Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Child-Led Weaning: Lesly

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Images and text by Lesly Simmons

The birth story I wrote in my head for my first child was radically altered at the 20-week mark, when I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa. I went from planning an all natural birth to expecting (and ultimately having) an emergency c-section a month early. Thankfully our baby girl Mia arrived small but healthy, and our breastfeeding journey began a few hours after she was born. It continues now at 15 months, and I feel like we can keep going as long as she wants, thanks to some changes I made to make nursing more comfortable for me.

Lesly & Mia Washington Monument

Lesly breastfeeding Mia at the Washington Monument

Our early months were easy, save a few latch issues that a quick trip to the lactation consultant resolved. I started nursing Mia to sleep when she was about 5 months old, so I usually went to bed when she did, making it nearly impossible to connect with my husband in the evenings. Once her teeth arrived around eight months, I couldn’t get her to stop biting me, so I steeled myself for at least one big nip per day. She never drew blood, but the anticipation was almost as bad! And even with us practicing baby-led weaning as she got older, the night nursing never declined. Cosleeping meant she could nurse at any time, and so she did. While we tried transitioning her to a crib in our room, our close quarters understandably made it almost impossible to get her used to sleeping on her own.

Just before Mia turned one, my work schedule began to ramp back up. The frequent night nursings were taking a toll, and one day I angrily texted my sister, “I am SO OVER nursing! I’m ready to quit right now.” She sagely responded, “Sweetie, that’s not an option for you. It will be okay.”

Her message reminded me that my commitment to nursing was as important as any others I’d made over the years. When other parts of my life got tough I found solutions and powered through—this was no different. I had to realize that nursing is not an all or nothing proposition, and I figured out that it was the night nursing that was wearing me down. As a new mom I also had to recognize that it was okay for me to develop some boundaries that would help keep me sane—like getting a good night’s sleep—and ultimately make me a better parent.

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Mia’s christening in January
at Grace Cathedral

We’d already been planning to move, and a few months later we found a new home with a nursery. By the end of the first week in our new place Mia was sleeping through the night without any crying it out—we just had to introduce her to her own space, develop a new routine and allow her to sleep. Apparently she was ready for a change as well. She falls asleep on her own now and my night nursings are now once or twice a week rather than several times a night.

We still nurse on demand during the day, and she’s old enough now to crawl into my lap and assume the position when she’s ready. At this point we have no plans to wean—it’s amazing to witness her development even as it relates to nursing, and I feel empowered rather than run down. It was so much better to adjust my expectations to allow myself to keep us going, rather than trying to be Supermom and totally burning myself out.

Lesly Simmons is a writer, entrepreneur and first-time mom to daughter Mia. She lives in San Francisco with Mia and her husband Jole, a graphic designer. She’s also the creator of Mama’s Guide: Discover Stroller Friendly San Francisco, where she reviews stroller friendly restaurants and things to do for locals and visitors to the Bay Area.

An Adoptive Breastfeeding Story: A Child’s Perspective

Elise's mother and daughter.

Elise’s mother and daughter.

I was breastfed as a child.
Currently, with a rise of acceptance of breastfeeding, and a greater
awareness of its benefits- both health and emotional- that statement is not
that unusual. However I need to add one more detail to that; I was also
adopted as an infant.

I don’t remember the first time that I knew I was adopted. It was such a
common term and reference to me that until I was much older it never seemed
odd or different. My mother, a published author, had even written a book
for adoptive parents.

I was bookended by a brother, three years my senior, and by twins- a boy
and girl, four years my junior. All of us were adopted— my brother and I
stateside as infants, and my younger brother and sister internationally at
the age of six.

Growing up in a family built by adoption, clichés like “You didn’t grow in
mommy’s tummy, you grew in her heart!” were common. I understood the
delicate balance of using terms like “birth children” rather than “real
children”, and even at a very young age I knew there were some things
different, missing perhaps, because I was adopted.

But it never crossed my mind that breastfeeding would have been something
that I could have missed out on.

My adoptive parents practiced much of what is now called “attachment
parenting” long before that term was in the common vernacular. And
breastfeeding was no exception.

Having never had a child biologically, milk production did not come easily
for my mother; however, that did not deter her from breastfeeding. Knowing
that her supply was not adequate for nutritional needs, but a firm believer
in the importance of breastfeeding for mother and child, she found a
lactation aid device that allowed her to place a clear tiny tube on her
breast to give us some supplementation while we nursed. She even designed
herself a nursing bra with a pocket in the center to hold the pouch for
milk. She still jokes that while she knows all nursing mothers leak, she
only leaked in the middle.

Her determination to make breastfeeding work for us probably came from many
places. As a special education teacher, with degrees in both elementary and
secondary education and home economics, she understood the importance of
physical touch and human relationship on development, and also the
nutritional value of breast milk, however little of her own she was able to
produce. I am sure also that the fact that she had always wanted to be a
mother and yet had to wait 13 years after getting married to have children,
had only sharpened her desire to give her children the very best that she
could.

Both my brother and I enjoyed extended breastfeeding relationships. I still
vaguely remember the last few times that I asked to nurse. Looking back I
know I had no idea that it was anything special or unique. It was just
normal.

However I know that it was not always seen that way by others.

Some argued adamantly that they just KNEW that my mother HAD to have given
birth to us. Because EVERYONE knows that if you don’t give birth, you can’t
nurse!

Some, like my dear great uncle, could not believe that my mother was really
nursing and would come over and peer under the blanket or nursing cover to
inspect, as though she was secretly giving us a bottle and just pretending
to nurse!

But like any baby, I was un-fazed by the opinions of others about how I
should eat. And thankfully, so was my mother.

An objection of “But how can you nurse an adopted child?” could be swiftly
answered with “How any mother nurses their child. I just have the option of
nursing with communion grape juice when I run out of milk at church!” And a
question of “Why?” met just as quickly with “Because they are my children
and I want to do what is best for them.”

Even as an adult I don’t find anything “weird” or “odd” about being nursed
by my adoptive mother. The few things I do remember are that it was
comforting and reassuring. And I have many memories of her singing and of
running my fingers through her long hair—something that my dear daughter,
who just turned one, now does in mine.

I have learned, since becoming a mother myself, that no baby feeding is
easy. I struggled breastfeeding my son (now five) due to many issues,
grieving the shortened time with him, but seeking to do what was best for
him in other ways. And after my daughter was born at 28 weeks gestation, I
exclusively pumped for over four months until I could teach her to nurse.
And I value the time she and I share now perhaps more so, because I have
worked so hard to get here. When I am able to comfort and calm her, after a
rough doctor’s visit, a sore tooth, or even just when she is tired and
fussy, I know why my mother made such an effort to nurse us.

We were her kids. And a mother does whatever is in her power to do what is
best for her kids. And at the time, we needed her.

Adoptive breastfeeding is not an easy thing, but neither is any other form
of baby feeding, including “natural breastfeeding.” I hope that more
adoptive parents learn that being adopted does not mean that your child
must miss out on the gift of breastfeeding. It is a gift that some adoptive
mothers are able to give their children—another way to bond and comfort the
child in a very natural way. Like every other aspect of parenthood, you do
the very best that you are able to, to meet the individual needs of each
very different child.

 

meme1Elise Garetto lives in Western Kansas with her husband Tony and her
two children. She works as a Production Manager for a local small business
and also as a Chef for a local hunting outfitter. She enjoys writing,
cooking, outdoor activities, and raising awareness for children with
special needs.

 

Child-Led Weaning: Jill

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Images and Text by Jill Petrush Rogers

My son hasn’t asked for ba-ba’s in 3 days, I’m sad”-  my sister-in-law posted.

I thought to myself, “Wait, what?!  He’s two.  He’s still breastfeeding…really?!”

You see, before my nephew was born, I was never really around a breastfed baby, let alone a toddler!

When I became pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed (thanks to my sister-in-law and a few other close friends), but my original goal was still one year.

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Our first son begrudgingly arrived via c-section on October 17th, 2010.  I went against my birth plan 100%.  I was angry.  I didn’t get the birth that I wanted and I was going to be damned if I failed at breastfeeding too. 

Somewhere between day one and year one, not only did we become a breastfeeding family, we became advocates…lactivists, even!

After celebrating our son’s first birthday, my husband and I both thought, “Why cut-him-off?  Just because he turned one?!”

And so…we continued.

When we decided to expand our family, I was secretly afraid that my pregnancy would cause him to wean. 

When asked, I would tell people that I would continue to breastfeed until one of us no longer wanted to.  I was still comfortable in our breastfeeding relationship; so I wanted weaning to be on his terms.

Very early on in my second pregnancy, he decided to go on a hiatus.  For four days he did not speak of “milkies”…neither did I.

I cried. 

I began mourning the loss of our breastfeeding relationship. 

And then, in typically toddler fashion, he asked for “milkies” again. 

To say that I was relieved would be an understatement.

He continued to nurse throughout my pregnancy.  At 34 weeks I went into pre-term labor, which was thankfully stopped.  After that, we had abbreviated nursing sessions.  We would talk about what it would be like to have a baby brother and sharing his “milkies”.

On August 17th, 2013, we welcomed our second son, and I became a tandem breastfeeding Mama!

As far as I can tell, weaning is not in our immediate future.  He is now 3 ½ years old and more of a milkie monster than ever before.  But…he’s a toddler.   He has a mind of his own and is quickly gaining his independence.

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I may never know when his last nursing session may be, but I can tell you one thing…when it happens, I may just have to call my sister-in-law to tell her that “I’m sad.”  

Jill Petrush Rogers is a tandem breastfeeding Mama and a Certified Lactation Counselor. Her mission is to help other Mamas meet and/or exceed their own personal breastfeeding goals, and to be a tiny part of the huge movement to make breastfeeding a “norm” in our society. You can follow Jill’s personal journey on her blog The Galactagoddess

Child-Led Weaning: Libbie

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Image and text by Libbie.

 

Breastfeeding did not come easy for us. My son was due on December 25, 2011, but my water broke on December 3, 2011 at 36 weeks, 6 days. I was both surprised and worried. I wasn’t even full term. When we arrived at the hospital, they told us if he was born before midnight he would have to go to the NICU. If he was born after midnight we could keep him. We hoped for the latter. Sixteen hours of labor and minimal progress from 4-6 cm later, my doctor recommended a c-section. He was born on December 4th, 2011 at 10:34 am by emergency c-section. Afterward, my doctor informed me that he’d had his hand down the birth canal with his head and that’s what had prevented my labor from progressing. She said he was never coming out. My husband also mentioned later that he’d overheard the nurses saying that I was starting to smell like I was getting an infection. As he put it, I had started to “smell pretty ripe down there.” Thanks honey.

I don’t believe it was the c-section itself that contributed to our breastfeeding difficulties, as much as the actions of the staff afterward. He was born, I kissed him and he and my husband were sent away to the nursery for what seemed like an ETERNITY. I was separated from him for several hours because the staff thought I needed some sleep. I disagreed then and I disagree now. I needed to be with my baby. I have since been informed that the hospital policy has changed. They now place the baby on mom’s chest for skin-to-skin immediately after the c-section while they stitch mom up. I feel like I was robbed of that crucial time with my baby. In hindsight, I wish I had done more c-section research, but I really had no idea what to expect. No first time mother thinks they are going to end up with an emergency c-section.

Things seemed like they were going OK in the hospital. The nurses and LCs were able to get him to latch, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. Then a nurse brought some formula and I dropper fed it to him, because I’d just had this tiny little baby and I was afraid he might starve. Of course I wish I hadn’t done that, but again, I didn’t know that I should research these things.

When we got home, things were even more difficult. At least my milk came in on day 5, but I just couldn’t get him to latch well on my own. Thank goodness a fabulous LC foresaw this and scheduled me a series of appointments before I left the hospital. I’m pretty sure breastfeeding wouldn’t have worked out if it wasn’t for her. It got so bad that I found myself in a mess of tears on Christmas morning at our family celebration. I was barely pumping anything (despite pumping every three hours around the clock), he wasn’t latching properly, he was getting supplemental bottles with every breastfeed and I was convinced my milk had all but dried up. I was in a bad place. At that time it seemed as if my happiness hinged on how well breastfeeding was going and I was about 90% sure it wasn’t going to work out. I was devastated.

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I don’t quite remember the next couple days, it’s all a blur, but I do remember the morning of December 29th, 2011. Four days after his due date, L latched beautifully for the first time. He nursed like a pro from that day forward. To this day, I always say that if he could have chosen his own birthday, he would have been 4 days late. That’s when he was ready.

I was able to take a 15 week maternity leave, which was fabulous and then I went back to work part time, 3 days a week. L went to his grandparents while I was at work. This is when I had to start pumping again. I had stopped pumping shortly after L latched per the advice of an LC who could see that the pump was really stressing me out. Plus, I wanted to breastfeed him whenever possible and avoid bottles. In fact, he hadn’t had a single bottle in months when I dropped him off at my parent’s house. I hoped he would take the bottle, but I wasn’t sure that he would. He did and all was well.

I spent the first year of my son’s life thinking that I had low-to-just-enough supply because I’d never been able to pump very much. The most I ever got from a pumping session was 4 oz and usually it was more in the 2 oz range – from both breasts. It took me over a year to come to the conclusion that I am someone who just doesn’t perform well for the pump. Looking back on it now, I think he’s always gotten plenty of breast milk from nursing; my body just didn’t want to give it up for the pump. I stopped pumping at 12.5 months because I wasn’t really getting much anyway, and switched to giving L whole milk from a cup while he was away from me. I haven’t had a “supply problem” since. Around that time, he completely rejected the bottle. He still loved to nurse, though. He would sign “milk” (we use the word “nurse”) as soon as I got home from work. At his one year appointment, his pediatrician actually informed me that L was no longer getting any calories or nutrition from my breast milk. I pretty much called bullsh*t on that one and didn’t ask him any more breastfeeding advice. It’s sad that someone in the medical community could be so uneducated on such an important subject.

At 15 months I thought L was weaning because he inexplicably refused my left breast for 48 hours. He took my right breast just fine. Forty-eight hours later, he took my left breast like nothing had ever happened. In hindsight, I think maybe he had a crick in his neck or something in it that made it temporarily uncomfortable to nurse on that side. He’s never done anything remotely like this since. I do wish I had pumped my left breast during that time though. I wouldn’t have gotten much but it would have been something. My left breast still produces, but it’s pretty lame compared to the right one.

Now, when I first embarked on this breastfeeding journey, I had the goal of going for one year. My mother breastfed me for 10 months and I thought if I can do more than that, that’ll be great! However, when L’s first birthday started to approach, it became very clear that neither he nor I were ready to be done. Sometime after his first birthday, we started offering L cow’s milk and snacks along with breastfeeding. Sometimes he wants and enjoys the milk and snacks, other times he asks to nurse instead. He’s pretty adamant when he wants to nurse and he always asks to nurse at least two times per day (first thing in the morning and when I get home from work are his favorites). He dropped his before bed feeding on his own around 9 months. At that point I started doing dream feeds, which I continued until 18 months when he no longer wanted them. Dream feeds were a life saver! They helped both of us get more sleep.

I really thought that he would choose to wean himself before the age of two. Before I had L, I had never heard of anyone nursing a child longer than 21 months. But he just hasn’t been ready to wean yet. He knows what else is out there, but he seems to prefer the good stuff that comes from mama. My husband and I do differ on the subject. He was so incredibly supportive during the first year, I can’t say enough about it. After which point, he wanted to try weaning L away from the breast. Against, my own instincts, I did offer L other things and was pleased to find that he still liked my milk best. Yay! Now that L’s over two years old, my husband begrudgingly doesn’t say anything, but I know he wishes we’d be done. It hurts his feelings when he brings L home from a long day at work and they have 1-2 hours to spend together, but all L can talk about is mama coming home so he can nurse. What can I say? He’s a mama’s boy. I don’t think weaning is going to change that. My in-laws definitely think he should have been weaned a long time ago (I’m sure my husband hears it from them, and I’m glad he doesn’t share it with me). My parents, to my surprise, have been very supportive. They think L will stop when he’s ready. Go mom and dad!

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L is 28 months old now. These days he politely asks and signs “nurse, please” or says “wanna nurse.” I’m not sure how long he will nurse, or if we are doing child led weaning or not, but I do know that neither he nor I are ready to be done yet. Nursing has been such a blessing, especially during times of sickness. When he refuses to eat or drink anything, he will still nurse and I’m confident he’s staying hydrated and getting nutrition. My breasts seem to be pretty flexible too, he could nurse twice one day and eight+ times the next and I feel neither empty nor engorged. Thank goodness for organizations like La Leche League, IANtB, the Leaky B@@b and KellyMom for showing me how normal and natural it is to breastfeed a toddler.

April is Child-Led Weaning Awareness Month! If you would like to contribute, please e-mail your story and photo(s) to info(at)iamnotthebabysitter(dot)com.

 

Child-Led Weaning: Brandy

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Images and text by Brandy Van Vossen

Before I had children of my own I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. I knew that this was the most important decision that I would make for them in their early years. I knew that breast was best. But my inexperience kept me from seeing anything beyond this.

311685_10150881984176650_2115177220_nI didn’t grow up seeing breastfeeding. As much as I babysat and even having a younger brother born when I was 16, I just didn’t see breastfeeding. Everyone I knew gave their babies formula. I was formula fed from day one. It wasn’t until I was 25 and took a job as a nanny for a woman with newborn twins that I first saw a mother feed her baby (babies) at her breast. I was in awe. It was such a loving and beautiful sight; baby cradled perfectly in his mother’s arms, suckling his little heart out. I watched as mom lost herself in adoring gazes and baby peered back with wide eyes, his mouth full of breast and completely satisfied. They were the only two people in the world when they were nursing; unless she was tandem nursing both twins, then the whole scene would unfold around the three of them. It was magical.

When my older sister had her first baby a few months later I got to see this enchanted moment again with a new cast. I wanted that for my babies and for myself. But that was as much as I knew about it then.

I distinctly remember having a conversation with friends about my [not so enlightened] thoughts on breastfeeding when I was pregnant with my first child. I talked about how I just wanted to make it to a year and then cut him off because “breastfeeding beyond a year was just weird.” And I was not going to be one of those extended breastfeeding yahoos who finds it cute when a silly little toddler comes waddling up and asks, with real words, for some “milkies” or some other cutsie word for breastfeeding. That totally gave me the willies. I’m sure I had this very conversation more than once and I shudder to think of who may have heard me say these things, or worse yet, who my ignorance may have influenced.

Then I gave birth to my first baby. Oh, I was in mommy heaven! He was perfect, plump, beautiful; just this gorgeous little person that I would throw myself in front of a bus for [if that was something I could do to prove my love for him]. This was my chance to have those magical moments of breastfeeding bonding all for myself.

Not without our own struggles we got to that place. We lived in the magical mommy and baby bubble of breastfeeding bliss, and something happened in there that I can’t quite explain. Somewhere between the sloppy milk drooling smiles and the burps of total contentment my baby turned into a walking and talking toddler with his very own cutsie word for my milk. He called it “bop.” Somewhere in that bubble my perception changed from what I expected to what I lived. In that bubble I became enlightened by my own experience and suddenly I understood that which I could not see or understand before.

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Breastfeeding a toddler is no stranger than breastfeeding a newborn baby. Nothing changes at a year or when a child learns to walk and talk, either in mom’s milk or in a child’s need for it, that should cause a mother to wean her child or to feel like a yahoo for continuing to breastfeed. The only thing that changes is society’s perception of the breastfeeding relationship. Somewhere around a year inexperienced people think that breastfeeding is no longer an important and nutritious way to feed and nurture a child.

As experienced breast feeders we have a golden opportunity to help enlighten the public, our friends and family, and even professionals. As breast feeding is coming back into the mainstream we have a chance to show that we are compassionate and that we understand that not everyone sees things the way we do. How can they? They’ve never seen breastfeeding from our unique vantage point. But what we can do is breastfeed openly and without shame. We can breastfeed our babies, our toddlers, and our preschoolers (and beyond) so that younger generations get a chance to see what healthy, normal breastfeeding looks like. The more they see it, the more normal it will become. And eventually mothers won’t feel pressured to wean their babies at arbitrary times during infancy. Mothers will learn to trust their relationships with their children and allow them to wean naturally when the time is truly right.

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My son C self-weaned at 3.5 years old during our three day journey from Chicago to Tampa. He had been nursing only once a day (at bedtime) for the six months prior, but during the exhausting days on the road he simply “forgot how to bop.” We were both very sad but we knew it was time. My daughter P self-weaned all of a sudden 6 months later. She was 20 months old. All it took for her was to figure out that she didn’t need to nurse to fall asleep anymore. I was devastated but trusted that she knew what was best and that it was time for our relationship to evolve.

Brandy Van Vossen studied Environmental Biology at Saint Xavier University on the South side of Chicago. She is currently a stay at home mom to her two beautiful, formerly breastfed children (4.5 and 2.5) near Clearwater, Florida.

April is Child-Led Weaning Awareness Month! If you would like to contribute, please e-mail your story and photo(s) to [email protected]

Mother Killed Baby via Tainted Breastmilk? Doctor Says “No Way”

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A judge sentenced a South Carolina woman to 20 years in prison Friday for killing her six-week-old daughter. The prosecutors argued that she overdosed her daughter with lethal amounts of morphine through her breastmilk.

A jury found former nurse Stephanie Greene, 39, guilty of homicide by child abuse just one day earlier. Greene could have faced up to life behind bars, but was given 20 years.

In November 2010, 46-day-old Alexis Greene was found in her parents’ bed. An autopsy revealed morphine levels so high in Alexis that they would be lethal if given to an adult.  Pathologists found no needle marks or any other indicators of possible injection sites on the child’s body, and because of that decided the drugs must have gotten into Alexis through her mother’s breastmilk.

Prosecutors said this is the first time a mother has been prosecuted in the U.S. for killing a child through a prescription medication passed through breastmilk.

And there is good reason for that…

It would be virtually impossible to overdose a child taking regulated doses of prescription medication.

Was Greene’s Dose Regulated?

No.

Greene’s attorney Rauch Wise suggested her prescription drug dependency arose after a 1998 car accident. According to Wise, Greene fractured her pelvis and skull in the accident causing chronic pain.

In 2004, Greene had her nursing license suspended because she tried to call in a prescription illegally and refused a drug test.

In 2010, after a home pregnancy test came back positive, Greene deliberately hid her pregnancy from primary care doctor; she requested a referral to an OBGYN for oral contraception. Once at the OB, she did not disclose the medication she was taking.

On top of the drugs Greene may have legally obtained through her primary care doctor, she still faces 38 counts of taking prescription drugs through fraud.

So, what is the truth? Can I take prescription medication while breastfeeding?

Yes.

Most medications can be taken while breastfeeding. It is important to speak to both a certified IBCLC and your personal physician prior to taking any medication while breastfeeding.

According to Jay Gordon M.D. and IBCLC, “Over six weeks of age there are virtually no routine medicines unsafe for  the baby.” He said. “The question isn’t ‘can I breastfeed while taking this medication?’ It’s ‘I’m breastfeeding; I need a medication safe for breastfeeding.’ Which again, includes almost every medication.”

As for the Greene case, Dr. Gordon had this to say:

“One way or another, she endangered a baby who died; the morphine levels of the infant were so high that the overdosing would pretty much have to be intentional.”

Additional resources:

http://www.ibreastfeeding.com/content/newsletter/ask-dr-hale-4

http://www.infantrisk.com/content/safely-managing-pain-during-lactation

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989871/

 

 

 

 

Google Glass App Helps Moms Breastfeed

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Would you seek out breastfeeding support via Google Glass?

A new breastfeeding app created by developer Small World has just completed a trial in partnership with the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Five women in Victoria, Australia, took part in the trial which offered generic resources, as well as a network of lactation counselors, who offer assistance through the video function of Google Glass.

At the end of the test period, all five women were still breastfeeding. One woman in particular said the app made a crucial difference in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship with her child. The woman happened to reside in a quite isolating location and she suffered from cracked and bleeding nipples, as well as mastitis.

What do you think?

Child-Led Weaning: Molly

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Images and text by Molly Stepansky.

meme1My name is Molly.   I am a stay at home mom to three wonderful kids. E will be 6 this summer, N just turned 3 and little L is 7 months old.   People who know me know that I am passionate about most everything I do.  In a former life I was a passionate high school teacher, a (not so passionate) chemist, a passionate sailing instructor, a (just to make ends meet) waitress and a (first job passionate) child care worker.   Most people know that I breastfeed my kids, and some know that I have breastfed beyond infancy, but only a few know that I have been breastfeeding almost continuously since July 14th 2008.  I had a short break, about 3 months, between the time my son weaned and my third child was born.  I don’t call attention to myself when it comes to nursing my kids; I am just being their mother.  I am giving my kids what they need to survive, develop confidence and providing them the best start in life that I possibly can.  My goal isn’t to advertise or self-promote, I’m just keeping it real.   I hope that by reading this, you’ll join me in my attempt to quietly normalize breastfeeding beyond infancy.  Here’s my breastfeeding story:

My first job was at a day care center.  I was an assistant teacher in a classroom of 12-18 month olds.  Most of them had been in the day care facility since they were 6 weeks old.  Most were formula fed but a few moms pumped and brought breastmilk in for us to feed their babies.  There was one mom who was “one of those” who sent her child to daycare with cloth diapers, breastmilk, avocados and mangoes for snacks and dressed him in wool pants made from old sweaters.   Most of the day care teachers were quite annoyed by this mom because we had to make special arrangements for her son.  Honestly, now that I think back, the only out of the ordinary thing we did for him was to put his diapers in a bag to take home rather than in the trash like all of the others.   One afternoon, when his mom came in to pick him up, she sat down on a bench near the window, and nursed him before they left for home.  I remember hearing from the other teachers that this kid is WAY too old to nurse!  (he was probably 15 months old).  So naturally, being 17 years old myself, I adopted their way of thinking and thought that it was odd and unnatural for a mother to breastfeed her child past infancy.

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Fast forward 20 years, I am now that mother.  I have even made my kids wool pants out of old sweaters myself!  When I was pregnant with my first, I knew that breastfeeding was important and I planned to nurse until I thought it was time to stop.  I never imagined that her time to wean would be at 4 years old.  My daughter E nursed until she was 4 years old, 18 months of that time she tandem nursed with her younger brother, who weaned by himself at 2 years old while I was about 7 months pregnant with my third child.  For me, breastfeeding creates an indelible bond between mother and child.  It is so completely natural and became a huge part of my life with my children.

meme3Breastfeeding is a relationship.  It changes over time.  A newborn nurses constantly, around the clock, day in and day out.  It changes when they learn new tricks like pulling your hair or playing with your necklace.  It changes when they learn to crawl and walk and talk.  It changes when they start preschool.   For me, nursing my firstborn was just a natural part of our daily routine.   By her second birthday, she nursed a few times a day and shortly after that her brother was born.  Breasts are pretty smart…my milk supply dropped when I was pregnant and then changed to colostrum after my son was born.  I again had a newborn to feed.  I had the typical new baby engorgement and let me say that the BEST cure for engorgement is a nursing toddler!  I didn’t expect her to continue nursing for very long after that.  To my surprise 18 months went by and both were still nursing!  For my daughter it was only once a day, but she still found comfort in breastfeeding.  We talked about weaning a lot.  I went to a Le Leche League meeting and asked the other mom’s what the best way/time to wean a child was.  The answer was when it’s no longer mutually desirable.  So, I didn’t find any reason to stop and neither did she.  As she approached her 4th birthday, SHE decided that she would stop nursing on her birthday.  We took her to Chuck-E-Cheese, get her a Tom and Jerry Cake and sang “Happy Birthday”.   And that was that.  She didn’t nurse again.  It was an easy transition, and a perfect way for her to wean.

My son, who decided that stopping to nurse meant that he couldn’t push his monster trucks around stopped on his own a few months after his second birthday.   I’d ask if he wanted to nurse, and he’d say “no thank you”.  And that was that.

I never thought that I’d be this passionate about breastfeeding.  Like I said before, I don’t like to advertise, or be pushy.  I haven’t been to a nurse-in or preached about my right to breastfeed in public.  I’ve nursed in just about every place imaginable; on the top floor of the tallest building in Chicago, in the ocean, on trains, airplanes, boats and a million other places.  I’ve never been questioned or confronted.  I’m just being me and a mother to my children.meme4

My little precious baby is 7 months old now.  We’ll see if she decides to nurse for as long as her big sister and brother.  I hope she does.

 

April is Child-Led Weaning Awareness Month! If you would like to contribute, please e-mail your story and photo(s) to [email protected]
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