This guest post is from Ruzawench, a FOAF of Lauredhel’s. She is posting her experience as a comment on how unexpected weight gain is treated by the medical community, and as a warning to other women.
I had a baby in August and am breastfeeding. When I got home from hospital I weighed myself out of curiosity and found that I weighed the same as I did prior to pregnancy. However, in a few weeks I noticed that I started gaining weight. I kept gaining weight without any good reason that I could see and contrary to most breastfeeding women who lose weight!
I consulted with my GP and she ordered some blood tests. These all came back normal, however, I had since put on more weight (it was then 10kg’s within 4 months!) and I was worried that there was something wrong with my hormones, specifically my thyroid. She referred me to Dr M. I didn’t see Dr M because he charges $1200 per consult!
I was told Dr Z only charged $400 per consult (still very high!) and specialised in womens weight issues etc. I organised an appointment with her in December.
I had a 1-hour consult with Dr Z, during which time I explained that I was still breastfeeding and that I was concerned about my recent weight gain being caused by a hormone imbalance. She ordered some more blood tests and advised that some women are unable to lose weight while breastfeeding due to the effect of the prolactin on their bodies, so we would have to be careful about how we proceed in my weight loss plan. She also asked whether I considered surgery to be an option.
Prior to leaving she asked me to do a fat scan – which basically is a scan of your body to show the approx weight of fat, muscle and skeleton. This was a further $120.
I had my blood taken on the 2nd of January and waited on her call for the results. After a week I called her office and left a message – she was on holiday. I called again a couple of weeks later and left another message. I received a call from an assistant stating that all the blood results had not yet been received and that Dr Z would email me.
I received an email on the 2nd of Feb asking me to keep a food and exercise diary and to make a further appointment in a months time with the Dr. I found this to be totally unsatisfactory and replied in email that I could not afford to continue with consults, I was too focused on caring for my baby to be worried about keeping tabs on food & exercise and that I was still awaiting test results – I requested that they forward my results to my GP if they were unable to get them to me.
A week after telling them I no longer required their services, I received two prescriptions in the post from Dr Z – one was for EAC – which is a combination of Ephedrin, Aspirin and Caffeine. The other is a script for three medications Bupropion, Duromine and Sibutramine. There were no instructions with these scripts and no information on what these medications do. I looked them up on the Internet (Wikipedia) and found that two of them were anti-depressants, and I already knew what Duromine was. I didn’t think any of these were suitable for a breast feeding mother.
I plan to take these scripts to my GP to discuss further with her, but I do not plan on filling them. I am shocked to have received these scripts with a further consult, or without even being given my test results.
Note from lauredhel: There are multiple layers of wrong in this story. I’m sure you’re all astonished and disgusted that scripts for a whole pile of these extremely powerful and potentially very dangerous medications would be just thrown at someone with neither discussion nor informed consent. Even if the medications were appropriate (and I believe that weight loss medications are not), it would have been very simple for the consultant to write a letter to Ruzawench’s GP so that the GP could discuss them with her in person. Consultants are required by medical ethics (and sometimes by law) to provide a report to a referring doctor with their findings and management plan.
Most medications are very safe in breastfeeding, though doctors will often tell you they are not, and will inappropriately suggest pumping and dumping, or even weaning. There are a number of resources available to check out the safety of medicines in lactation. (I can perhaps put these in another post if people would like?)
Amphetamines are one of the very few classes of medications that are generally recognised as being unsafe in breastfeeding, along with medications like lithium, radioactive iodine treatment (not diagnostic scans, just treatment), and most chemotherapy.
Be careful out there.