After threats from the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, she plans to take her fight to lawmakers.
Now, she's pushing for a new lactation law.
Rebekah Loe is a healthy, active nine month old, but she’s small, barely on the growth chart for her age. Her mother, Paula Loe says she was born about a month early, and has gained weight slowly since. “I showed up for the appointments, and she was slow to gain. She had a very slow start.”
But, Paula never dreamed it would become a problem.
“I had already been here before. I have an older child who is ten, and they grew very similar.”
Paula continued to visit a pediatrician, and even began supplementing her breast milk with a prescription calorie enhancer as recommended. Rebekah continued to gain weight slowly. “Every time I would go back to the doctor he would tell me she is just a little low.”
Eventually she was told she should give up on breast feeding all together, and feed her daughter formula. She tried, but says he daughter couldn’t keep it down so she stopped.
Loe also told the pediatrician she would be looking for a new doctor. Paula says that’s when the Division of Child and Family Services showed up at her door to investigate a case of neglect. “I was incensed. Here I am. I am doing everything I can.”
DCFS told her Rebekah needed to see a recommended pediatrician. She was sent to a nurse practitioner instead. She told her to give up breast feeding because it was causing problems with brain development. “That was about it. I said there is no way you are taking my baby from me. I said I will gladly go to Primary Children’s.”
Loe says Primary Children’s Medical Center reached a very different verdict; not only was it determined Rebekah is healthy, and normal, so is Paula’s milk supply. “They tested my milk and they found actually that I have high milk, which is 27 calories per ounce, which is more than I could have gotten from any formula.”
DCFS says it has a responsibility to investigate potential cases of neglect and abuse, and doctors have an obligation to pass on concerns. Paula has something to pass on to other mothers. “They can stand up to the doctor. They can stand up to DCFS if they come knocking, and say I will gladly quit when you prove to me that my milk supply is inadequate.”
Loe is now working with breastfeeding advocacy groups to craft legislation that would require all pediatricians and family physicians to receive lactation training. She says breastfeeding has been proven to be the best form of nutrition for babies. Loe also says just because a child doesn’t land on a standardized growth chart in the right place, doesn’t mean the baby is neglected.