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."