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I trust my pediatrician — but here's why I didn't take her latest advice

Ciara is a freelance writer and blogger. She's an expat, crossing the globe between the U.S. and whatever new country her family calls home every two years. She's intrigued by relationships and shares what she's learning about marriag...

Why I ignored my child's pediatrician and went against her advice

Before I tell you why I ignored my kid’s pediatrician, you’ve got to understand that I value the medical community immensely. As a first-time parent, I would have been lost without the guidance of our pediatrician. That said, on this one occasion, I chose to ignore her.

What happened?

My daughter was maybe seven months old and eating solid foods. With the blessing of our pediatrician, we’d started her on veggies instead of cereals — and she was doing great. She loved eating her veggies. Around the same time she began eating veggies, she ended up having a round of antibiotics for an infection. Unfortunately, the antibiotics combined with the veggies caused a bit of constipation.

It was so bad my poor that baby was screaming out in pain whenever she had to poop, and babies poop a considerable amount of times each day — except she wasn’t. She went from going one to two times a day to once every five to seven days immediately following the antibiotics.

No brainer — get professional help.

Little first-time-mom me called the pediatrician only to be told that as long as the stool wasn’t bloody, baby was fine and not to worry. The office said it was normal that my poor child was screaming out in pain.

What do you do when the doctor tells you something is normal but your mommy gut tells you that that same thing is very wrong? Maybe I was just being an overanxious first-time parent. I told myself to wait it out.

After about three weeks with the same problem, I called for a sick appointment to talk to a doctor in our practice. The pediatrician recommended giving our 7-month-old baby milk of magnesia as often as daily to help her to move her bowels.

Desperate, I gave her the recommended dose the same day, and I was relieved that it helped. But the next day, no poop. Again, it took her five days to have another bowel movement, and she was screaming out in pain. It was then I realized I’d really have to give her this milk of magnesia stuff every day to keep her from being in so much pain.

What effect will this drug have on my kid?

So, Google and I went to town and researched the effects of milk of magnesia on infants. To my surprise, I found that no one, especially not a baby, should take that stuff daily. I read about the effects on babies, and I realized that I didn’t want my kid relying on milk of magnesia to poop. Poop is normal. It’s something we should be able to do without consistent chemical support. I needed to find an alternative.

The same day, I found an infant probiotic she could have with every meal. I went to Whole Foods, baby in tow, came home and gave her a dose. In my mind, anything natural had to be better than milk of magnesia. It worked. I never gave her another dose of milk of magnesia after that first emergency dose.

Does the pediatrician bless this alternative?

When I asked the pediatrician whether she agreed with this alternative to milk of magnesia, I was completely surprised by her response. She basically said she couldn’t speak to the effects — positive or negative — of probiotics because there was not significant evidence on them.

I was shocked. There is more evidence in the medical community on a super-processed chemical than on a much more naturally occurring remedy like probiotics, things that are present in foods and naturally in our bodies.

Needless to say, I didn’t get a blessing. I got a side eye that seemed to essentially throw me in the New Age, health-nut mommy box, but I didn’t care. I was doing what I thought was right for my child, and it wasn’t hurting anyone or putting anyone in danger.

Why I chose to ignore my kid’s pediatrician

At the end of the day, I chose to ignore my kid’s pediatrician because the medical community hasn’t made significant breakthroughs in non-chemical alternatives to simple health issues— especially gut-related health.

Conventional medicine — our doctors and hospitals — seem trained to handle things reactively. I’m grateful they recommended the milk of magnesia, because it provided an efficient response to my daughter’s initial constipation, but it didn’t provide a long-term remedy. The medical community is not capable of preventing the issue. They’re just available to fix problems when they arise.

So, I chose to ignore my daughter’s pediatrician because after she provided a solution to our immediate problem, her long-term solution was not holistic and may have actually caused more harm than good — albeit unintentionally.

Since our medical system is set to reactively respond to health issues, it’s up to us to find preventive solutions in the form of the foods we eat and the supplements we introduce. Our medical community isn’t tasked with preventing illness; its focus is on fixing us once we get sick. It’s our job not to get sick — and sometimes, we have to bypass conventional medical wisdom to do that.

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