breastfeeding resident

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    Wondering what you all think about this. I am a third year IM resident with a 7 month old ds who I am still nursing. I don’t really feel like weaning him yet but I’m just so exhausted on every level and I’m wondering whether I’ll feel better if I wean him. Did anyone nurse through residency, and experienced with this?


    I breastfed through my second and third years of peds residency. It wasn’t easy and certainly was exhausting, but for me it was worth it. As a pediatrician and a mom, I think that your baby needs a relaxed, happy mother more than anything else. You need to evaulate whether it is really the nursing that is exhausting you or just the residency and demands of a baby. Also, will you feel cheated in the future if you stop now? Keep in mind that breastfeeding is not all or nothing. You could supplement one or 2 bottles and still keep up your supply, just be consistant that it is the same two bottles each day so your body can adjust. There is no right or wrong decision here, just be honest with yourself and find what is right for you.

    EM momEM mom

    I breastfed through my first lab year in surgery and because I was working in a VA hospital (extremely female UNfriendly) I found it stressful and very difficult. It was hard to find any privacy or any place to store the milk. Finally at 6 months I was so stressed out from working, breastfeeding, being a new mom, being completely sleep deprived, etc. I decided that something had to give. I stopped nursing (although she went for another month on milk that I had stored before she started formula). After finding the formula that worked for her I found myself a lot less stressed out and my husband was able to help a lot more. (However, I didn’t have any preconceived notions about how long I was going to breastfeed anyway so although quitting made me sad, it wasn’t the end of the world for me). The one thing that I wish someone would have warned me about though was the crazy hormonal moodswings that I had when I quit. The physical weaning pain wasn’t so bad but for about a month I was totally wacko as far as emotions went. It’s a totally personal thing though, I had some friends that breastfed for 6 weeks and that was it and some friends that are just weaning now, at around 15 months of age. All of our children are happy and healthy so I really say do whatever feels right to YOU! Good luck (it’s a hard decision!).


    I hear you I had two children during residency, one in my first year and the other in my third year of residency. I spent my entire residency, sleep deprived, pregnant and nursing. It is exhausting but it was so much worth it. Hang in there. Do what you think is best for you. But know there are others who have ventured down the same path.


    By the way, I am due with my third child in March. I plan to nurse. I am a pediatric Emergency Medicine doctor, and boy will I have to condition many to this venture. Almost all of the female er doctors who have babies at our hospital never nurse, because they think there is not enough time, it is too exhausting and tooo much work.

    shauna ,MS,MomMD2Bshauna,MS,MomMD2B

    rugratdoc I’m amazed! :yikes:

    Two children in residency and one in practice?!!

    I sent you a PM.



    I am nursing an almost 10-month-old in my 2nd year of FP. It’s alot of running, but I would feel as though I had put my career ahead of my son if I hadn’t. I know everyone is different, and has a different situation. I have a very supportive husband, etc, etc. I plan on nursing him until I feel like he is ready to be weaned (like I did with my first two.) I think it is very demanding, but in the long run, very worth it.


    Chylothorax –

    I had my daughter in February of my second year of IM residency and managed to nurse her til 11 months. It WAS exhausting. I had her on reverse-cycle feeding, so she would eat very little during the day and then nurse three times during the night (most nights). As she got older it became twice a night for awhile. Eventually at 11 months my husband begged me to quit because I was so tired and had no time for myself or him or anything. (But then, who is to say any resident working 80-100 hours a week feels rested?) I felt horrible about weaning her because I didn’t want to, and I resented my DH for a long while for even suggesting it. But the retroscope is 20/20 and he was right, I was on the edge of a breakdown. Anyhow, after I weaned her, within a month she was sleeping somewhat better, getting up only once a night for a bottle. She didn’t sleep all night long for a few more months after that, but when she did, I felt like a new woman what with all the sleep!

    I would not trade all the nighttime nursings for anything in the world though. Those are great memories, although hazy!

    Hang in there as long as you can, but you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of your child, remember that.

    BTW, great name. Was this a central line or pleurocentesis complication? Or just a memorable patient?


    Im not meaning to get somewhat off topic but how do you know (especially at first) that the baby is sucking an adequate amount before tiring when sucking from the breast? I am curious to know because some babies suck harder than others..I have had three children, none of which were breastfed….my mother instinct just didnt kick in, in that area. Please, educate me!


    Thanks, and yes the name was a great med school case. You know the baby’s eating enough by the number of wet/poopy diapers and then by adequate growth at the checkups, btw.
    Yes, I pretty much want to keep nursing him until he’s ready to quit; it’s been really valuable for me as a mother emotionally in a lot of ways and I’m so pleased he hasn’t been sick at all, despite my having 3-4 URIs and a bona fide pneumonia this fall. Also, of course I have so many reasons to be exhausted, but this is the only variable over which I have any measure of control. Additionally, I realize this maybe isn’t a problem many people have, but physically just getting all the calories in…who has time for all this eating? I feel like all I do is eat, carried around Ensure when I was pregnant, and now with the nursing my BMI is one of those bad teen numbers at which mortality goes way up. Anyway, I’m divided about it; it’s not really contributing to my sleep deprivation at this point but does make a day at work esp a call day that much more hurried and fretful.


    I had a really hard time nursing and pumping during residency. As a resident, I had little control over my own schedule, and I did not feel comfortable asking to be excused by my staff (mostly male) to go pump. I also had a really hard time producing enough milk, so I ended up quitting after 6 months with both of my children.

    Of course, we all would like to breastfeed as long as possible, but sometimes, it just doesn’t work out that way. As my father says, “At high school graduation, no one can tell which kids were breast fed and which ones weren’t”.

    Dr .SallyDr.Sally

    I guess I would say to that comment, is that we probably can’t tell which high school graduates had their childhood vaccines, rode in car seats, or if they were exposed to second hand smoke. It doesn’t mean they aren’t important.


    I’m very much about looking at the big picture. :goodvibes:

    Whether or not you breastfeed (and for how long) is (in my opinion) less of an issue than the home you’re able to provide to your baby. :yes: And if by working…progressing…releasing…destressing…you’re a more well rounded, happier person, that’s what’s best for the baby. period.


    I’m a 2nd year FP resident at a pretty busy program, still BFing my 5 1/2 month old boy. I decided from the beginning to not be shy about it, even with my male attendings. I figure they’re doctors too, they should be supportive of BFing. And they need to get used to the fact that just as many women as men are entering the field now and this is not an issue that will disappear. It is a challenge when it’s busy finding an appropriate time to pump, but I’ve managed to make it work so far and none of my attendings have given me grief over it.

    For me, it’s been worth all of the extra hassle to be able to keep up breastfeeding. I love having our special snuggly nursing time together when we’re at home. I feel like it strenghtens our relationship and helps balance out the long hours I sometimes work. I realize not everyone has the same strong feelings and warm fuzzies about breasfeeding as I do. I agree that most of all babies need happy, rested mommies so if the pumping routine is causing you more stress than fulfillment I don’t think you should feel guilty about weaning. But also know that there are women who make it through a year or more of BFing as residents to inspire you if you need it. Maybe you could cut back the number of times you pump, but still pump enough to have some supply to nurse when you’re home.

    It’s not an easy task we’ve taken upon ourselves, to be residents/doctors and mommies. They’re both full-time, over-time jobs and no one can do both 150% like we’d like to. My priorities have definitely shifted and it’s been an adjustment for me to not be the one who tries to always be on top. Before baby, residency was my life. Now it’s just a job and my son is my life. Continuing breastfeeding helps me feel balanced between the two. You have to find the balance that works for you and your baby.


    I agree that we have to avoid the polarizing breast vs. formula discussion. You can do both. I know some residents who end up doing 2 breastfeedings a day (morning and bedtime) and only pump if they have to miss those on call, so they get away with less pumping at work. But the point about getting in enough food and hydration is a good one. You have to take care of yourself first in order to be healthy for the baby. If you don’t have time to eat, maybe you don’t have time to pump — could you eat and pump at the same time?! Hang in there …

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