Do doctors always know best when it comes to health???
I realize how crazy this sentence must sound to a lot of people. I really do. Duh, Marketa, of course. It’s A DOCTOR for goodness sake. So when it comes to health… And I’m gonna stop you right here. This post is not about me attacking the individual medical professionals as much as the whole system that they’re trained to obey.
Our experience has really made me wonder.
It has opened my eyes.
As new parents, we were given professional advice by a pediatrician that we chose and liked.
(For the record, it sounded more like a set of New Parent Rules, and we ended up breaking 7 out of 8.)
We left the hospital the following day after our first child was born, and the PROFESSIONAL ADVICE we had gotten from our pediatrician that day was as following and in this order:
- Never cosleep with your baby.
- Create a feeding schedule (regular 2-3-hour intervals). No feeding on demand!
- Formula isn’t equal to breast milk. Technically, formula is better. If you decide to (be somewhat foolish and) breastfeed exclusively, here is a prescription for Tri-Vi-Sol. Give as recommended. Your baby will need it.
- Work on creating a sleeping schedule as soon as possible.
- Babies cry. Sometimes your baby will cry and you won’t know why. If you can’t figure it out, make sure she is safe, leave the room, close the door and let her cry. It will probably be just colic.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps.
- You’ll want to start feeding you baby solid foods between 4 and 6 months of age (begin with rice cereal). We’ll discuss that during our future appointments.
- Don’t forget to schedule your regular appointments, and make sure you immunize your baby further according to the recommended schedule in order to keep her healthy.
We nodded with agreement.
I vaguely remembered the content of the few books and parenting magazines I had read until that point. And, actually, all of that sounded familiar to my holy-crap-this-is-it-I-have-a-child-now-what??? fuzzy brain.
Well, kind of.
I mean… Maybe?
So I asked a few questions. But they got me nowhere, and the conversation always quickly turned back to “follow these 8 points and you’ll be fine.”
All righty then.
Piece of cake, right?
Well, imagine my surprise when I quickly found out that:
- These guidelines and rules aren’t the universal truth;
- My baby wants nothing to do with them and loudly objects;
- I have the blood of a rebel circulating in my veins. (I call it common sense though.)
#1 Never cosleep with your baby.
We broke #1 very shortly after bringing our lovely newborn home. But pssst, don’t tell anyone.
I’m not sure what exactly happened behind closed doors when they took her away for newborn screening prior to our discharge. All I know is that when we got home, it was as if our quiet little angel had been replaced with the latest model of a humanoid torture device set to activate on ASAP. To make the story short, we had a screaming unhappy baby on our hands that would NOT sleep. At all. She just couldn’t. So we couldn’t either. And that was a problem, and life became difficult for all of us.
She seemed to be in pain, but the pediatrician shrugged it off as colic. (No need to know at this point that “COLIC” is really just a fancy word for “WE DON’T KNOW.”) We’ll never know for a fact, but we believe our daughter might have reacted to the routine hepatitis B vaccine.
#2 Create a feeding schedule (2-3-hour intervals). No feeding on demand!
Not trying to rain on the doctor’s parade because I really liked her, but #2 had to be broken first.
Our baby clearly didn’t get the doctor’s memo. She wasn’t a machine. She was a tiny person with her own wants and needs. Sorry doc, she wasn’t programmed to follow the charts… (Or it could be the rebellion DNA, who knows…?)
Breaking #1 and #2 had without a doubt changed our lives. Despite of nursing seemingly nonstop even at night, I felt satisfyingly rested every morning that followed thanks to this wonderful hormone called cholecystokinin which induces sleepiness – both in the baby AND the nursing mom. Sweet, right? My husband was allowed to exit the world of constant haze and slowly regained his consciousness at work. Win-win.
And then there was our first scheduled pediatrician visit…
It was quite memorable.
I found out right away that our baby was obese for her mere few weeks of age. OBESE. She dared to gain more weight than the golden charts had allowed, and it was a problem because there is only a certain amount of fat that the system allows babies to have.
The pediatrician glanced at me, her serious look flashing behind her glasses.
The doctor’s charts were based on formula-fed babies or a combination of formula and breastfeeding and clearly weren’t ready for the FACT that exclusively breastfed infants tend to gain weight more rapidly in the initial stages. (Thank you, Google and Kelly Mom, for your wisdom and guidance. – Our doctor had no clue.)
Anyway. I was busted. I admitted I was nursing on demand and was informed that not only my baby will continue to gain weight too rapidly, she will also stay obese for the rest of her life because I’m feeding into her WANTS, not her NEEDS. A Bad Mom mark went into our notes.
DOCTOR: “Dear [clueless] Mom, start a regular feeding schedule and offer Pedialyte in between feedings if baby wants to nurse.”
CLUELESS MOM: Um, excuse me???
I’d like to assure our former pediatrician that our daughter is now 6, healthy, active, happy, and SKINNY. Her once abundant rolls are all gone. Sadly. I loved them. And she has never had Pedialyte – ever. Oooops?
I never told her though, because we got fired from her office during our very first visit. I guess that voicing my concern about the possibility of the hepatitis B vaccine potentially causing harm to my child wasn’t the only reason. Asking for delaying all further vaccines while I do a thorough research definitely seemed to be the icing on the cake though. Not vaccinating according to the schedule was not acceptable, and we were fired.
But if I did tell her, I would also tell her that there is a HUGE difference between feeding formula and breast milk.
Breast-fed infants generally NEED to feed on demand.
- They have to master the skill of nursing before becoming champion nursers.
- Mom’s milk supply varies throughout the day and the composition of breast milk changes as well.
- A breast-fed newborn that feeds frequently is NOT being spoiled.
A reality check: Future pediatricians receive inadequate education in medical schools about breastfeeding management as well as very little nutritional training. The actual science of breastfeeding is never taught.
#3 Formula isn’t equal to breast milk. Technically, formula is better.
The logic behind this was:
- With formula, you can measure how much your baby eats. (Knowing how much a baby eats is more important than filling up an empty tummy with natural goodness and watching the baby contently fall asleep.)
- Formula is superior to breast milk because it contains more vitamins than breast milk ever could. (Thus the need for Tri-Vi-Sol for babies that are unlucky to fill their stomachs with the magical formula of Formula.)
But I mean, really, would I intentionally want to damage my baby by nursing her EXCLUSIVELY?
Was I THAT irresponsible?
YES, it turns out I was.
Except… Our baby was thriving!
Still filled with the pediatrician’s many frightening stories (but at this point beginning to think that at least half of them were purely fictional), I reluctantly decided to give Tri-Vi-Sol a chance.
But it just wasn’t going to happen.
Our daughter would spit it out instantly, leaving our sheets colored brightly orange and smelling less than fresh. Well, let’s just say that the smell of Tri-Vi-Sol didn’t mix well with the sour milk scent we had going on at that point.
Our daughter must have known that synthetic vitamins were less ideal when compared with the real deal in her mama’s milk. She must have been aware of the fact that natural vitamins tend to be better absorbed (so much less is really needed). She probably realized that breast milk was much safer than ingesting glycerin, polysorbate 80, ascorbic acid, natural and artificial flavors and caramel color, all at the age of ZERO. And, she must have figured out that these substances weren’t the friendliest to a newborn’s virgin gut. Smart little thing.
#4 Work on creating a sleeping schedule.
Schedules didn’t seem to be working at our house, and I had a feeling this one was going to be no exception.
Besides, words like “crying it out” and “sleep training” were giving me the goose bumps anyway ever since I became a mom.
I didn’t care about a schedule. I. Just. Wanted. To. Sleep.
#5 Babies cry.
“Sometimes we don’t know why babies cry. If you can’t figure out why, let her cry. It will probably be COLIC.”
“Oh silly, we don’t know what COLIC is! We just created a name for a situation we know nothing about.”
Need I say more???
Babies cry, sure.
Our baby cried. A WHOLE LOT. I still cringe when I go back down that memory lane. She also wanted to be held. ALL THE TIME.
Some tasks required the presence of both of my hands though, and dealing with an uncontrollable let-down reflex clearly does not bring more productivity or peace to a new mom’s life. In order to preserve the least bit of sanity I could find in me, I ended up investing in an awesome baby carrier and never looked back.
Total game changer. Babies want to be close to us, it’s our human nature. They’re dependent. They want to feel you, smell you, touch you, and hear you. Being close to you calms them down. And it makes sense, doesn’t it?
#6 Sleep when your baby sleeps.
IF your baby sleeps, right?
Easier said than done but overall a pretty good advice. If you only have ONE child – who sleeps longer than 15 minutes at a time (or less and you have narcolepsy).
But you know what feels just as good as sleeping? Taking a shower. And if you’re like the 99.99% of other new moms out there, chances are you need a shower just as bad as a nap.
Household duties can wait. The world won’t collapse. And you won’t remember the mess. I promise.
#7 Start feeding solids between 4 to 6 months of age (rice cereal first).
I can say very unapologetically that I wouldn’t be taking nutritional advice from someone with so very little nutritional training.
But no, thanks.
I see absolutely no benefit in introducing rice cereal. Ever. But of course don’t take medical or nutritional advice from me.
#8 Don’t forget to schedule your regular appointments, and make sure you immunize your baby further according to the recommended schedule in order to keep her healthy.
Yeah. About that…
Your family, your choice.
None of my business.
I highly recommend the following though:
- Pick a healthcare provider that you like and trust and one that fits your family;
- Research what you’re curious about, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Because when it comes to ANYTHING, being informed pretty much always beats doing “what everyone else does” or “what you’re told to do.”