The media wants you to think only able-bodied women can nurse

25 Jun

At 14 yrs old my life took a horrible turn for the worst. I woke up that fall morning and could walk.  After a year and ½ worth of test, procedures, pokes and prods of my entire body, they determined it was Rheumatoid Arthritis. A devastating disease that  lead me 14 surgeries including have both of my knees replaced(although I was proud to be the youngest patient at St. Francis to have this procedure) and an elbow replacement and ankle and wrist reconstruction, just to name a few.

In 2004, I was told by a doctor that mainstream medication was causing more damage to me than my disease, thus leading me to change my entire life and my thought process. I discovered Eastern medicine, herbs, supplements, organic, natural food and a holistic lifestyle, it was the change I needed. 

In the fall of 2005, I became pregnant with my son. Of course now living this lifestyle (not that I was off my meds completely, but was at least off the meds that could cause cancer, leukemia, etc), I wanted a natural childbirth. I took Bradley Method classes and had a wonderful birth. I nursed my son immediately and had a WONDERFUL relationship with him, until 1 month into his life. He was about 6 weeks old and I hit an all time low with my disease. I couldn’t even get him dressed or myself out of bed because of the pain. However, I was sooo determined to nurse, I kept trudging through. Finally at 6 months, my son’s pediatrician told me I needed to stop, and I did reluctantly. Literally on Monday I was nursing and Tuesday I was back on Chemo, clearly contraindicated with breastfeeding.  I hit the lowest of lows with depression and decided to attend a LLLI meeting for support. Even though I was bottle feeding my son, they were so supportive.

In 2008, I was pregnant with my daughter.  At 30 weeks we discovered she may have a heart condition. So the doctor informed me that I must come to the hospital as soon as I go into labor(clearly not what I wanted, but knew it was best for my little munchkin). They did not know how she was going to handle labor and most probably would need to take her to the NICU as soon as she was born. I AGGRESSIVELY informed them that I wanted to nurse and if I needed to go there straight from my birth, I would! The doctors also said that I should be cautious since they didn’t know how she’d be, and breastfeeding may have to be put on hold.  God was on our side, since she was a happy, healthy 7.12 pound bambino!  In my opinion though, even if she had to go to the NICU, I would have been with her and nursing her!  Happily ever after, she nursed immediately and we had a wonderful start to breastfeeding.

I was scared to death that the same thing that occurred with my disease nursing my son, would happen with my daughter. I did my research and discovered Dr. Hale. Come to find out, there were a TON of meds that I could take and still nurse. My daughter and I had a wonderful, happy, fulfilling 17 month breastfeeding relationship. I kick myself constantly for not doing my research with my son, however, I am happy to say that I breastfed BOTH my kiddies and am proud that I did so.

As a result, I have changed my life again and became a Bradley Method teacher. Successful breastfeeding is a part of my classes and I STRESS to everyone that I know that EVEN disabled women can nurse, we just need to education and support!

A personal story by Stephanie DeRose

Stephanie is a certified Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth teacher and a CAPPA trained Postpartum Doula. 
She can be reached at  or  845 632 3398.



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