Is Breastfeeding the best feeding for me?

It’s no secret that breastfeeding provides tons of benefits to one’s child but it’s not always possible for all new Moms.  I’m indifferent to breastfeeding but in my personal opinion, the pros outweigh the cons so it has always been my hope to provide Sophie with at least 6 months of exclusive breast milk.

Throw in Neuromyelitis Optica into the mix.

My team of doctors have always provided me with excellent care but up until this moment I’m still not sure what the plan is (for the record, I’ve been breastfeeding Sophie since day  one and she’s now 7 weeks old).  During my pregnancy we discussed if I could breastfeed, what medication was safe and at what point I would have to start immune suppressant drugs but my doctors never came to a consensus so no decision was ever articulated to me.

So I did what every patient should do: I educated myself and became my own advocate.

Of course, I’m motivated to do what is in the best interest of my daughter.  Right now I’m on 20 mg of prednisone and 600 mg of gabapentin everyday, both safe (enough) for breastfeeding.  The gamble is how long I can continue this practice before I have a relapse (if it’s going to happen).  At what point do I stop breastfeeding and start immune suppressant drugs?  Will it happen and if yes, when?  If I stop breastfeeding too soon, am I robbing my daughter of necessary nutrients?  If I continue for too long, am I playing with fire and putting my own health at risk?

It’ll be another month before I see my neurologist, at which point I’ll discuss and decide then.  Even this one month makes me nervous now but I’m so busy with a newborn I don’t dwell on it.

Is there any other NMO patients out there who breastfed their kids?

4 Comments

  1. Paige

    This hits close to home for me. I had my first attack when my youngest was 2 months old. At the time we had no idea what was going on….I thought I had a really bad case of the flu or something. Anyways…long story short, being paralyzed from the waist down for 2 months did not help my breast feeding cause at all. Being on a heavy does of steroids and pain killers, it just was not safe.

    My boys pediatrician is absolutely amazing and reassured me that I had done the best thing I could for my son by not breast feeding. How he broke it down for me – if your baby gets the colostrum that is by far the best thing for them! If they get a week of breast milk, great, a month, cool, 2 months….well science has created formula to almost exactly mimic breast milk, and in some case (ie when the mom is not getting proper nutrition or on medications) it can even be better for the baby.

    That’s just my story, but I think in this case, it’s not really an issue your team of doctors needs to work out, it’s something you need to discuss with Sophie’s Dr. and see what he/she says :)

    Comment by Paige on September 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

  2. Thanks for writing this post. This is something that I have been thinking a lot about of late. I am now 6 months pregnant and on 15mg of steroids and 900mg of gabapentin. Sometimes more. I have had a range of relapses since falling pregnant and it was only reading your posts that enabled me to inform my Neurologist on what he could do to treat me. So that I’m grateful for. I’ve been told that as soon as I have the baby I will be given rituximab due to the high risk of relapse. I was hoping to breast feed but of course I can’t with this. I’m hoping that I’m given even a few weeks so that our baby can have some of the fantastic nutrients from breast milk. I’d be interested to hear more when you find out from your Doctors what they plan to do. I hope all is well with you and your baby.

    Take care.

    Bunmi :-)

    Comment by Bunmi on September 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

  3. Jenna

    Hi Paige. Thanks for sharing your story. I feel much better knowing formula can provide great benefits if it is necessary that we switch. I’m hoping that when I see neurology next month that they give me their blessing to let me breastfeeding Sophie just a little longer, hopefully to 6 months at least.

    Hi Bunmi. Thanks for your message. I know that Erin did Rituximab shortly after giving birth to Allen and has had some success managing her NMO with the exception of elevated symptoms. She’s actually doing another round today.

    I’ll be sure to update everyone once my doctors have made a decision.

    Jenna

    Comment by Jenna on September 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm

  4. Lisa Martin

    Hi All,

    I am also breastfeeding my 4month old. I am playing Jenna’s game of fingers-crossed and hoping for 6 months. My female neuro and I had a long discussion about this (my male neuro, great guy, but doesn’t quite get the breastfeeding/mom thing!) and decided that the steps were in place, were I to have an attack, to have quick treatment. Also, I have made it past the 12 week mark, without an attack and hope that this is a good sign. So maybe it’s not unrealistic to try waiting a bit longer.

    I breast fed my first daughter all the way to 12months, but did have an attack around the 3 month mark. I was undiagnosed at the time and didn’t get diagnosed until she was a year. I began immune suppresants and steroids right away.

    With both pregnancies, I found that I felt FANTASTIC for the first 6-10weeks post-delivery….then all the symptoms came back. Because I was feeling SO good for SO long (after feeling SO bad when pregnant!) , the return of the symptoms took a while to get used to. Now they have settled back in and I find I can manage them with breast-feeding safe drugs and an amazing husband. I have decided what is best for me and my babe is to play the risky game and re-evaluate at 6 months.

    Fingers-crossed,
    Lisa

    Comment by Lisa Martin on September 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm

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