Frustrations with Doctors

It’s been a while since I posted, and tried several times last week, but my girl turned two, and it was hectic. My parents came in from out of town to visit/meet their grandchild.

Nevertheless, today I had a very frustrating experience and just was so riled up, I may just send this post right to the pediatrician’s office. I should call this post “Doctors who don’t know as much as you”.

I switched to this new practice not long ago. With the last practice, I was tired of the lack of breastfeeding support and advice about parenting practices that go against our values. Things like physical discipline, letting babies cry it out, and other awful bits that really aren’t any of their business, and are bad to advise about – that’s not medical advice. I didn’t appreciate being asked questions that had nothing to do with anything. “How does she sleep- does she sleep through the night?” What does that have to do with anything? Is she healthy and happy and meeting milestones? Is she waking you up? Come on.

I interviewed this new practice before joining and felt good about the answers they gave me to such questions. I asked about their support for breastfeeding and push for weaning. They told me they had an IBCLC on staff, which made me feel great as we plan for another baby in the next year, I know I will appreciate that support if I need it. Other things like sleep habits, I was told, were lifestyle choices, and not something they even discuss until parents determine there may be a problem.

This was music to my ears. Even though I vaccinate my daughter, I did ask them about their shots, what they use, their schedules, and if they allow alternative schedules. Not that I want an alternative schedule. I just like that the office is flexible to the choices other moms might make. I have a friend who wants to discontinue vaccines until her child is a little older and may better tolerate them. I think that’s her right to call that move.

Today was my first official visit with them as a well check for a two year old. And they jumped right in on the lifestyle questions. Her eating habits, her play habits, and such. Which was curious to me. The reason – the doctor told me that my child is off the charts in her weight/BMI calcs. She was over the 99th percentile. This was strange to me – my daughter is glaringly NOT overweight, by any stretch of the definition. Her diet consists of mainly lean meats, veggies, and fruits. She doesn’t eat many sweets, her snacks are mostly whole foods. She doesn’t like candy. She gets zero juice, and mostly water to drink. I was still lectured about portion control and watching her weight, because she is just really a big child.

My child is not big. Apparently this doctor goes only by that number on the paper and just doesn’t believe what she is seeing with her own eyes. The nurse wrote the number down wrong, and had her at TEN POUNDS heavier. On a two year old, that’s a TON!! My daughter was in the 56th percentile. Not over 99%. Honest to god, they couldn’t look at her and tell that? How long has this doctor been a pediatrician?

Well, and on to her sleep habits. Where does she sleep and how does she sleep? Does she still breastfeed at night? Well, I better stop that right now, because I’m going to give her cavities. (My daughter does not, in fact, have a single cavity, thank you.) I don’t know WHY, but I tried to tell her this was not correct info, and she told me that all the dentists have trained them, that breastmilk causes cavities. That they’re seeing an uptick in cavities and tooth decay in breastfed babies.

Oh, let me count the ways this is so false. But before I do, what astounds me is that they obviously don’t listen one whit to the IBCLC they employ, and instead take it from a dentist who receives no lactation training at all, and knows nothing about breast milk.

Breast milk does not cause tooth decay or cavities and in fact, protects against tooth decay. There are SEVERAL reasons for this, and why breastfeeding specifically is much different than bottle feeding – even bottle feeding expressed milk. Not only that, but this research is NOT new. There is quite a bit out there, and many other countries have documented studies on this as well. Please review the linked information. Note the ADA has old information and will not correct it. And the reason is, it is easier to give blanket advice to all moms about infant feeding than to note the difference in breastfed babies, and to educate on the properties of breast milk that protect against decay, or to discuss the physical function of the mouth and how breastfed babies and bottle fed babies don’t even drink the same way. Bottles and breasts act differently. So instead of making the distinction, the ADA just says, moms, don’t give your kids anything after bed. Simple. Hopefully that’ll cut down on some cavities.

How many moms are they telling this to- how many breastfeeding relationships are they trampling on? How many babies are being forced to wean earlier than they want, because the doctor wants to give bad advice about something they shouldn’t even really be bothered about- given the lifestyle choice? Or so it was told to me by a previous visit.

And her whole nonsense line about the uptick in cavities in breastfed babies is crap. MOST toddlers aren’t nursing. Of those who are, many have night weaned. There is SUCH a small pool of children to sample such data from – which you know they didn’t – that that statement is ABSURD. There’s no uptick in night nursing toddlers! How can there be an uptick in cavities!? And are they factoring for diet, genes, and other lifestyle choices? Or just going with breast feeding because it’s an easy culprit? I’m sorry. This is WRONG.

The last thing she advised us on was that we should be reading more to our daughter, you know, daily, to help her with her words and pronunciations. I sat there flabbergasted. I am a writer. My husband was a librarian for 17 years. My daughter has more books than MOST adults we know. We don’t only read to her daily. We read several books every day. She “reads” them back to us, mimicking our inflection. She says over 200 words and has full on conversations with people (even though much of it is babbling), she talks and talks and repeats almost everything you say to her.

So tell me doctor who doesn’t know us or, again, knows our lifestyle, how should I work to improve her words when we are already doing more than the minimum you suggest?

In what other ways will you tell me my child needs fixing? Because that’s how I took it. Her iron levels were perfect. Her lead levels were perfect. Her fine and gross motor skills were right on track. Behavioral checklists indicate she is as normal as they come. They didn’t once ask me if she knew letters or numbers or colors or shapes. (She knows the whole alphabet, numbers one through ten, all shapes, and a couple colors.) They didn’t ask me if she knows her name, or how she relates to other people, or her attention span, or anything. I instead got lectured about three things that were totally stupid things; the first being WRONG, the second being MISINFORMATION, and the third being PRESUMPTUOUS about what we do in our home.

I have every mind of writing them a letter and asking them to get additional training, and meet with their IBCLC for CORRECT AND ACCURATE breastfeeding information. And asking them that they stop asking parents about their lifestyles and directing them to do things that is outside of MEDICAL advice. They left me with a nice happy print out, talking about how to be with my child. Cuddle her a lot, and play with her every day. Give rewards for good behavior. I can employ sticker charts if I want. (Both are strongly recommended against in most child psychological development circles.) Eat a healthy diet. Encourage kind playtime with others.

No shit, Sherlock. Thanks for the advice. I think I might have chosen the wrong practice. I think I might need to rethink these pre-screen interviews with these places. I feel insulted and am definitely frustrated with their lack of information.

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