your local LLL chapter can help you find someone. There are lots of resources out there.

Best wishes to you.
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Originally Posted by mom0810 View Post
I would go to another practice that is better educated about this. My psychiatrist, GP, OB/GYN, and my son's pediatrician and family doctor ALL said it was FINE to take zoloft while nursing and now while I am pregnant. I would call a PPD hotline, see if there is one at your hospital, or look at the PPD International website to try and get a reference in your area.
Maybe there isn't another option. Part of what it sounds like OP wants is ideas to help other moms who may go there and hear, "wean. period." OP, if you're about to purchase Dr. Hale's book, then could you take it to them, and show them examples of some psychotropic medications, or even Zoloft and some other major depression meds and give some examples, copied to them?
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Originally Posted by secretresistance View Post
I'm more looking for ideas or motivation regarding how I can make sure this doesn't happen to another mom.
I've been helping moms on the web with breastfeeding questions and the same questions come up over and over and over and over and over. For years. I think answering internet posts at web sites is one of the best ways to help.

Even if you never did another thing, posting your story is helping all moms and potential moms who read it.

Also educating yourself, as you have done, is important.

Some prefer to help "in real life" as a LLL leader (or equally important, a vocal and supportive group member) LC or WIC peer counselor etc.

Some people have lactivism blogs.

There are many ways to help!
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My sister who is a speech pathologist, had a client with a doctor giving her similar misinformation about medications and mother's milk, and she called me for the name of Hale's book - then contacted that doctor and recommended that s/he purchase it. I think some HCPs are arrogant enough that what they won't "hear" from a patient, they'll "hear" from another HCP. So, if you do have a doctor (Pediatrician or etc.) who is knowledgeable and supportive, you may want to sic him/her on the clinic?

Otherwise, I'd bring the Hale book in, with his website address as well, and tell them that you want them to consult with him. It's not like he's working out of his mom's basement, after all. The website is affiliated with Texas Tech IIRC! Maybe just seeing that will open their eyes.

I'm assuming it was the PDR that they looked at, and nothing else?
The heart of the problem is that medical professionals do not know or do not want to admit that there are dangers to not breastfeeding and abrupt weaning/weaning in general. Because there are so few mothers who fight back in these situations and mothers who have been studied while being treated for these conditions, you are the rarity and this is their stock advice.

You are such a wonderful person to be working on this in addition to working on yourself. Be sure to take care of yourself and your family first.

Some ideas that I have for you would be to photocopy the pages from Hale's book on all the medications they've said they may prescribe for you or just take them the book if you're buying it! BTW, many LLL Leaders have this book so you may be able to get the info copied from them w/o buying the book yourself (it's a bit pricey). You could also look up on any phsyciatric/psychiatry websites about why an abrupt weaning is not in your best interest, emotionally. And why it's not in the long & short term. You could also consult w/ an LLL LEader about resources for mothers w/ PPD and what the best options are for those mothers. I imagine they will intersect w/ what's best for you as well.

I too have tried to educate medical "professionals" on these types of things. Dh's step-mom is a nurse anestithist (sp?) and when I asked her about what they suggest for nursing mothers, stock answer: 24 hour weaning. Now, I'm sure than many of the drugs they use for routine surgeries are the same as those for c-section moms. When I provided her w/ the info from Hale that the meds she told me about were all L2 & L3, she said that they are still going to recommend a 24 weaning, but it's on an individual basis.
: So, this is the standard recommendation, but it's on an individual basis?

Best wishes on a full recovery and on your quest to prevent this from negatively affecting others nursing relationships.

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Frankly, I don't think there is anything the OP can do to prevent other moms from being told this at this practice. It sounds like they are pretty firm in their stance and when it comes to liability, some practices are not willing to budge on such things.

The best you can do is educate yourself and look for another practice. These people will not change their stance. Just like some pharmacists are horrified that dr's prescribe ad's to pregnant and nursing moms. You can't change how they feel, just do your own research and hope other moms who go there willl do the same.
I have ppd and I am nursing. I am on zoloft and the pedi, ob and my gp all said that it was safe to take while nursing. I haven't seen any problems with my ds either. So there are things out there that you can take to help the ppd and still be able to nurse.

I hope that you can find a dr. that knows what they are doing.
I had much the same experience. Which is why I'm not on anxiety medication, and I really really should be. I was told to wean my children and then they'd consider medication for me.

: I wasn't willing to sacrifice that.
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Zoloft is ok to use while nursing. Paxil can cause "floppy babies" from what I've read/heard. And prozac/sarafim cross the milk boundary in too great an amount and have a huge half-life so are not recommended. Not sure about Wellbutrin.
Honestly, I'm with Ruthla. I would be misleading or even outright lie to get the help you need. Of course, do your own research, but if you need a script, you need to do what you have to do to get one. (That sounds awful and like an addict, but that is not my intention at all.)
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