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A Mother With Lupus

By Angela Herrera
Windsor IL USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 5, September-October 2000, p. 167

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time

I am a twenty-six-year-old mother of three and I am a strong believer in breastfeeding. That's why I was so excited to finally be a stay-at-home mother and devote my time to my family after the birth of my son two years ago. We established a close relationship through nursing, and breastfeeding was an important part of our lifestyle.

About six months into my career as a stay-at-home mother, I found out I had a blood disorder, ITP, or Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura. I had low platelet levels (very low), and was at risk for hemorrhages. I was scared, but more devastating than worrying about the cause of the disorder (eventually found to be lupus) was finding out that all the doctors involved wanted me to quit breastfeeding immediately. My son had never had anything except breast milk and had never seen a bottle. I was heartbroken and began grieving for the breastfeeding relationship with my son that I was sure was going to end.

However, with my husband and a nurse's encouragement I decided to contact La Leche League for more information. It turned out that my disorder and treatment would not affect my milk unless I had to be put on heavy doses of certain medications. So, with the help of a nurse from our local health department and a local La Leche League Leader I began investigating studies that described different forms of treatment. The La Leche League Leader had had a similar experience with medication for her allergies and had been able to schedule her medication doses around breastfeeding.

I asked the doctors treating me to treat my concerns about breastfeeding my son seriously and think beyond what was the "easiest" or most common treatment. I decided to postpone treatment with medications until we could determine what the course of my disease would be. I also looked into taking medications at certain intervals and breastfeeding when the level of medication in my body should be lowest. However, I was fortunate enough to come out of my "flare-up" without needing medication. Our nursing relationship remained intact until my son ended it at about 15 months.

La Leche League really helped me in making a decision about breastfeeding. It was also an informative experience for my doctors. I found they were eager to know more about breastfeeding and drugs in human milk. Don't assume that your doctor will not listen. Physicians just may not know very much about taking medications while nursing a baby. I'm glad that my doctors and I were able to work out a way for me to continue breastfeeding. Now I know that nothing stands in the way of my developing and maintaining that type of relationship with my new baby.

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