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When There's a Doctor In the House

The Decision to Breastfeed

One thing that pediatricians rank as crucial to the health of their own children is breastfeeding. "I don't know any pediatrician who didn't nurse her baby -- we spend all day saying how great breastfeeding is," says Dr. Mikelait, who nursed for eight months. "But I would never insist that a woman do it, because I know how hard it is."

Colette Desrochers, M.D., a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and mother of Michael, 5, Julia, 3, and Isabelle, 1, nursed each of her children while working three days a week. "It was a little tricky, but I felt strongly that it was the best thing I could do to keep my kids healthy, especially since they were all in daycare," she says. "It absolutely helped. They ended up with few infections."

Dr. Brown had a lot of trouble nursing her daughter, Julia, who suffered from acid reflux. "It was misery. I would nurse her and then she'd immediately throw up the feeding. So I would use expressed milk or formula to feed her again, and then I'd be pumping to try to get more milk," she says. When Julia was 6 weeks old, Brown reluctantly gave up nursing in favor of formula. "I had the attitude that I was going to breastfeed. Finally, Julia's pediatrician told me it was okay to stop. I almost needed someone to give me permission," she says. "The experience made me realize what a challenge breastfeeding is, and that sometimes it's okay to let go."

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