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Saturday, June 3, 2017

MiM Mail: Can I wean baby before medical school?

I am a 33-year-old MS0. My husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy October 2016. I have loved my time with him and I am also looking forward to medical school beginning in the fall - with nervous excitement!

We are relocating for school, but, fortunately, my husband is able keep his current job. However, he will have a 90-minute commute each way. We found a great daycare and my mom will live in town for backup. My school starts with gross anatomy, which means we are on campus all the time. I love nursing my baby but I struggle to imagine pumping/nursing in medical school.

Fortunately, I have not had issues with milk production and have started building a freezer supply. Does it make sense to wean baby and utilize the freezer supply and supplement with formula if needed? Is that okay? The pressures to breastfeed exclusively are harsh and I just want to care for my baby the best I can. I haven't started school yet, but the mom-guilt is already eating away at me.

P.S. - I am so thankful for this community! I love reading your stories and feeling the support between moms. I recently received a public nastygram on Facebook from a 'friend' who said she believes my choice to attend medical school is a "mistake" because I am a new mom. I want to not care, but I will admit my confidence is shaken.

-Anonymous

13 comments:

  1. He's already gotten the benefits of 8 months of breast milk! You did fantastic. I say wean away (as someone who weaned my 2nd at 9 months at his choosing with no ill effects whatsoever). Check out organic formulas (we used Earths Best) if that makes you feel better :)

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  2. There is NOTHING wrong with weaning your child when and how you want to. There is NOTHING wrong with formula. You do not have to breast feed at all or exclusively if that is not the right choice for you. There is NOTHING wrong with having a child through medical school.

    It may be worth talking with your campus and seeing how flexible they can be. My campus is very flexible with mothers and has nursing rooms available and would definitely support someone excusing themselves from the lab to pump. Our anatomy professor had a kid recently and has also had no problems breast feeding/pumping/etc. But it's going to be campus specific.

    I am confident that whatever decision you make, it's the best decision for you, your husband, and your child.

    You may find the Skeptical OB/GYN blog helpful for support when it comes to combatting the rabid breast feeding activists.

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  3. You have done a great job!! I had a freezer full of milk when I weaned my son at 7/8 months. Used it for a while then got busy and left a small supply to go bad because formula was easier. He's now a thriving almost 12 yo bigger and taller than all of his friends. Don't listen to the nastygrams! Do what works for you. I'm proud of my friends who tried to nurse for ONE DAY. Look at what you've done and not what you haven't:) Good luck in medical school!!

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  4. You can absolutely wean him. Personal convenience (I.e. Not going bonkers when you start Med school with a baby) should be a perfectly acceptable reason to wean him. If you enjoy nursing, you could still nurse him at night before bed or in the morning before school starts. I remember finding that time especially sweet when my daughter was in the process of weaning. But if not, I think you are entitled to feel no guilt about stopping completely. You will continue to produce milk for a while, so just bear that in mind when you cut back and allow yourself some time to ramp down so you don't get engorged.

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  5. I produced absolutely no milk (due to prolactin deficiency) and fed my baby formula since the beginning despite knowing the advantages of breast milk. She has done great, tops all growth charts and has not even needed one course of antibiotics. You've already done a great amount of breastfeeding from my perspectivr and have a large stash left, so you will be absolutely fine as everyone has said!

    I don't have a ton of personal experience besides my short attempts, but breastfeeding is about more than just the milk - there is also the bonding time, the quiet moments with just you and your baby. If you really love that time, it might be a nice source of stress relief during the beginning of med school that you might want to prioritize when you're home at night. But if you anticipate that it will stress you out more, then absolutely stop and transition!

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  6. You can absolutely wean if you'd like, but you also don't have to if you prefer to pump/bf! Ask your school for accommodations. If you have recorded lectures, you can also listen to them at home. At worst, spectra + freemies = ability to pump anywhere. Or pump q12, or just nurse at home and forget about pumping. I pumped for a year during my 3rd year, and I'm planning on doing it again as a pgy-2. Whichever you choose will be fine :)

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  7. OMG wean if/when you want! I supplemented from 2 months and stopped BF altogether by 8 months. Next time I would stop earlier! It was such a waste of time at the end - I was producing nothing. I basically kept pumping the last couple of months out of guilt. It's all so silly. Do what makes you happy. Your baby will be fed either way!

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  8. Just to echo what everyone else has said, wean whenever works for you. That being said, I started med school with a 6 week old and pumped successfully throughout so if you want to do it (and it is totally up to you!!!) it is very possible. The first 2 pre clinical years are so flexible. I pumped at lunch and also got a car adaptor for my pump so pumped on the way there and back. I'm more worried about pumping during clerkship which is something I'll have to face in a few months. Also just fyi, my school's OSHA recommended I wear a half face respirator during anatomy while I was pumping since they were worried about the formalin. Other than the big inconvenience and looking like Bane from Bateman it was also doable. Congrats and good luck. You do you and it will all work itself out.

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  9. For a while, I just nursed at night (if you want to keep nursing), because I was DONE with pumping during residency. Do what works for you. Your baby will be fine.

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  10. Even if you have a flexible schedule, pumping sucks. If you want to continue and your school will work with you great. If not, move on and don't look back. I wish I had gone straight to formula with my second kid. Either way is fine.

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  11. You've already received great pumping/nursing advice, so I will respond to the public nastygram: be confident in your decision. Before applying to medical school as a non-traditional student with four kids, I sought much advice and counsel from people who know my circumstances well. Many people (both in medicine and outside of it) were encouraging, and many were very cautionary for a variety of good reasons. I feel like I am beginning this journey - I start as an MS1 in two months - not as an idealist who is "following my dreams," but as an optimistic realist who is confident that this is where I am supposed to be. I'm planning on taking it one step at a time! Best wishes to you.

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  12. Let me say MEDICAL SCHOOL IS A GREAT TIME TO SWITCH THINGS UP/ PUMP!!! I know med students who pumped hundreds of ounces, enough to donate to other babies, they welcomed the 20 minute time away from class. I know many moms who don't pump when at work/school but still breastfeed when they are with their babies and they are very happy with that arrangement. Don't stress about it. Pump when you can and if you don't want to pump let it go, your body may still make milk to feed when you are with your baby.

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  13. You've already received some excellent advice above. Ultimately, you do you. Whatever decision you make is yours... It's your decision and your little one sounds like he is doing well. Pumping while in medical school is doable, as is partial weaning or full weaning. I did love my late night snuggles and nursing with my little dude when he was weaning. I was an ER attending and trying to find time to pump while running an ER in the evenings and overnights was challenging, but I did it. Ultimately, when my schedule or patient care took precedence over the 15-20 minute pump scenario, my supply trailed off and I was ok with that. We support you no matter what you choose to do!

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