I took Baby A for her six month pediatrician visit a few weeks ago.  I saw another doc because my regular ped was on maternity leave.

The doctor asked me whether or not Baby A was getting her Vitamin D drops.  I said, “No,” and started explaining why but I had just started talking when the doc interrupted me and suggested that my baby would get rickets unless I gave her the drops.

I was annoyed.  Now that a few weeks have passed, I’m a little mad at the way she handled the situation.

First of all, she didn’t give me a full chance to explain what Baby A was getting.  Second, I am angry that a doctor would use what was clearly a scare tactic instead of engaging in a conversation with me.

So, I’m channeling my feelings by re-imagining the conversation.  I’ve written out what I wish had happened.

And just to be clear, channeling this post, I am not suggesting that if you do give your baby Vitamin D drops you are doing anything wrong.  I made the decision that aligned with my value system and trust that you have done the same.

Doctor: Is she getting Vitamin D drops?

Me: No.

Doctor: You know we recommend them.  Why have you chosen to not give them?

Me: A couple of reasons.  First, I’ve read a lot of the studies that prompted the recommendations.  From what I can tell, the real risk is with moms and babies who are darker skinned than we are, live farther north than we do, and are on a vegan or vegetarian diet which we are not.  In some of the studies, the women wore a great deal of clothing for religious reasons, thus further limiting their sun exposure.

Doctor: Ah, yes, but still, nature intended for your baby to get a lot more sun than she is getting.

Me: I know, and I am glad that you appreciate that fact.  That being said, she and I walk at least an hour a day four or five times a week.  We live in Atlanta, so she is getting more sun than most of the children who were in the studies I read got.  Besides, I monitor my Vitamin D levels and she is getting D from my milk.

Doctor: She does get some, but she needs more.

Me: Right, so again with the sun exposure.  But, in addition to that, now that she has turned six months and I feel that she is ready for solids, she will be getting a fermented cod liver oil / butter oil blend daily.  This, coupled with the other foods she will enjoy like grassfed liver, egg yolks, and animal fats, will provide her with all the fat soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K – in a food state instead of a synthetic version.  Those fat solubles work synergistically, you know, so I would prefer she not just get a megadose of one of them.  They can be toxic at high levels!

Doctor: Okay, so it seems like you have a plan.  Do you mind if we do some blood testing on her at her nine month checkup, just to make sure her levels are good?

Me: That’s a great idea!  I am so glad you suggested it.  Absolutely – let’s do that.  Meanwhile, you should give the Balanced Bites podcast episode #69 a listen.  They interview Chris Masterjohn.  He’s got a doctorate in Nutritional Sciences and is doing a post-doc in the synergies among the fat soluble vitamins.  He’s got some amazingly interesting stuff to say about the effects of dosing vitamins A and D in high doses in isolation.  Some scary stuff can happen.  I think you’d really enjoy it and understand better my hesitation to just give my baby synthetic Vitamin D drops.

(And then, if conversations could be hyperlinked, I would say to her:

Here are the sources I’ve used to make my decisions.  I rely on this article from Mothering with a review of literature, Kellymom’s 2011 review of the evidence, Chris Masterjohn’s work on fat soluble vitamin synergy,  the suggestions from the Weston A. Price Foundation about first foods for babies, and Chris Kresser’s recent discussions of the uncertainties surrounding an optimal Vitamin D range.)

Doctor: Well, it’s clear you’ve given this some attention and thought.

Me: I have.  And I do understand your concerns.  I thank you for working through this with me.  I look forward to learning her Vitamin D status when we have the bloodwork done.

Have you ever had a similar experience with a healthcare provider, where you felt they were trying to scare you or didn’t hear you out?  How would you re-imagine your situation?

(This post is featured on Thank Goodness It’s Monday from Nourishing Joy here.  Visit to find other posts about “living natural, intentional, nourished lives.”)

4 Responses to “Re-Imagining a Visit to the Pediatrician”

  1. on 15 Jan 2013 at 9:50 amhot Nai Nai

    Never heard of giving babies vit D drops…..Is this a new thing. It funny this reminded me of the doctor that wanted you in corrective shoes that had a bar between them Dad and I did not agree and when we moved to Florida the new doctor (head of pediatrics at USF) said to let you go barefoot…..that would strengthen your feet better then anything. So glad Dad and I used our judgement instead of falling for the latest gimmick in pediatric meds

  2. on 15 Jan 2013 at 9:56 amMonica

    I’m only laughing because my pediatrician always suggested it but when I’d admit I’d forgotten or whatever (cause initially I did, then realized what I was doing was probably providing enough Vitamin D), he would shrug it off.

    Now, either I have a pediatrician who doesn’t care that my child should come down with rickets or he took a look at all I told him I was doing for and with my child and made a determination that yeah, he didn’t need to push me on that one.

    I didn’t realize at the time we chose him, but our pediatrician seems to trust mom a lot. With my first, I found it disconcerting, I WANTED someone to tell me exactly what to do. Now? I totally appreciate his understanding that these are MY kids.

    Sorry it wasn’t a great experience. I’d definitely bring it up with your regular doc when she returns. If she’s more open to conversation and consultation WITH you rather TO you, she would probably appreciate knowing about her colleague’s behavior if they are treating her patients.

    PS – My kids never had Vitamin D drops, nor rickets. 🙂

  3. on 15 Jan 2013 at 10:27 amKristine Rudolph

    My love for my regular ped knows no bounds. She is wicked-smart, up-to-date, and yet clearly understands the limitations of her medical background. She frequently says things like, “This is parenting advice, not medical advice I’m offering here.” She has four kids, so I take that information in the way I would from any friend with that kind of “street cred.” About nutrition, when I say we do something that contravenes the “norms,” she will say, “I know you, I know you’ve done the research and you have good reasons behind what you do.” She is the most perfect fit for me as a mom and I feel grateful to have found her.

    And, Monica, you summed it up perfectly – having a ped trust mom can be scary but is ultimately so very, very important.

    I know it must be frustrating for docs of all stripes these days. We are in a new era with unprecedented access to information. I mean, I can gain access to the medical journals as easily as the docs can. I can empathize with a professional who has loads of training and experience, who then feels like her patients (or their parents) don’t trust her because “of something I read on the web.” I feel similarly when some huge court case comes down or some piece of legislation gets passed and all these folks start Facebooking about what the Constitution really says. I mean, I studied law and politics on a graduate level for four years and I would never make a claim about what the Constitution clearly says. So, I do empathize and I recognize the cultural shift.

    But, I just couldn’t help but think about how I would have felt if I had been a first-time mom, had done research, had made the best decision I could for my child, and then been told she was going to get rickets. My postpartum, hormonal self would have cried for three days solid and would have frantically been scouring the Internet for proof I wasn’t killing my baby.

  4. […] Masterjohn’s presentation coincided with that of Chris Kresser on “Parasites are Paleo : The Hidden Costs of Modern Hygiene” which I would have loved to hear.  But I needed to hear Masterjohn’s presentation on Vitamin D and the other fat-solubles more. […]

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