Friday, December 31, 2010


As this year comes to a close- I just want to send out well wishes for the new one.
Remember- if you are a nursing mom who chooses to drink, be responsible with your breast milk by either pumping and dumping or testing your breast milk to make sure it is alcohol free.
Looking forward to the new year and everything it may bring!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Breastfeeding Myths

There are so many misconceptions when it comes to breastfeeding and why women can't do it.
I honestly feel that education for women is lacking. I remember thinking I was ready to breastfeed after taking the class offered by my hospital. I see now, how uninformed I was. I am the first to say, that lack of education and support are the main reasons I feel I was never able to establish a full supply. I think most things are "obstacles" that are overcome with those 2 keys- education and support.
I in no way want to say that there are not women who truly can not make enough...for all I know, I may be one. I feel though, that often times, women do not realize how to approach breastfeeding and the obstacles they will face, and therefore, do not succeed, or do not get a supply established.
I have found this to be a true passion of mine. These obstacles in the cartoon above, are reasons that women truly feel keep them from breastfeeding, but with the right support, could be overcome.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How I Became an "Extended" Breastfeeder

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: 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.


Monday, December 27, 2010

A Special Guest Blogger

Years ago, when I was first starting the infertility treatments part of TTC, I was on a pregnancy site and *met* a gal who was also trying to get pregnant. She has since had three children. Her last was born on the same day as Lil Man even!
She is an admin on a great parenting site for *crunchy* mamas. She is my go-to person when I have a question about AP parenting (Although I prefer the term *Natural Parenting*). She has not only breastfed all three children, she tandem nursed her first and second.
She will be coming on here in the next few days and doing a post. I hope you will read her story and see how breastfeeding is a natural, beautiful bond between mother and child, the best source of nourishment, and something that is not meant to end just because your child reaches a certain age.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just A Small Laugh!


Happy Holidays!

In case you have not noticed, posting is a little slow! I have decided that this year I was going to be very frugal and make most of my Christmas Gifts, which has kept me quite busy. (As part of the Holiday Spirit- this post is being brought to you in the color RED!)
I just wanted to pass along a thought and let you know that posting will resume a more normal frequency after the holidays.
Often times, during the holidays- be it Christmas, New Years, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule- we end up in this fast pace hyper drive. We are on the go constantly, shopping, baking, party going, the list never ends. So, two thoughts (yep- I said one before...I guess you get a BONUS thought today!)
Thought One~ I read a post somewhere about unexpected Holiday Weaning....I thought I would just touch on that. In the hustle and bustle it is easy to go to a bottle of formula, skip a nursing session, push the solids, etc and in doing so begin the weaning process much earlier than we ever intended. So, please be aware of your nursing "schedule."
Thought Two- the original thought- goes along with thought one~ Take the fact that you are a breastfeeding mother, or even just a mother (if your children are already weaned), to slow down. Enjoy a nursing session, reading a book together, sitting and playing a game, anything...just slow down. Don't let these moments get lost while trying to finish the to-do-list that appears never ending. Breastfeeding is the perfect reason to just take a breather- let the world slow down for a minute- or twenty- and enjoy some precious time with your child(ren).
No Matter what holdiay you may be celebrating- Happy Holidays! May you take this time to enjoy family, friends, community, reflect on your blessings, and look forward to the New Year!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Extended Breastfeeding Views

HERE is a story about how extended breastfeeding is viewed by people/media. Granted, I personally can not see myself nursing a 6 year old...but this lady is not a freak. She only nurses her son 1-2 times a day and it is only because he asked for it when he saw his younger sibling nursing.
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

I Never Imagined

This is not really about breastfeeding, well, not completely....
I just was thinking, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that this is the kind of parent I would be. I was sure that while my son would sleep in our room (in a bassinet) he would be moved to his crib around 6 months. I would breastfeed exclusively, but I was not going to be that supper crazy breastfeeding advocate. I was going to wear my baby, but the stroller would get more use than any carrier. I was sure I would go the normal route of rice cereal, oatmeal, veggies, fruits, etc with the purees before adding any table foods.
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

A Whole New Meaning

This holiday season I have found that all the Christmas songs about Christ have a whole new meaning. "Mary Did You Know" puts me in tears. Any song that addresses Mary or Joseph holding the baby Jesus and just wanting to think of Him as theirs and not worry about what will happen to him makes me sob. Especially if I am holding my son.
The other night, my teething son was fussy at bed time so as I held and nursed him I sang "Silent Night" to him. Suddenly, my eyes watered up and this thought occurred~ I bet Mary had nights where she was up nursing baby Jesus, rocking him to sleep and singing to him.
Isn't it crazy how differently you see everything when you become a mother?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Old is Too Old? Part 1- 12 months?

When we did the poll for what subject you would like to hear about, I was suprised a little that this subject was the winner. I am not sure why I was shocked though. It is a big topic when someone decides to breastfeed.
So, I thought I would share a little information and opinion on this. Since this is a long topic, I will simply address 12 months first. I am not going to address 6 months, biting, etc at this time. If a baby must still have formula when weaned, then in my personal opinion, there is no way they are too old to breastfeed. Biting is just a small obstacle and simply about nursing manners, not a reason to say a child is too old. The AAP doesn't reccomend weaning before 12 months, so we will start there.
When I used to think of breastfeeding, I always thought that a year was a good weaning age. Not sure why I thought this. I think because I was young, naive, and didn't quite understand breastfeeding. It had nothing to do with the fact that a year is when the AAP says a child can start cows milk. I don't think I even knew that. I wasn't against breastfeeding past a year, but I thought it was probably when I would personally wean my children.
I became really good friends with a breastfeeding mom. I never thought it strange that she was breastfeeding an 18 month old child. However, I started to think that the fact that this child would reach over and tug at her shirt was a sign that maybe this particular child was ready to be weaned. Looking back, I see that once again, I was not well educated. We expect a baby to hold their bottle, pick up bites of food to eat, etc yet not know how to access the breast? I realize now that even my nearly 7 month old son is starting to realize how to access the breast and he is nowhere near ready to wean.
Then, my friend weaned her last child. This child was nearly 2 years old. They had moved across the country from us and I thought in my mind how yes, it was time to wean. They headed our way for a visit and when I saw her youngest child, I once again re-examined my line of thinking. This child did not seem too old to be nursing to me. At least not at night or first thing in the morning.
So, how old is too old?
Well first, let's start with some "common" information.
The AAP reccomends EXCLUSIVELY breastfeeding for the first six months and then continued breastfeeding to a year and beyond. The WHO (World Health Organization) reccomends breastfeeding to age two and beyond.
Calfs drink cow milk, foals drink horse milk, and human babies are made to drink human milk. Their immature digestive system simply is not ready to handle cow milk. Human breastmilk is more easily digested by their cute, tiny tummies. The AAP suggests not introducing cows milk until at least one year of age.
Is one year a good cut off then? After all, you now have met the AAPs reccomendations, your baby can now drink cows milk according to the AAP, and your little one's immune system is built up some from birth. They are also more then likely eating solid foods for the majority of their nourishment.
When this topic was the winner, I went to an online group of breastfeeding mothers and asked what age was too old to continue breastfeeding. 18 women were kind enough to respond. I was SHOCKED that 7 of them felt that anything past a year was too old!
First, I think to see if 12 months is really the age to wean, we need to look at the different factors.
In the United States, extended breastfeeding is anything past a year. However, in most countries of the world, it is normal to breastfeed to age 2 and beyond. So why do we as a nation consider 12 months the appropriate age to wean a child? I personally believe that it has to do with our sexualized image of the breasts. Our culture seems to think that it is perverted or wrong to breastfeed past a year. Does the baby somehow have a lightbulb come on at one year of age that says breasts are sexual? No. Do they suddenly not need the antibodies, have perfectly mature digestive systems, or no longer need the comfort that nursing brings them? No. There is no magic age that suddenly a child has these things happen. Will some children be ready to wean at one, sure. Will some moms be ready to wean their child at 12 months? Of course. That does not mean that 12 months is too old. It simply means that if the child and/or mother is ready, 12 months is an age where weaning is possible without having to switch to formula.
To read about benefits of nursing past a year visit THIS site.
So what is the next milestone? 18 months. That will be the next age we will look at. In our next How Old Is Too Old post.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just A Small Laugh!

Want to contact My Breast Thoughts?

For those who are interested in guest blogging, topic suggestions, and more- My Breast Thoughts now has an email address for these things. PLEASE DO NOT SEND SPAM as it makes it hard to receive regular emails if we have to start trying to skim through a lot of spam messages. However, do send links to new articles regarding breastfeeding, topic ideas, if you want to be a guest blogger send story ideas, and if you go to our FB page- we will have a BREASTFEEDING ALBUM OF FAME! This is the address you will use to send in pictures for that.
So here it is- the email address~
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.