Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
In spite of having been formula fed myself, I always assumed growing up that I would breastfeed my babies. I had only the vaguest idea of what that entailed, given that for the first twenty or so years of my life I saw babies being nursed on exactly two occasions – once when I visited my aunt and once when a Mennonite woman was discreetly nursing her infant in a craft store. I think it’s a sad commentary on today’s society that both times left me feeling awkward and embarrassed.
As a college student, I had the good fortune to take an anthropology class which was frequently taught by Kathy Dettwyler – the world’s foremost expert on extended breastfeeding and weaning. (Her website is well worth checking out: http://kathydettwyler.org/dettwyler.html.) Prior to her lectures, I had never dreamed of nursing a baby after his teeth came in (roughly six months is what I was thinking). Afterward, I was sold on the benefits of nursing well past a year or two, but I wasn’t too sure about wanting to nurse much past the first birthday.
Several years later I became pregnant with my first child. In the hopes of improving my chances at successful breastfeeding, I started attending La Leche League meetings in the beginning of my third trimester. I was taken aback when a handful of women there were nursing toddlers – and really blown away by the tandem nursers (women nursing two children who are not twins). After a couple of meetings I was accustomed to the sight and began to think that perhaps I would do what a friend said she was planning – “don’t offer/don’t refuse” at around 18 months with the hope that weaning would soon follow.
Unfortunately, I had a very painful, negative experience with nursing during the first several months after my son’s birth. My midwife later told me that this was because I had flat nipples, although she didn’t mention it to me at the time! I’m sure that my son’s bad reflux, which was causing him to extend his neck and thrash around while feeding was complicating an already painful situation as well. As a result, I did not have the natural, relaxed nursing relationship that I had dreamed about during pregnancy – the reality was that I had to have him tightly swaddled and totally immobilized on my nursing pillow at every single feeding until he was nearly nine months old. It took every ounce of determination I had to continue nursing him and I didn’t enjoy a single moment of it.
It was a huge relief when I was finally able to hold my baby in my arms to nurse him at around nine months – it felt so much snugglier and more natural. I still felt a fair amount of discomfort while nursing, but I finally began to see why some women loved nursing so much. At least I no longer hated it! As each month passed, I enjoyed nursing more and more. The thought of weaning was very far from my mind as his first birthday came and went – we had both only recently gotten the hang of it, and we were enjoying it more and more as time went by.
When I originally pictured nursing a toddler, I thought it would be the same as nursing a baby – on demand with very long feedings, many times a day. It can be like that (and for many nursing pairs that arrangement is satisfactory), but it doesn’t have to be. In our case, my son had much bigger fish to fry most of the time, and by the time he night weaned at fourteen months it was a rare day that he was nursing more than first thing in the morning, prior to each nap, and before going to bed at night. The thing about nursing a toddler is that he is old enough that you can set limits that you can live with – after all, if you can’t handle nursing more than once a day, that’s still better than weaning entirely. There is a middle ground between complete weaning and nursing on demand!
Throughout his second year of life, I envisioned gradually encouraging weaning with a cut-off on his second birthday. To my surprise, I became pregnant during my husband’s mid-tour leave on a fifteen month deployment to Iraq. My son was 17 months old. Although I had never dreamed of nursing during pregnancy, I decided to continue, partly because it was fall, and cold and flu season were beginning. I wanted him to have the benefit of an immunity boost as long as possible. Also, according to Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower, the majority of nurslings wean during pregnancy. As the months went by, I realized that he wasn’t in the least interested in giving up his three-times daily nursing routine. My husband was due back from Iraq within days of my son’s second birthday, and within weeks we would be having another baby. That is a lot of change for a small boy to go through at once, and I couldn’t bring myself to remove a major source of security and comfort for him during such a tumultuous time. I committed to going past two years and tandem nursing if that was what he wanted to do, even though I had said many times before that I would never want to tandem nurse.
That’s exactly what happened. Even after his sister was born (at 39 weeks 5 days gestation and weighing 8 lbs 5 oz, for those who might be concerned about low birth weight or premature birth due to nursing), he continued nursing three times daily. It turned out that my son gave me a beautiful gift in return for nursing him during pregnancy – I was able to nurse my new daughter completely pain-free. I didn’t even experience normal newborn nursing soreness! (I know that it was nursing during pregnancy that caused this because I have since had a third baby under different circumstances, and breastfeeding was quite painful for two weeks after his birth.)
Weaning was a gradual process with my son. I never managed to juggle both children at once, so they nursed separately. As a result, the naptime feeding was the first to go because his sister always cried at that time of day when I put her down. I tried to nurse him anyway, but we were both upset by her crying and we agreed to stop nursing then. Morning worked better, but that gradually tapered off as well, in part because I started offering exciting distractions. We were lucky to have my husband home at bedtime most of the time during those early months, which meant that we could have a nice snuggle and nurse every night at bedtime. My son was 29 months old the first time he didn’t ask about nursing at nighttime, and he started nursing less and less frequently and for much shorter durations after that point. He was only nursing a couple of nights a week for about 30 seconds at a time by the time he was 31 months old, and he stopped asking entirely when he was 34 months old. I can’t remember the last nursing session because I didn’t know it would be the last. I encouraged a certain amount of slowing down in nursing, but the final decision was his, just as I eventually wanted it to be.
Just to show that every nursing experience is different, I will share my daughter’s story. Unlike my son, she was extremely slow to eat solids in spite of regular and enthusiastic offers. She was still almost exclusively breastfed and very much a mama’s girl at 13 ½ months when I became pregnant for the third time. I was certain that I was in for another tandem nursing experience, but to my shock, once my vanishing milk supply forced her to get the hang of solids, she would only nurse with encouragement and reminders. By the time she was 19 months old, she was only nursing a few times a week in the morning and then only for a few minutes. It tapered to a few seconds once a week or so until she refused to latch on again about three weeks before her younger brother was born. She was only 22 months old when he was born, but she was utterly uninterested in coming back to the breast.
So there you have two different toddler nursing/weaning stories. In both cases, I was gently encouraging them one way or the other (my son toward weaning, my daughter toward continued nursing), but both made the final decision on their own.
I guess extended/tandem nursing is just something we arrived at gradually. We didn’t plan it, it just happened. When you have a little baby, 12 month olds look so big that you can hardly imagine what it would be like to nurse one. When your baby gets to 12 months old one day at a time, he is still your baby, and it’s no big deal to you. Many women, especially in places where there isn’t such a powerful cultural taboo against it, are happy to nurse past that arbitrary point. After all, many women (myself included) find nursing an 18 month old much more rewarding than nursing an 18 day old or an 18 week old. We become “extended” breastfeeders one day at a time, and just like other mammals, we can feel it when it’s time to start supporting our little ones in the gradual weaning process, however long that takes.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
In western culture we somehow think that children suddenly see the breasts as sexual. Our culture puts the breasts as sexual first and food sources second, the opposite way most the world does. Not only do we scoff at anyone who chooses to nurse past a year or 18 months, but we think nursing in public is dirty and want to banish nursing mothers and babies to dirty bathrooms. Our cultural views towards breastfeeding need to change in order for change to begin. After our views are changed, then education and support need to improve and then we will hopefully see an improvement in the success rates of breastfeeding.
In many countries it is normal to breastfeed to 3 years and beyond.
What are your thoughts?
This came perfectly to fit in with our how old is too old posts.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Well, I have found I am the super crazy breastfeeding supporter, I LOVE wearing my baby (as does Hubby) and hardly use the stroller, I am basically skipping purees and going the Baby Led Weaning route (not weaning from nursing- a form of starting solids), I combo feed- though not by choice, and mostly, I NEVER EVER imagined we would co-sleep and we do! While I don't see it continuing into toddler hood (unless we invest in a king size bed) we found the best thing for our family was to bring our son to bed with us. He is a super alert baby and has always hated sleeping, so the only thing that kept us sane was going the co-sleeping route.
Here is a picture of Lil Man enjoying some play time on the bed after we changed the linens. Such a precious moment that I can't imagine going a different route with him. While we may not take this route with future children, this is what was best for Lil Man, and us.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Thanks- and keep suggesting this blog to all of your friends who support breastfeeding. And follow us using google connect (on the side column) so we can get our 50 followers before Christmas for the gift card giveaway.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I am excited to go on vacation but a little nervous about the plane ride. Lil Man is quite stubborn about if he will or will not nurse so I hope that he will be willing during take off and landing. Also, that he won't throw a fit wanting to look around rather then nurse. I am sure everything will go smooth, but I have some anxiety issues and they are just showing up here.
I hope everyone is enjoying cooler weather and that you will all keep checking in. This is a stressful time of year, but try and relax....we don't want that stress stopping the flow of milk.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
When "A" was born she had the cord wrapped around her neck which caused some breathing issues. She was rushed to the NICU and I didn't see her again until 4 1/2 hours later. During those hours they gave her a pacifier. When she was finally brought to me she was STARVING and all I was told was "she's pretty hungry" and the nurse left. I looked at my husband and all he said was "well feed her." 45 minutes later, after tears, blood and bright red nipples the same nurse came in and asked how we were doing. I lied told her fine and let her take "A" to the nursery for some tests. 30 minutes later she came back and asked if they could give the baby a bottle because she was acting hungry again, feeling like I had failed I told the nurse yes because I didn't want my child starving. "A" was pretty smart and picked up fairly quickly that the bottle was way easier than the breast. So for 5 months I fought with her to breast feed, 5 months of tears and always coming to the end result of her getting a bottle. I finally gave up and "A" was FF until she turned one. I felt like a failure as a mother and I swore that with my next child I would breast feed no matter what.
After 15 months of trying for our second we were finally blessed in May of 2009 with our second little girl. Through my whole pregnancy I stressed about being able to BF and when "B" was born it came super easy. She latched on right away no issues whatsoever. I loved it. She was a good eater and definitely loved BFing. Unfortunately with "B" I had to go back to work. I stressed about that, I hated thinking she was going to have to get a bottle. She had gone 2 whole months without it. "B" transitioned fine back and forth from bottle to breast. I bought the highest recommended pump and off I went back to work. Working for a popular baby retail store I thought I would easily be able to pump. Unfortunately my job wasn't that good about giving me my breaks to pump and I started to stress. My supply was going down and "B" had gotten her first formula bottle at 5 months. I felt like I was failing. I thought I have to get her to at least 6 months. I was so stressed at work that it caused me to have to start combo feeding. During that same time I got extremely sick. My supply went down to "B" getting maybe 4 oz a day from me and the rest was formula. I called my LC and asked her what I could do and she told me to get on fenugreek. It helped me get my supply back up a bit but not enough to not combo feed. At 8 months "B" got some teeth in and started biting me. Not being at home and not knowing how to get her to stop biting I stopped BFing and exclusively pumped. Unfortunately for me I didn't succeed because of my job not supporting me. It got in the way of me properly feeding my child and at 8 almost 9 months "B" got the last of my mommy milk and was FF until she turned one.
Looking back now I know that I did the best I could for both of my girls. They are both happy and healthy. If I had received the support and the proper knowledge I have and know now, I believe "B" would have been BF'd until she weaned herself off. I know with my next child I will BF and I will do it until the baby decides she/he is done. Until then I'll enjoy being mommy to two beautiful girls.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Please keep following- and keep voting on what you want discussed.
ALSO- I apologize. It was thought that anybody, google/blogger account or not, could comment. Come to find out, it was not set up that way. I have fixed that issues- so please comment. Comments are moderated however, and will not appear automatically after you leave them.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I will try means you are already thinking that there is a chance you will fail. I think we, as women and mothers, want this "out" in case we for some reason are not able to breastfeed. But, what we do not realize is the importance of thinking positive, having confidence in our body's ability to do what it was intended as far as nourishing our baby.
I am in no way saying that supply issues are not real. As hormone issues are on the rise, so are supply issues. I myself have a low supply. Yet, I can not help but wonder- if I had gone into this pregnancy with the mindset of I WILL breastfeed, if it would have changed it. I think, if my mindset had been such, when I was told to supplement (which I feel was INCORRECT) I would have had the confidence to say no- I was not going to supplement my baby who only lost a few ounces more than the "acceptable" amount when he was in the hospital a day longer than most babies at discharge and had 0% jaundice. I would have not have had formula in my home "just in case." Women think it is no big deal to have the formula in the home as back up. That can of formula is very tempting after struggling to get your little one to latch for 10 minutes. Having it in the home makes it that much easier to just make a bottle. Not having formula would have meant having my baby on my breast even more (even if it was a struggle) during those first few weeks. That may have made all the difference in my supply. Maybe I still would have needed a little help but maybe I wouldn't have.
So often I think we as women doubt ourselves. We don't want to disappoint those we care about, but we don't want to disappoint ourselves. So instead of saying we WILL do something, we say we will TRY and do something. It may be losing weight, getting organized, or breastfeeding- but it is all the same. We are doubting ourselves before we begin, giving ourselves an out, and not having confidence in ourselves. My next child- I WILL breastfeed. No trying about it.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I am excited for this blog and have already received emails and messages from many women that are excited to be apart of this blog. I am overwhelmed by the positive response that has been shown.
So- What do you, the reader want from this blog? My vision includes giving the reader what they need in order to succeed at breastfeeding, or being a breastfeeding supporter. Leave a comment and let me know what you want from this blog.
Also- next week we will be adding authors. I look forward to these women sharing all their experience and knowledge. Each woman has a unique experience. Some who exclusively pumped in the past, others who pump at work and nurse at home, some who have combo fed and then succesfully nursed a second child with no supplementing, and those who exclusively pumped but then were able to bring their child back to the breast. Some suffer from oversupply, others have the perfect amount, and some have a low supply. Each woman has something special to bring to this blog.
Please spread the word. Post this blog on your facebook. Women need to be able to talk as openly about breastfeeding as they do about pregnancy, sleeping through the night, and teething.
Welcome again and I look forward to getting to know those who read this blog.
"Try and breastfeed" How many moms say this? Why don't we just say "I will breastfeed." For me it was because I had PCOS and I had read a comment on a blog somewhere that this effects supply. That got me worried. I began researching it. Reports on this varied- some claiming as many as 1/3 of moms with PCOS "reported" having low supply (not verified by a doctor or LC).
So, I decided that just in case, I would have some formula in the house. Lucky for me (not of sarcasm here) I was sent some by the formula companies who got my name off some mailing list from a pregnancy site, maternity store, or something.
During my pregnancy I went to the breastfeeding class offered by the hospital. I bought a boppy, did some online reading and thought I was ready.
My son was born after an induction (8 days past his estimated due date) that resulted in an emergency c/s- not because of the usual "failure to progress" but due to his heart rate dropping to 33 bpm.
Nursing seemed to come pretty naturally for us in the hospital. However, when we were discharged I was told he had lost more that the "acceptable" amount of weight. I later learned that induction and c/s babies will often lose more because the mother receives more fluids during labor and delivery. Had I known this I may not have done the next thing.
So, we began to supplement. I remember going home the first night and suddenly, my son, who had been attached to my breast for 3 days, wouldn't latch on. It was so easy to just give him the bottle at that point. However, being stubborn, I knew I wanted to make breastfeeding work. I called the LC first thing in the morning and got in.
I continued supplementing as my milk took longer to come in (5 days) due to the c/s. I had the misconception that I needed to feel engorged when it came in if I had a well established supply. So, I still supplemented. When we took my son in to the doctor at 2 weeks, he had not only reached his birth weight- but had an extra pound on there. I was told I could stop supplementing.
As the next two weeks went by, my son, alert from day one, didn't seem to have an interest in comfort nursing. He also was not a fan of eating in general (really, he still would rather do something else than eat). I felt like my supply was low and also I felt like Lil Man was not gaining weight.
I went to the LC who said it appeared I did have a low supply. Also, it was found that Lil Man had lost weight. Back to supplementing.
It was a long struggle. I tried everything, reglan, fenugreek, shatavari, more milk plus, tons of water, lactation cookies, and more. I finally thought at 3 months that my supply was up enough that I could stop supplementing. I had purchased an infant scale so I was able to monitor my sons weight (back after he had lost all the weight). About a month in, Lil Man was losing weight again- so now, I supplement. My son has a few days where he doesn't get any formula- those are joyous and keep me going. He also has days where he eats constantly and ends up getting 6-10 oz of formula. I try and keep the perspective that some breast milk is better than none, and that more than half of his nutrition is yummy mommy milk.
Looking back- I feel I did not get enough education or support. I feel I was given bad advice. I never should have been told to supplement as we left the hospital. I should have just been told to put him to the breast more often and had it explained why his weight loss was only a few ounces over the acceptable amount. I was not taught at all about comfort nursing or cluster feeding in the class I took. I was never told a newborn can nurse every hour for 30-45 minutes each hour. I felt like I educated myself as I went along. Maybe with my next child I will be able to exclusively breastfeed....for now though- I will give Lil Man what I can.