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Breastfeeding with Anxiety and Meds

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t take any medication while breastfeeding- or even take medicine in general. But in February I had to make that decision- to give my baby formula or to let my baby get a minuscule amount (studies have shown 0-5.5% of the maternal dose) of anti-depression medicine from my milk.

Before making this decision, I spoke with my daughter’s pediatrician, read countless articles and studies/drug inserts/and information pertaining to breastfeeding and Lexapro. Everything said it was fine to keep breastfeeding, so I made that choice.

Posted from InfantRisk and LactMed

I’m a full time mom of 3, who works from home with the kids, whose husband works 13 hours shifts- so sometimes I’m a single parent for a few days- there is no way I could make it without meds. But over the last 4 months my anxiety has worsened for no reason- so I tried to get more help.

The first Dr. that I saw for the anxiety told me there were no benzodiazepines that were safe while breastfeeding- even after I had researched and found Ativan was fine to take.

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So I moved on to Dr. #2. Dr. 2 wasn’t hearing me when I said something is going on with my body and I’m 90% sure it is my thyroid- plus she fought me on anxiety meds- even when my whole body was breaking out in hives. Which brought me to Dr.#3 and the reason for this post.

Dr. 3 at least was hearing me more on my thyroid concern and did some testing, but he was the worst of them all. He began to shame me for breastfeeding and taking meds. His words were- “If you were my wife, I would tell you to stop breastfeeding if you were taking any depression medication. It is only beneficial (to breastfeed) the first few months anyways.”  It took everything out of me not to go off on this man. I’m just going to post this from Kelly Mom:

The week before my appointment, I spoke with my daughter’s pediatrician (who is on the holistic side) to see if there was an anxiety med that she recommended, what was safe, and what I should do. Her opinion was my mental health is extremely important, that most anxiety meds were ok to take and since they are only used as needed- pumping and dumping is always an option. I also went to my LC to verify the information from LactMed and InfantRisk. Her book, Medications and Mother’s Milk, said the same thing as the apps.

I think it is important to get information from all over because it is called Practicing Medicine for a reason. Information changes daily. It is impossible for Dr.’s to keep up with every drug, warning, and whatnot. And I’ve learned the Novant computer system drug information is different than what LactMed, the government, drug company, and other drug information sites publish.

So Dr.3 proceeded to tell me I shouldn’t be on any medicine while nursing. He said if I still have anxiety, my medicine isn’t working and I need to switch drugs. When I tried to explain the research that I’ve done- he then talked down on me like- how dare you research on your own, I’m a Dr. and pulled up his outdated info online. I just listened because I was frustrated, shaking, and wanted to scream how wrong he was. But then I know I wouldn’t have gotten the medication I needed or the tests run that could solve this puzzle.

When I left, I was so upset. It has taken me 3 weeks to calm down enough to write this post. What kind of Dr. shames a mother who is trying to get better so she can care for her kids and be at her best? Let alone 3 Dr.’s who aren’t listening to their patient?? And it turns out there IS something wrong with my thyroid and possibly pituitary gland, so I’m glad I kept fighting and didn’t give up.

Post-partum care in this country is beyond pathetic- and I have great insurance. I am lucky that I understand depression and anxiety. I am lucky that I understand lactation and have an amazing support system. I am lucky I have the resources to do my own research instead of relying on what a Dr. is telling me. But I can’t imagine the mom who is struggling and the Dr. turns her away. I can’t imagine the mom who has worked so hard to breastfeed to be told she needs to stop because of medicine- that is actually safe to take! Or fight for tests to be run that would resolve the whole situation!

If you have a concern and the first Dr. isn’t listening to you- find new care. And keep going down the line until you find someone who is hearing you. Find someone who knows medicine changes. That research changes. Find someone who is willing to learn instead of thinking they are always right. Most importantly- listen to your body. You know you better than any Dr.

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