I’d walked by this Chinese medicine place a thousand times before and had heard good things about it. The girls were happy, and both in the shopping trolley, so I thought it would be a good time to stop by.
“Hello!” I said to the lady at the counter, “I was wondering if you have any herbs or medicine for the gall bladder. This cold windy weather always seems to make it hurt.”
“Ok” she said with a smile back, “Just a minute.”
She went into another room to go get the doctor. Now, I know that doctors of Chinese medicine are not ‘medical‘ doctors. But, they do have to train for many years in order to become certified. They have to learn all about the body and about acupuncture and about medicine herbs, etc. I actually think I had my life saved once by a doctor of Chinese medicine. I stepped on something crazy in the ocean and my feet turned all purple and blue and I couldn’t walk. She did something crazy that involved blood and hot needles and smoke and by the next day I was fine.
The Chinese doctor came out.
“You have something wrong with your elbow?” He asked.
“Um… no…” I said, “It’s my gall bladder. It’s been bothering me.”
“Ah, yes, we have some herbs you can take.”
Even though I know most medicines are safe for breastfeeding, I know that some herbs can irritate breastfed kids.
“It won’t bother her if I’m breastfeeding, right?” I asked.
“Oh, is he constipated?” He asked
“It’s a girl… no she’s not constipated.” I said, wondering what constipation had to do with it.
“So, he doesn’t have any problems with his tummy?” He inquired.
“IT’S ‘SHE’! It’s a girl, no, she doesn’t have any tummy issues.” Was he even listening to me!? She was dressed in fifteen shades of pink and he kept calling her a boy. “I just wanted to make sure that the herbs aren’t too strong for her, she only gets 2 or 3 feeds a day, it’s not much, so she should be fine, right?”
Then, he asked, “HOW old is he???” (still clueless about the gender).
“SHE’S two” I said.
Then, he facepalmed himself and said in his heavy Chinese accent, “Why you do wrong thing?! Why are you still breastfeeding him? It’s not good for him!”
Gah! It’s a GIRRRRRL!
Little did he know that her big sister, Margo, who is 4 1/2 and was sitting in the trolley listening to the conversation, is also still on the boob occasionally. I, of course, declined to tell him that, but sternly said.
“I DID NOT COME HERE TO GET YOUR OPINION ON BREASTFEEDING!!!”
He threw his hands up in the air in surrender and said, “Ok, fine!”
And, I walked out.
Sort of funny/not funny.
This is not the first time I’ve encountered a doctor giving me advice or expressing their opinion about when to wean. I’ve also heard from countless other women of their experiences with their own general practitioners, nurses and pediatricians giving poor advice about breastfeeding. The simple fact is that most people in the medical community have very little understanding of breastfeeding at all! When Margo was 5 months old, I had my first gall bladdler issue and I had to be on antibiotics for 10 days. I could tell the antibiotics were messing with her tummy. When I called to ask the doctor what to do, he told me to pump and dump until I was off the antibiotics and to just give her formula! Um… HELLO?!?! Are you serious?! Anyone who has ever breastfed knows that you. just. don’t. do. that, unless you’re on radioactive medicine or something.
Doctors are really only required to study about the physical process of breastfeeding and nothing much else. They also rely off of their own indirect experience, which may be influenced by uneducated family members or from cultural perspectives. For example, breastfeeding rates in China are thought to be some of the lowest in the world, so it’s no wonder that this Chinese doctor told me that breast milk wasn’t good for my child.
Some doctors give fantastic advice and support about breastfeeding. Others do not. It’s important to remember, that unless you are talking to a certified lactation consultant, or maybe a midwife or doula, a doctor may only be giving you their biased opinion on breastfeeding. If you had an eye problem, you would go see an eye speicalist. If you had a heart problem, you would go see a heart specialist. If you had a breastfeeding problem, you would go see a lactation specialist, thank you very much! So, do yourself a favor ladies. If your doctor gives you unwelcomed breastfeeding advice that rubs you wrong, just ignore them. They might be good at looking down your throat or prescribing antibiotics, but they often don’t know the first thing about breastfeeding. Call a lactation consultant instead, if you have any issues or concerns.
Ok, so you tell me. That picture is of Goldie, my two year old. Does she look like a boy?! Does it look like breastmilk is ‘bad‘ for her! I think NOT!