Tag Archives: extended breastfeeding

If a baby is old enough to ask for it, he’s too old to be breastfeeding!!

“Mom, can I play Wii?”

“Nope, you’re old enough to ask for it, so you’re too old to play Wii.”

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“Mom, can I have an apple?”

“Nope, you’re old enough to ask for it, so you’re too old to have an apple.”

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Kind of illogical, don’t you think? I mean, if nothing else, the ability to ask for something doesn’t preclude someone’s need for it. So why do people bring out similar logic in this situation:

“Mama, nurse!”

“No, dear. You’ve gotten old enough to ask for it so you’re obviously too old to be breastfeeding.”

WUT. 

I mean, come on. The AAP recommends nursing for at least a year, and as long as mutually desired by mom and child. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of two years of breastfeeding. All of my kids have started with words by 9-10 months old, and they all could sign “milk” by six months old.

Your logic simply does not apply. #sorrynotsorry

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Complicit with nature

I have to say, my body and nature get along well.

As in, my body tends to just be generally healthy and predictable and well.  I have regular periods, when I have them.  When I try to get pregnant, I get pregnant.   I try to breastfeed my kids, and they breastfeed.  And breastfeed and breastfeed.

And so it goes with my postpartum period as well, it seems.  Right now, as nature surely intends, such that I can continue focusing my parenting energy on my youngest nursling, I have not yet experienced the return of my period.

Chalk that up as another benefit of breastfeeding — the cheapest birth control imaginable.

However, what comes with that is a libido to match.  That being, none.   Chalk that up as one of the breastfeeding minuses.

Granted, neither of these are automatics with breastfeeding.  Some women see their periods return after a few months no matter how much they are breastfeeding, and I’m sure some also are veritable hornballs through their time lactating.  However… not me.

After Lane was born, I had an IUD inserted six weeks postpartum.  Seems now that that was a rather redundant action.  At least it bought me peace of mind.  This time, I skipped such formalities with the inclination that they wouldn’t really be necessary.

This is not a bad thing.  Even if we wanted to conceive again, I don’t see how we’d manage.  Sure, we could slip in the occasional lovemaking, but really, I’m just looking at our current reality and laughing at the idea.  Right now, Lane and Jake are running circles around the ottoman in our living room.  Jake is giggling, and Lane is singing “Please Bring Honor To Us All” from Mulan, only it seems she doesn’t know any of the actual lyrics and is thus substituting gibberish.  Frank is looking feverishly for the remote that I managed to misplace during the day.  I know I used it… but I don’t know where it went after that.  Unfortunately our two crazy, mobile, mischievous children present the possibility that neither of us adults could know where it ended up.  If I were due to ovulate and this was the prime time for conception, I just don’t see how we’d make that window without giving the kids sedatives.

But that is totally OK, because I really have no inclination in the world to add another body to the mayhem at present.  I have friends getting pregnant (a big shout-out and congrats to Amanda and Dave, Amanda of BFF notoriety, who will be greeting a baby around Labor Day… so apropos.  Oh and if you ever get the chance, ask Amanda how to pronounce “apropos”.) and having babies (congrats Kim!) and trying to have babies and I honestly and absolutely have no desire whatsoever to join their ranks again right now.

Anyway, I should go help Frank find the remote.  I think he’s getting D.T.s from missing the hockey game I know he wants to watch.

Is this baby going to nurse forever? Breastfeeding Narrative #3

This is one in a series of breastfeeding posts. Really, I’m no expert – I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doula, I’m not a lactation consultant. I am simply a breastfeeding mom who has nursed one child to three years old, and am currently nursing another who is nearly a year old.
If you’re looking for specific answers, I recommend giving a visit to http://www.kellymom.com, a breastfeeding site written by a lactation consultant. These will simply be me blabbering about my experiences and is not medical advice.
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There are people out there who say things like, “If they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old to breastfeed.”  Or, “What are you going to do, go with him to kindergarten so he’ll have something to drink?”  Or, “A woman who’d breastfeed a preschooler must be getting pleasure from it.”  Or, the slightly less tacky but still intruding, “You’re not still breastfeeding, are you?”  People who say these things are, in a word, idiots.  Anthropologists tend to concur, based on comparative studies with other primates, that humans are naturally supposed to nurse anywhere from 15 months to 5 years old.  Left to their own devices, a child will usually wean herself in that time frame.

I started writing this post around the idea of weaning, but from me that would be odd, because I have never really actively weaned a baby.  Or a toddler.  Or a preschooler.

I’m not sure when and how I decided upon it, but rather early on with Lane I decided to mostly follow the practice of child-led weaning.  Basically, letting breastfeeding happen as long as Lane wanted to, and I was still comfortable doing it.  Lane as a baby was a breastfeeding  hound; she wanted it a lot, and protested vehemently when it wasn’t provided.  I knew that any sort of active weaning was going to cause more heartache and lost sleep than it was worth.  So, I went with the flow, mostly.

Lane nursed feverishly and with wanton abandon through her first year.  I was even pumping for her until she was 16 months old.  (I was working full-time at this point – I’ll definitely talk about breastfeeding and working in another post.)  By the time she was about 20 months I’d night-weaned her, which wasn’t too difficult because she only woke up once to nurse and after a few nights of Frank attending to her instead of me, and/or a few nights of explaining that she couldn’t nurse until the sun was back up, she was good.  At about the same time or shortly thereafter, I instituted an at-home-only rule.  She could only nurse if we were at home, not out in public.  Soon after her second birthday she only nursed first thing when she woke up, and right before bed.  She held onto those twice a day sessions for a long time: I think around the time Jake was born (she was 2.5 when he was born) she only asked to nurse in the morning maybe every other day, which gradually reduced in frequency even more.  Not long before her 3rd birthday, I instituted a 10-second rule.  When she nursed, I would count to 10.  I started counting very slowly, stretching it out to nearly the length I knew she normally nursed (2-3 minutes), and slowly the counting got faster, until she was really nursing a true ten-count.  Before she turned 3 the morning nurse was gone completely, and a couple of months after she turned 3 the bedtime session became less of a staple and more of an occasional occurrence.  Even now, maybe once every other week she might ask to nurse.  And she does, for a quick ten-count.  She still mentions nursing as part of her bedtime routine (“first we’ll brush our teeth, then read three books, then nurse, then turn off the light”) but once we’re in the routine, she so rarely actually asks to nurse.

Now through all this, I pretty much followed a “Don’t offer, don’t refuse” method – let her nurse whenever she wants, don’t say no when she asks.  Well, she asked a LOT.  So there were times I’d say no, and then I started saying no (or at least saying “not now” once the at-home-only rule was in effect).  And there were also times I offered… like soon after Jake was born and I’d be all engorged because he was in the middle of a three hour nap and my boobs hurt, or back in the day when he’d sleep through the night (yeah… he used to… and doesn’t now… oh that fact drives me insane) and I’d wake up in the morning, my boobs throbbing, and Lane would be more than willing to skim off the top for me and ease the pressure.  It was awesome that she was still nursing then, let me tell you!

Jake is pretty laid back about nursing during the day – when he gets hungry he’s just as easily satisfied with some food as he is with my milk.  Nighttime is a different matter, boy is he hooked on nursing.  I’m working through ways right now to try to minimize his night nursing because at this point it really is a habit and not a nutritional need, and I think it’s interfering with his ability to sleep more than 2-3 hours at a stretch.  So, yeah, working on ways to gently reduce his night nursing, with limited success.

So no, your baby will not nurse forever.

And if you do opt to maintain an extended breastfeeding relationship, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be nursing your 3 year-old with the same frequency you nurse your 3 month-old.  People share weird stories about kindergartners  lifting their mother’s shirts to nurse in front of other people… extended breastfeeding simply isn’t like that with most people.  Just because you nurse past your child’s first birthday doesn’t mean you can’t make rules and set boundaries.  Allowing the breastfeeding relationship to continue is not the same as being completely permissive about how the relationship continues.  As you probably ascertained from my above timeline, by the time Lane was about 18 months old, nursing for us was largely a private matter.  If she asked in public I said no, but that when we were home, she could.  Even being the single-minded, intense, willful child she can be, she handled the postponement well; as long as she knew it would happen soon, eventually, she was OK.  Remember, your body is still your body, and nobody can or should make you feel forced or manipulated or indebted to do anything with it with which you’re not comfortable.

And, certainly, my way is not the “right” way.  It’s not the only way.  It’s not the best way.  It’s just a way, and it worked for me and my family.  It was what was easiest.  I have a husband who is crazy supportive of breastfeeding, a family (both mine and his) that isn’t overly meddlesome or outwardly judgmental of extended breastfeeding, and I’m not the sort of person to cave to that sort of pressure anyway.   Any breastfeeding is better than no breastfeeding, and while I’ve found it to be one of the most awesome and rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I’ve cherished the breastfeeding relationship I have with my children more than any connection I’ve ever had with another human, breastfeeding is also the most draining, challenging, and selfless things I’ve ever done as well; it is a lot of work and it takes a great amount of willpower to stick with it even when things are going smoothly.  Throw in issues like recurring mastitis, a baby who won’t stop biting you, pregnancy and the ensuing breast pain, tandem nursing, etc., and it’s just that much more challenging.  So please don’t take this post as an unconditional endorsement of breastfeeding past a year and anything less is subpar.  I don’t feel like that’s true at all.  If you make it six days, or six months, or six years, you’ve done a great job.

Kind of weird but mostly sweet

I’ve talked about breastfeeding before.

Jake’s still a nursling, and probably will be for the foreseeable future, especially at bedtime. And that’s fine.

Lane, pretty much is not. Which, given she’s closer to four years old than three years old, is also quite fine. These days, she will very occasionally ask to nurse at bedtime. Frequency-wise, we’re talking maybe once every two weeks. Our rule since around the time she turned three is that she can nurse if she asks, but only until I count to ten. And it works; she nurses, I count, she pops off happily. When the rule was implemented, she nursed vigorously for those ten seconds.  Gradually that has evolved into two seconds on, two or three seconds off, three seconds on, and then she’s off at about the eight count and she’s done.  I don’t foresee her nursing much longer.

Coupled with her increasing ability to communicate, our ongoing nursing relationship has become interesting.  After she nurses she usually reports that “Mommy’s milk is yummy” or that she likes nursing.  Once she told me my milk tasted like ice cream.  🙂   Last night was a first though… she asked to nurse, and after she was done and we cuddled in her bed for a minute, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, would you like to nurse from Alena?”

Umm…. well….

I responded something to the effect of, “Oh honey, that’s very nice of you, but only babies and kids can nurse from mommies.  I can’t nurse from you.”  And she was cool with it.  So we cuddled a little longer, and the whole thing just made me smile.  Nursing has become for her more a way to connect with me.  Usually the times she asks to nurse are after a busy day, or if she’s really tired and needs the little bit of extra comfort, or if she’s not feeling well.  I just thought it was so sweet that she wanted to offer that to me, too.