My son was born in 1980. I lived in a rural area outside of a small town in Maryland. I had only lived there for 6 months before he was born, so I had not made many connections of friends. There were only a few OBs in town, so I chose one to follow me throughout my pregnancy. In my eighth month, I took a written birth plan to the OB that stated my preferences for the birth, including that I not be shaved, that no one would take the baby from me and s/he would be placed skin to skin upon birth, the baby would stay in the room with me, and no drops would be placed in the baby’s eyes. It was a fairly specific plan of what I preferred. The doctor looked at the plan, slid it across his desk, and told me he would no longer by my physician. So, at 8 months pregnant, I had to do something quickly. The following week, walking through town, my husband and I met a couple with a baby. I asked them if they knew a midwife. I am glad I asked, because they did. She lived an hour and a half away and I managed to see her one time before the birth. She was wonderful and the birth was incredibly smooth, yet due to the distance, I never saw her again.
There were no cell phones and no internet, so living in the country with no neighbors in sight was really challenging to me as a new Mom. I thought the pediatrician I chose was going to be wonderful because she offered to come to the house to see the baby since he was born at home. However, he had breast milk jaundice, and I was told that while he would not have to be placed under the bilirubin lights, I would have to place him by the window, take him outside, and stop nursing! I was advised that if I continued to nurse, my baby would most likely suffer brain damage and that he would never do well in school. I left the hospital with that information and one bottle of expired formula. I cried all the way home, and my heart ached with sadness, yet my instincts told me the information I was getting was not correct. I did not stop nursing. I was determined not to give up, and I found a number for the La Leche League in Baltimore. The city was about an hour and a half away, so I never met with anyone but I spoke at length with a wonderful nurse liaison. She told me NOT to stop nursing and offered to send me copies of studies and information that supported that approach so I could read it for myself and also to show my doctor. The packet arrived within a few days and I immediately took it to my baby’s doctor. She refused to read it or let me leave it in her office, and within a week I had a letter discharging my son from her care.
I am so glad I followed my instincts and did not stop what I knew to be the right thing. I continued to nurse my son until he weaned himself at four years old. Nursing women and babies need support, accurate information, and the opportunity to be with people who have open hearts and minds. The Breastfeeding Project is a wonderful organization dedicated to the care and support of the wonderful Moms who know they are doing what is absolutely the best for their children.